From May 2nd 2020 onwards i started categorising photo reports about exhibitions in Villa Next Door under the header Art in corona times.
By that time the corona restrictions were already intensely experienced by the arts sector. These days Covid-19 is still there but the heaviest lockdown measures have been lifted, so Art in corona times will be history for the time being. Art in corona times started with a visit to SinArts Gallery . I hadn’t seen Alex Lebbink, SinArts’ gallerist, for quite some time and he had organised time slots for individual visitors. The idea was that the corona measures would be very temporary and that i would use the label Art in corona times for a few postings, just to see how galleries and other art platforms were doing during the crisis and after that it would be more or less business as usual. However, that proved to be quite naive. Corona became a way of life in which the arts were not seen as an essential need in life. At first artists and other professionals were more or less empathetic to that idea, but as the crisis went on and on, the government’s sheer lack of interest for the arts became a thorn in the flesh of many an art professional, especially after the health minister’s remark that if you cannot go to the theatre you might as well stay at home and see a dvd, as if there was no difference between the two. Last week i posted Art in corona times 101 with some extra footage of the interesting exhibition about Aad de Haas at the Chabot Museum in Rotterdam and that was the last one under the corona banner.
For those who want to have an idea of what was on show during the pandemic Art in corona times is easily locatable in Villa Next Door.
Lockdowns etc are over now but that doesn’t mean the worries about this or any other virus are gone.
Covid-19 may return with a more dangerous version, and an altogether new and equally or more dangerous virus may come. The question is not if it will come, but when it will come. The bird flu virus being one of the most obvious contenders in the real viral world. Another worry in the aftermath of corona is the questionable urge of authorities to control everything and everybody, if possible with modern technology. This urge is understandable as authorities of any political colour try to influence social processes for the benefit of society as a whole. However, even before the Corona crisis it has already been proven that this urge to control has turned against citizens, as a holy faith in the objectivity of modern technology, market forces and a reduction of the state to a kind of control device has replaced a democracy in which different opinions in society play a role. Villa Next Door is not the place to make a deep analysis about society, politics, the free market, modern technology, the influence of debilitating conspiracy theories, and a considerable chunk of society that rather believes in so-called alternative facts than in real facts, that prefers evil tales to science. However this is the framework – as i see it – in which art is made, seen and presented today in this country, and i want to be clear about the context in which i give you my reports about exhibitions and art in this blog. After all, you don’t have to agree, but you should know. Another worry is the new situation with the war in Ukraine. One might suggest i should replace Art in corona times with Art in war times. However, the Netherlands are at the moment not at war with any other country. Also, it should be said that another devastating war is going on in Yemen for seven years now. Although this is principally a civil war, it has become internationalised, with other countries in the Middle East intervening. The conflict in Ukraine may have a global significance, or rather, it will have, even if the war itself remains physically limited to Ukraine. That, together with the devils unleashed during the Corona crisis, will bring us interesting but also ominous times. So, in the mean time, i repost some pictures here of some highlights of Art in corona times.
Hope to see you soon in real life or in this blog, stay healthy and sane, and keep your eyes open!
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As i have written already quite extensively about the show in VLR, i just leave you here with the pictures, without comments, but with the strong recommendation to visit this wonderful exhibition if you are able to.
This is without doubt one of the finest exhibitions on show in The Hague at the moment.
Photographer Popel Coumou (1978) has made an installation for the Fotomuseum (Museum for Photography) in which she focuses on the modern architecture of the next door Kunstmuseum (formerly Gemeentemuseum) and the Fotomuseum itself.
At the same time she shows the way she works, which very much implies the use of paper and light, as the title of the show suggests.
Basically she makes paper collages of architecture, of which she makes photographs, as she also does with handmade still-lives.
That already gives a different idea of what reality, space and architecture are.
In this show she presents amongst others the collages themselves, with light shining through them, heightening the illusion of real space and architecture.
On the other hand she has also made life-sized collages in the exhibition space itself, by which, as a visitor, you become part of this world of illusionistic architecture.
Her work is firmly based on an essentialist modernism in which all redundant elements are eliminated.
Sharp graphic lines and abstraction define her works.
Nevertheless, and in the best modernist tradition, her work is full of wonder.
Her works also come to life in this show because of the changing light, which is, of course, part of architecture and space in general too.
Struck by the work, the show took me far more time than i expected.
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Most of the Caravaggios on show have a history of doubt. They are enthusiastically added to the list of the master’s works or they are mercilessly deleted. Caravaggio’s oeuvre seems to be either expanding or shrinking every now and then (well, like any old master’s). The famous Narcissus seems to have got a definitive roof over its head in Caravaggio’s house, after having been attributed to others, Spadarino amongst others. And what is definitive in art history? Now it shares its place as a frontispiece with Bernini’s Medusa for the exhibition Caravaggio – Bernini: Baroque in Rome at the Rijksmuseum. .
The exhibition shows works by Caravaggio and Bernini and especially by their followers and competitors. Amongst them some really great masters, whose fame only just survived the big shadows of the two great masters who have become iconic for the early Baroque period in Rome.
Amongst others the Brabantian sculptor François Duquesnoy, who arrived in Rome when he was around 20 years old and stayed there for the rest of his life
Look at this amazing self-portrait of Simon Vouet how he painted his collar. It’s just white paint and still it’s a collar.
Another great Vouet. Not just the expression of the sitter may strike you but also the way his cloths are painted with sketchy sprezzatura. It may remind you of Frans Hals.
One of the few but famous self-portraits by Bernini. Bernini, whose great example was Michelangelo, was not just a great sculptor, he was also an architect, a stage designer, director and actor and a talented painter, although – like Michelangelo – he preferred sculpture as a matter of principle.
This portrait of Maffeo Barberini is said to be by Caravaggio. According to the catalogue it is regarded as a real Caravaggio, based on “many arguments.” Whatever the arguments are, personally i think that if it is by Caravaggio it must be one of his very first ventures in portraiture, or it is a copy of a lost original by Caravaggio.
This bust of Scipione Borghese by Giuliano Finelli is said to be ordered by the sitter in competition with Bernini’s now famous bust of Scipione (in the Villa Borghese in Rome). Like in Bernini’s bust the cardinal seems to have had problems with his buttons and buttonholes.
It is a good thing that the exhibition doesn’t show just examples of masterpieces, although one could ask what this misfit by Carlo Saraceni is doing here, especially since there is a much more convincing Saraceni elsewhere in the exhibition.
This Boy stung by a bee by Hendrick de Keyser is a little extra by the Rijksmuseum, as De Keyser didn’t work in Rome and he is not in the catalogue.
One of the surprises of the exhibition is this St. Cecilia by Francesco Mochi, which almost looks like a Futurist sculpture.
In those days archaeology of the Roman past and its restoration had become a serious cultural business. Remains of antique sculpture were restored and completed by great sculptors, like this Faun whose limbs and head were sculpted by François Duquesnoy.
This impressive Spadarino was also on show in last year’s exhibition of the Caravaggisti at the Centraal Museum in Utrecht, where i made this picture (click here for the report).
From here on i realised i had only very little time left as i had spent the morning and part of the early afternoon at the Stedelijk to see the Nam June Paik retrospective (see reports here in Dutch and here in English) , and as it was increasingly difficult to take a look at all interesting items of the exhibition and to keep a five feet social distance and to make some pictures which would give some idea of what i found to be interesting. So i decided to skip the photographing.
That’s why the ending of this photo report is a bit of an anti-climax.
It is a very full and detailed exhibition (which was made in co-operation with the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna) and i can only advise you to visit it, as far as possible and as far as wise, taking into account the upsurge of the Corona virus in Amsterdam.
This great retrospective of one of the most fascinating artists of the last quarter of the last century happened to be opened just before Covid-19 restrictions were implemented. Now, after reopening, the exhibition was obviously not prepared for the restrictions we still have. In the mean time the museum and its visitors are trying to make the best of it.
As i have written quite extensively in VLR about the exhibition, i just leave you here with some impressions.
The show is in its last week, so you have to hurry if you don’t want to miss it. And do bear in mind that you have to make an online reservation!
Though he wasn’t born in The Hague, he lived for a major part of his life in this town and undeniably left his artistic marks here.
There have been retrospectives of his work in the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, in ‘s-Hertogenbosch and even twice in Dordrecht, but in spite of that Verdijk has only become a household name to very few artists and art lovers.
The present exhibition – recently reopened when anti-corona measures were alleviated a bit, difficult to find on the museum’s website, and unclear in how long it will be there – may give a clue to that underrating.
Almost each work on show has the magic to suck you into the intimacy of its composition, such that you may even feel a voyeur; that is, if you really surrender to these works.
I have no idea how long these works will be on show, so hurry to see them!