Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Stedelijk Museum and modern art

The concierge had suggested that I wait on the Rijksmuseum until tomorrow, to avoid the weekend traffic, so I took his advice and instead headed to the Stedelijk Museum to check out some modern art.  A great deal of modern art leaves me cold, but I am trying art of all sorts this trip, so the visit seemed like a good idea.

Along the way, a Tesla roadster mocked me from a side street.

Click on any image to see a larger version.

Fortunately, I have zero interest in owning an orange car. 

Closer to the museum, a small band played alongside a fake cow atop a houseboat whose roof was ringed with planters.

For no good reason, I love stuff like this.

Across the street from one side of the Rijksumuseum, which is just before the Stedelijk, stood several lovely Victorian houses, including this one, which I particularly liked.

A gate that will ultimately be one of the entrances to the Rijksmuseum appealed to me for no particular reason.

Passing a refreshment stand in an open area between the two museums, I learned that my instinct was correct:  Amsterdam is indeed ready for the motorized Hot Dog Throne of Doom.  How else could one explain this guy?

The facade of the Stedelijk is grafted onto an older brick building, making the combination kind of odd and kind of cool. 

Inside, the collection began with a smattering of Impressionist pieces, which I predictably liked quite a bit, and then moved forward in time.  I was happy to have been able to study this Cezanne, one of his over forty paintings of Mount Saint-Victoire,

and this Monet, The House Among the Roses.

I also liked Van Gogh's Two Peasant's Digging

but I loved his Kitchen Gardens on Montmarte.

To my embarrassment, I knew next to nothing about Jan Sluijters (often "Sluyters" in English), and I still don't know much.  Though most of the few bits I've now read about him call him a post-Impressionist, this piece, Bal Tabarin, which I loved, feels very much in the Impressionist tradition.

It's very large, and most of its space goes to the electric lights under which Parisians are dancing in a Montmarte ballroom.  What you can't tell from the photograph is the sheer amount of paint Sluijters put on the canvas in his attempt to capture the electric lights perfectly.  Viewed from the side the piece is almost lumpy with paint, the mounded result of an artist's struggle with his material. 

All of these pieces, as well as several others, hung in one large room.  From that room onward, the collection, to my taste, went downhill. 

I did enjoy some of it, such as this Chagall, The Fiddler

For no particular reason, I've always found Chagall's work at least interesting.

Mondrian's work has, for the most part, left me cold.  His structural obsessions are interesting, but they do not engage me.  This piece, Tableau III: Composition in Oval, is one of his earlier works and interested me more than most of the others on display.

That said, I'd take any of the earlier pieces over this one any day.

Another artist with whom I was unfamiliar is Carel Willink, a Dutch painter in the Magic Realism school.  I very much liked this piece of his.

I appreciated the several Picasso paintings on display, but none spoke to my heart.  Nor did the Braque, nor the one Diego Rivera, a somewhat abstract piece. 

(I generally quite like Rivera's work.)

My ignorance of art knows no bounds, so I wasn't surprised to see another odd painting, How-Ever,  that interested me by another artist whose work I did not know, Roberto Matta. 

This Chilean artist, the museum's write-up explained, was a major figure in Surrealism.  As I said, there are no bounds on my ignorance of art.

I didn't take many more photos after this point, because the work stopped speaking to me.

On the walk back, a shop claimed to offer authentic Italian gelato.  I, of course, had to test this claim.  Though not up to the best of Grom, it was tasty. 

This car is but one of many oddities appearing all around the city as we draw closer to the coronation.

Back at the hotel, I went to the Rijksmuseum's site and learned that the advice of the concierge, who had been great in all other areas, was terribly wrong:  the museum is closed tomorrow.  Add to that disappointment the fact that the city will be thronged with tourists on Queen's Day, and it was clear that I was not going to get to see the Rijksmuseum.  Also clear was what I should do next:  move on!

So, tomorrow, I depart Amsterdam.


Griffin Barber said...

EVERYONE is in need of more motorized hotdog throne of doom!

Mark said...

Oh, hell, yeah!


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