Self-Portraits / Rembrandt van Rijn

Self-Portraits / Rembrandt van Rijn

  • As quoted in R.v.R. : Being an Account of the Last Years and the Death of One Rembrandt Harmenszoon Van Rijn (1930) by Hendrik Willem van Loon


No artist has left  a loftier or more penetrating personal testament than Rembrandt van Rijn. In more than 90 portraits of himself(including over forty paintings, thirty-one etchings and about seven drawings) that date from the outset of his career in the 1620s to the year of his death in 1669,he created an autobiography in art that is the equal of the finest ever produced in literature even of the intimately analytical Confessions of St. Augustine.

To Kenneth Clark,(art historian) Rembrandt is “with the possible exception of Van Gogh the only artist who has made the self-portrait a major means of artistic self-expression, and

he is absolutely the one one who has turned self-portraiture into an autobiography.

Rembrandt’s self-portraits were created by the artist looking at himself in a mirror,  and the paintings and drawings therefore reverse his actual features. In the etchings the printing process creates a reversed image, and the prints therefore show Rembrandt in the same orientation as he appeared to contemporaries. This is one reason why the hands are usually omitted or “just cursorily described” in the paintings; they would be on the “wrong” side if painted from the mirror.

Three phases of  Rembrandt’s self-portraits

Scholars generally divide Rembrandt’s self-portraits into three phases. There are the lively and experimental images that he created as a young artist on the make. In these he explores effects of light as well as bizarre grimaces and facial expressions. Often he appears with a shock of chaotic,tangled hair that could be a visual symbol of his fertile creativity .


Νext come the self-portraits of the 1630s and ’40s,when he appears in middle age ,wearing expensive clothes such as fur-trimmed velvet coats. In these pictures  which are perhaps less pioneering than those that came before or after, Rembrandt presents himself with dignity while showing off the trappings of prosperity ,reflecting the commercial success he was enjoying in Amsterdam.



Finally,after a gap of around seven years when he refrained from the practice ,there are the 15 or so self-portraits of his late years,beginning in 1652. For many people,these are among the greatest artworks that Rembrandt ever produced. Gone are the gold chains and richly embroidered shirts. Instead the artist depicts himself with rugged simplicity and honesty. As a result,these images seem to suggest a refreshing,and strikingly modern,interest in introspection.



Self-Portrait with Two Circles


Lastly i left a masterpiece of his last years.  It is the most ambitious self-portrait in which he is depicted at work. It is notable for its monumentality and for an enigmatic background. In this mysterius work ,we see the master himself,in an unsigned portrait. Behind the painter are the circles that still puzzle art historians about what Rembrandt intended them to mean.The hand holding the brushes is a striking feature in that it is so vaguely depicted.

There has been much scholarly debate about the significance of these circles but no one has come up with a definitive hypothesis. They may symbolise eternity and perfection but the theory which attracts the greatest number of adherents is that they are a symbol, or rather evidence, of artistic skill, in that to draw a perfect circle freehand was traditionally thought to be the ultimate test of draughtsmanship.

It seems as if Rembrandt also gave viewers a role in the creative process:that of using our powers of perception to complete the painting in our head…





Let’s talk about you – Sascha Windolph

Let’s talk about you – Sascha Windolph

agreeing to take part in this new column of my blog.

 Through this i want to get to know the artists that i appreciate

most and i would like that they share with me their thoughts,

worries, as well as an overview of a few aspects of interest in

their life.

Just a casual conversation between friends.

 I met you as an administrator of the Kiosk of Democracy blog,

where you displayed a part of my photography work.

However it excites me to know who is the man Sascha in his

daily life, to discover who he is when he logs off from his blog

and social media. Do you enjoy cinema, do you listen to music,

what are the things that calm you?


– In the morning I get up and greet the day. Every day is far-reaching. The light welcomes me. I move. I am expectant. I’m interested in looking at the world every day. The sound of life. My own heartbeat. My pulse. People experience. Discover art. I try to do everything with passion. In all, I try to find the magic and also the deep abyss, the sadness, the joy, the love. Embrace life and immerse yourself in it. Dissolve resistance with the longing and intensity of art.

I give my verve for the art. For the existence. I believe in transforming life with art. And in a broad sense, as Joseph Beuys said, every human being is an artist. And everything is design. And the life things are like an immense fantastic cosmos. The poetry in it i would like to help bring forth and to act vehemently gentle.

When I leave the apartment I go to my regular cafe. It’s called Panama. I dwell in it. Have a CoucouClaamChino (Cappuchino) and read the newspaper. Sometimes it comes to surprising stories. I watch the people in front of the cafe. After that, I go to my various jobs. Always free. No permanent employment. Maybe I’m a vagabond.

Leaving my apartment I go to my studio to work on new pictures and characters.After I pick up my son Aljoscha (he was born in 2009) from the hoard. I’m with my son two days a week and weekends together.

– As I’ve seen in your page realist feuer kunst Sculpture and Painting are your favorites. Will you take me on a trip from the start of your work until today?

I have a feeling and I’m gonna go ahead and say that you prefer probably painting; am I wrong? Just tell me.



– My art is very sculptural and graphic. I like to model with my hands. Bring existing things into new forms. Engaging the whole body, working contemplatively with all your senses. To be in deep oblivion to meet the core. Full of momentum and grounded at the same time. In great concern and in great openness. In violent turmoil and in wonderful confidence.

Break the circle and close the circle. Lost and entrusted. Breathe and exhale.



– One of your works that I love is this. It touches me and excites me,talk to me a little about that.

– This painting. A couple, an ensemble. Being together. To defy the rigors of reality. United to be a family. Manifest love. In solidarity. Cohesion. This very much determines the content of my art. The couple painting is a symbol. A symbol for that a human being is not lost alone in this world. That two individual persons or a group are a hopeful union. The Couple mean beyond your own individuality, you come to a deeper understanding of everything.


– I would also like to talk about your first and last project,sculpture

or painting it does’t matter.How much did your approach

change,from your very start up to nowadays. If it has changed

at all!

– My first exhibition was in 1990 on the Greek island of Naxos in the village of Apiranthos.I was touched by this possibility. I would like to come back to Greece with my own art. And also with the kiosk for which i work daily. For which i live for. In 1990, with the first exhibition, I had worked on poems by Jakovos Papadopoulos and I showed my work in the school of the village.

Since it has already meant a lot for me to bring it into relationships. And today with the patchwork kiosk of democracy. It is like a total work of art for me. A community artwork. This is very important to me. The single artwork,  photograph,  film in context with other works of other artists. A hymn of creative forces that need no domination and no violence.

Actually i try to connect three different art enterprises. There is the KünstlerLaden – ArtistsInvite. This was an artspace really free and without a jury. Then the Kiosk of Democracy. In the time from it start in 2012 the Kiosk made some little exhibitions. Next,the documenta in Kassel in a students “Periptero” artspace. Then at last the Camera Artista. A place for the KünstlerLaden – ArtistsInvite and for the Kiosk of Democracy. Expanded by a library, a collection of works of art, an archive of catalogs, with a scholarship for an atelier, a coffee and tea shop. International and local.


– As I mentioned above, you are the administrator of the blog

Kiosk of Democracy where you display the work of many artists

from different chapters of art.

It is clear to me that you are very much fond of photography;

and I wonder:Does Sascha photograph? 

– There are a lot of photographs on the kiosk. Photographs are like painting. Full of light and reflection. I myself work with photographs, but I am not an avowed photographer.


– A final question which interests me in particular and I would like

your opinion on it:

You are a person of social media and an artist.

“Likes” dictate things,so do you think social media can have an

effect on artist work?

 Rembrandt once said that you become an artist when you stop

being concerned about the acceptance of your art.

In our times can an artist have the power to be unaffected?

– Yes, I think it is possible to be very untouched by the rush of time. Of course, the environment has an influence on every human being. There is no escape to a desert island. I think it is possible, despite all the conquest and pressure, to have a virginity that is full of truthfulness.

– Thank you very much Sascha for this conversation and for the

opportunity that you gave me to know better the man behind the


The world of interior / Henri Matisse

The world of interior / Henri Matisse

Henri Matisse

Matisse liked to be surrounded in everyday life by furniture and objects, which constantly renew his inspiration, and which may become the main subject of his paintings and drawings. Some of them are faithfull companions.For him, the object, artistic or useful, is a pretext for researches on the line, the shape and the color, in his methodic process to the ever greater simplification to find the “sign” and the brightness in his works. Furthermore,

the artist gives them a personality and considers them as actors with a singular character and a particular story that he staged in different compositions.Through objects, as in the rest of his work, Matisse was seeking the purest expression of his view of the world around him. Objects were used as part of this process, enabling the artist to explore different coloured and graphic facets, in an approach that fostered constant, vibrant change and development in his style. The objects form a repertoire of shapes and colours the painter would dip into depending on the requirements of his compositions. Matisse gives the object a crucial role to play: ” Objects are actors: good actors can perform in ten different plays, an object can perform a different role in ten different paintings.” A single object may therefore be transformed in a series of colourful, graphic variations on a same theme.

Hélène Adant, Palette d’objets, Villa Le Rêve, Vence, 1946, photography Coll. Photo library of the documentation center, Matisse museum, Nice Photo : Centre Pompidou, Paris, Mnam/Cci, Bibliothèque Kandinsky, Fund Hélène Adant


From his very first painting, Still Life with Books (1890), Matisse always saw objects as standalone subjects, to the point that they were transformed into the protagonists of art that attempted to transmit emotion:

“copies don’t interest me […] what’s important is the object’s relationship to the artist, the artist’s personality, the artist’s skill in structuring his feelings and emotions”.

The artist considered the chosen objects as loyal witnesses to a sense of curiosity, a period, a style of art, a friendship, and he displayed a great attentiveness to and interest in them. Some acted as veritable studio companions.Some objects are particularly significant, such as the Rococo chair he bought in Nice in 1942.

“I’ve been looking for a new object for months. I don’t know what… I’m looking for something to grab me. ” “I have finally found the object I’ve been looking for for a year now. It’s a Baroque Venetian chair in varnished silver. Enamel-like. […] When I saw it in an antique dealer’s a few weeks ago, I was shaken. It is spectacular, I’m obsessed with it. I shall slowly make my way back with it in the summer. ”

This Rococo chair became the primary protagonist in many paintings. Its arabesque lines bring it to life. Its harmonious pose, slightly outside the frame, turns it into a truly exceptional model.


Searching for source materials, Matisse traveled extensively and gathered works from China, Egypt, Morocco, Java, Tangiers, the Congo, Europe, and elsewhere. He had eclectic tastes and could find beauty and inspiration just as easily in a silver chocolate pot as a disproportionate statuette.


Chocolate pot. French. 19th–early 20th century. Silver and wood. Private collection.

When Henri Matisse married Amélie Noellie Parayre in January 1898 the couple received a beautiful silver chocolate pot as a wedding present from the French artist Albert Marquet. Many of Matisse’s still lifes of this period feature the silver pot.

This version of chocolate pot was bought by Pablo Picasso


Vase, artist unknown, Andalusia, Spain (early 20th century), blown glass (Ancienne collection Henri Matisse, former collection of Henri Matisse, Musée Matisse, Nice. Bequest of Madame Henri Matisse, 1960. Photo by François Fernandez, image courtesy Musée Matisse / Museum of Fine Arts, Boston)

Matisse found this vase on his 1910 trip to Andalusia. No doubt the artist took pleasure in the vase’s sinuous curves, half-moon handles, and bulbous hips that bring to mind a stoutly woman. It is the central figure in his painting “Vase of Flowers” (1924).

Matisse was essentially a studio painter his entire career (except,curiously enough,for his seminal break-through during the summer of 1905 and his Morocco trips).Even in Tahiti he painted indoors.But whether indoors or just outside his home ,he made everything a studio.


I will end my short research on Matisse’s objects and his interior, with a photo that moved me .In this photo ,Henri Matisse observes a ceramic vase by Pablo Picasso and this moment is captured by Henri Cartier Bresson .And i’m thinking, how can such a small room fit so much art.. And that inspires me..



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