The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam had its grand reopening in 2013, after being closed for over 10 years. I have visited it many times before the restauration, it was one of my favourite museums to roam through. So naturally I’ve visited the museum after it opened again, and loved it probably even more than before. All these years I’ve always wondered through the museum on my own, never once let me guide through the museum with what I always thought, an ‘art-expert’. I loathed those people, those so called art-experts. The ones who walk around their galleries pretending there is knowledge behind making art, and trashing the ones they believe are unschooled. In my opinion there is no knowledge, only triggering an emotion. You either like it, or you don’t, nothing more, nothing less.
But a few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to visit the Rijksmuseum again. This time we got a guide to walk us through. It was the best visit ever in my life! This lady was no so-called art-expert. She was a historian and probably just as great as an art lover as I am. With passion she told about the story behind the paintings, the life of the artists, and the era behind each painting. I loved it! When we walked by Vermeer, she told the most entertaining story behind the Milkmaid. It is a little painting of a woman standing alone in a room, pouring milk into a Dutch oven, and is full of symbolism. A symbolism that tell us that it’s nothing more than an erotic picture that was made for a rich customer that put it in his private little room to help him ‘relief himself’. A painting that was painted to earn some hard money to survive hard times, and buy tools and materials to make more paintings to sell. Vermeer was a poor man, and his work was not as much appreciated by the big crowd as Rembrandt did in his prime. So he never ever expected this little painting would be watched by millions of people. Let alone, telling a 20 minute story about it with people eagerly listening to.
And that made me think. I am still just a poor little artist, no big name yet, but draw and paint as if I am. There certainly are works on my shelve that I don’t have high regards of. And other works that holds a special meaning to me, but other people don’t quite see that as much. A work such as this one. One I will most likely be hated for, by the subject itself when he comes of age. He probably would say; ‘O my God, how could you draw me like that!’ with an overly dramatic sound teenagers usually make about a lot of things. But I know now, that I can assure him, that in many years from now, people will probably gaze at this drawing in awe, and tell a 20 minute story with people eagerly listening to. To hear that that particular piece of art is the favourite little boy in the artist’s life. Where it is the transition of the still little baby toddler, to the first stages of becoming an adolescent. The part where the artist makes it tangible to herself, letting go of her most favourite part of childhood, by drawing a proud little boy showing the exchange of his baby teeth to make room for his new ones, and thus a new era of stories and drawings to come.