Thursday, May 29, 2014

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Apex of Spring:

Amsterdam is gorgeous these days; everything is blooming, has bloomed, or may still yet bloom, as the city morphs itself into summer. The leaves hanging from the trees that line the city's canals are luscious in all of their mossy-colored splendor. Having travelled often already throughout this evenly-numbered year, I had planned to stay put, humbly satisfied in Amsterdam for the remainder of it. Yet, here I go: off to Oslo, Norway, for another weekend away. This is very exciting. And, unlike my last visit to that fine, nature-saturated, and very expensive city; this time I plan to bring a coat–even though there is supposed to be beautifully warm weather, all weekend long. Lucky am I to know that a lovely, tale-end-of-spring Amsterdam will be waiting for me, upon my return. But for now, Scandinavia please sweep me away.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Art of the Rijksmuseum:

On countless occasions over the past few weeks, I've made it a point to stop by the Rijksmusuem in order to increase my familiarity with its collection–but also to learn the names of those who created all of those wonderful works. I'm educating my eyes and my mind. Knowing the image of Mona Lisa is one thing; knowing who actually painted it is quite another. And so my lunches and mid-days have been spent trekking across the expansive Museumplein, toward the Rijksmuseum. I find that the approach from the southern-sited Concertgebouw is more conducive to the invoking of wonder, as opposed to approaching the museum from its opposite edge, which faces the the center of Amsterdam. What the museum does very well, after entry, is ushering its users up and into its 'Gallery of Honour', as it's called; more or less where Rembrandt's 'The Night Watch' is displayed, alongside the other most treasured gems from the collection. Most–if not all–of the paintings within this particular gallery emanate from the Dutch Golden Age. Yet it's the museum's other spaces, its less visited galleries, which I'm now taking the time to explore. After spending countless hours within this so named 'Gallery of Honour'–absorbing its genre, portrait, and architectural paintings–its the many other facets of the Netherlands' art that now captures my attention; the artists and the output of the Amsterdam Impressionists, and the schools of Utrecht and The Hague, for instance. So much exalted is the Netherlands' glorious past (which spans, roughly, 1615 to 1702) that that which comes after or before it, is more often communicated as an afterthought as opposed to integral to the whole. Though this is not quite the case. What happened within the world of Dutch art before and after its own Golden Age?; don't worry about it, is what at first seems to be the general attitude of the Rijksmuseum. But what I'm learning about the museum is that such an attitude is anything but propagated–and it's only after strolling past Vermeer's 'The Milkmaid' about 30 times that I'm finally able to realize that. Due to the museum's paths of circulation, it's all too easy to enter, and skip over the art of the eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth centuries, as well as that of the years before 1615 (and there are many). But, going back that far, before the Netherlands declared its independence from Spain in 1581, would guide museum visitors to Netherlandish art, rather than Dutch art. And that's because Netherlandish art is the art of the Low Countries when they still were the Low Countries; that is, when the Netherlands and Belgium and Luxembourg were all still one big happy family, first as the Burgundian Netherlands, and then as the Hapsburg Netherlands, before the Dutch Republic was finally born, in 1581. With all of its twists and turns, Dutch history and its timeline can indeed be very confusing. One line of thought that makes it much easier to master, is remembering that Netherlandish art is where the output of Jan van Eyck is situated. He's the guy, it's said, who ushered in the era of oil as opposed to tempera–paints, that is. But for now, my focus is still Dutch art, and not Netherlandish, just yet…

Monday, May 26, 2014

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Friday, May 16, 2014

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Amsterdam in Motion:

This year's April-May transition was spectacular throughout its entire interlude. There was no surprise snow, and the sun was most always near. The weeks in which the city's trees began to dress themselves struck a connection with my soul; each day the trees increased their density of green, by slowly ascending the speed at which their leaves unfurled. Opposite of this time of year is my favorite time of year: the November-December cusp–which means that the world is about halfway through its swirl. Amsterdam's vegetation is in motion, as it grows toward the strengthening sun. Its citizens are flocking to terraces submerged amid a luscious landscape composed of trees, parks, and never-ending gardens. Being a city situated on and within water, Amsterdam is aqueous–rarely is it anything but sumptuous in its offering of this copious water supply to its flowers, shrubs, and trees. As the pace of the city's race crescendos toward its annual sunlight-induced rebirth, its contents are moving with an energy that's quick yet casual, gleeful yet realistic. The apex of spring is still only near–it hasn't yet arrived. And though the life within the city is enticing, I have not engaged with this spring season often, as throughout the past two weeks, much of my time has been spent in Edinburgh and Bordeaux–two cities at opposite ends of European cultures. Scotland–that was more my kind of place.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Friday, May 2, 2014

Bursting Into Bloom:

Amsterdam is currently undergoing a transition; the days continue to stay lighter longer, and the city's vegetation is on the verge of its annual effloresce. In just a few more weeks, everything will burst open, again; a second wave of springtime growth will emerge, now that the city's cherry trees have blossomed and begun their fade. The parks and terra-cotta pots that blanket and dot this city, respectively, are poised to explode with an enveloping lusciousness that will sweep both the city and its citizens away, to a dreamlike world of wonder, called summer. Spring, please continue marching forward.