After yesterdays defining of what art is, I came to the conclusion that I am most intrigued by art with a story. Something that I can feel involved with. I said that I prefer the small, local art galleries to large, world-renown museums. I’m going to diverge from that a bit today, as when I saw this questions there was one piece that immediately came to mind.
I visited the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam last December. After aimlessly wandering through the chambers for an hour with a self-guided tour app I downloaded, I was ready to leave. On my way out, in a small, one-window room with only three paintings occupying the other walls, my eye was drawn to one in particular.
First off, when I dug up this photo I had a tough time remembering who the painter was or any of the information on that little plaque. I knew that it depicted an actual event that occurred, breaking of a dam outside Amsterdam, but no details to help in my search. Thankfully, Google is a literal wizard and you can now upload images to the search engine and land results that way. 2017, man.
Dutch painter Jan Asselijn depicts the breaking of the Saint Anthony Dike in 1651. On the night of March 4-5, a storm ripped through the area causing the breakage. Unfortunately, I’m having trouble finding more information on the event itself. None the less, I can’t seem to take my eyes off the contrast of this painting.
The man in the red cape is still weathering the passing storm. His companions on the other side brunting it yet more. The ripping currents look to have already seen their worst, but the damage has been done. I imagine a catastrophe like this in 1651 would take years to overcome. Perhaps lives were lost, livelihood most certainly was.
Downstream, the full effect has yet to be felt. Crops will be washed away, dirt roads flooded, homes demolished. A natural disaster such as this will affect the entire community, and those surrounding.
What’s more, there are blue skies on the horizon. The storm will pass and the sun will shine again. Although there has been a setback, progress will prevail. Communities will rally, individuals will create a better tomorrow. One broken dike will give way to a stronger one. That’s not to say that these people are better off because of the catastrophe, but that they will overcome this struggle and be prepared for the next.
We face struggles daily. Individually, locally, nationally, globally. It is the only constant with which we can rely on facing. Succumb to those struggles and you’ll be washed away downstream. Wheather the storm and you’ll see blue skies once more.