Sunday Afternoon at Museum Voorlinden

Anselm Kiefer

Art opens the eyes. And hopefully your consciousness. At Museum Voorlinden I usually experience both and it actually begins with arrival. After bumper to bumper traffic from Amsterdam, narrow residential streets leading to the parking area, a short walk and then WHOOSH….. the expansive vastness of the Museum’s landscaped terrein opens up to you. Relaxing you, readying  you for what lies just ahead.

She chose first for Louise Bourgeois, I wanted my initial contact to be the work of Anselm Kiefer. She loves string quartets, I love a Mahler Symphony. Not that Louise Bourgeois lacks intensity and high drama… I simply preferred to have my relaxed and open consciousness initially filled with Keifer’s imagery. His monumental pieces somehow reflected the seemingly limitless landscape I experienced approaching the museum but shifted it into another beautiful but brooding, desolate realm. I’m always struck by the complexity and directness of his paintings.


Less is More


And then on to ‘Less is More’. This was a joy. And I needed that after Anselm Kiefer. Ingenious, creative, inventive, original work that made me smile. It occurred to me how refreshing it was to be someplace where the people I saw were not busy distracting themselves from what was going on around them but focusing on it. The fresh, open space here recalls an accidental meeting with two Dutch artists at JFK airport in New York last month. I helped them find their way to Grand Central Station in Manhattan with the ‘E’ train and in writing me after arriving back in Rotterdam they told me how impressed they were by the Dia Museum in upstate NY, the size of the galleries there and the space the artwork had to exist in. It is smaller here, but I experience something similar in this museum as well.


Louise Bourgeois


Our time was up, the museum was closing and I had just 5 minutes to do a quick walk-through of Louise Bourgeois. I will have to return to give her more attention. I’ve seen her work many times before especially in New York, and am familiar with her biography. It’s unsettling art for me. Threatening, ominous, incredibly intimate and very human. We exited in the failing light only to be greeted by ‘Maman’ just outside, beautifully lit from below, stunning in the blue-violet envelope of early evening dusk.


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