"a Vermeer that was not a Vermeer" -- Holland Cottier, 'New York Times'

Art Something I've been enjoying whilst I've (slowly) beening appreciating music is understanding how European orchestral music has developed, that thing that everyone calls 'classical music' isn't just some amorphous mess of ideas some of which work, but a slow development of style from romantic music through baroque and onward. That's what appreciation is about -- learning about the context of were this music came from helps you to understand and therefore enjoy it better.

Funnily enough, I'm not sure the same is the case with punk and its offshoots. There can't be many people who'll look at The Sex Pistols and Green Day and think they're from the same period. They can see how one developed into the other and eventually became Blink 182, Wheatus then Busted, McFly and good god The Jonas Brothers with Sham 69 and The Foo Fighters probably somewhere in there too.

My point is... what was my point? My point is, if you're not careful the origins of classical art forms can become shrouded, their historical niches obscured and they simply lose their impact to the viewer/listener. Applying this to painting, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York are holding one of those major exhibitions “The Age of Rembrandt: Dutch Painting" and askewing the usual patterns are displaying the works in the context of who the donor was and when they where acquired by the gallery:
"In this arrangement the history of Dutch “Golden Age” art begins in the American Gilded Age of the late 19th century, when the Met first opened its doors. The exhibition’s stars are not Rembrandt, Vermeer and Hals, but J. P. Morgan, Collis P. Huntington, William K. Vanderbilt and Louisine and H. O. Havemeyer."
In other words it says as much about the acquisition policy of the gallery than the art itself; it's the municipal equivalent of Rob Fleming, the protagonist 0f Nick Hornby's High Fidelity putting his record collection in chronological order and more importantly to truly appreciate the effort, you need to have been there; this is an exhibition by and for curators.

More importantly by throwing away the chronology, you're ditching the context that makes sense of the painting; as the reviewer Holland Cottier notes at the close of the piece: "Instead I wanted information about what they depicted, about the paint they were made of and about the hands that brushed the paint on. I wanted to know what the artists — Rembrandt, say — might have been thinking. And I wanted to know what 17th-century viewers saw when they looked at these pictures, what these pictures said in their time." Part of my thinks that actually seeing these paintings in what to the eye should seem relatively random allowing them to sit in their own right and like my regional gallery visits being able to see the unheralded gems. But then, there's only so many times you can randomly listen to music from your hard disk before you just have to cue up REM's Automatic For The People and listen from Drive right through to Find The River [via].

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