Sunday, April 4, 2010

Rembrandt's Recession

Happy Easter everyone.

Yesterday, I saw some prints at the Timken. The above titled exhibit featured Rembrandt's prints from the period near the end of his life that surrounded his bankruptcy.

Although they have been there for several months, it was great to see them on a day like yesterday. All of them were about the Passion of Jesus.

The signs explained that although the Netherlands was decidedly Protestant, Rembrandt was doing art that would sell better to Catholics. They added that he was something of a "Free thinker." I was amazed. He had the temerity to produce art unlikely to sell. He was a true iconoclast, even if icons themselves were the subject matter.

One can contrast Rembrandt's willingness to follow his internal compass with the dull, extremely rigid, Anti-Christian orthodoxy of the American art world. For example, Andy Warhol remained in the closet his entire life, in terms of his religious views. He was even careful to hide his charitable works.

Even when making prints, Rembrandt kept his quality high. Stripped of color, he only used one tool, etching away at metal. The play of light and dark is as incredible as it is in his paintings.

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