Friday, March 20, 2009

Then and now and TEFAF’s Old Masters

I stayed south of Minneapolis this trip, driving across the city at sunrise each morning on the way to the corporate campus. It’s a typical American city, with today’s skyline, left, crowded with skyscrapers. It’s all so new compared to the Netherlands: consider what Minneapolis might it look like to a person born 150 years ago? ‘ probably not much more than a village on the prairie (right).

In contrast, a visitor from the 1860’s might recognize a lot in Maastricht: Dutch villages have a longer life and a more enduring continuity. I’m reminded of that each time I pass buildings in Maastricht with keystones hundreds of years old. I was reminded again as I passed through the ‘Old Masters’ section of TEFAF, filled with Dutch masterworks suffused with yellow Dutch Light. On close examination, each had buildings, activities, people that were instantly recognizable, despite being hundreds of years old. The works are by Cornelius Springer, Willem Koekkoek, and others, unfortunately unattributed here, but always appreciated.

Think about whether these scenes look as contemporary as they do traditional, in architecture, canals, activity, human scale. Then consider whether comparable US cities are as enduring.

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