Joho the Blog » Sticky eyeballs

Sticky eyeballs

I’m in Amsterdam today and half of tomorrow, talking at meetings set up by Edelman PR, to whom I consult. I had the afternoon off, so after falling into a state of unconsciousness deeper than that of the mattress on which I lay, I set out with nothing but a map and zero sense of direction.

I walked into the center of the city and then came back out and went to the Rijksmuseum for an hour. Most of it is closed for renovation, so they’ve concentrated the masterpieces into about ten rooms. Astounding. Too much. I had the sense that I could see the paint run backwards into the puddles of color on a palette, and then I simply could not imagine how the process ran forwards. I could almost hear the suck and pop as my attention pulled from one painting and attached to the next.

And I had an experience I never had before. There was a landscape — I amazingly didn’t bring a pen with me so I don’t remember who painted it — that wasn’t particularly attractive to me. It was somewhat washed out, perhaps by time but perhaps on purpose. An oak tree twisted itself up from a hill against a low Netherlands landscape and miles of gray clouds. The craft of the painting didn’t particularly strike me — I’m a sucker for craft — yet I felt a yearning to be on that hill on that bleak day. I actually felt sad that I couldn’t be there. The painting made me homesick for a landscape I’ve never been centuries before I was born. [Technorati tag:]


Alert reader Peter Dawson figured out that it’s “Landscape with Two Oaks” (1641) by Jan van Goyen.

13 Responses to “Sticky eyeballs”

  1. Maybe you can find your lost landscape online: http://www.rijksmuseum.nl/index.jsp?lang=en

  2. David, the idea is fine though what prompted the idea might be suspect. Stay away from those coffee shops!

  3. Good luck finding hills of any kind in real-life Holland. Dutch painters started dreaming up non-pancake landscapes only after being infected by Italy-envy: http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m2242/is_1639_281/ai_91210881

    Betsy (often wrong but never uncertain) Devine

  4. Like, wow, Noel, I’m sure I’d agree with you, but those swirly paisely dots all over your msg are getting in the way.

  5. If you can get up early enough, go to the flower market — it’s heaven. BTW there are nice little coffee shops sprinkled along the route… er, maybe you should avoid those ;)

  6. You find only tourists in those coffee shops.

  7. Rijksmuseum is too intense for one time visit, as you rightly noted! I have a museumkart and been there about 3 times and still find new paintings tucked away in corners that I skipped the last time around.

    You should not miss Van Goh museum a couple of blocks away if you are into art appreciation.

  8. What did I tell you? It’s warping your brain!

  9. And bikes?

  10. Italy-envy was my first thought too. And I associate Amsterdam with rain. BTW, stay away from the flower market, it’s the worst of tourist traps.

  11. David, I’ve had the same thing happen to me on occasion. It’s reminiscent of something C.S. Lewis describes as “joy.” It’s a sense of longing for something unknown, something never experienced yet somehow missed. Lewis first experienced it as a child when looking at a toy garden his older brother had put together. Just as soon as we experience the feeling, he says, it’s gone–but the very sense of longing is so rich that we long for the longing.

  12. Dave, the painting is titled “landscape with two oaks” – by jan van goyen-1641.

    “What matter to him above all were the curiously shaped oaks, the space and the atomsphere. He captured that through a sophisticated composition and a loose, direct manner of painting and by using only a few colours- green, grey, yellow and brown in many shades” -pg 99,Rijks musem, the masterpieces guide.

  13. Yes it is. Thanks, /pd!

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