Art in corona times 102. The end of ‘Art in corona times’. What next?

Art in corona times 1. 2 May 2020, SinArts Gallery

From May 2nd 2020 onwards i started categorising photo reports about exhibitions in Villa Next Door under the header Art in corona times.

Art in corona times 4, 15 May 2020, Topp & Dubio
Art in corona times 7a, 4 June 2020, A.R. Penck, Kunstmuseum, The Hague
Art in corona times 11, 23 June 2020, Mazen Ashkar, 1646
Art in corona times 18, 29 July 2020, Janice McNab, Stroom
Art in corona times 23, 19 August 2020, Caravaggio, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

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.

Art in corona times 29, 17 September 2020, Steamboat, Trixie
Art in corona times 34, 28 September 2020, Jessica de Wolf, Artist Support Fair, Quartair
Art in corona times 37, 13 October 2020, Robbin Heyker’s Birding Club, featuring Arjan Dwarshuis
Art in corona times 43, 7 November 2020, Simphiwe Ndzube, Nest, The Hague
Art in corona times 48, 30 November 2020, Sjimmie Veenhuis, …ism

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.

Art in corona times 52, 14 December 2020, Ellen Yiu, A Finger in Every Pie, Royal Academy students’ pre-graduation show

Lockdowns etc are over now but that doesn’t mean the worries about this or any other virus are gone.

Art in corona times 56, 20 February 2021, Ingrid Rollema, PIP Den Haag
Art in corona times 59, 14 March 2021, Paul van der Eerden, Romy Muijrers, Galerie Maurits van de Laar
Art in corona times 64, 9 April 2021, André Kruysen, Galerie Ramakers
Art in corona times 68, 30 April 2021, Zhang Shujian, PARTS Project
Art in corona times 75, 11 June 2021, Marion van Rooi, Jan Wattjes, Luuk Kuipers, Quartair

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.

Art in corona times 81a, 12 July 2021, Joseph Palframan. Royal Academy, The Hague
Art in corona times 82b, 26 August 2021, Farkhondeh Shahroudi. Sonsbeek 20-24, Arnhem
Art in corona times 88, 27 September 2021, Yaïr Callender, Kadmium, Delft
Art in corona times 95, 17 December 2021, Casper Verborg, Galerie Helder
Art in corona times 97, 21 January 2022, Yesim Akdeniz, Dürst Britt & Mayhew

Hope to see you soon in real life or in this blog, stay healthy and sane, and keep your eyes open!

Art in corona times 101, 16 February 2022, Aad de Haas, Chabot Museum, Rotterdam

Now that you’ve come here, you might as well subscribe to Villa Next Door (top right of the page)!

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© Villa Next Door 2022

Contents of all photographs courtesy to all artists, galleries, art platforms, museums and owners of the works.

Bertus Pieters


Art in corona times 23. Caravaggio – Bernini: Baroque in Rome; Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Caravaggio, Palazzo Barberini, Rome

Caravaggio, Palazzo Barberini, Rome

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.   .

Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Musei Capitolini, Rome

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.

Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Musei Capitolini, Rome

Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Musei Capitolini, Rome

François Duquesnoy, Galleria Sabauda, Turin

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

François Duquesnoy, Galleria Sabauda, Turin

Nicolas Régnier, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

Simon Vouet, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Lyon

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.

Simon Vouet, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Lyon

François Duquesnoy, Palazzo Barberini, Rome

François Duquesnoy, Palazzo Barberini, Rome

(detail) Simon Vouet, Musée Réattu, Arles

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.

Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Uffizi, Florence

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.

Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Louvre, Paris

Francesco Mochi, Art Institute of Chicago

attributed to Domenichino, Art Gallery, York

attributed to Domenichino, Art Gallery, York

Caravaggio, private collection, Florence

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.

Andrea Sacchi, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa

Giuliano Finelli, Metropolitan Museum, New York

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.

Giuliano Finelli, Metropolitan Museum, New York

Carlo Saraceni, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

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.

Gian Lorenzo Bernini, private collection, Rome

Hendrick de Keyser

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.

Orazio Borgianni, Real Academia de San Fernando, Madrid

(detail) Valentin de Boulogne, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid

Gian Lorenzo Bernini, private collection, Florence

Annibale Carracci, Kunsthisorisches Museum, Vienna

Francesco Mochi, private collection, England

One of the surprises of the exhibition is this St. Cecilia by Francesco Mochi, which almost looks like a Futurist sculpture.

Francesco Mochi, private collection, England

Francesco Mochi, Galleria Pallavicini, Rome

Francesco Mochi, Galleria Pallavicini, Rome

Francesco Mochi, Galleria Pallavicini, Rome

Gian Lorenzo Bernini, private collection

Gian Lorenzo Bernini, private collection

Ludovico Carracci, Getty Museum, Los Angeles

2nd century AD Roman torso completed by François Duquesnoy, British Museum, London

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.

2nd century AD Roman torso completed by François Duquesnoy, British Museum, London

2nd century AD Roman torso completed by François Duquesnoy, British Museum, London

2nd century AD Roman torso completed by François Duquesnoy, British Museum, London

Orazio Gentileschi, Galleria Nazionale della Liguria, Genoa

Orazio Gentileschi, Galleria Nazionale della Liguria, Genoa

Spadarino, Museum and Art Gallery, Perth – Scotland

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).

Caravaggio, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

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.

Caravaggio, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

That’s why the ending of this photo report is a bit of an anti-climax.

1st century AD Roman sculpture restored by Alessandro Algardi, private collection, Chicago

1st century AD Roman sculpture restored by Alessandro Algardi, private collection, Chicago

1st century AD Roman sculpture restored by Alessandro Algardi, private collection, Chicago

Caravaggio, Galleria Corsini, Rome

Caravaggio, Museo Civico, Cremona

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.

Guido Reni, Galleria Nazionale della Liguria, Genoa

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© Villa Next Door 2020

Contents of all photographs courtesy to all owners of the works and to the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.

Bertus Pieters


Towards the end of a break

Hendrick ter Brugghen, Fluteplayer, 1621

Dear Villa watchers/readers, i decided to extend my holidays as the weather is improving a bit and i must say i like the feeling of not being pressed.

Orazio Gentileschi, Judith, a Servant and Holofernes’ Head, 1620s

What does your editor do when not visiting art exhibitions?

Simon Vouet, David & Goliath, around 1621

Well, visiting art exhibitions, i guess.

Caravaggio, Medusa, 1598/9

There were and are some interesting shows these days.

Valentin de Boulogne, TheCrowning with Thorns, 1620s

In England the brexit crisis is quickly gaining momentum, in this country a narcissistic  appendix has won the elections, but in the mean time i saw more important things.

Spadarino, Christ showing his Wounds, 1625/35

Not in the least in the Centraal Museum in Utrecht where i visited the much touted exhibition Utrecht, Caravaggio and Europe. I am usually not an enthusiastic visitor of the Centraal Museum as i always find it a bit gloomy and depressing, in spite of its interesting collections.

Orazio Gentileschi, The Crowning with Thorns, 1610/15

Happily the caravaggists exhibition had nothing of that spirit.

Gerard van Honthorst, The Liberation of St peter, 1616/18

Great painting was presented in a grand way.

Medieval reliquary

As i had some time left in Utrecht i also visited the exhibition of the Münster Cathedral Treasure at Museum Catharijneconvent.

Medieval reliquary

Medieval reliquary

Highlight was the collection of medieval gold and silver reliquaries which were very well presented, although i must admit i am not a great fan of gold and silver objects, but it is the medieval awe and wonder these objects evoke i am really interested in.

Cornelis van Cleve, Mary with Child, mid 16th century

Rembrandt van Rijn, The Baptism of the Man from Ethiopia, 1628

The museum also tries to profit a bit from the upcoming Rembrandt mania this year by showing some smaller works from its own collection by masters from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, amongst which a very early work by the master himself.

Henrick Douwerman, St. Christopher, around 1525

Anonymous, Theodosia Altar, around 1545, Gueldres

Anonymous, Christ and his Disciples in the Garden of Getsemane, around 1440, probably Worms

Anonymous, Christ and his Disciples in the Garden of Getsemane, around 1440, probably Worms

Anonymous, St. John under the Cross, around 1200, Meuse region

Anonymous, St. Lambert Triptych, 1470/80, Utrecht

Anonymous, St. Lambert Triptych, 1470/80, Utrecht

The presentation of its own collection of medieval objects is probably the best one can think of, with some great pieces, including the loan from the Parisian Musée du Moyen Âge, the 15th century Saint Lambert triptych.

King and former general Horemheb and the god Horus (14th century BC)

The goddess Sekhmet of both disease and healing (14h century BC)

Feet of a lost sculpture (around 600 BC)

Small statue (around 600 BC)

Detail of a mummy coffin (700-300 BC)

A lover of Old Egyptian art and aesthetics, i visited the Gods of Egypt exhibition at the National Museum of Antiquities in Leiden.

Ptahmose, vizier of Amenhotep III, 14th century BC (relief from the 13th century BC)

However, the educational aspect and the presentation of the objects and statues were so uninspiring that i preferred a stroll around the museum’s own Egyptian collection.

Wall of the chapel of the tomb of Hetepherachty (around 2400 BC)

Wall of the chapel of the tomb of Hetepherachty (around 2400 BC)

Even so i have my doubts about the presentations of these antiquities.

Donkeys on a threshing floor (around 2400 VC)

King Horemheb and his wife (1335-1320 BC)

What does the museum want? Does it want to show the aesthetics of the objects? Does it want to tell their stories? Does it want to be educational?

Canope (jar with intestines of the deceased; 14th century BC)

Queen Hatshepsut’s royal steward Senemut and Princess Neferure (1479-1458 BC)

I am sure it wants all of that at the same time, but there is a kind of scientific objectiveness in the presentation that seems to deny the aesthetic specificity of these objects and their different contexts (both the archaeological, the historical and the present day).

Holidays 033 Egypt
Probably Queen Nefertiti (around 1340 BC)

Generally, how true is the story that Old Egypt was the great ancestor of our own present-day Western culture and that it should be appropriated as such? Why are antiquities other than Egyptian, Greek and Roman stored in another museum in Leiden? And how does this idea affect the quasi-objective presentation of the museum?

In between i visited Rotterdam Zoo, designed by Sybold van Ravesteyn (1889-1983) it was built around 1940.

Sumatran tiger

It still contains many buildings and decorations of Van Ravesteyn’s design in which modernism and neoclassicism were combined.

Sacred ibis

Spotted hyena

Reticulated giraf

Pelicans in the rain

While the former Rotterdam zoo was only open to a small elite, the then new zoo opened to the general public, so the people had to be uplifted with both science, mildly modern neoclassical architecture and art.

Later on i visited Museum de Fundatie in Zwolle to see the exhibition Freedom , an exhibition compiled by critic and art historian Hans den Hartog Jager with fifty works by fifty Dutch artists of the last fifty years. There is more to be said about this interesting show, so i’ll reserve that for a more elaborate review in Villa La Repubblica (in Dutch) later next month. The building itself has been expanded with a strange and somewhat disturbing tumour on its roof.

Part of ‘The Unexpected Return of Blinky Palermo from the Tropics’ by the artists’ collective Seymour Likely

Apart from being remarkable from the outside, from the inside it has created a lot of unpractical and intrusive space. But then, of course, the swelling has to elevate Zwolle far above its provincial roots. And naturally one can make a striking exhibition even in a murky shed.

‘Peanut Butter Floor’ by Wim T. Schipper

Alas, that didn’t happen at the Stedelijk Museum in Schiedam in the exhibition Manzoni in Holland.

‘This Way Brouwn’ by Stanley Brouwn

One can regard Piero Manzoni’s (1933-1963) tins with the artist’s shit as reliquaries just as the medieval reliquaries at Museum Catharijneconvent, but in Schiedam the museum doesn’t succeed in evoking the special euphoria of Manzoni’s time.

Cylinders containing lines of deifferent lengths by Piero Manzoni

The exhibition has the atmosphere of a musty antique shop, it is an auction of grandfather’s estate.

‘No. 7’ by Heinz Mack

The novelty of Manzoni’s works and his contemporaries doesn’t come to life and any link with present day Dutch art seems to have been avoided at all cost.

Detail of an Achrome by Piero Manzoni

Such while this period has had an enormous effect on Dutch art making and appreciation today.

‘Lichtballet’ (Light Ballet) by Otto Piene

Manzoni in Holland is nothing more than nostalgia, a missed opportunity.

‘Fabricator’ by Marisa Rappard

‘Nameless Streets #1’ by Lennart Lahuis

‘Undressed Days’ by Femmy Otten

More interesting were the presentations of new acquisitions and….

Funda Gül Özcan

Neo Matloga

Neo Matloga

Lonneke van der Palen

Holidays 062 Lonneke van der Palen
Lonneke van der Palen

Neo Matloga

….of works by the contenders for the Volkskrant Visual Arts Award, Funda Gül Özcan, Neo Matloga and Lonneke van der Palen.

Jan Pieters

Jan Pieters

To end this holiday report in a more or less nepotistic way here are two paintings by my brother which i saw in Spijkenisse where he is taking part in a group show.

© Villa Next Door 2019

Contents of photographs courtesy to all artists, owners, museums and galleries involved.

Bertus Pieters