Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Film Review #2

Title & year: The Dutch Masters/The Great Artists: Van Dyck (’00)
Director & country: Low, Lara :

Genre: educational

Recommended: No

Produced/distributed by: Kultur

Rate as history: 2/5

Rate as cimena: .5/5

Time: 1599 – 16??

Location: Antwerp

Ethnicity: Flemish

Religion: Catholic

Class: Mercantile (textile merchant family)

Occupation: artist, aristocracy, monarch

Notes: Netherlands split into Catholic Flanders and Protestant Flanders. At 10 van dyck was apprenticed to a successful figure painter [narration doesn’t mention if this was normal, not uncommon, unusual, rare or whatever for time and place] Unlike Ruebens, Van Dyck was an acomplished artist at 15. Van Dyck began as continued as an assistant artist at Ruebens’ workshop. In 1618 van Dyck joined the guild in Antwerp. England’s Earl of Arundel wanted to bring van Dyck to England to work, and he came in 1620. Italian painter Titian was van Dyck’s hero. Van Dyck’s own style developed, more light, less rigid poses. In 1621, van Dyck visits Genoa. Van Dyck’s architectural details in painting and more animated background are different than Rubens. Beginning with his portrait in Genoa of Marquese Catanile (sp?) van Dyck started painting the full height of the subject. While Rubens was very interested in classical sculpture, van Dyck was not, being more of a colourist. In Rome van Dyck copied 16th century Venatian artist’s work. Van dyck dressed and travelled in style, perhaps even arrogance. In 1624 van dyck travellwed to Sicily, where plague broke out. The populace prayed to a local saint, Rosalia, whose bones had recently been discovered. The plague broke and van Dyck painted a portratit of her,. Rubens moved on to diplomatic work after his wife died, and so van Dyck got many religious commissions. VD liked to hob-knob with the aristocracy. When someone was to be sketched or painted there would be a concert and a meal. In 1629 VD was commissioned to paint a mythology meets Catholicism piece. The agent, was acting on secret instructions from Charles I of England. In 1632 VD became court painter to the English crown – with perks. Even up to Sargent in the 19th century, British portaiture cannot be thought of without the influence of VD. VD invented the ‘swagger portrait’ – full length, fine clothes, arrogant. In some portraits of Charles I we see vulnerability too. Seven years after the triple portrait of King Charles (1635), England was at civil war. VD elongated the hands and indeed the entire bodies, to create a more elegant look. Some of VD’s later work are masterpieces, due to taking on too much work, and delegating painting in his stuido, to apprentices.

Best actors: Narrator is just somone with a British accent (why?), not anyone who knows anything about art history – I think.

Writing: Not compelling writing. But, my main criticism is that the script doesn’t use dtaes, but instread ‘within the year’ and ‘two years later’. Well, I have forgotten what year they are talking about! Better to read a history book, and for images surf the net or enjoy a coffee-table book.

Costume: Low grade acting in the brief re-enactment scenes– fake moustache on Charles I! Machine-made costumes, not quite stagey but in that direction.

Music: generic baroque

Favorite lines: none

Favorite scene: none

Other comments: I learned that van Dyck was an important 17th century religious and mythological painter, not just of portraiture.

Synopsis: Art historian interviews and museum paintings footage

Disappointments: Aside from my story notes in brackets, Kultur is famous for budget footage (rather unimaginative street scenery). And as one of the academics interviewed puts it about non Rueben work of the time: ‘old fashioned, unimaginative and dull’ – that’s how this video is. Way too many CUs of paint being mixed and somone painting (parrafin candles behind.).

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