Where Are They Now?

3 12 2007

I’m suffering a little bit of culture shock and haven’t quite got myself back to Kansas. With my mind still on all the paintings I saw over the weekend, I’ve thought a little bit about what the Dutch masters would be doing if they were working today.

Frans Hals: Photographer of choice for swaggering rap stars and professional (male only) sports teams. Not much known about his personal life and rarely seen in social settings outside men’s locker rooms.

Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn: In charge of product development at Google. Very creative guy. Likes to quietly knock the socks off the competition.

Pieter Claesz: Lead window dresser at Bergdorf Goodman. Widely credited for increasing seasonal sales due to irresistable window displays. Shoppers often seen lined up with noses pressed against Bergdorf’s plate glass windows.

Malle Babba: Folding sheets in the laundry room at Novotel, 52nd St. Loves to chew on the little hotel soaps given her by the housekeepers. Pet owl banished from laundry room due to several slip and falls on bird doo.

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3 responses

3 12 2007
foghorn

Indeed. And Rembrandt would have bought a spec house with a subprime, no-docs loan from Countrywide and would now be insolvent, just as he was in the 17th century. Malle Babba violently protests the “No Owls In The Hotel” edict and is temporarily confined in Belleview . . . .

4 12 2007
gockow

I am so glad you put the links in to each of these painters! That Pieter Claesz still life puts Tastespotting to shame. It reminds me of Babette’s Feast, one of my lifetime faves.

And that’s a different Malle Babbe! (I think it’s spelled ‘bird doo’.) A bit less cranky than the one I found on my own. (Read more on the studiolo.com site for some interesting stuff. But whoa! I just realized his version is reversed! Here’s a better one.)

The Dutch in those links is also lovely.

4 12 2007
foghorn

That’s definitely a different Malle Babba. Here’s the link (www.abcgallery.com/H/hals/hals35.html) to the one in Berlin that is the best known (and best) that is known as a Hals.

It is a cautionary image – this could be any of us, one might think, but for a few lucky breaks – and in my view, Hal’s rough and free painting of this rough and tumble character anticipates Van Gogh’s early worker paintings such as The Potato Eaters.

Who would have been the customer for this picture? We understand who would buy the militia paintings, the trustees paintings, the rich folks’ portraits and such, but who would buy Malle Babba? Perhaps the 17th century version of the person who buys Robert Crumb drawings, the rougher and closer-to-the-bone the better.

Many 17th century Dutch pictures were intended as metaphors, as representations of aphorisms or moral tales or as warnings. Malle Babba may be all of them.

Now – where’s my owl . . . .

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