The Dutch have given the world an array of master painters — Van Gogh, Vermeer, Rembrandt. But the brilliant and risqué work of a lesser known Dutchman is currently on display at the National Gallery of Art.
Joachim Wtewael (pronounced U-te-val) worked in Utrecht in the late 1500s and early 1600s. He loved painting stories from the Bible and mythology — impressively buff Roman gods and goddesses in — at times — downright salacious comportment.
“You know, gods didn’t always behave particularly well,” says curator Arthur Wheelock Jr. “And that was something Wtewael and people from his generation loved to explore.”
Not all who visit unfamiliar places are travellers, some remain only tourists. Tourists remain always at a distance from their experience. Hidden behind the protective wall of camera and guidebook, the tourist remains detached, unchanged by the experience. The tourist believes himself or herself to be the centre of the universe, the new location merely a novelty to be toyed with before returning home unaltered.
The traveller, on the other hand, engages and is transformed.
Tracy L. Bealer and Rachel Luria, Neil Gaiman and Philosophy: Gods Gone Wild!