Thursday, August 31, 2023

Seeing a Once in a Lifetime Vermeer Exhibit


The Glass of Wine by Johannes Vermeer

The main reason I decided to visit Amsterdam was to see the historic Vermeer exhibit at the Rijksmuseum. With a ticket for 4:00 PM, I had a whole day to do some exploring. I headed back to the Museumplein to find a museum to visit.

My choice was the Modern Contemporary Museum (MOCO). MOCO explores works by artists who might be considered “non-traditional.” Street art, experimental art, pieces that might be ignored by more traditional museums. They house a wide variety of art in a relatively small space.

MOCO’s largest representation are pieces by Banksy, the edgy graffiti artist. His work always carries a not quite underlying political theme. 

Picasso by Banksy

Girl and Balloon by Banksy

Keep it Real - Monkey by Banksy

Angry Crows by Banksy

The Permanent collection also includes works by Warhol, Basquiat, Haring, The Kid and Yayoi Kusama, among others.

Flexible by Jean-Michel Basquiat

Untitled (Nuclear Television) by Kieth Haring

by Yayoi Kusama

by Yayoi Kusama

by Yayoi Kusama

I saw the Sun begin to Dim by The Kid

MOCO also had a special exhibit exploring NFTs. These are pieces of digital art that have no physical existence.


Hey by Beeple

For lunch, I stopped at Renzo’s Delicatessen, a couple of blocks from the park. They offer a wide variety of sandwiches along with hot and cold plates. You can buy food to take back to the park for a picnic, or sit down at one of the tables on their second floor or one of their outdoor tables to enjoy your lunch. After my meal, and spending some time in the park, enjoying a beautiful spring day, four o’clock finally approached and it was time to head for the Rijksmuseum. 

Johannes Vermeer (1632 - 1675) was a “classical” Dutch painter. He was active from 1653 until his death. His paintings offered a “slice of life”, exploring scenes of daily life among The Netherland’s merchant class. Vermeer is probably best known for “The Girl with a Pearl Earring”. In all, there are 37 works that have been attributed to him and this exhibit was special because the Rijksmuseum had brought together 28 of them, the largest collection ever put together for a single show.

Hetstraatje (Little Street)

View of Delft

 While Vermeer created a few street scenes, especially early in his career, he is best known for his works that take place in a single room, usually lit from the left. His subjects were usually women, either carrying out a specific task, or in conversation with a servant or a visitor.

The Milkmaid

Woman Writing a Letter with Her Maid

The Lacemaker

Detail of The Love Letter

One of Vermeer’s recurring elements was to have his subject doing something, but not looking at what they were busy with. He would present them in a moment of contemplation, looking out a window, off to side, or even directly at the viewer. 

The Glass of Wine

Mistress and Maid

Young Woman with a Lute

Girl Reading a letter by an Open Window

Vermeer was one of the first painters to use interior perspectives as naturally as he did. Some people have speculated that he used a camera obscura to help him capture his scenes. Whether he did no not, his painting are beautiful, and I am glad that I had a chance to see them.

Girl with a Pearl Neckless

Girl Interrupted at Her Music

Officer and Laughing Girl

Every once in a while a museum puts on a really special show. When that happens, try to take advantage of it and get there, even if you have to travel. It is worth the trip.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing this incredible exhibit. I wish I could have been there with you. This has made me want to experience more museums in person.