CODART, Dutch and Flemish art in museums worldwide

Govert Flinck. Reflecting History

Exhibition: 4 October 2015 - 17 January 2016

Information from the museum website, 17 August 2015

The native of Kleve, Govert Flinck (1615-1660), was one of the most prominent portraitists during the Golden Age of Dutch painting and become one of the most celebrated painters of his time in Amsterdam. Even today he is regarded as one of Rembrandt’s most famous and gifted pupils. Already during his lifetime, his fame had by far exceeded that of his teacher. His commissioning customers included not only Amsterdam’s patriciate and magistracy, but also the House of Orange, the House of Brandenburg and the Kleve Governor John Maurice, Prince of Nassau-Siegen.

His four hundredth birthday in 2015 provides the occasion for the Museum Kurhaus Kleve to appraise the oeuvre of Govert Flinck in a comprehensive exhibition that will represent the first retrospective in more than fifty years. It will illuminate his multifaceted oeuvre, his proximity to and dependence on Rembrandt, as well as his development into an artistically independent, successful painter.

Not only through the biography, but also through Govert Flinck’s exceptionally creative work, the great attraction and importance of Amsterdam in this period can be understood. After 1600, a noteworthy art scene developed there that produced a large number of prominent painters, including also Govert Flinck.

Ori Gersht – Govert Flinck – Reflecting History

During his life-time, Govert Flinck enjoyed a grander reputation than Rembrandt himself. Insofar, his oeuvre can be regarded as exemplary for changes in criteria of aesthetic appreciation and evaluation. Because of his networking within leading social circles, Flinck acquired extensive portrait commissions for whose realization he fathomed in a masterly fashion the limits of this genre, without however ever transgressing them — just as his teacher, Rembrandt, did.

Precisely this is the starting-point for the Israeli video artist, Ori Gersht, who was born in Tel Aviv in 1967. Gersht investigates the structures and characteristics of Flinck’s oeuvre with regard to the essence of artistic freedom, juxtaposing his own position to it.
The artist Ori Gersht, who has been living in London since 1988, has already critically engaged with the aesthetics and structure of historical painting in previous projects, such as the fascinating still-lifes of Juan Sanchez Cotàn, translating them into present-day modes of perception.

Exhibition and publication

The exhibition and the accompanying catalogue aim at enabling a new and long overdue review of the work of the German-Dutch baroque painter, Govert Flinck. In particular, his relationship with Rembrandt and his involvement in the social hierarchies of the commissioning customers will stand at the centre of the presentation.

For the Kleve exhibition, precious works on loan from all over the world are expected: from the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, the Leiden Collection in New York, the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, Mauritshuis in The Hague, Sinebrychoff Museum in Helsinki, Museum de Lakenhal in Leiden, Musée des Beaux-Arts in Nantes, Stiftung Preußische Schlösser und Gärten Berlin-Brandenburg in Potsdam, the Staatsgalerie Stuttgart and many other international museums.

By incorporating the Israeli-British video artist, Ori Gersht, at the same time the question concerning the relevance of this ennobling portrait painting is posed for us today, being presented to the gaze in an analytically artistic manner.

A catalogue will be published in two languages (German and English) that will reflect the present-day state of scholarly research into Govert Flinck in a scholarly and essayistic fashion. For this project, international experts on the seventeenth century could be won over as authors.