Netherlands

Art Rotterdam: Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen

I was excited to go on maternity leave and finally have the time to sit at home, be lazy the entire day and still get paid. But I lasted only two days. Boredom and frustration forced me out of the house.

“Time. I didn’t have time.”

That was my excuse whenever I cancel my plans of visiting Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen. A real shame because I’ve missed several interesting exhibitions particularly Van Bosch tot Bruegel in 2015. Last week, I was finally able to go.

Located in Museumpark, Rotterdam’s art “centre”, Boijmans Van Beuningen is small compared to the more popular museums in Amsterdam like Van Gogh and Rijksmuseum.

I was hoping to catch the exhibit Mad with Surrealism but it doesn’t start until Saturday. Fortunately the exhibit will until May.

Museum fees are expensive in the Netherlands. In Boijmans it costs €16 without a museum card so I purchased one right away and got in for free.

There are about 4000 art pieces in the permanent collection of Boijmas but this is only 7% of the museum’s total collection. I only had two hours before my next appointment so I skipped many paintings and spent more time viewing the works of those I am familiar with.

The Tower of Babel – Pieter Breugel.

Next to Munch, Pieter Breugel de Elder is perhaps my second favorite artist ever since I saw The Fall of the Rebel Angels at the Royal Museum of Fine Arts in Brussels. The details in his paintings are unbelievably realistic. This one called The Tower of Babel, based from a biblical story, only measures 60cm × 74.5cm but it contains 1000 people, all going about their daily lives during the construction of the the tower. This is how it looked like zoomed in. Too bad this girl was more interested in photographing the description instead of looking at the fine details of this masterpiece.

Do you see the guy lazing under the tree while two others were toiling the soil?

Unfortunately, due to my height, I could not view the full painting. I had to stand on my toes to see the details closely. Maybe Boijmans should put a small stool for visitors like me who are not as tall as the Dutch?

Two Girls under an Apple Tree in Bloom – Edvard Munch.

Have you ever seen a Munch piece so colourful and so positive? Neither have I so it was a surprise to discover that this painting is by Edvard Munch. That this is the only cloth painting by Munch exhibited in any Dutch museum makes it more special.

Weaver’s Cottage – Vincent Van Gogh.

Vincent Van Gogh, the same crazy Dutch master who gave us bright and lively masterpieces such Sunflowers, Starry Night and Night Cafe, among others, was one sad soul. Weavers and miners were among his favourite people to paint for his portraits.  These are some of Van Gogh’s somber works that are not very much known to the rest of the world. The Kröller-Müller Museum in Arnhem houses a more extensive collection of this series.

Man with a Red Cap – Rembrandt van Rijn.

Does this painting reminds you of Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean? That’s what I was thinking while looking at this portrait. It’s still disputed whether Rembrandt or one of his student painted this.

Interior of an Inn – Adriaen Brouwer.

This is one of my new favourites, Interior of an Inn by Adriaen Brouwer, unadulterated portrayal of drunken men inside a tavern in the 1600s. Notice that one of them stays sober.

The Slaughtered Swine – Barent Fabritius.

Back when the Dutch are not afraid to see the carcass of a pig or hang it in their kitchen.

A Kandinsky and a Mondrian are also part of the permanent collection.

Couple – Pablo Picasso.

And finally this and five other “erotic” sketches from one of the most celebrated artists in modern times. I almost missed this collection because I was rushing to the exit and this painting is hanged in an obscure, dark room visible from this tiny, coffin-like door. Intrigued, I double-backed and found out this is a Picasso.

Under normal circumstances, I won’t spend more than five minutes staring at a Picasso (I find him overrated) but for this series, I lingered a little longer. Ugly as the sketches are, I felt a familiar tinge in my loin while viewing this collection. Of all the artists in this museum, I didn’t expect that Picasso’s Embrace II will have that effect on me.

Before I could reach the exit, I had to pass the Gispen furniture exhibit (runs until February 26, 2017). In addition to the retro armchairs, this crib and hanging lamp combination were the ones I wanted to take home. Ah, the pregnancy hormones!

I regretted spending so little time at Boijmans Van Beuningen. I would have wanted to stare longer at the Tower of Babel and Picasso’s sketches. Luckily I can go back anytime.

If you find yourself in Rotterdam one of these days, do visit. It’ll be worth your €16.

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