The Currier Museum in Manchester, NH is currently showing prints and drawings in ink by Rembrdandt and other Dutch artists of the 1600s.
The many prints by notable Old Masters invite admiration for the artists' facility with such an intractable medium as scratching into metal or stone.
Indeed, the exhibition's curators invite viewers to marvel at the amazing level of detail by handing out magnifying glasses at the entrance. But, really it's the feeling in art that counts.
And it's Rembrandt's work, distinguished from the rest by its depth of thought and emotion, that actually matters.
|Rembrandt van Rijn, Self-Portrait at a Window, 1648. Etching, drypoint, and burin.|
|A vision by Odilon Redon.|
Above is a pastel by Odilon Redon that shows you what he meant by the inward in art. For him, the inward meant the world of dreams, fantasy, mystery, mysticism, and private revelations of both the unknown and the known. But the essential language is the same in both artists' work, even if everything being said is not.
|Rembrandt van Rijn, Studies of the Head of Saskia and Others, 1636.|
|Rembrandt van Rijn, Bust of an Oriental in a Turban, abt. 1633.|
Ink on paper.
Lest we neglect Rembrandt's technical powers, look at the pen and ink drawing of a man wearing a turban above. The reproduction doesn't really show it, but there's an astonishing disparity between the amount of feeling and content Rembrandt gets across and the sheer "economy of means" with which he does it. In a few clearly rapid marks and lines, Rembrandt gives us all the information we need to read volumes into the man's life and identity. This is not just a colorfully "different" character type in 17th century Holland, it's a solid human being with a history of dreams, defeats, triumphs, and desires.
|Rembrandt van Rijn, Woman Bathing Her Feet at a Brook, 1658|
|Rembrandt van Rijn, One-Hundred Guilder Print, 1647.|
Etching, drypoint, and burin.
|Robert Vickrey, Old Clown, 1957. Tempera on gessoed Masonite.|
|Edgar Degas, Repetition au Foyer de la Danse, 1882.|
|Alfred Sisley, Un Noyer dans la Prairie de Thomery, 1880|
Such contrasts remind one that art is various, its means diverse, and its compass practically boundless.
Anyone can develop technical ability; it takes technical ability plus a cultivated inner life to produce important art. But even that isn't enough; as Redon noted it's a far more mysterious affair in the end. "No-one makes the art that they want to," he wrote. The work evolves on its own, "according to its own laws."
So there you have it: it just is, and that's that. "Art is a flower which blossoms freely, to the exclusion of all rules," Redon said. "In my view, it leaves in sad disarray the microscopic analyses of the 'aestheticians' who seek to explain it."