Sunday, August 11, 2019

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York: Rembrandt Exhibition and Alexenberg Experimental Print

Rembrandt: Selections from the Department of Drawings and Prints
Exhibition at The Met to commemorate the 350th anniversary of the death of Rembrandt
April 30–July 28, 2019

This installation commemorates the 350th anniversary of the death of the great Dutch draftsman, painter, and printmaker Rembrandt van Rijn. On display are a selection of drawings and prints by the artist, from both the Department of Drawings and Prints and the Robert Lehman Collection as well as an assortment of ephemeral material related to the etching revival and the cult of Rembrandt in the nineteenth century.

Below are texts about three etchings in the Met’s collection.  “Abraham Entertaining Angels” and “Jacob’s Ladder” by Rembrandt van Rijn, and “Digital Homage to Rembrandt: Jacob’s Dream” by Mel Alexenberg.

Abraham Entertaining the Angels, 1656, Rembrandt van Rijn

This etching illustrates the following biblical text: 
“Abraham rushed to the tent to Sarah and said, “Hurry!  Take three measures of the finest flour!  Kneed it and make rolls!  Abraham ran to the cattle to choose a tender and choice calf.(Genesis 18:6, 7)

The text below is a contemporary commentary on the text written in Tweets.  It is an excerpt from Mel Alexenberg’s 2019 book Though a Bible Lens: Biblical Insights for Smartphone Photography and Social Media. See praise for the book at Israel365.   

Abraham ran after a calf that ran away from him into a cave that was the burial place of Adam and Eve. 
At the far end of the cave, he saw intense light emanating from an opening.
When he came close to the opening, he found himself standing at the entrance to the Garden of Eden. 
About to enter the pristine garden, he remembered that his wife and three guests were waiting for lunch back at the tent.
What should he do?  Should he trade paradise for a barbeque?
The Bible tells us that he chose to return to the tent and join his wife in making a meal for their three guests.
Abraham realized that paradise is what we create with our spouse at home.  Other visions of paradise are either mirages or lies.

“Enjoy life with the wife you love through all the days of your life.” (Ecclesiastes 9:9)
My wife, Miriam, and I worked together to create paradise in our vegetarian kitchen.
Adam and Eve had a vegetarian kitchen.
Spirituality emerged from our collaboration making a potato casserole for our guests.
We bought potatoes and scallions in Avi’s vegetable store and cottage cheese and grated yellow cheese in Bella’s grocery.    
We baked the potatoes in the microwave, sliced them into the baking pan and covered them with the cheeses. 
Miriam washed the scallions, cut them up, and sprinkled them over layers of cheese-covered potatoes.
After the casserole was baked, we served it to our guests.

Perhaps there is spiritual significance that museums that offer art also offer food.  

Jacob’s Ladder, 1656, Rembrandt van Rijn

This etching is Rembrandt’s illustration for the book Piedra Gloriosa by his friend Rabbi Menasseh Ben Israel that is based on the biblical passage:
“He had a vision in a dream. A ladder was standing on the ground, its top reaching up towards heaven as Divine angels were going up and down on it.” (Genesis 28:12)

Digitized Homage to Rembrandt: Jacob's Dream, 1986-87, Mel Alexenberg

This experimental mixed media artwork by Mel Alexenberg that was exhibited in the “The Second Emerging Expression Biennial: The Artist and the Computer” exhibition at the Bronx Museum of the Arts in New York, Sept. 17, 1987- January 24, 1988 and was acquired by the Metropolitan Museum of Art for its Department of Drawings and Prints.  It is based on a Rembrandt drawing in the same collection.

The text in the The Met’s website reads:  
Digitized Homage to Rembrandt: Jacob's Dream, 1986–87, Mel Alexenberg, American (born 1937). Etching, photoetching, and aquatint from computer generated-image, Accession Number 1987.110

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