Fifty-one-year-old Dutchman Marko Bak from Nieuw-Lekkerland, South Holland, who has Rembrandt’s The Night Watch tattooed on his back, and his tattoo artist Richard van Meerkerk both finally saw the artwork at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam for the very first time.
Bak said that he wasn’t a museum kind of guy, and that the tattoo was done as a bit of a joke, but then grew into a real art project. When Bak met Van Meerkerk, he told him “If ever you have nothing to do you, you can tattoo The Night Wacht on my back.” And that’s what happened.
The tattoo is not an exact copy, as some of the faces were replaced by ones from Bak’s friends and family. I can imagine that it’s not every day that someone shows up with The Night Wacht (aka Militia Company of District II under the Command of Captain Frans Banninck Cocq) on their back, making this quirky news.
A year ago when a group of scientists, developers, engineers and art historians from organisations including Microsoft, Delft University of Technology, the Mauritshuis in The Hague and the Rembrandt House Museum in Amsterdam revealed an artwork called ‘The Next Rembrandt’ made from collating data of 168,263 Rembrandt paintings, it was about a new way of creating a work of art.
This year instead of having data and computers creating a Rembrandt, we now have a robot actually painting works resembling old masters, but the question then arises: who owns the copyright of these works? We found out last year that copyright cannot be held on artworks made by non-human animals because copyright can only be held by legal persons, so that means robots don’t count.
“Earlier computer-generated works of art, machine learning software generates truly creative works without human input or intervention”, and again that could easily apply to a painting rabbit. The argument is that since copyright can also be held by companies because they too are ‘legal persons’, there should be some sort of copyright on the artwork that robots produce. On the other hand, suing a rabbit or a robots over copyright seems like an exercise in futility and madness.
Despite all the different laws, rules and distinctions in different parts of the world as well as the ginormous amount of computational power available to us today, one day we’ll have to decide if we want artworks created by intelligent computers to be protected by copyright.
The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam had a contest going where a lucky winner could spend a night at the museum in front of Rembrandt’s ‘The Night Watch’ or as it is really called, ‘Militia Company of District II under the Command of Captain Frans Banninck Cocq’.
Teacher and artist Stefan Kasper, 33, from Haarlem was visiting the Rijksmuseum with his class of elementary students and turned out to be the museum’s ten millionth visitor since they reopened in 2013. He was escorted to a gallery where he was greeted with trumpet sounds and some 200 employees of the museum when he was given the great news.
And instead of just falling asleep he decided to enjoy this “moment of euphoria that nobody else will get to have” by sleeping two hours and then walking around the museum in his socks. The silence in the museum was very enjoyable, Kasper explains. “This is history”, he said.
On 8 August the news was that a Rembrandt had been stolen in March 2014 from the Philips family (the one from the company) from their villa and kept quiet because of protocol. Then, the Rembrandt was not stolen from the Philips family, but from an insurance company. And now the painting isn’t a Rembrandt, but said to be from a pupil of Rembrandt depicting Titus van Rijn, his son. Oh, and the Philips villa De Laak belongs to the Philips company and no longer the family.
An ex cop has been said to be the fence for the stolen painting, having tried to inform his ex colleagues of the theft back in 2014 and not being taken seriously. The whole story is still unclear, so we’ll keep you posted once the interns have stopped mucking about with it. You’ll notice many news sources haven’t bothered to correct any of the original information, which says a lot about them as well.
A video of one of the biggest art heists of all times, which took place in 1990 Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, has been released on YouTube (bizarrely marked as ‘unlisted’) in order to help the FBI find any new leads.
On 18 March 1990 two men dressed as Boston police gained entrance to the museum by telling a security guard they were responding to a disturbance. The guard should not have let them in, got handcuffed, as did his two other colleagues.
The 13 works stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, included paintings by Rembrandt and Vermeer, which to this day have not been recovered. Now that the main suspects are deceased, the FBI wants to find these cultural masterpieces. The museum is offering a cool 5 million USD to information leading to the recovery of the stolen artwork as long as they are in good condition. The total amount of artwork stolen is estimated at about 500 million USD.
Look at the surveillance footage linked to the heist:
Yesterday at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam Ernst van de Wetering, head of the Rembrandt Research Group, gave a sixth and final presentation of a sizable catalogue of Rembrandt’s works in which 70 ‘new’ paintings have been added.
Determining whether or not an artwork is the real deal is a science that either devalues or upgrades paintings, changing history in the process. Before saying it’s a Rembrandt or an artwork of one of his pupils or contemporaries, the paintings had to undergo the scrutiny of X-rays, infrared, checking the layers of paint, varnish, canvas, and anything else that would prove that it was authentic.
Rembrandt’s oeuvre now consists of 340 paintings, much to the delight of museums such as the Louvre in Paris and even the Rijksmuseum that now has more real Rembrandts on display. The painting in this posting, ‘Old Man with Beard’, was added to Rembrandt van Rijn’s portfolio in 2011.
Ernst van de Wetering’s catalogue is entitled ‘A Corpus of Rembrandt Paintings’, the definite guide for now until technology might make restorers and others reopen the case.
The Mauritshuis museum in The Hague, famous for housing iconic paintings such as ‘Girl with the Pearl Earring’ by Vermeer (see pic), will officially be reopened by King Willem-Alexander tomorrow. The Mauritshuis underwent renovations and refurbishing for two years and has been extended and made more easily accessible, with the entrance moved the main square. In fact, the renovation has made the building look more like the old building originally designed by Jacob van Campen in the 17th century.
Dutch Golden Age painting is the one of many good reasons to visit the museum where besides Vermeer you can also admire ‘The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp’ by Rembrandt and ‘The Goldfinch’ by Fabritius.
A painting entitled ‘Child with a soap bubble’ attributed to Rembrandt has been recovered in Nice, France 15 years after it had been stolen from the Musée des Arts et Traditions Populaires of Draguignan, not far from Nice and the Côte d’Azur.
Sounding a bit like a ‘polar’, the French word for ‘crime fiction’, the painting was stolen from the museum in 1999 during a procession for the French national holiday (aka 14 juillet), on 14 July. The alarm went off, but the sound was muffled by the party taking place outside. The 60 cm by 50 cm painting worth about 4 million euro in 1999 has been attributed to Rembrandt, but that is doubtful says France’s Libération newspaper.
Last Tuesday, two middle-aged men tried to sell the painting, which rang some alarm bells figuratively, and they got caught.
Sadly, Rembrandt is one of the most loved artist of thieves, if not the most popular, whether really a Rembrandt or not.
Last October Mark Zegeling published a book called Sterke Verhalen voor bij de Borrel (tall tales to drink to) in which he explores the houses that KLM’s famous Delftware replicas are based on.
Dutch airline KLM gives away small Delftware bottles (produced in Hong Kong) to its business class passengers on long-haul flights. These bottles are shaped like classic Dutch houses and filled with jenever. So far 94 of them have been produced and now someone has written an extensive book on the history of the real houses that form the basis of KLM’s gifts.
Bol.com describes the book as follows: “[it] combines the best anecdotes and tallest tales about the life behind those gables. […] It discusses William of Orange’s closest friends, Rembrandt’s sales techniques, Mata Hari’s bed, a golden treasure in a garden and human fat as a miracle cure. […] Illustrated using more than 1,700 photos and paintings from various museums.”
Google has published a bunch of statistics on its online art gallery Google Art, which is a collaboration between Google and 200 art collections worldwide.
Let’s start with some numbers. The most popular paintings in its collection are:
Van Gogh: The Starry Night
Botticelli: The Birth of Venus
Rembrandt: Self Portrait Drawing at a Window
Van Gogh: The Bedroom
Manet: In the Conservatory
Bruegel (the Elder): The Harvesters
Van Gogh: Sunflowers
Holbein (the Younger): The Ambassadors
Van Gogh: Field with Flowers near Arles
Böcklin: The Isle of the Dead
In fact, Dutch painters make up 50% of that list (60% if you include Pieter Bruegel the Elder who lived in the Habsburg Netherlands before circumstances split the country into Spanish Netherlands, later Belgium, and the Dutch Republic).
While nothing beats seeing a painting in real life, the ability to examine a work of art in this level of detail seems to be encouraging viewers to linger. One minute is the average time spent looking at any given painting on the Art Project website, compared to under 20 seconds (according to several studies) in a museum.
The Starry Night is also the most frequently included painting in user galleries, where individuals create and share their own virtual art collections.