8. Art

I am not really that interested in fine art in general and so this week’s talk on art in the golden age was not really that interesting for me. I knew Van Gogh is Dutch and I have heard of Rembrandt (but did not know he was Dutch), but I could not tell you what paintings he did. Hence from this I have taken an idea of what some of the famous Dutch paintings might be such as night watch, but other than that it has not affected my idea of the Netherlands a lot.

The only thing that did change my view was the discussion of how much does art and history give you a national identity. As I said in class I cannot think of who the most famous British artist would be as I honestly cannot draw one-off the top of my head, not fine art anyway. For modern art I can say we have Tracy Emin, Banksy and Damien Hirst. The thing is when it comes to art I am much more interested in the art and its meaning then who has done it so in general my knowledge of artists is pretty slim.

Coming back to the discussion it seems that art does play a big role in how the Netherlands defines itself and history probably comes in on equal parts. Whereas for us I would believe we are almost wholly defined on history otherwise why would lots of other countries know about British history. This is also because our history is quite entwined with other countries which seems to make our history so important. Our empire is a major thing that defines us whereas the Dutch colonies don’t seem to be such a big part of Dutch history, it hasn’t come across in this class anyway. They only ever seem to come up when the conversation about how Dutch is such a small language in which case they point out that these colonies speak Dutch too.

Overall I would like to have seen more things that relate to the present day Netherlands in this class as they affect me the most, even though I understand that culture doesn’t just appear in modern times, i.e. it comes from somewhere. Hence ruling it completely out of the course doesn’t make sense. For instance more on the schooling system would have been nice as I could tell everyone was really interested in that especially as it is something we are involved with. So I was a little disappointed in the discussion when we didn’t really have time to talk about this.

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