Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Rembrandt: Three Faces in a Closet

I went to a show at the Cincinnati Art Museum today to see the Rembrandt paintings. It was like going to see paintings by one of the top painters in history and then finding them hanging in a closet. The only thing that would have been worse would have been if they had just turned the lights off. Had to be the worst lit show I have ever been to. I suppose someone decided, "The paintings are dark, maybe the room should be too." I have seen drawings and works on paper (work that is actually sensitive to light) in better lighting than this show.
The amazing thing is that there are skylights in the room they were shown in, but they had blocked them, to then spot light the paintings with incandescent bulbs. I am not sure who made this decision, but it was a poor and ill informed one. Only explanation that I would accept is that this was a condition of them being lent from the other museums. I can't see why, as sunlight is good for oil paintings, and while I can't speak for our museum or the one in Indy, but I would think at least that the Louvre knows better.
I can't think of a single 'great' artist in history that would suggest that his work would look better in artificial light. Rembrandt would be horrified to see his work shown so poorly. It would have been nice to really study the work, but it was hard to see them and study them fairly. I bet with natural light on them they would have glowed and the colors would have sparkled. Rembrandt is not known for his color, but the full spectrum of daylight would have done this show wonders.


Anonymous said...

I have to get there. Of course I am to busy painting. Soon to have a master.

Anonymous said...

I am too busy to see this show.

Anonymous said...

I'm too busy to read these comments.

Richard J. Luschek II said...

uh, ok?
Quite the lively debate going on here. This is riveting stuff.
Well, at least I am posting all of the comments sent on this topic.