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