Friday, April 18, 2014

Day 9: I Have to Gogh!

Anyone who speaks Dutch will know that my little play on words there is false, as the Dutch “g” isn’t pronounced as Canadians pronounce “g”.  It’s more like how Canadians clear their throats.  Nevertheless, I figured the context gave me a bit of artistic license. ;)

Garry – you were right.  Going to Amsterdam and neglecting the Van Gogh Museum is a missed opportunity. Kendra was selling tickets on Tuesday during her walking tour which allow the holder to bypass the line at the VG museum, so there was no rush this morning.  A meandering route even allowed for a return to the Albert Cuyp Market (I did not return to the Emaillekeizer as I had no new enamel needs), where I watched a seafood seller unload a case of cuttlefish.  Very weird looking, with the pool of ink (like squid, they release ink) in the bottom of the case.  During mating season (in the fishmonger’s imperfect English, the “season to make love”), the cuttlefish are brightly coloured and make for exciting scuba diving.

The VG tickets from Kendra didn’t quite live up to their billing.  I mean, it provided access to a shorter line, but it was still a 45-minute wait to get in.  Worth it!  I’m no particular aficionado of fine art, but this museum tells a very compelling story through the paintings themselves, as well as numerous write-ups that describe the art, the painter’s history, his techniques, and the impacts on the modern art movement.  I was reminded that Van Gogh only sold one single painting in his lifetime.  I hadn’t thought about the fact that he painted hundreds – where were they all stored??  I did not know that he lived as a veritable ward of his brother (I was going to say “leech”, but VG fans might find that denigrating).  Judgment aside, Theo Van Gogh must have adored and respected Vincent; they wrote to one another daily.

Given that Vincent’s father had a strong work ethic, I couldn’t help but wonder at the conversations that must have occurred around that family table:

Father: Vincent, when are you going to do something with your life?
Vincent: Dad, I’m an artist.  I have just completed an important canvas.
Father: Vincent, you’ve sold one painting in ten years.  How important can it really be?
Theo: Dad, give Vincent a break.  He’s an undiscovered genius.
Father: He’s a bum.  You’ve both been sucking on too much lead paint!

After touring the VG museum, I enjoyed a picnic lunch in the lee of the Rijks Museum

 How often have you been out and found your mobile is a bit low in battery? In the middle of Museumplein, there was a phone charging booth.  Free for anyone to use, and half a dozen or so different cables protruded, to allow for various phone connections.  Brilliant!  They may pay high taxes here in Amsterdam, but their tax dollars buy them some perks.

Yesterday was a day of nature, so today would be a day of museums and culture.  After the VG, I moseyed through the Sex Museum.  Slightly different than the VG, but fascinating nonetheless.  I did not notice how prominently sexual imagery figured in Pompeii, nor did I realize how significant it has been in almost every culture both before and since.  Frankly, we North Americans are a bunch of prudes!

From the STONE AGE!!!

I don't understand why chastity belts went out of style...?

I did not pick up a Russian souvenir, seeing as I have never been to Russia.

How do these things even get off the ground?

Walking back to my hotel, I finally took the time to really look at yet another fantastic church in Amsterdam

To round out the sexually-oriented afternoon, I returned to the Red Light District for my last night in Amsterdam.  Before getting there, I came upon an unusual but apropos scene in my hotel.  As I walked across the landing and through a (deserted) sitting area, I glanced through the gauzy curtains of a 1st floor room…and saw a couple having sex.  Good on ya!  Near as I could tell, either she looked awfully good for her age, or he had scored a younger woman.  I gave a “thumbs up” to the room door as I walked past.

I don’t know if it was a quieter night, if more women were working and the consequent effect of more curtains being drawn made it feel quieter, or if the shock value had simply worn off a little.  It seemed….almost normal.  Normal in context, anyway.  Like the peeling paint in an apparently “luxurious” hotel, the mind adapts quickly.

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