"(As good) As I Can"
"Als Ich Kan"
is an inscription
found on many paintings
Morris, the greatly revered proponent of the Arts
and Crafts movement of the nineteenth century also made "Als
Ich Kan" his credo. He and his compatriots felt
the technology of the industrial revolution a great evil. Theyattempted
to revive handicrafts and the guild system of
Van Eyck, also known as Jan of Bruges
born 1390 ? in the Maastricht region
died 1441, Bruges.
Highly successful Flemish painter whose work is pivotal in the development of the modern world from the medieval .
by Van Eyck is as perfect in itself as a cut crystal resplendent
with deep colors. No movement, no suffering, but rather the happy
unfolding of an existence. By this quality he ennobled all that
he touched. A fruit upon a window-sill becomes like a jewel,
a bronze platter or a chandelier are transformed
H. Beenken, 1941
In his work we see what was to become a major aspect of the whole
of Flemish Art: an incomparable feeling for the material aspect
of each and every object that he painted. He was most anxious
to render faithfully even the most insignificant details."
(along with many other artists).
but are only dressed in beautiful colors"
L. Lombard in a letter to Vasari, April 27, 1563
The Netherlands had come into it's "Golden Age," a republic---not a monarchy--- with a strong mercantile class. Now the role of the Artist emerged. In true democratic tradition artists (themselves mostly of the lower middle classes) depicted all aspects of daily life with an equality and reverence previously unimaginable.
relationships-- of men and women, Man and God,
our highest aspirations - our basic needs;
the spiritual vs. the material, and a host of other societal traits.
The very same society and culture we see in Vermeer's paintings accompanied the explorers.. exploiters... entrepreneurs.... colonists...
to the New World.
"Is Vermeer (his artistry transcending some political levels) also the pinnacle of the great Dutch/Belgium contribution of the very radical notion of the original bourgeoisie - that is, the true radical first "middle class" - those with power, money and influence, that WAS NOT inherited as a member of royalty. Of course, this very class assumed a conservative role as it established itself. But in it's beginnings, the very existence of this group (with all it's egalitarian and democratic values) was a gigantic radical event. And the role of the individual, with all her complexities, rose even higher. Vermeer is the champion of the complex individual, living in an intricate cultural context - an idea that even today academics can barely grapple with."--- M. Cohen, 2000
The purpose of these photographs is to present Architecture (and The Decorative Arts ) as symbols of Dutch life. Objects whose meanings and functions say something definitive about how the Dutch lived, why they pursued certain goals, or expressed certain values. These values permeate Seventeenth Century Dutch Culture. One is struck by how similar these values are to those espoused by Americans today:
1) The primacy of the family for organizing and realizing social and economic goals.
2) A liberalism that encouraged individual economic gain.
3) The importance of religious beliefs and of the the institution of the church for reinforcing ethnic identity; yet at the same time a tolerance of others' beliefs and behavior.
These aspects of Netherlands
society attracted a diverse European population of ambitious
immigrants; especially after their own revolution over 400 years
ago. When New Netherland was founded shortly thereafter, it also
attracted a wide range of people from throughout Europe seeking
the same liberal opportunities, and formed a population that,
more than any other colony, had a diversity akin to what we see
in modern America. The result has been a free wheeling entrepreneurship
which has greatly affected the spirit and organization of American
society. Thus it is in the Dutch Republic that we see historical
parallels to our own values more so than from the monarchies
of Europe out of which most of our ancestors were only to glad
too emigrate. In that sense the attractiveness of Netherlands
society promoted the emigration of the ideals of Dutch culture