The Rembrandt show, which we saw Friday, is exceptional. The portrait of Christ is particularly compelling; tender, evocative, compassionate. With enough ambiguity in his face to suggest "I pity you, but don't fuck with me," this Savior has the look of a man who could either hug or slug you--note the powerful hand resting on his chest, so unthreatening and yet ready for action!
I of course love Rembrandt's self-portrait as Paul (and saw it in the Rijksmuseum a couple years ago); is Paul weary? Fed up? Surprised? Resigned to his fate? Gassy? He captures astounding psychological depth in these images, and the moods and emotional tone of his portraits are engagingly obtuse.
Unlike many of the Dutch/Flemish painters I adore (Vermeer, van Eyck, etc) Rembrandt is unafraid of murk and suggested detail--many of these portraits are surprisingly vague up close; around the central figure will be mere slashed lines or daubs akin to something seen more commonly after Cezanne--in contrast we have the precision of van Eyck's Annunciation (is it possible he painted every single fiber in those garments?) and Vermeer's Lady with a Balance, with careful distinction between colors, and nearly every bit of canvas minutely attended. And yet Rembrandt's handling of light and shadow is every bit as intricate and masterful.
Equally marvelous are the etchings. Gone are the ambiguities, the careful absences; the detail in these masterworks is exquisite.
I also got to visit a few old friends, and noted that my favorite Grunewald looked spectacular and vibrant--they must've cleaned it recently. Cha and I saw the art and then phoned Em for lunch. I called from the most inconvenient possible spot; the poor soul works in the East Gallery--had I known we would have met her there instead of making her hike a half-mile to find us at the 7th Street entrance.