Another reason why the battlements in Europe crumbled was because of a force even more powerful that the weapons of the time: money. As trade increased and financial empires bloomed war became a bad investment.
There are occasional departures into less public, more mysterious territory. “The Golden Bend in the Herengracht in Amsterdam,” a painting of row houses and treeless, sparsely populated sidewalks along a glassy canal by the excellent Berckheyde, has a strangely empty, moody feeling that artists like de Chirico and Hopper would have appreciated... But none of the usual evils of city life — crime, poverty, pollution, injustice and so on — are to be seen.
The city as envisioned by these artists is one of the great collective endeavors of humankind. People are born, live and die; cities live on. The Dutch cityscapists were not social critics or utopian visionaries, but believers in the real possibility of creating worlds of peace, order, beauty and well-being. People can, at times, all get along and build something bigger than themselves.
A quiet spiritual urgency animates nearly every painting in the exhibition. In one by van Ruisdael, the feeling is almost cosmic. We find ourselves on the roof of Amsterdam’s new town hall, still under construction. Blocks of stone and scraps of wood lie at our feet, and we look out over a vast metropolitan panorama, its countless little buildings each noted with a tenderly deft touch. The sky is roiled by clouds, and sunlight spills across the middle of the city while darkness obscures the closer and further distances.
Although the canvas measures just about 17 by 16 inches, the view is breathtakingly expansive, powerfully meditative and eerily disquieting. It seems almost biblically prophetic, a vision of the city on the brink, soon to be engulfed by the anarchic shadows of modernity.
Puapa New GuineaGah. Paupa.
Puapa New Guinea
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