Saturday, December 20, 2014

Three Seventeenth Century Painters:


Having felt like Jackson Pollock for the better part of the last three weeks while writing my first long-form research essay of the academic year–caught in a constant flurry of action, with practically no time left to shower–yesterday I handed it in. Since mid-November I have been waking up too early, in a continuous state of endless energy–rewriting notes, and reading about, and looking at, paintings. Most of this activity revolved around three seventeenth century painters: Anthony van Dyck, Frans Hals, and Rembrandt. The creations of these three figures haunted my every waking thought and sleeping dream since the beginning of December, when I began to investigate the levels of loose brushwork within their portraits, by comparing them to one another. Wrapping the narrative around the Renaissance notion, and coveted quality, of sprezzatura–which is the art that conceals art, and in doing so, makes actions or deeds appear as effortless–I focussed my thoughts on Frans Hals, and specifically investigated the loose brushwork within his 1622 'Marriage Portrait of Issac Massa & Beatrix van der Laen'. I really had fun with it. On numerous occasions during my research I found myself standing in front of the painting at the Rijksmuseum, talking aloud and into my iPhone's microphone so that my voice–and thus my exact thoughts about the painting–could be recorded. I went twice to record, but about 10 other times to further train my ability to qualitatively assess paintings, while assessing this painting; both recording visits were on a Sunday, in the first 15 minutes of the museum's opening–you know, so I wouldn't draw too much attention to myself, standing there, talking to myself. However, once I found my groove, my formal analysis flowed. Dutch art history fits me, and I'm throwing myself into the subject with childish enthusiasm, while remembering to have ample amounts of fun along the way.