Monday, 29 January 2018

A drawing by Degas

Edgar Degas, Three dancers 1889
Last week I went to an exhibition that showed part of a private collection. In this collection the owners bought the paintings they liked, based on their personal taste and not what was in fashion. This exhibition was about the paintings and drawings they bought from Impressionist artists and beyond, like Fauvism, Post-Impressionism and Symbolism and Kubism.

But one of the things I loved most was this drawing by Edgar Degas. It shows his beloved dancers, but this is not a painting, but a sketch, with pastels on green paper. Degas was an excellent drawer, I read somwhere that he was the only modern artist who could draw like Rembrandt and Titiaan.

I loved this sketch from the first moment I saw it. It is very simple, but you can still imagine the dancers getting ready for a perfomance or a lesson, checking their clothes and warming up the shoes so they will be ready in a moment.

A quick sketch like this shows what a great artist Edgar Degas was.

Friday, 26 January 2018

Exotic animals

Near my house is a park, where they also shelter exotic animals that were dumped by their owners who could not or would look after them anymore. Or animals that have been taken by the authorities from their owners who did not look after them properly.
I cannot imagine why people want to have an exotic animal as a pet, when they have no idea what the animal needs. People are stupid.

But, inside the park is a little zoo/botanical garden, and a few weeks I go, I visited it for the first time. I did not know they had these animals, but I loved seeing them here, in a safe environment, and knowing they were well looked after.
This snake was huge!

Some kind of bird, a pheasant perhaps? 

Look at those colours

Funny creatures

This Meerkat was under a heat-light, and refused to look up

Look at the pins in detail

The Meerkat finally looked up, I love their little faces. 

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Davita's harp, Chaim Potok

During the eighties and nineties the American writer Chaim Potok was very popular in The Netherlands. I read several of his books and really liked them, but somehow I never re-read one of them, until a couple of weeks ago.

Davita's harp tells the story of a young girl, Ilana Davita who grows up in the nineteenthirties with her very intellectual parents who are both members of the communist party in the US.

Often they have to move since landlords are not to keen on communists in their appartments, and the only thing that always means home to Ilana is the doorharp that always hangs on the frontdoor in each appartment.

Then her father dies in the cival war in Spain and her mother hardly knows how to survive this loss. In the end her mother marries a childhood friend and distant relative, and returns to the Jewish faith she grew up in.

Communism did not give Ilana any comfort, but the Jewish community will in the end also betray her, as her quick mind and sharp thinking is not appreciated, since she is a woman.

Chaim Potok often writes about the conflict an individual can have when he or she goes against (religious) tradition.

I really enjoyed this book again, and I saw the similarities between the Orthodox Jewish faith and communism, as strange as that sounds. But in both cases there is only room for one truth and the sacred texts (either Marx of the Thorah) must be studies and commented upon.

Chaim Potok is a good writer who knows how to bring an unfamilair milieu to life, with compassion for his characters.

Davita's harp is a beatiful book and I am glad I picked it up again.

Monday, 15 January 2018

Roman glass and jewelry

A couple of weeks ago I was in the south of The Netherlands and this used to be part of the Roman Empire. In the museum there they had a great collection of Roman artefacts, like glasswork, pots, and jewelry. I always like to see how almost modern the necklaces look, you would not be surprised to see them in a shop in your own town.

And glasswork, how wonderful is glass? Imagine how these things are almost 2000 years old. History comes very close when you look at these objects.

Friday, 12 January 2018

Exhibition: Dutch painter Johan Jongkind

Harbour of Honfleur 1876
Johan Jongkind was born in 1819 and was taught drawing in The Hague. He got the eye of a French painter, who invited him to Paris.
Here Johan Jongkind soon had some successes. His way of painting, his Dutch approach to landscapes was something the French public liked and he was even awarded at the Salon.

He became friends with the painters of the Barbizon school of painting and like them, painted a lot of his paintings outdoors.

Claude Monet considered Jongkind a mentor and even said that Jongkind taught him how to use his eye.

In 1855 however Jongkind was broke and bitter, since his newest paintings were refused at the Salon. He left again to go back to The Netherlands and painted in Rotterdam and Dordrecht. His French friends helped him by organizing an auction for him to raise the money to bring Jongkind back to Paris in 1860.
Canal St, Martin, Paris 1875
He finally died in 1891. He never exposed his work at the Impressionist's exhibition, so he was not considered on of the Impressionists, but you can say he was at the root of Impressionism.
Le rue faubourgh St. Jacques in Paris 1879
In the Dutch town of Dordrecht is now an exhibition of this work and that of his friends. It is very beautiful and divers and it shows how Jongkind was both a modern painter who painted the world around him, but also stood firmly in the Dutch landschape tradition. a very beautiful exhibition that I enjoyed very much.

The exhibition Jongkind and friends can be seen at the Dordrechts museum in Dordrecht until May 27th 2018.
Rotterdam, 1873

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

In the freezing Winter

It is sometimes difficult I find, to see the beauty outside when it is freezing cold and all nature seems to have gone into hibernation.

But when you are careful, you can see many thing worth looking at, and also things that make a pretty great photograph!
Some kind of fungus:-) 

Friday, 5 January 2018

What am I reading?

These past two weeks I had no school, and I loved every single moment of this vacation. I had a lot of time to read and that has been amazing. Coming Monday school will start again and it will be a hectic time (I think it will only slow down half-way April), and I will have considerably less time to read.

My parents gave me these two book for Christmas. It is a little tradition since a couple of years that we give eachother a book.
I was given The ministery of utmost happiness by Arundhati Roy. I am looking forward to reading this.

The other book is A day with Claude Monet at Giverny by Adrian Goetz. It tells the story of the beautiful house and garden Monet had at Giverney. The book itself is beautiful as well, with amazing photographs and paintings and drawings. I am so very happy with it, reading it and looking at the photgraphs makes me feel like I am visiting Claude Monet.

Thanks to the series The crown I became interested in the lives of Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson. So I read That woman by Anne Sebba, an excellent read about Wallis Simpson and King Edward VIII by Philip Ziegler, a very good biography. I do not like Wallis Simpson any more than I did (I think she was a nasty piece of work), but I do understand her better and kind Edward VIII was more of an idiot than I ever imagined.

I read a lot of books I cannot review here, since these are Dutch books or books that have no English translation, but I also read Davita's harp by Chaim Potok. A wonderful novel about a young girl who grows up in the thirties with communist parents with Jewish roots and who has to deal with the death of her father in Spain and the rules and restrictions of the  (orthodox) Jewish religion. Vey good.

I also read The Northwater by Ian Mcguire, a historical novel set in the 19th century on a ship with whalehunters. I will not be reviewing this one, I did not enjoy it as much as I had hoped.
The Dutch cover
At the moment
The Winter is the perfect time for some Russian classics, and I am reading Dr. Zhivago, by Boris Pasternak. Each time around Christmas I watch the mini-series with Hans Matheson as Joeri Zhivago and Keira Knightly as Lara, and this time I also wanted to read the novel again. Yes, it is very, very good.

And I am reading A gentleman in Moskow by Amor Towles. This is another reading project I do with Lark (here), we both read this book and will post our reviews at the same time. We have done this before and it is a great way to read a novel, since you already discuss some points while reading.

And the other book I am reading at the moment is White teeth by Zadie Smith. I have not read a lot, but so far, I do like it.

Monday, 1 January 2018

Looking back at 2017

To all of you a very good 2018, but before we begin the new year, lets have a last look at 2017 and the great things that happened. 

I went to see Swan Lake
I saw the beautiful exhibition of Dutch painter Aert Schouman
We went on an exchange to Porto with 22 students
Spring was amazing
I went to Bologna in May, lovely city!
Japanese art at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam
This was my favorite book of 2017!
I did a workshop flower arranging, and I loved it!
Groningen is such a beautiful city with so much history
Vacation in Nice, I just want to go back there!
The Dutch in Paris is a very beautiful exhibition at the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam
The first snow of the Winter always creates chaos in The Netherlands
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