Tidbits from Dresden – Part One

I’m back from a trip to Germany – visiting Dresden, Berlin and then Dresden again. I want to use this posting and the next to share some little discoveries and my upcoming plans.

Dresden from the Albertinum  window.

Dresden from the museum's window. Credits to my mother for pointing out this beautiful view.

It was only ten days, and somehow I always quench as much in as little time as possible. I’m surprised sometimes how much I manage – I read read more books than usually in half a year. I visit lots of museums, discover a lot of new places and interesting people – and that makes me draw more.
The inspiration is great, but the rushing is no good. I don’t really have time to sit down and paint and I miss out on meeting people because I have to rush off again.

So the lesson learned is clear: Travel more, but take more time for it.

One Museum I visited was the newly opened Albertinum – containing the “National Public Art Collection”. They’ve got a nice line of paintings ans sculptures – going from the late middle ages to modern nowadays art. I truly have the impression art got better and better over time. As good as Rembrandt was, he doesn’t technically compare to most of his followers. The height of technical quality came around 1900, with Adolph Menzel, Leibl, Repin, Sargent and many others.

Gustav Klimt, 1902, 'Beech Grove' (or Beech Forest), oil on canvas

Gustav Klimt, 1902, 'Beech Grove' (or Beech Forest), oil on canvas

They were succeeded by a lot more experimental artists. I especially liked the Gustav Klimt painting “Beech grove”. Picasso is for me the turning point – after that I just can’t understand it anymore. The last paintings, showing contemporary art, were the blurred photos of Gerhard Richter and some paintings like “Gray”… which is a gray canvas. They actually make me feel very uncomfortable. Maybe there are good concepts behind it – to me it’s not good paintings.

It is odd though: Are the clear style episodes one sees in museums maybe not true to what artists did? Nowadays there are so many different styles, even closely resembling older art movements. There are technically superb artists, but somehow in the museums you only find a very specific selection – lacking anything but abstract conceptual art. A real shame.

Maybe it was the same throughout history – and those art directions we learn from books and museums are not truly movements. At least not movements of artists but rather of museum directors and book writers? I wonder what diversity we just missed out on.

What made up for my disgruntlement (whow, that word is in the dictionary) was a special discovery in the museums art shop.

David Hockney’s “Secret Knowledge: Rediscovering the Lost Techniques of the Old Masters“. He analyzes paintings goal to show that artists throughout history used lenses, mirrors or things like the camera obscura.
So he filled the book with massive amounts of huge beautiful prints of paintings – analyzing the style perspective and techniques. Comparing often how styles of artists developed or how their underpaintings looked. An art history book with lots of pictures? You can’t imagine how rare that is.

A real catch – on sale for 19 instead of 50 Euro. If you’re in Dresden – go and get it!

So much for part one from Dresden – more coming soon. But now I’m now off to another Red hair day in Breda.

David Hockney 'Secret Knowlegde of the Masters' - a page A little preview of the prints.

David Hockney 'Secret Knowlegde of the Masters' - another page The book goes quite into the details.