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Happy Birthday, Rembrandt!

Two more exhibits of note in NYC at the moment both happen to be at the Met, and both are worth the trip uptown in their own right.

The first all-inclusive celebration of Dutch painting from the museum's own collection -- for Rembrandt’s 400th birthday, he’s holding up quite well -- is fittingly titled The Age of Rembrandt: Dutch Paintings in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Thankfully they invited the renowned party painter, Frans Hals, to join in the celebration with several works. I always want a drink after viewing one of his feisty compositions.

Of the 228 masterworks in this exhibit there are many Rembrandt portraits, still lifes, and figurative compositions, 20 in all and several Vermeers, including Allegory of the Catholic Faith (shown above, at right). A very unusual image for him, it is thought to be a commission for a Catholic patron. The tapestry in the foreground is almost pointillist.

There are many events that coincide with this show, lectures, films, gallery talks, and programs for students. The depth of the Met’s collection never ceases to amaze me. I loved the two hand-carved frames on the Nicholas Maes portraits. Maes was a student of Rembrant's, and I'm searching for a picture.

The second must-see show is the Muriel Kallis Steinberg Newman Collection. In addition to having a very long name, with a painter's eye she collected some of the best abstract and contemporary art of her generation.

Rothko’s #3 is superb, and there is an excellent Hans Hoffman Mecca and a gorgeous (I’m running out of adjectives) Philip Guston simply titled Painting.

Jackson Pollack’s #28, is a solid work, but he was obviously impatient when stretching it, which humanizes the man of mystery. Purple Mekle Lippis happens to be one of the best Jules Olitskis I’ve seen. I’ll even say that about Kenneth Nolan’s October. I stay at a B+B in Vermont, when visiting my daughter at college, that used to be his home and studio. Very impressive studio space in a converted barn.

Included in the collection are drawings by de Kooning, Gorky, and a Philip Guston from 1951.

Mark Barry ( is an artist living and working near Baltimore.

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