Engebrechtsz, for all his artistic shortcomings, was a great colourist, composition designer and storyteller and his two great triptychs (amongst smaller works) in the Lakenhal are no less than masterpieces.
Their wealth of rhythms, colours and themes may remind you of the polyphonic music of the time.
It was a great joy seeing them again (and indeed to see Villevoyes stunning work again).
The most famous work in the room is of course Lucas’ Last Judgement triptych (1527), which fortunately survived the massive iconoclasm later that century.
Leiden also boasts a small but interesting collection of 17th century art, connected to Leiden, in its wonderful rooms with 19th century skylights.
The so-called Pape Corridor shows works by novelist Jan Wolkers (1925-2007) who also was a prolific visual artist and who was born in Oegstgeest near Leiden and as a youngster he worked and painted there.
His visual works on show are very much historic documents now.
During the 16th and 17th centuries Leiden became rich and important for its cloth industry and sales, for which Lakenhal was originally built (‘Lakenhal’ means Cloth Hall).
Some of that wealth can still be seen in the present museum.
The museum recently presented some new cloth designs, amongst others by The Hague artist Christie van der Haak (1950).
Lakenhal also has an important collection of works from the first half of the 20th century, interspersed with contemporary works like this moving portrait of the hapless Marinus van der Lubbe (1909-1934; also from Leiden) by Gert Germeraad (1959).
Only few artefacts will remind you of Leiden’s academic history, amongst others a phantom cabinet by Mark Dion (1961).
Another point of some local historic chauvinism is Leiden’s heroic role during the Dutch Revolt (1568-1648), which inspired the museum to commission a monumental photo work by Erwin Olaf (1959), which is probably more impressive than all other works in the room.
The museum breaths a sense of history connected to the present day.
Renovated it has become pleasant, clearly structured, light and more diversified.
It doesn’t pretend to be cosmopolitan and it isn’t geared to big blockbusters, which is a relief in between all those art museums in the country which try to be interchangeable international entrepreneurial art depots.
The Lakenhal Museum can be proud of what it has become.
When he started teaching by the end of the 1970s, there was a kind of split between traditional craftsmanship and (traditionilised) conceptualism at the Academy, and there was little room for individual artistic development.
Both sides took themselves extremely seriously and Giezen, as a newcomer, didn’t seem to fit in very well.
He appealed to the inventiveness and imagination of his students, which was quite unusual at the time (and which is still, or again, a sensitive point at the Royal Academy and in education in general).
He didn’t care very much for technique or aesthetics, contrary to what we had learned so diligently.
“Make a chair!” he told us, for our first assignment.
Students who were all thumbs, like me, were initially shocked, but soon it became clear that it was nowhere necessary at all to construct a piece of furniture.
His ways of seeing and working didn’t influence me immediately, but later on they did so undeniably.
As a teacher he was easy going, accessible, good humoured and never imposing himself as the master who knows all.
That is also how his work looks like.
Giezen was very inquisitive about the playful en inventive aspects of humanity, again, not interested in technique or aesthetics, and extremely uninterested in financial and eternity values.
The small sculpture used to stand in front of the museum’s entrance, but was recently removed to stand more near his fellow sculptures, pointing towards the museum (as can be seen in the last pictures).