PALIO WEEKEND A Case for Figurative Art Today
Jul 242011

There are many voices from the past that would lead one to accept the broadest, grandest view of Rembrandt. It is difficult to comprehend how the academics missed them.
J.von Sandrart wrote – he was fascinated by every manifestation of art…..he made skillful use of reflections…….his subject matter was usually taken from everyday life…etc
F.Baldinucci wrote – one can barely make out the other figures from one another though they had all been painted from life and with great care…the knowledge that his prospective clients had to sit for him for two or three months caused few people to commission him…etc
A.Felibien wrote – how one can get any satisfaction from looking at such badly finished pictures….so gross as to make one believe that it is only half-sketched etc. Piles wrote – he himself said that his art was the imitation of nature and, since this included everything, he collected ancient suit of armour, ancient musical instruments, old clothes and a multitude of ancient, embroidered cloths,… all one finds (in Rembrandt) is what the character of his country, filtered through a vivid imagination, is capable of producing….he had a wonderful talent for reproducing concrete subjects…..Even though his outlines may not be correct. His drawings themselves are full of sensitivity etc
A.Houbraken wrote – so many variations and so many different aspects of one and the same subject. This was the result of careful observation…..with his tendency to change and turn to some new experience. He only half finished a great number of his paintings, and a still greater number of his etchings. Only the ones he did finish can give us any idea of the beauty we could have expected from his works had he completed them as he started them. Etc

One could go on and on there is so much evidence of the great, experimental Rembrandt that I have rediscovered, as opposed to the small-minded, less interesting “leaner, fitter Rembrandt” favoured by the experts. What were all those old clothes for if not to equip his models? Every one of his contemporaries tells the same story that favours my interpretation of the facts and the interpretation of previous scholars.

Among the epithets flung at me by Van der Wetering at our encounter was “you hate art historians” in fact I feel very sorry for them. POOR, BLIND , MICE, one might say – but they are dangerous – somehow they have got hold of the “carving knife” that guides our culture. Probably because they produce unanimous decisions on very expensive art objects, where artists could be guaranteed to argue. We would be better off with the discussion. The unanimity is due to the hierarchical constitution of art history, sticking together for strength; it works! But has caused disaster.

They have stuck together successfully stopping me reaching a wider public in spite of my superior evidence (for 36 years). This could constitute reason for hate, were not my character so charitably inclined to sympathy. One should be allowed to go on criticizing an institution that is damaging to us all, without accusations of hate.

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