Friday, September 07, 2007

Don't Miss Rembrandt and Friends! Or You Could Always Go To the Netherlands.

Okay, "Rembrandt and Friends" is what I named the show. The Portland Art Museum calls it The Dutch Masters. Whatever.

These pics are on loan from the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam while they do a little dusting and polishing, so it's now or never if you don't plan on stopping in the next time you're in Amsterdam.

There are a lot of not-Rembrandts (Rembrandt pupils and wannabes), but there are a few, but good examples of actual paintings from Rembrandt van Rijn, his own self.

What is heartwarming about Dutch art is that there are dogs in maybe 90 percent of the paintings. I like that in art.

Another heartwarming lesson we learned is that 17th century Dutch porn consists of a picture of a fully-clothed Dutch stud offering a pheasant (!) to a fully-clothed Dutch hotty. I can tell you it certainly shocked me to the core. And in a family museum.

What is also apparent from the exhibit is that it is not the modern style "whoever-has-the-best-press-agent-must-be-the-best" type of determination that allowed Rembrandt to rise to the top. His stuff is better. It is more creative, more daring, and more (for lack of a better word because it drips of pretentiousness) painterly.

Rembrandt's pupils learned their painting lessons well, but rarely strayed from the lesson, while their master was all over the place, showing bold brush strokes, leaving deep dark areas where you are forced to peer into the blackness to make out the figures, using crazy lighting effects with candles, and painting facial expressions into faces that even digital imagery cannot beat.

Here is Rembrandt, in a sort-of self-portrait, but morphing his own features to match the story he is telling, namely, that of the Apostle Paul. Now he's old, beaten-down, and careworn. With an awesome turban. Look at that expression.

Look at the way Rembrandt hides a candle behind the girl's hand in this painting depicting the moment that Peter denies Christ. And I like the way you can barely see Jesus looking back at his friend, all "I told you so." You can't really see that part in this little picture, but he is back there at the right and behind Peter.

Don't look for examples at the Portland Art Museum website. They would rather you pay your 15 bucks and come on in. I can understand that, I guess. I'm sure that snagging this show was not cheap.

But all the paintings come from the Rijksmuseum, and they have a very nice website.

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