Saturday 18 September 2021

And Another Thing

Lo! A two-for-one Deal: Danish Flag and Dutch Delftware
Sand Holm, Still Life With Art Nouveau Ceramics [& idem], 1919

Carrying on from last week's Danish musing, Dear Reader, there were murmurings about things Dutch needing to be spoken of, suggesting perhaps Delftware and other products of their Golden Age. But the direction this post heads is toward a Documentary, viz., The New Rijksmuseum (2014)*

The Old Rijksmuseum, 1878

Amsterdam is another city Your Correspondent hasn't visited [woe!] but in lieu of this deficiency, I have become rather fond of the beguiling portal, the Rijksstudio, that is the digitised collection of its famous national museum, the Rijskmuseum. You can often find me there, rootling around looking for delicious images, usually as blog fodder. Such is the joy of the digital age!

Like many cultural institutions that have had to think up inventive ways to enrich the lives of us all in These Trying Times, the Pipistrello's local temple to artistic stuffs, the AGNSW, has been doing its bit in compensating for the cultural freeze, especially for those holding languishing memberships. 

Imagine my delight when they recently sent out a link to watch a documentary film of the renovation of this Dutch National Treasure Chest. And so marvellous did this film prove to be, I watched it twice!

For why? Unexpected drama comes as ambition meets parochial and bureaucratic obstacles for the building to be renovated and the entrance reimagined. Aesthetic objections, a cyclists' union, a shocking resignation, high emotions and professional disappointments loom over the project as the months and years tick over. 

Curators, who imagine with undisguised passion how their collections will be showcased, endear and infect us with their enthusiasm, living and breathing their speciality as they do (even literally for the live-in caretaker), are still yet fearful the project will succumb to ennui and their precious works become forgotten as the time passes. 

Despite the outward signs of the project's highs and lows, quietly and without cessation the cleaners and restorers are busy busy on the million paintings, stucco, artefacts, you name it, in readiness for the eventual reopening of the museum that looms so large in the lives of all Amsterdam. And such a thorough going-over of everything and sufficient time passes that unknown treasure is even discovered within collections.

Like all Grand Designs, large or small, the whole exercise was beset by not only cost and deadline blowouts, but the peculiarly Dutch democratic process allowed for interference on a dramatic scale. All up, the museum was shut for a decade and the whole shebang cost half a billion euros.

Dutch filmmaker Oeke Hoogendijk was given a behind-the-scenes pass to chronicle this ambitious renovation project. Four hundred hours of footage was originally condensed into a two-part four-hour film, and then further cut down to this two-hour documentary. The result is a fascinating, gripping and mesmerisingly beautiful film. [I watched it twice, I tell you!]

This rather familiar lass now has a cheeky cupid behind her!
Johannes Vermeer, Girl Reading a Letter by an Open Window, c. 1659

And if you love watching art restoration in the modern age, there is also the recent wonderful news about the unveiling of the transformation of this painting by the Dutch master Johannes Vermeer, courtesy of our Deutsche friends in Dresden, with an accompanying video of the alchemy behind the project.

Officially: Militia Company of District II under the Command of Captain Frans Bannick Cocq
a.k.a.: The Night Watch, Rembrandt van Rijn, 1642

Of course, for something completely wild in the art restoration sphere, the Rijksmuseum website has devoted a whole corner to "Operation Night Watch", showcasing the study and restoration of its centrepiece painting by Rembrandt, wherein artificial intelligence "learned" his painting style to digitally recreate the severed and lost outer edges.

And on that futuristic note, where AI does something delightfully unexpected, I'm now done with D.

Gekalligrafeerd alfabet, Andries Hogeboom, Ambrosius Perling, Dutch calligraphy engraving, 1680 - 1701

* This is merely the official trailer found on the youtubes, but the documentary can be watched through various interweb links for free or small fee, depending on your location.

Image credits: 1:; 2: via Flickr; 3: Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister; 4, 5: Rijksmuseum

Wednesday 8 September 2021

D is for ...

Print of the Capital D engraving from Libellus Novus Elementorum Latinorum by Jeremias Falck after Johann Christian Bierpfaf, c. 1650, Rijksmuseum Collection
... is for

Danish Design

There's a generous smattering of C20th Danish Design to be found around the Pipistrello Casa, and fulsome as we are in our appreciation of the marvellous stuffs the Kingdom of Denmark produces, it is notwithstanding our never once visiting this diminutive and interesting land, nor any of its Nordic neighbours. I know! ...

Copenhagen's be-flagged Tower of
Christiansborg Palace, a.k.a. Borgen*

Why it is that we, and Australians in general, have such a love affair with things Danish? And I speak not just of the delicious breakfast pastries and butter and feta and cheesy whatnots. It's true that the residents of this faraway land make gorgeous and useful things, (and fabulous drama for the telly), but bonus points must go toward Our Mary one day being their Queen. Isn't she just lovely? 

Behold some Mary Magic:

Gala-ed up in 2017 in rubies and caped splendour
(And so complementary with the FWH Wallpaper)

On hat duty for last weekend's
Flag Day in Copenhagen

But with regard to the subject at hand, viz. Danish-Designed Doodads, prithee, Dear Reader, step this way for some long-lived lovelies, notable for being heavy on the Bang & Olufsen stuffs:

My first mobile telephone (a stubborn refusal to own such ugly things was melted away one Xmas!):

Behold the B&O foray into 2G Mobile Telephonery,
The <sob!> now-defunct "Serene" on her docking station

After around a dozen years (!!) of petite clamshell service,
Her beautiful wizardry now lives in Ornamental Retirement

You've already met our beloved Belgian Bakelite telephone, but here are her young Danish cousins:

With bonus D-is-for Daffodils

Umm, yup, another one,
Propping up a shelf of To-Be-Reads

Yes, three telephones for two people in this day and age does seem to be, ahem, excessive. A  bit like the Sewing Machine Situation (and I have some news on that mini mania - there's now a Clare!)

And of course, what landline/s is/are complete without an Answering Machine?

Lo! There is also some audio joy, going strong since Mr. P's 40th birthday :) :

But for another more low-tech Doodad (and I shall not provide a pic of the Danish Art Deco sideboard as I know not the designer's name and besides, the telly sits atop and thus makes for a prosaic composition):

A rather more thrilling midcentury Raadvad Bread Guillotine,
For your rye-bread slicing needs

Today's Flying With Hands model
Demonstrating the Raadvad's utility

And for something somewhat larger but still proximate to the roost, we have the fruits of the creative genius of just one of Denmark's famous architects, viz. Jørn Utzon:

No prizes for guessing

That I speak of the Sydney Opera House

From which these various vantage points

Show somewhat less than the usual throngs of pedestrians

Who at times recently

Were often outnumbered by these perambulators

Nota bene: There are also some words to be spoken of the D-is-for-Dutch-Documentary variety, but that shall come as a Part II to this sufficiently long post.

* I hear tell that the excellent political drama Borgen is coming back for a fourth series in 2022!

Image credits: 1: Rijksmuseum; 2, 4:; 3: via Pinterest; 12: Wikimedia Commons: all remaining: Flying With Hands

Bats In The Belfry