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hans memling at the frick

Post #667 • November 23, 2005, 7:29 AM • 25 Comments

My review of Hans Memling at the Frick.

Technical: the viewer is an XSLT template, which means the next time I want to create one of these things, I feed a new XML document into it, and the template renames the page, re-creates the page numbers across the top, and formats the text and images automatically. In other words, expect more of these soon. The only glitch is that hyperlinks are not appearing; I've decided that it's not a deal-killer, and I'm working on a solution. In a related problem, I've misunderstood something about the internationalization and UTF-8 encoding, so that I couldn't figure out how to implement diacriticals - Städtische, Musée, etc. Also, it hasn't been tested on any other screen or browser except mine. But for now, onward and upward. The hardest part about doing this again will be preparing the photos.

Speaking of which, people ought to be taking lessons from the Frick on how to put a press kit together: a disk with 14 images, a corresponding list of image info next to little reproductions of the images concerned, a six-page press release, and a comprehensive reprint of wall texts, maps, and object labels. Big thanks to the press office at the Frick.

Next week: Van Gogh and Fra Angelico at the Met.




November 23, 2005, 7:53 AM

This is excellent, an exhibition in miniature with evenhanded, intelligent, informative commentary about a wonderful painter. I don't think I have seen anything quite like it on the web. It is one more reason why is way out ahead of the other art blogs.

My only regret is that I missed the show because I had it last on my list (for logistical reasons) and I had new shoes on and they were killing me. I did see the Fra Angelico however, and very much look forward to your comments about it.



November 23, 2005, 9:23 AM

Gah. Fantastic. Man, I have got to get to New York soon.



November 23, 2005, 9:53 AM

Good job on your fancy review interface! Way better than the old pdf-style!

The paintings are beautiful. I love the pays-bas painters. Love the pigs and toads and funny hairdos, love the cloth and steady eyes.

I think, though, that I am not the greatest fan of your review style. I don't want to critique it, as I know it is my preference.



November 23, 2005, 10:11 AM

Fixed the diacriticals. Just had to use numeric Unicode entities.



November 23, 2005, 10:53 AM

Thanks, Franklin. Wonderful stuff, of course. Numbers 6-8 are especially fine--amazing skill made even more impressive by understatement. These people are quite alive, fully individual, and fascinating as people, not just beautifully painted images. Poetry indeed.



November 23, 2005, 11:06 AM

Interesting to see that the paintings at pages 3 and 7 use the same device of resting the sitter's fingertips on the lower edge of the painting in a way that joins the space of the viewer and the painting. I've always been struck by how Memling did this in his Christ Blessing at the MFA. In that instance it creates an even more powerful presence that, along with the direct gaze, must have made it an especially compelling subject of meditation. Obviously it's different with the portraits, but it still gets you nonetheless.



November 23, 2005, 11:09 AM

I am really exited of your presentation of Memling. Thank you. Maybe the same system on Dorsch Gallery too ?



November 23, 2005, 5:29 PM

And to think that I might have gone about my day perfectly content had I remained ignorant of this show's existence on our shores.

Now that you've clued me in, I'm cursing myself for my lack of proximity to Manhattan.

Damn you, internets.

(BTW: I look forward to clicking through your upcoming special deal on Fra Angelico, painfully aware that I won't be seeing that one up close and personal either.)



November 23, 2005, 5:54 PM

nice and clean.

fyi: the met has a wonderful slide library that i hope you visited while there. it is located in the basement. As an educator (i was at the time), the fee is waived. It is so wonderful to take out slides and or disks of anything and everything in the met. Incredible. not that you could take them to florida, though. :-)


that guy

November 23, 2005, 6:05 PM

"These people are quite alive, fully individual, and fascinating as people, not just beautifully painted images. Poetry indeed."

I agree Jack, interesting also that the expressions in these old paintings have a real modern feel to them.

Very nice layout Franklin. I still would like a pdf Version that I can print. Might be too much work, but a file download for a small fee on the credits page might be the solution.



November 23, 2005, 6:50 PM

Thanks to all for the compliments.

Hans: Dorsch, upcoming Basel mayhem, basically, anything over five images long.

Guy: Guess what. I'm considering a choice between the two outputs for future implementations.



November 23, 2005, 8:02 PM

Mother of God, I just looked at it in WinIE. I should be allowed to hit Bill Gates with a hammer every time I have to make some kind of idiotic workaround for his worthless browser.



November 23, 2005, 9:55 PM

Your last couple of virtual unveilings deserve the praise they've received, and more. All consistent with the zen-programming that supports your blog, Franklin. makes me want to institute something of the like in Edmonton. Almost. I can think of one or two people here who could do it well, but I'm not one of them.

My greatest thanks in regard to your blog is for the ban on overt advertising. It's almost a palpable relief to open after cruising other great sites, like, which are chock-a-block with hard-to-block-out ads.

Frick's Memling exhibit looks like fun. I sense from looking at the images you've posted that I could reconstruct a portrait of Memling himself, based solely on consistencies between his paintings. The individual features of each person are singular enough but the arrangement of the features carry distinct similarities. It has always annoyed me how my own attempts at portraiture invariably look as much like me as the sitter. And as I'm suggesting with Memling, the artist/poser mashup is usually more visible in the proportions rather than individual characteristics. I've got some Nederlander in me from that far back - could be Memling just looked like me and now I'm seeing myself in all his work.



November 24, 2005, 2:52 AM

any word on the winners of the 2006 South Florida Cultural Consortium?



November 24, 2005, 2:53 AM

any word on the winners of the 2006 South Florida Cultural Consortium?



November 24, 2005, 6:08 AM

Memling; Excellent work - excellent hyper-link Franklin.

If this work was to set measurable aesthetic standards for today, very few painters there would be - very, very few could measure up; ( we learn that this does'nt matter.)

How then would the art museums attract 'average customers' like they currently do? What would all of those rich brats with big egos and no skill do with their lives?
What would all of those lost and not-so-good-in-grade -school youths do?

Art now is about satisfying the delusions of the mystified average - to gentrify nieghborhoods which belong to the disinterested, and keep passionately gifted yet unsociable creative types marginalized to the point of assured and hopeful failure.

There can only be a 'few' after all, regardless of race, age, gender, sexual preference, looks, religiosity or ethnicity - ya right...



November 24, 2005, 9:01 AM

The fewer and looser the standards, the greater the number and the lower the quality. There are way too many artists, galleries, art products. The stuff has become too popular, in the bad sense of the word--too trendy. Much of it is far more artsy than art.



November 24, 2005, 10:12 AM

Great Post!

although i frequently can change my feeling on what is best among very good works here is my current take starting with the best.

#7 is a masterpiece in every sense of the word. it is the kind of picture that overtly quiets you while making you feel your breath. takes over a room before and after time. what richness, color and feel. wow. can't wait to see that background blue in person saturday.

#9 great pic. strong , engaging, original. i think it is primarily the shading of the wall planes and to a lesser extent the picture format, but it makes me think and touch back to the best of early cubism from picasso and braque. this could be a reach, but it has a connect to those classic pics. it all comes together with a lasting tension of the elements.





November 25, 2005, 5:51 AM

Thank you Franklin. Excellent, clear and concise writing, just like Memling's painting.



November 26, 2005, 12:26 PM

Great post! I when to the Frick, but it's a time warp. I was trying to see as many gallery shows uptown as possible and couldn't slow my pace enough to enjoy the exhibit. I'm going back before it closes, just for Memling.



November 26, 2005, 12:32 PM

these startling, great shows should embarrass current practitioners and their apologists. Wait, of course, I was forgetting, they don't go to such events and they don't log on here! -- cass



November 27, 2005, 12:07 PM

nice to let all that can't attend in person that the photos that you are seeing are very accurate in terms of color and light. scale is not really a problem as well.

franklin it would be nice if you could put up the "old women" and or "sybil " as well. the old women with the stripped varnish had great subtle color and definition in her face and white habit . based on the current photos that are up i think this will come through.

feel pretty good about my previous post assessments before seeing these works in person.



November 28, 2005, 6:26 AM

Some of us 'see' with our feelings - thus every visual experience related to the hand, eye and mind is eternally sacred and desperately desirable. This is better than T.V. as one would rather fuck physically than watch porn.
Memling was one who did'nt have a T.V.



November 28, 2005, 7:52 AM

Crudely put but true, Smith



November 28, 2005, 3:33 PM

Superb presentation Franklin. Ironically our words of praise are likely to outnumber yours of review.

Speaking of browsers, I am on Opera 8.5 and you may wish to know that it is rendering the text beneath each Memling image by wrapping it after a single word each time - resulting in a long column



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