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Category: Dresden

parsing art : “A Table of Desserts” – de Heem/Matisse‏

Jan Davidszoon de Heem - "A Table of Desserts" (1640)

A Table of Desserts (1640)

Jan Davidsz. de Heem

_________

Henri Matisse - "Still Life after Jan- Davidsz de Heem's 'La desserte'"

Still Life after Jan Davidsz. de Heem’s ‘La desserte’(1915)

Henri Matisse

________

if Siudmak was a little too much like
Rousseau for my taste, then what
Matisse does to de Heem is just
right, though the blueprint is
identical the outcome is starkly
different and individual, Matisse
is evidently his own man

directors will do the same with
Shakespeare, for instance, or
Verdi, when they alter, or update,
the work’s time frame, giving it
more immediacy, a new life

not always however effectively,
we saw a Figaro in Dresden come
in on a motorcycle, we walked out
after the first act, though not
before my mom had fallen asleep
during the torpid arias

whose table of desserts above
would you like

Richard

“good news from Ghent”‏

the only thing that rang in my ears ever
about Ghent until contemplating the van
Eyck Altarpiece was Robert Browning‘s
poem about it, “How They Brought the
Good News from Ghent to Aix
“, the
idea, like in his “Pheidippides“, of
dying valiantly for a cause had mightily
impressed me

that cause is incidental, of course,
dependent on the beliefs and situation
of that particular stalwart person

it might make you unforgettable, that
unfettered and irevocable devotion, as
it did for me, for instance, the heroes
of these two poems, such an exalted
mission is an ambition for lots of folks,
very much for a young boy, especially,
such as I was when I read these

Rose Valland rose indeed to the occasion
when it came to saving priceless art before
the onslaught of ruthless Naziism, wherein
the very van Eyck Altarpiece, and also even
Raphael‘s incandescent “Sistine Madonna“,
to my utter horror, from another, and opposite,
corner of Europe, Dresden, could’ve been
forever lost

but the “good news” was in kind returned
to Ghent, eventually, in this fascinating
documentary, “Hitler’s Museum: The Secret
History of Art Theft During World War II”,
part 1, part 2, just click, from its hiding place
in Altaussee, a mountain fortress in Austria

The Adoration of the Lamb” now resides in
its rightful Ghent, even more, after so fraught
a trek, a wonder

also returned to Dresden, incidentally, the
Sistine Madonna“, that city’s own defining
artwork

it is to be noted that a task force had been
set up by no less than the Americans to
save the purloined art of Europe in that
however fraught time

this hasn’t been at all the case in their
recent military forays, what do you gain,
I ask, if you lose your ideals, what exactly
do you conquer

Richard

psst: Browning‘s “news”, if you’re wondering,
was of the “Pacification of Ghent“, 1576

adagios‏

a friend writes,

Richard,
I thought I could rely on you to call an adagio by it’s right name! If not you, I ask, who can I trust? Certainly not Colin. I asked him about andante and he thinks it is slightly undercooked pasta! In all seriousness though Richard, we do forgive you and we do most enjoy you subllime cultural offerings.
 
yes, and thank you, and adagios are of course very long
Spanish goodbyes, as in “adagios amigo”  
 
 
they don’t often stand alone, they’re usually part of a greater
composition, Classically in the middle, between two more
sprightly movements, and the form didn’t especially change
even through the later, Romantic, Impressionistic, and more
modern even musical periods 
 
when they have stood alone they’ve usually been excerpted
from a composer’s larger composition for its individual
potency and mass appeal, intact, or sometimes modified,
and often modified even further, time begins to tell 
  
 
two adagios stand out in musical history  
 
Albinoni’s, 1671 -1751, would’ve been the middle movement
of a trio sonata – three instrumentalists playing three individual
pieces as a musical unit – according to Remo Giazotto, musicologist
1910-1998, who’d found fragments, he said, in the burned out
remains of an archive in Dresden after the Second World War
 
later it was determined to be Giazotto’s very own composition,
not at all Albinoni’s  
 
wow, man
  
 
Barber’s Adagio for Strings, was lifted from his String Quartet,
Op. 11, again from the customary middle, and arranged for string
orchestra, to universal approbation, a bud turned into an oracular 
flower, speaking for millions 
 
 
adagios are slow, usually mournful affairs, often transformed
into profound, even transcendental, reverence 
 
 
 
Richard  
 
 
 
 
 

yesterday – December 28,2006

           Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window, 1657

                                Johannes Vermeer

                                    (1632-1675)

             ______________________________________

these earlier “back tracks“, of which the following is one example, are pieces I consider still to be worth your while
please enjoy 
             
                       _______________________
December 28, 2006
                                                                                                                                                                  yesterday for the first time it snowed, as I left the apartment a light but steady moisture began to fall that I suspected might be more than rain, sure enough by the time I´d walked the several minutes to the number 8 which would take me to the Old Masters Picture Gallery, the Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister, in the Zwinger, snowflakes swirled about us like whirling dervishes, light in the flustered air and as merry and playful as the season 
I hopped the Strassenbahn, the tram, which sleekly sailed us along to, then a short length of, the river, which was shrouded there by thickets of trees, but as we turned onto the bridge, the Augustusbrücke, the stately steeples and spires of the Altstadt appeared magically transformed into the enchanted setting of a fairy tale, sprinkled with the dancing fairy dust of the very Brothers Grimm
I got off beside the Catholic Cathedral, St Trinitatis, built in 1738 to 1755, heavy with age, light with spirit, its saints and significant clergy standing watch along the balustrade that lined and determined its roof, surely the bells were ringing but I can´t say for certain, the music was all in my eyes
across the cobblestone square before the Semperoper – the Opera House that Gottfried Semper built between 1838 and 1841, rebuilt from 1871 to 1878 by his son after it burned down in ´69 – people were scurrying about, taking pictures, catching their own trains, while flanking the building´s entrance Goethe and Schiller stood watch, impervious and staunch, beneath the steady and playful flakes, they bore the white frost upon their shoulders and pates with patience and resignation
further along the walls but protected by the shelter of each their private stone niche, Sophocles and Shakespeare to one side, Euripides and Molière on the other, sat soberly watching, unruffled, the snow fall
next door the Zwinger warmly awaited, I checked my coat and scarves with the hat check girl I´ve befriended there, she eagerly announced to the others that I was her friend, I´m sure I smiled and blushed, then made my way to the section I was exploring that day
of the many paintings in a room I always choose the one that I would like to take away more than any of the others, that way I need to examine them all, sometimes even closely
yesterday I quickly passed on a Cornelis Corneliszoon van Haarlem, “Venus, Bacchus and Ceres”, all heavy-haunched and cornucopian, a bird concert complete with sheet music in the trees by a Melchior de Hondecoeter no less, I spent some time with Mathias Stom´s “Old lady with a Candle”, which seemed to owe a lot to Rembrandt or he to him, with Jakob Isaacksz Ruisdael´s “The Hunt”, a dark but stirring landscape with a huge tree dominating the centre and reflected subtly in a river that rippled at its root, a deer was trying to flee across the foreground hunters approaching
a couple of Vermeers were of consequence, one, “The Procuress”, a madam in other words, accepting guilders from a group of men, one of them being so bold as to fondle her breast, left me surprised at so untypical a work of his, but another of a girl reading a letter at a window, replete with his tapestries and textures and a more modest and composed young woman intent on the message that she held, was nearly my first choice, her soft reflection in the open latticed windowpane was genius
 
but a Salomon de Bray, a name unknown to me, had painted in the mid sixteen-hundreds a young man with a crown, but of black roses, the youth could not have been very old, an open mouth spoke of being still eager and curious, age shuts men up and makes them open up only to declare, propound, pontificate
he´d turned to one side so that his neck was lithe and swift, probably alert to a sudden sound, a staff he held in strong but still supple hands suggested he was a wanderer or a shepherd
a white undershirt was mostly buttoned up but a string had not been tied at its neck, its either ends hung loose above another darker red shirt, equally not quite fully buttoned, there was no suggestion of a breast but only the soft spread of the clavicles
I would´ve taken him home
the crown of roses of course sported thorns in fresh, clean, but unguarded hair, the reference was unmistakable
                                                                                                                                                                    from a window I watched the thick snow still fall, the ground was covered, but left were the precise lines of the pristine architecture under the icing that outlined its edges
the sages and the deities at the Zwingers own many parapets looked timelessly, unswervingly, on
                 __________________________________________                                                                                 
though the Old Masters Picture Gallery, die Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister, will not allow transfer of their artworks to personal blogs, their entire collection is available through their own website, which I’ve linked you to here, click “Online-Gallery” at the home page, there under Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister click “motivliste anzeigen“, “show collection“, make your way through the 64 “Seiten, “pages“, of masterworks
thoroughly enjoy
                                                                                                                                                                  yours in timeless art                                                                                                                                                                   richibi
                                                                                                                   __________________________________     

C*r*s*mas greetings from Dresden, December 24, 2006

Bellotto Bernardo - Dresden Elbufer

    View of Dresden from the Right Bank of the Elbe with  Augustus Bridge

                                                        (1748)                      

                                                 Bernardo Bellotto

                                                      1720 – 1780

                          _________________________________

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           these earlier “back tracks“, of which the following is one example, are pieces I consider still to be worth your while

please enjoy

                        _______________________

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       December 24, 2006

through the good graces of a dear friend, a lady I met last year, my teacher in German at the Goethe-Institut, I´ve been afforded the wonderful opportunity of spending the next several weeks, while she is away with her family in their hideaway in rural Belgium, here in shimmering Dresden, the jewel, I´m sure, of central Europe, I´d already rendered her the use of my own apartment in Vancouver when in September she came to visit and I could use my mom´s place while she was away touring for most of the month the Iberian peninsula, Spain, Portugal, as well as, across the strait, Morrocco

Dresden celebrated its eight hundredth anniversary this year and, though its buildings don´t date back that far, much of it has worn its architectural robes several centuries, the Zwinger, Dresden´s answer to Versailles, was built from 1609 to 1611, I was yesterday informed as I marvelled at the Bernardo Bellottos, Canaletto the Younger, the Elder´s nephew, who was court painter there, I believe I understood through a charming attendant´s perhaps too rapid German, and whose views of the city then were as detailed and precise as his uncle’s famous masterpieces of Venice, their styles are indeed so similar that until recently I´d believed, to my great embarrassment when I found out they were not, that they were one and the same, that the uncle had spent time in both Dresden and Warsaw, which he had not, the nephew rather had, I inadvertently discovered in a book I read on Dresden that cleared everything up, the one had superseded the other, channelled him there, more darkly perhaps due to those cities’ darker tones, but not at all less brilliantly 

not only the Canalettos of course but many other masters adorn the Zwinger, the city´s most sumptuous art museum, the Madonna of the Sistine Chapel of Raphael (which you’ll find below) with its couple of attendant cherubs for instance holds a place of the highest honour, and during the past couple of days I took in a wonderful exhibition of Cranachs there, both the Elder and the Younger, was mightily impressed by the latter´s “Adam” and “Eve”, which tall, naked, and still innocent beneath their modest leafy branches, graced either side of a doorway that led onward through a row of precisely positioned doors partitioning a long narrow corridor into a series of smaller rooms that seemed infinite, like a mirror reflecting itself in a mirror, in a rich burgundy throughout

but on the opposite side in the next room behind the “Eve”, a demure and elegant St Catherine stood large as life leaning upon her eponymous wheel while before her she held upright a heraldic sword whose blade rested on the pebbled ground, a work of the Elder Cranach

her medieval robes were golden, as was her headdress and hair, a prim plaited bodice attested to both her youth and modesty, her eyes shy and discreet gazed softly on the beholder and upon, as in all timeless art, I´m sure, infinity

I would´ve taken her with me but am caught up in the fleeting here and now

Dresden itself is of course much reconstructed after the scandal of its destruction, quite equal I would think to the ravages of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, its center lies across the Elbe, the river that runs through the town, from the Neustadt, the New City, so called already several centuries ago

in the Altstadt, the Old City, there along the river´s opposite bank beyond the several bridges, are the exquisite Baroque structures, churches and palaces and stately buildings, that make up her glory

in the evening as the city lights are reflected in the meandering river the shimmering city achieves the quality of high art, a tribute through the ages to the very best in culture and civilization

it hasn´t snowed here yet, already on December the 24th, Christmas won´t, it appears, be white, it´ll nevertheless be for me quite special as is evident I´m sure in my attitude of awestruck reverence

may it be as well for you, may it be happy, healthy and thoroughly blessed

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     with all my heart

Richard

            

 

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