On Wednesday I went to Albertina. Three things to see there: Rembrandt and his time, Photography and the invisible and Gerhard Richter. Well, a fourth thing is always welcome anytime I go to Albertina: the Batliner collection (Monet to Picasso). What shall I begin with? Perhaps with Rembrandt, to get over the bitter part first. Why bitter? It started with the paint stripes (green, blue, etc.) which every room had been painted in (just in the middle, about 1,50 m). It made the paintings look smaller… Too intensive, these colors… And then, the paintings themselves: just a few. Mostly graphical works. Still, I am always happy to see Rembrandt’s landscape with three trees. And it was there. Plus a few portraits. But they are small works. There was some more Cuyp, der Neer (just one good one), a few Heindrik Goltzius but the overall impression was that of a patchwork of small works. The categories they came up with (marines, Italian landscapes, village life) do not come across as essential and they are poorly illustrated. I was let down by it, anyway…
Then, one floor higher, the funny and interesting world of photography in some of its first adventures into space (micro and micro space, that is) – plants and insects, the moon and X-rays of the most usual objects were put on display. Have you ever seen an X-ray of a boot from the 1850’s? Or photos of the wings of a moth (black & white, but nevermind)? And then, the hunger for experimenting – everything must be caught on “plate”/film! A snake digesting a frog. A woman pouring water over another woman (chronophotography)! A running rabbit, goat, cat, etc. Muybridge was there as well, of course! The first attempts at color photography. Light dispersion. Precision with rudimentary tools. Nice!
Last floor (before strolling quickly through the modern art collection – hello, Rothko, Jawlensky, Braque, Malevitch, Rysselberghe & Co.) – Gerhard Richter. There is much to learn about him still. I do not know him that well (not seen enough until now) but I liked it. There is much to be read/seen about/by him. I found here (1, 2) some stuff that relates to the paintings he did in the aftermath of the Baader-Meinhof trial. None of these paintings were there and… somehow… when I come to think of it, the whole exhibition is a bit flashy. Not that the paintings are bad, not at all! But they are a bit too light and too showy. That’s not Richter, but the curator! That’s a bit disappointing.
Funny though, I read about the Baader-Meinhof paintings just now and this week, in two installments I saw the Baader Meinhof Komplex (the film). So now, the images have more resonance, they are more powerful. This all is, however, something I constructed. I did not know of the terrorist attacks. Back then, when they happened, I wasn’t even born. And RAF did not mean anything to me until 2007 when the whole issue with clemency came up.
But, back to Richter! What I liked the most were the watercolors. I felt bad that I had to leave the museum knowing that I will not be able to see them every day. It would make me happy to own one of them. I do not know why. I just felt/feel so.
Last week I started translated some stuff on aesthetics. I consider this a wider project. I started with Greenberg and then I want to translate some articles on Wikipedia and look for good contemporary art critics. I spent some days getting used to the latest winners of the Turner prize (read reviews from both sides – the officials and the Stuckists). There is much to be done still. But I like this!
The gallery work, without this is mind numbing. However, I found good things this week – a de Pissis, a Farasyn, a Zonaro, a huge 19th C. painting (of what I think is Alexandria), Mormille, Carelli. Hope it will keep going like this! Just if I had the money to buy them all!