Friday, 12 April 2013

After Ten Years. Tomorrow, the Rijksmuseum reopens!!

“Continue with Cuypers “
This is the intelligent “motto” and intervention principle  wisely chosen to restore the Rijksmuseum to its full glory.
Pierre Cuypers was the Dutch Viollet-le-Duc … or better told, he was a mix of Viollet-le-Duc, Pugin, Ruskin and George Gilbert Scott, and he represented all the concerns of The Gothic Revival with “Arts and Crafts” and the importance of Revivalism to National and Religious Identity .
The original Interiors of The XIX Century Rijksmuseum were brought back in its glorious poly-chromatic symphony of Nostalgic Medieval Romantic Eclecticism, typical of the “Victorian” late XIX Century.
The pedagogical aspect is deeply enriched and perfectly effective through the chronological reunion of all the aspects of Cultural History / Decorative Arts / Political History / Painting / Sculpture.
Somehow, ironically, in this age of affirmative  Architectural “Stars”, by rupture and sensationalism in Museum Architecture, this Intervention represents the Triumph of The XIX Century over Modernism.
A remarkable “Dialectical Inversion” of History ?
A “sign” of times in this Europe deeply concerned about its Future and in search of Identity?
Yours, Jeeves.
Members of the Press discover with amazement the New Restored Rijksmuseum

Rijksmuseum Amsterdam ca 1895

Simon Schama: the Rijksmuseum reopens
By Simon Schama in The Financial Times March 29, 2013 /

The ‘Museum of the Netherlands’ opens its doors after a 10-year restoration
At last. There they were, all my old friends, missed these past 10 years, propped up against the wall, waiting their turn to be back where they belonged: on the walls of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. There were the dangling legs of Gabriël Metsu’s hollow-eyed sick child cradled in the arms of his mother; there was Adriaen Coorte’s bunch of white asparagus, ghostly against the blackness, filaments of its bundling twine pressing against the papery skin. There was another pair of legs, belonging to Jan Steen’s pretty slattern, curls escaping her soft cap, perched on the edge of a bed, garter-marked right leg slung over the left, the underside of her thigh scandalously visible, rolling her scarlet stockings. “What do you think?” asked Taco Dibbits, the Rijksmuseum’s director of collections and the hero, along with the museum’s general-director Wim Pijbes, of its exhilaratingly brilliant makeover, “Up or down?” “Down” I said. “Oh that’s settled then,” he said, wearing his knowledgeable smile.
The reunion was well under way. Earlier we’d watched as chubby-chinned Saskia, cow-eyes glittering, was hoisted back on to the wall of a room full of early Rembrandts. Already on station was the grieving Jeremiah in his dove-grey velvet coat, head slumped as the temple burns behind him; the young boho Rembrandt mugging with his unruly hair and knobbly nose half-masked by shadows to project depths of poetic melancholy.
Dibbits and Pijbes were thinking of borrowing the slogan “weerzien met de meesters” (meeting up again with the masters) from the reopening of the Rijksmuseum at the end of the second world war. The present moment can’t have quite that sense of national resurrection but it is still an emotively charged reunion of the public with works that are inseparable from the sense of who, collectively, the Dutch are. What has been done with the museum is less a restoration with some fancy contemporary design than the inauguration of a curatorial revolution. When you see those early Rembrandts or the great mannerist “Massacre of the Innocents” of Cornelis van Haarlem with its ballet of twisting rumps, you will also encounter, as would those who would first have seen them, the silver, weapons and cabinets that were the furniture of the culture that made those pictures possible. You will enter the historical world of the Netherlands at a particular moment. And, because the objects are housed in frameless, edgeless displays in which the glass is of a stunning invisibility, nothing in one’s field of vision separates images from artefacts.
The objects are not there amid the paintings in the service of ornamental atmospherics. They have been chosen by Dibbits and his colleagues from the vast Rijksmuseum holdings to create an active dialogue between pictures and artefacts, the material world and the cultural imagination. The idea is gently rather than dogmatically social, and it owes something to a scholarly tradition, best embodied in the work of the great Dutch cultural historian Johan Huizinga (1872-1945), which believed that images, objects and texts were indivisibly related in the creation of a common culture. In keeping with recent art history’s emphasis on the creative force of a milieu in the making of a master (rather than the musings of solitary genius), the young(ish) Rembrandt is installed in the company of friends and patrons. One of those friends, the framemaker Herman Doomer, is represented by a spectacular ebony and mother-of-pearl cabinet. Another friend, the goldsmith Jan Lutma, is present in a stunning drinking bowl in the form of a slickly glistening opened oyster. Collaborations and relationships bounce from wall to wall. Rembrandt’s early self-portrait is complemented by the in-your-face self-image painted by his Leiden doppelgänger and rival Jan Lievens, who also supplies a head of their shared patron Constantijn Huygens, learned secretary of Stadtholder Frederik Hendrik.
If this all sounds daunting and distracting, it really isn’t. History and art have their natural companionship restored, for – although historians condescendingly suppose images to be “soft” evidence of the past, and art historians suspect historians of obtuse philistinism – the truth is, as Huizinga knew, they need each other to reconstruct the reality of lost worlds. History without the eloquence of images is blind; art without the testimony of texts is deaf.

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