Friday, April 6, 2018

My Future & Frans Hals:

Today I cycled to Spui–a square in this fine city of Amsterdam; going through the Rijksmuseum’s tunnel for bicyclists, then passing Prinsengracht, Keizersgracht, and Herengracht, along the way. As the sun sparkled in a perfectly cloudless blue springtime sky, I let the wonderful weather pull me toward Athenaeum Nieuwscentrum–my favorite magazine shop in all the city. Every Friday at Spui there is a book market, which is composed of about 20 stands set up by various antiquarians from around the city. It’s like a fabulous exhibition at a museum, except it’s outside, and the objects on display are able to be bought, and taken home with you. In 2014 I was floating through the same book market, as I waltzed from the former art history institute of the University of Amsterdam, on Herengracht, toward Rokin. I happened to spot a book on Frans Hals, which turned out to be the 1989-1990 catalogue, of the last major Hals exhibition, which took place in Haarlem, Washington D.C., and London. I would have no idea that when I bought that book that day, it would lead me to writing two MA theses on this most celebrated of seventeenth century Dutch painters. Walking through Amsterdam, as opposed to cycling through it, enables the experiencing of the city at a slower pace, literally. And because of that, new things are seen by the eye, that are not seen when passing the same places and spaces, on a bike. Today, while strolling through the same book market at Spui, I spotted the same book on Hals. In some ways I have come full circle from where I was when I first saw this book in 2014. When I found that book at Spui, and bought it, in 2014, I had no idea that it would lead me to spending the next four years of my life, contemplating Frans Hals within the framework of academia. Seeing that same book again for sale today, at the same book market, four years later, made me cement my decision to continue contemplating Hals, his paintings, and his fabulously mysterious family, for many years to come.