Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Beat the weather: Go to a museum

It snowed again! And probably, all you want to do is stay inside with a warm cup of tea and a book (great idea, too). But, inclement weather does not mean you have to be housebound. So... I have the perfect solution for you: visit a Museum. Jan van Eyck is one of my favorite painters, so when I heard the unique exposition at Boijman's museum in Rotterdam, "The road to Van Eyck" is reaching its end*, I knew I had to go. The exposition traces his steps back to the beginning showing an art-historical voyage of discovery that presents the only images we have of the Low Countries in the early Middle Ages, to show the art he was most probably exposed to during his lifetime, and ending with his work  (c.1390-1441).

The adoration of the Magi with St Anthony Abbot. c 1390 LA St. Paul Getty Museum

He was a true revolutionary, and brought real life to his paintings. Up until then, the style of painting was very "flat" and did not really portray individuals. He had a strong interest in textures and relief: if you look closely at his paintings you will immediately see the detail in brocades, the pleats of fabric, the shine of metal, as well as facial expressions and peculiarities that show the traits of the person being portrayed. He was also a pioneer in the use of light, colors and perspective. His subjects appear tridimensional.

To the right my favorite, The Arnolfini portrait. To see at The National Gallery in London.

 Talking about color, this was groundbreaking. He dared to paint the annunciation angel with a heavily bejewelled cape and technicolor rainbow wings.  This provoked a huge debate at the time: it was thought that colors were the work of the devil, put there to seduce us, and make us sin, starting with that bright red apple in the garden of paradise. Jan van Eyck was telling us "enough with the punishment and the suffering, life is beautiful and can be enjoyed here, now, today".

The Annunciation. Jan van Eyck. c. 1430-1435

It was the very early Renaissance and ideas were starting to change. People discovered that you could have a craft, be good at it, take pleasure in it and recognize it was a good thing, hence the rise of merchants and commerce that would make the area very rich in the years to follow.

Woman between her husband and lover c. 1550. (copy of an original c. 1410).
Book of hours of Etienne Chevalier. 1415, van Eyck's earlier work +"De madonna in de kerk", Berlin state museum.c. 1439

If you go to the exposition, you will also get to see the collection of the Boijman's museum. There is a bit for everyone. Degas' ballerinas, Monet's, Kandinsky's, early Van Gogh's and my personal favorite: "La Jeunesse illustrée" by the surrealist René Magritte. Oh and you might even see giants, yes giants, walking around and having a cup of coffee.

 *the last day to visit the exposition is February 10, so if you are in Holland you still have a chance to go. And if you do make it to Rotterdam, you might as well stay for the China light festival, the biggest of its kind in all Europe (which will be there until February 14).

Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen
Museumpark 18-20
3015 CX Rotterdam, the Netherlands


  1. I think I would rather like to visit Rotterdam. Unfortunately Remus is not a city person. He likes to get out into the wilds of the world. I think I need to find a friend who wants to do weekends in cities being all cultural with me.

    That painting of the husband and pregnant wife has always fascinated me as heavy pregnancy was so often hidden away from the world in the past. It looks like a wonderful exhibition.

    1. Yeah, I wanted to drag the husband with me to the museum, but I went by myself because he did not really see the interest in it.
      And he painted lots of pregnant women, also lots of Virgins (which is kind of unusual, back in the day showing the "human" side of the Virgin was not a thing, she was supposed to be so perfect, and heavenly, and unapproachable). I am not sure if it's because it's something that I want so deeply and I am therefore extra sensitive to it, but I have always liked that particular painting, and I loved all his pregnant lady paintings. Wishing, hoping.

  2. Every time I make it to a museum I always fall back in love with the city. There's just something special about wandering around and being immersed in history or art. The art museums in Europe are a big part of why so many European countries are on my eventual travel lists.

    1. Yeah, I do love to get lost in a museum. You do have some important museums there. I want to see the Smithsonian, The Jean Paul Getty museum, The monterey aquarium (ok not a museum)....
      But yes, Europe has its share. When / if you make it to Europe do let me know :) You and Bunny can stay with us.

    2. Oh there are definitely some awesome options museum-wise in North America. I've been to most of the ones that interest me in the Ontario area already (although I'm always happy to go back!) and when it gets down to going the States, I just don't have a whole lot of interest although there are a few in New York I'd love to see.

      Thank you! If/when we manage to make it to Europe I will definitely let you know. It's still a ways away in our vacation plans, but it's a biggie for us.

    3. Oh sorry, I completely forgot you are in Canada! I was just there once, as a 14 year old, and I remember the Biosphere in Montreal made quite a big impression on me, it was amazing.

      And you have a place here :) When the time comes...

  3. The museums and galleries in the Netherlands are incredible, you're so lucky to have them on your doorstep! I went to the Escher Museum in the Hague years ago and we had such a fun day. Traipsing around Amsterdam on work trips, I love finding an hour or two to visit a gallery.
    Saying that, we're very lucky in the UK, especially because so many are free to visit.
    Well done on leaving the house! This cold wet weather has largely seen me sit in the house with tea and toast all day!

    1. The Escher museum is great! I love it. And yes, there is so much to discover, I did not go to all the museums yet and every time I am surprised.
      But yes, you are lucky in the UK, The British Museum, The National Gallery, The V&A, The Natural History Museum... the list is endless and it is so great that they are free. Often, when travelling as a student we would skip museums because they were oh so pricy. In Paris we went to the Louvre and Orsay, but missed the rest on that first trip.
      Tea and toast is also great :)

  4. Ok, I read your post once, thought about commenting, got embarrassed, and now I'm sucking it up and about the admit something a bit shameful: I have still never been to any of the museums here in LA. Oooops! I keep saying..."Oh I have to go to such and such" or "Oh, I want to see that exhibit.." and then, life gets in the way. Funnily enough, the only museums I seem to go to are on vacations. And I've loved every one. Standing in front of some of those amazing pieces of art is so humbling. And so I've been to museums in Spain, Chile, Argentina, Mexico, and even Las Vegas...but not here.

    Ok, that's it. I better get off my ass and go!

    1. Oh no reason to be embarassed. It often happens that we never visit the sights / museums of the place we live in until we have family or friends from abroad... and then we'll go anywhere. Anyhow... maybe you can do a museum / exhibit this weekend? I think the trick is scheduling stuff. I wanted to go to this specific exhibit since it was first announced and I only went on the very last week (the last day is tomorrow and I went on Tuesday). And it is humbling to stand in front of art... and I love to learn.


I love your comments, let's talk .

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...