CODART, Dutch and Flemish art in museums worldwide

First Frans Hals Lecture

Lecture: 1 September 2016

Information from the Frans Hals Museum, 26 July 2016

On 1 September 2016 it will be 350 years since Frans Hals was buried in Haarlem’s the Grote or St. Bavo’s Church. The Frans Hals Museum | De Hallen Haarlem is using that opportunity to start a new tradition: the biennial Frans Hals Lecture. This festive gathering will take place in the church where Hals lies buried. The lecture will be in two parts. The evening will start with a scholarly analysis of Frans Hals’s work and importance put forward by a renowned academic. This will be followed by a fictional story about the life or a work of Frans Hals by a commissioned writer.

Frans Hals
Hals’ oeuvre represents a major focus within the collections of the Frans Hals Museum | De Hallen Haarlem. The ‘Regents’ and ‘Regentesses’ by Hals – his famous last paintings – have been the subject of intensive study in the museum’s restoration studio since 2013. These three group portraits, which rank as absolute highlights in the work of the master, are currently being restored and will be available again for viewing in their full glory from winter 2017.
A documentary is being made about the process by Marcel van der Velde and Krista Arriëns, to be followed by a publication. The demarcation of Hals’ oeuvre is central to the NWO research currently being conducted by curator Anna Tummers in partnership with the University of Amsterdam. The relevance of Hals as a modern master and recent developments in the study of his work provide the starting point for honouring one of the three Greats of the Golden Age in this first biennial evening lecture.

Fact and fiction
Director Ann Demeester contextualizes the twofold nature of the evening, a fictional story in addition to a scientific argument, as follows: “Fiction and non-fiction are not strictly separate entities. In both science and art, applicable ‘fictions’ – what at the end of the 19th century the German philosopher Hans Vaihinger called the ‘as-if-mechanism’ – are an essential means of achieving knowledge. As such, a speculative story can be complementary to scientific research. The associative essay The Hals Mystery by John Berger, on a non-existent nude by Frans Hals, can be just as relevant as a carefully-constructed text about the marketing strategies behind Hals’ unique virtuoso brushwork by curator Christopher Atkins. The museum is there to teach, but also to astonish, move and surprise. It is a fact factory but also a place where the imagination is stimulated to take flight and go off in different directions.”

Eric Jan Sluijter
The academic part of the first Frans Hals Lecture will be by professor emeritus Eric Jan Sluijter. Sluijter was Professor of Art History of the Renaissance and the early modern period at the University of Amsterdam and The Institute of Fine Arts, New York. He is chair of The Amsterdam Centre for Study of the Dutch Golden Age. In his lecture, entitled Frans Hals in the 21st Century, he will discuss new developments in the study of Frans Hals. There are a number of interesting developments within that field and Sluijter shares some surprising new insights. Eric Jan Sluijter’s lecture will be in English.

Gerdien Verschoor
The fictional account will be written and narrated by Gerdien Verschoor. She is an author and art historian. Verschoor combines her writing with her job as director of CODART, the international network of museum curators of Dutch and Flemish art. She made her authorial debut in 2011 with the novel De draad en de vliegende naald (‘The thread and the flying needle’), which was reprinted twice and made the shortlist of the Dutch ‘Female Debut Prize’. In January 2014, she published her second novel, De kop van Oskar Wronski (‘The head of Oskar Wronski’), about two artists on both sides of the Iron Curtain searching for an answer to the same question; how can you stay true to your own beliefs? She is currently working on a non-fiction book about the Polish Countess Karolina Lanckorońska, who donated two Rembrandts to the Royal Palace in Warsaw in 1994. The lecture by Gerdien Verschoor will be in Dutch.

Frans Hals Lecture
The first Frans Hals Lecture will take place on Thursday September 1 at 7:30 pm in the Grote or St. Bavo’s Church in Haarlem and is open to all. Tickets priced € 7.50 are available through the online checkout of the Philharmonie in Haarlem. Following a word of welcome by director Ann Demeester and a surprising revelation involving the outgoing mayor Bernt Schneiders and chair of the Friends of the Frans Hals Museum | De Hallen Haarlem Tom Schlatmann, the lectures will begin, separated by a musical intermezzo by the Frans Hals Quartet.