Let's say hello to Rembrandt

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My friends, if we ever need good news and some pleasant distraction, it's now (you know what I mean…). So, how about saying hello to Rembrandt?

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Rembrandt van Rijn, "Self Portrait at the Age of 34," 1640
Oil on canvas
© The National Gallery, London

Actually, I mean his Self-Portrait at the Age of 34 (1640), that has never been seen in the United States. Lucky for us, the Norton Simon museum has it on loan from the National Gallery in London. Here is Rembrandt, at the height of his career: self-assured, and not just looking at us, but connecting with us on an emotional level. There is no other great artist of the past about whom we know as much as we do about Rembrandt – thanks to about 100 of his self-portraits in paintings, drawings, and prints.

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(L) Rembrandt van Rijn, "Rembrandt Laughing,” about 1628
Oil on copper
J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
Image courtesy of The Getty
(R) Rembrandt van Rijn, "Self Portrait at the Age of 34,” 1640
Oil on canvas
© The National Gallery, London

At this point, with your permission, I want to indulge myself by fantasizing about bringing together this Rembrandt self-portrait from the National Gallery in London and another self-portrait of Rembrandt – at the Getty Museum, at the young age of 22. In this one, he is laughing whole-heartedly; the drama and tragedy of his mature age still ahead of him…

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(T) Installation view of "William Anastasi” at Ghebaly Gallery, Los Angeles
(B) Canvases from William Anastasi's "Bababad” series
Images courtesy of the Ghebaly Gallery, Los Angeles

Now, are you ready to hear and to see the sound of God's voice? At the solo exhibition by conceptual artist William Anastasi (b. 1933) at Ghebaly Gallery in East LA, there are three dramatic abstract paintings, inspired by James Joyce's novel Finnegans Wake. These three paintings belong to the so-called "Bababad” series that Anastasi began 30 years ago, in 1986. Each painting has a few letters from Joyce's famous 100-letter-long word ("Bababadalgharaghtakamminarronnkonnbronntonnerronntuonnthunntrovarrhounawnskawnloohoohoordenenthurnuk”), which, according to Joyce, conveys the sound of God's voice upon the fall of Adam and Eve. William Anastasi, who is 84 years old, continues to work on this series, producing roughly one painting a year.

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Tommii Lim in front of the Belzberg Architects' office in Santa Monica,
featuring four new murals by the artist
"#mural 1 of 4 done for @belzberg_architects! #tommiilim #blackandwhite #art #waves ?? @christopherdetails
Image courtesy of the artist at @Tommii on Instagram

Over the last few weeks, I've been watching the new mural slowly growing and wrapping itself around a building on Main Street in Santa Monica. LA-based artist Tommii Lim painted his black and white murals on the façade of the offices of Belzberg Architects. Each side of the building has its own semi-abstract imagery, with references to palm trees and a sunrise (or sunset, depending on your mood). This ambitious mural is a welcome addition to the variety of important public artworks spread throughout our City of Angels.

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Murals by LA artist Tommii Lim on the new Belzberg Architects' office in Santa Monica
Photo by Edward Goldman

And, talking about angels: ladies and gentlemen, this is the time of year when you want to contribute to the magic of KCRW — the radio station par excellence whose unique voice can be heard across the world. Yes, once again, KCRW is the answer to all of your prayers. So come on, join the party… call 1-800-600-5279, or go to kcrw.com/join.



Benjamin Gottlieb