13 April 2015

Art Martha. Late Rembrandt.

Amsterdam's Rijksmuseum plays host to Late Rembrandt, an exhibition title leaving nothing to the imagination. Featuring around one hundred works from the latter phase of his career, it's a terrific survey of his skill expertly presented. As impressive as the paintings and etchings were, I found it far more compelling to watch the audience.

The gallery was packed despite a high €25 ticket price for a timed entry system, which I naively assumed would equate to a better viewing experience; it didn't. It was virtually impossible to get up close to a painting requiring a battle-like effort to beat away: headset wearing browsers eager to beep QR codes; point and shoot photographers hogging prime viewing positions as they captured out of focus images of the paintings before them (why not buy a catalogue?); and hordes of people with walking sticks protruding from odd angles used to prod others away. Call me twisted, but I took great pleasure in watching the watchers. One fellow in particular caught my attention: well into his eighties with a killer comb-over, he wheeled his wife around the gallery. He seemed oblivious to others as he banged her wheelchair into them to ensure his wife could see the paintings. Fascinating. Image: A Woman Bathing in a Stream, 1655.

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