Sunday, February 8, 2015

Paintings, Prints, and Frans Hals:


The first semester of school has ended and what a rush the last five months were. I couldn't have prepared myself better. It worked well; coupled with the mountains of articles and books. My hand had not written so many words, on paper, in so long, that my right hand initially hurt from the note taking, and eventual rewriting. In the beginning, in September, I hadn't realized just how much the act of reading is similar to the act of using a muscle–the more it's used, the more flexible it becomes. I read quite often before, but now I find myself seeking out words to read, always. Little did I remember that academic writing is not the same as other writing, such as that here.

My writing style is changing because of my studies in art history. And at the moment, I'm rather taken by the new methods of qualitative analysis that were pioneered in the field, by those in the Netherlands in the early years of this century. Thank you, Ernst van de Wetering. Now, the sentences I find myself constructing are more methodical, and sometimes they read as if the emotion has been sapped out; though I'm making a genuine effort to keep this voice of mine intact, in academia. I haven't been writing much here, precisely because I have been honing my academic prose–which for art history, is certainly different than the type of writing required for architecture, or design. This much I've learned. It has taken some adjusting, to direct and guide my voice within this new academic framework, and environment, that I find myself reveling at being immersed within. Once I adjusted my lucid writing to the language of art historians, my words began to flow...

In December I wrote my first true academic paper on Dutch art, on the work, life, and legacy of the church and city painter and draftsman, Pieter Janszoon Saenredam. At times it seemed as if my body was not my friend throughout the last two weeks of the writing process, during which I felt like an action painter: lost in thought and deep contemplation, while frantically rummaging through notes, books, and articles, all in an effort to finalize my words. The new semester began this week, and there are again articles to read–though not so many. That's because this time around one of my classes is focussed on Amsterdam, while the other is my self directed thesis project. And just this week my research question on Frans Hals and his paintings, contemporaries, and connoisseurs, was approved...

Which means, that I am able to continue thinking about the life and work of Frans Hals, and those who have studied him before me, for the next six months, in this most intimate of ways. I plan to confront a cluster of his paintings analytically for my thesis, using many others of his own, and those of his contemporaries, as well as their prints, with which to construct it's framework. I'm so excited. I've set up my research in such a way, that it requires me to travel to Spain, the UK, and the USA. It's astonishing to think that one of the most revered painters, by Dutch and Americans, will become one of my areas of specialization, in Dutch art. The path I'm creating for myself within this infinitely enriching world of seventeenth century art, fills my stomach with butterflies. And the future that I'm now creating for myself within art history, feels so right.