A Day in Haarlem

Haarlem - 1696

On Sunday I paid a visit to the city of Haarlem, which is just a short way west from Amsterdam. The market square looks remarkably similar to this view from 1696. I had a nice breakfast here outside by the church, then went to the Frans Hals Museum, which is housed in a former Alms House built for old men in the 1600s. (There was a display at the museum showing records of the lottery that was held to fund to building of the house, which led to sales of some 300,000 lottery tickets. Each entry was accompanied by a short rhyme, and they then read out the entries to determine some 600 winning entries.)

Frans Hals was a contemporary of Rembrandt, and his portraits seem quite modern. Especially his later paintings seem to point the way to the impressionists. Unfortunately even in the museum named after him there were not too many of his paintings there.

I also visited de Hallen, a museum in an old building on the market square that has modern works, currently with a group show up called “The Present Order is the Disorder of the Future”. There I most liked a short film called “Nummer Negen” (which means simply ‘number nine’; the subtitle is ‘The day I stopped turning with the world’) made just a few months ago at the North Pole, where the artist, Guido van der Werve, stood with his back continuously to the sun on a day in April this year. A photo was taken every six seconds for a twenty four hour period as the sun seems to do a complete circle around the sky. On the first viewing, I tended to look at the solitary man standing in place, but I began to appreciate the subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) changes in the weather, the sky, the landscape, the lighting and shadows. The second viewing was very good; sample shot below.

Nummer Negen

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