The Greatest and Most Natural Movement

Good article by Robert Hughes on Rembrandt, in honor of the 400th anniversary of the artist’s birth. It turns out that Hughes likes one of my least favorite R. paintings, The Polish Rider, which I saw at the Frick and was convinced was a joke.

Discussing the majesty of Peiro, Raphael and Poussin, he writes

But what you are not likely to feel is a sense of community with these magnificent products of human thought and imagination. Were there really people who looked like this, who could be seen walking the streets of Rome, Arezzo or Paris? Who could be spoken to, and answer your voice? It seems implausible. We look at them for quite different reasons. We admire their difference, and their distance, from us.

But then there are artists whose work is not like this. They are the ones who acknowledge human imperfection and mortality. And not only acknowledge it, but in some sense glory in it, making it the prime subject of their art. For if men and women were perfect, mentally, physically, morally, spiritually, why would they need art at all?

For that, we need Rembrandt. I’ve written about his paintings a few times in the three years I’ve been keeping my virtual memories (I missed my blogiversary a few weeks ago), but I’ve only done so tentatively. The best of it was probably in this Interminably Long Ramble.

If you’re going to be in Amsterdam in the next few months, you should check out the Rembrandt-Caravaggio exhibit that Hughes’ article is plugging.

If you’re a fine art aficionado and a NASCAR fan, check out the Rembrandt 400.


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