Today, on 12 June, we celebrate the eightieth birthday of Gary Schwartz, founding director of CODART. In May 1997, Gary proposed the idea to create an organization for the network of museum curators of Dutch and Flemish art to the Netherlands Institute for Cultural Heritage (now the Cultural Heritage Agency). A year later, in 1998 CODART was founded and the new network had its first meeting in The Hague.
Gary was director from 1998 until July 2005, after which he continued working as webmaster of the CODART-website until 2009. In 2008 Gary and his wife Loekie were appointed honorary members of CODART, allowing them to continue attending CODART events. Over the past 21 years, Gary has never missed a CODART congress and attended most of the focus meetings and study trips.
Remaining ever active, Gary continues publishing on Rembrandt, the artist he has studied for over 50 years, as well as other artists, including Vermeer and Jheronimus Bosch. His most recent publication A Rembrandt invention. A new Baptism of the Eunuch appeared last January. In addition, he also maintains a well-read column on his website (the Schwartzlist). His latest project is the exhibition Rembrandt’s Orient, which would have opened this month at the Museum Barberini in Potsdam before moving to the Kunstmuseum Basel if it had not been rescheduled due to COVID-19. The exhibition now opens in Basel on 31 October 2020 and will then be on show in Potsdam from 13 March to 27 June 2021.
To celebrate Gary’s birthday and his many achievements we asked Michael Philipp, Chief Curator of Museum Barberini, to reflect on Gary’s Rembrandt studies and the upcoming exhibition Rembrandt’s Orient. In this celebratory CODARTfeature Michael Philipp explains in detail why Gary Schwartz was the ideal candidate to guest-curate an exhibition on the meeting of West and East in Dutch art of the seventeenth century.
“While considering the organization of an exhibition on the subject of Rembrandt’s Orient a few years ago, we immediately envisioned Gary Schwartz as our guest curator. Although his research is not limited to Rembrandt—he has also published monographs on Pieter Saenredam (1989), Jheronimus Bosch (2016), and Johannes Vermeer (2017)—his occupation with Rembrandt over the past decades has been particularly rigorous. In addition, we were attracted by his openness to special approaches, his affinity for unconventional assertions, and his gift for making connections—between works of art, artists, and biographies as well as between colleagues.”
Read on …