On a whim, April and I stopped by Norton Simon on Saturday to see the Rembrandt exhibit currently on display. Its a modest exhibit with about only a dozen or so works, but I left plenty satisfied. They were all etchings, all relatively small scale portraits ranging from thumbnail sized studies to highly hatched and labored scenes slightly larger than an index card. looking closely at these prints, it’s very easy to see why Rembrandt is widely considered to be one of Europe’s greatest print makers. Every piece in this exhibit is a gem, but there is such a profound sensitivity in the later works, where he makes the most technically complex intaglio portrait look improvised, a perfect economy of biting and just the right amount of aquatint.
Here it almost seemed as if there was some kind of implicit omage to the wood-reliefs of Alrect Durer from over a century earlier when he pioneered the exploration and quantification of vision. Instead of optics, mercantilism and early capitalism are under the microscope here, undoubtedly a theme Rembrandt had strong feelings about because of his own troubled relationship with money. Another unique point about this show was that there were no biblical scenes. Instead the portraits here come with a more crypted narriative, enchanting nonetheless.
Of course no trip to the Norton Simon would be complete without spending some time with one of my favorite paintings in LA; “First Fruits” by Edouard Vuillard. There is another painting similar to it at lacma. They are excessively decorative and navigating through the painting becomes a kind of haptic archeology.
I know these are terrible images, I will try in the future not to photograph importiant works of art on my iphone.
In other news, I have a couple new drawings I should be wrapping up by next week, I’ll post pics as soon as they are complete.