Models: Saskia de Brauw, Bara Holotova, Benthe de Vries, Lida Fox, Soo Joo Park, Karolijn Zomer, Marte Mei van Haaster, Eliza Sys & Stef van der Laan
Stylist: Carine Roitfeld
Wardrobe director: Mélanie Huyn @ Management+Artists
Hair: Guillaume Berard @ Mod's Hair
Make-up: Violette @ Management+Artists
Nails: Christina Conrad
Production: Zoestica / Paris
Fashion Beth Fenton, Model Saskia De Brauw @ DNA models, Make up Benjamin Puckey @ D+V Management for MAC, assisted by Grace Ahn, Fashion Assistants Chelsea Rizzo and Mayme Stansfield, Color Corrections Theo CapteinFor a preview of this series visit: http://www.musemagazine.it/
During the fall of dark, in a street near Greenwhich Ave. we walk past a coffee- and teavendor in a side-street. The scarcely lit interior has dim colors. An iron-cast pillar made around the 1870’s is covered with an emerald green and is visible through the shop window. Stacks of packages tea and coffee are on tables, on the counter, in front of the counter, behind the counter, probably under the counter and on the wooden floor. A fresh load of wooden boxes containing tea have just been delivered, a bold stamp in black ink on the side says: Darjeeling.
Two Chinese men wearing glasses run the shop, their hair is meticulously combed behind their ears. They wear trousers and shirts that resemble the faded colors of the shop. ‘Since when does this shop exist?', I ask one of the men who he asks me to step aside to store another wooden box ‘Darjeeling’ under a table. ‘Since 1895’, he replies with a certain pride, ‘the original shop was located next to the church a bit further down the road, but in the 1920’s the shop moved to this location - we unfortunately do not know what the reason was.'
In an attempt to write the final chapter to The Shape of Things to Come I must disappoint you. Unfortunately I have not found what I was looking for to write a final and conclusive chapter. During a recent visit to London I went to The Royal Academy where for the first time a set of landscapes by David Hockney was on display. Till my surprise I didn't see any innovative work as I expected, a great number paintings nodded back in the history of painting and more specifically to Van Gogh's 'Les Alyscamps', painted in November 1888. It made me realize even more how innovative Van Gogh's works and some of his contemporaries really were. Hockney embraced the iPad as a means of making art, saying in an interview in the Guardian that 'the iPad is like endless piece of paper that perfectly fitted the the feeling I had that painting should be big'; but overall these works failed to express any feeling or emotion. Has technique ever really changed anything in art? Has photoshop really changed the essence or fundamentals of photography? In the migration from analog- to digital photography the changes have been largely peripheral.
Les Alyscamps; Falling Autumn Leaves (1888)
by Vincent Van Gogh
My explorations following Van Gogh's traces have lead to an interesting discovery; Fernand Cormon's atelier. I have done some more photography in the Pigalle-area and around Garede Lyonin Paris. Designer Teun van der Heijden is currently working on an idea for my book and I will present the book-idea, my documentary 'There is No Blue without Yellow and Orange' and an idea for the exhibition by the end of August in The Van Gogh Museum.
House by the railroad, feat. Doutzen Kroes
Some months ago I worked on a fashion-series which was commissioned by Interview Magazine. This series featured model Doutzen Kroes - it was inspired by the painter Edward Hopper and we had the privilege of working in Hopper's studio. We also photographed in Williamsburgh, Brooklyn and in Nyack where Hopper was born. Styling: Anna Schiffel / Hair: Holli Smith / Make-up: Eric Polito - Another fashion-series was published in L'Officiel, it featured Saskia de Brauw and was photographed in the outskirts of the medieval village of Essaouira in Morocco. This project was styled by Anna Schiffel with whom I hope to work more in the near future. Make-up was done by: Mo Karadag - I directed a commercial for Lievegoed shot by brilliant steadicam-operator Jan Rubens and produced by Paul Harting from Suikerdepôt. Line production was provided by: Soulkitchen in Portugal. Simultaneously I shot the print campaign. I expect the release to be in early August 2012.
Antwerp, near the busstation
Yet another series has just been published in Park Magazine, it was in some way a throw back in time because I did not work on any assignments recently based upon street-photography. This series was shot along the high-way running from Antwerp to Amsterdam. My website Vincentvandewijngaard.com has been on-line for some time now, in the future I will post any new projects on this site.
The serious artist is always conscious of the debt he or she owes to those who have gone before and have made their art viable. Change has always evoked resistance. Classical music in early days offered space for improvisation, but by the end of the 19th century the culture of improvisation had been lost. Jazz has always embraced improvising, reflecting modern culture, changes of society and developments of technology - being more open to renewal.
When Bach wrote his fuga’s music slowly developed from a basic structure, where mainly rhythm and melody were important, into a more complicated structure. Bach’s innovations in harmony and counterpoint changed the face of music. His solo-sonatas written for violin, containing the famous Chaconne, remain a must and an extraordinary technical challenge for every violinist to this day. These multi-layered sonatas written by Bach with unusual clarity were so complex to perform that they called for technically highly skilled and gifted performers to bring out the complex structures that are part of his compositions. Johann Sebastian Bach has, over time, come to be seen as the towering figure of Baroque music, with what Béla Bartók described as ‘a religion’ surrounding him. Concerning music theory, the more widespread use of figured bass (also known as ‘thorough-bass’) represents the developing importance of harmony as the linear underpinnings of polyphony. Harmony being the end result of counterpoint and figured bass being the representation of harmony commonly employed in musical instruction, the two became seen as two means of perception for the same idea, with harmonic progressions entering the notion of composing, as well as the use of the tritone, which was perceived as unstable, in order to create dissonance because of this very property. It is likely that in our time, where technical developments have become such a part of the music-creating process - the use of synthesizers, drum-computers and multi-track recording are commonly used now - Bach would certainly have been triggered by these new developments.
Saxophonist Michael Brecker had been classically trained musiscian whose major influences were John Coltrane, Miles Davis and Canonball Adderly. When questioned about the use of the EWI (Electronic Wind Instrument), he answered he was very interested to explore new sounds on the EWI and that he firmly believed that the future- sound was to be found in electronic music which he started to pioneer early in his career.
Listen to Michael Brecker playing the EWI: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N4Ex1sC4xMc
Listen to Michael Brecker play ‘Say It’ by John Coltrane http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bC3t-3aB6Fs&feature=related
Prolific keyboardist, producer and writer Jeff Lorber said he drew from many different sources in his early career ranging from Jazz, funk, classical, rock and R&B. Born in Philadelphia in 1952, Lorber has explored a wide territory in his music, eventually he said: ‘I found my own voice, but initially I started out borrowing things I heard and loved and finally crafted those elements into something of my own.’ On his latest CD-release ‘Galaxy’ a fresh mix of those elements can be heard; complex harmonies, unconventional time signatures and compelling rhythms. Stretching the envelope has been Lorber's strategy from the very beginning.
Jeff Lorber performing in New Morning, Paris
Eclecticism, according to Hume, is ‘the borrowing of a variety of styles from different sources and combining them’. Significantly, Eclecticism hardly ever constituted a specific style in art: it is characterized by the fact that it was not a particular style. In general, the term describes the combination in a single work of a variety of influences - mainly of elements from different historical styles in architecture, painting, and the graphic and decorative arts. Eclecticism was an important concept in Western design and architecture during the mid and late 19th century, where oriental and particularly Japanese wood printing was suffused into existent western art traditions, Eclecticism reappeared in a new guise in the latter part of the 20th century. Much of postmodern art is characterized by eclecticism and as such has always predicted the ‘shape of things to come.'
The serious artist is always conscious of the debt he or she owes to those who have gone before and have made their art viable. Change has always evoked resistance. When Van Gogh saw Japanese woodcuts he was heavily influenced by them but finally managed to implement some elements into his vision. When artists like Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso and musician Michael Brecker became acquainted to African culture they did not hesitate to draw from it’s richness.
Few realize quite how significant Van Gogh’s contribution was to painting, that his adventurous use of color changed the direction of art. Van Gogh deliberately set about using colors to capture mood and emotion, rather than using colors realistically. At the time, this was completely unheard of. Van Gogh firmly believed that to be a great painter you had to first master drawing before adding color. In his early years Van Gogh struggled with perspective as we can distract in his letters. On Sunday morning the 23rd of July 1882 he pens down: ‘These ones (drawings) are simply intended to show you that if I work at drawing, the correctness of perspective and proportion, it also benefits the watercolouring’.
Over the years Van Gogh clearly mastered drawing and began to use more color. His use of color was partly a result of his admiration of Japanese woodcuts which he and his brother Theo had collected. At the time many artists, such as Bernard and Gauguin, were influenced by the ‘simplicity’ of the Japanese drawings, using heavy outlines and ‘flat’ colors. In a letter dated May the 4th 1888, when Vincent is lives in Arles, he writes to Theo about the ‘New Art’: ‘As for me, I shall go on working, and here and there something of my work will prove of lasting value - but who will there be to achieve for figure painting what Claude Monet has achieved for landscape? However, you must feel, as I do, that someone like that is on the way - Rodin? - he does not use colour - it won't be him. But the painter of the future will be a colourist the like of which has never yet been seen. Manet was getting there but, as you know, the impressionists have already made use of stronger colour than Manet has'.
Throughout the history of art, African art has inspired artists working in various styles and media. The most evident examples of Africa's impact on fine art relate to modern art in Europe and America. It is well documented that African art forms inspired the work modern painters as Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, and Jacques Lipchitz. These pioneers and other important figures looked to Africa for solutions to formal and aesthetic problems.
It was Picasso who introduced his friend Matisse to African art. As Picasso addressed geometry and form, Henri Matisse drew upon African art to unite bold color and ceremonial patterns with results that spearheaded the Fauve masterpiece, The Green Stripe (1912). Matisse's treatise, Notes of a Painter, described how his arbitrary use of bold color stirred the emotions and related to the ritualistic origins of African art.
Some Music is capable of offering, besides a listening experience, a very visual experience. While Michael Brecker’s African Skies may take you to the African tundra’s and Vivaldi’s Four Seasons to the streets of Venice, Sibelius Violin Concerto might remind you of dark days in Finland during winter time - Bartók’s violin concerto may take you to some unexplored territory.
While he said he listened to everything, Michael Brecker once admitted that Béla Bartók was his favorite classical composer. Brecker, saxophonist extraordinaire, passed away at the age of 57 in January 2007. As a result of his stylistic and harmonic innovations, Brecker is the most influential saxophonist of the last 30 years and is among the most studied contemporary instrumentalists throughout the world today. Michael Brecker befriended trombonist Barry Rodgers when he was young and introduced Brecker to African music. Brecker’s compositions such as ‘Song for Barry’ and ‘African Skies’ are just a few songs that he wrote reflecting an African vibe. In an interview that Michael Brecker gave for an audience in the Conservatory in The Hague he was questioned about African music and how he was inspired by various aspects.
MB is: Michael Brecker RCI is: The Royal Conservatory interviewer
MB: It’s very simple as to the attraction, I just liked the sound of African music.
I don’t know if I really know what ‘African Music’ means, it’s so broad a term. There are so many different kinds of music coming from the continent of Africa. I was intrigued by the rhythmic aspect of the music, and harmonic aspect. And I’d always loved the tension and release created in Jazz rhythm and I was intrigued how Jazz may have grown out of African music.
While I’m intrigued by it, I really don’t know that much about. I haven’t really been to Africa other than to South Africa and Botswana. From that standpoint, it is kind of ludicrous, but I enjoy listening to the music. Although I have a great collection (of African music) at home, I still have a lot to learn.
RCI: Are there any specific, African rhythms that appeal to you; maybe from Senegal?
MB: It’s hard for me to comment, specifically. I had a chance to get a little closer to it during the tour I did with Paul Simon in 1991 when we traveled with a lot of good musicians from South Africa. So I asked a lot of questions, I mean I asked really dumb questions, and they were gracious enough to let me tag along.
RCI: What kind of questions? Why were they ‘dumb?’
MB: My main question was where is ‘1’ (i.e., the first beat of a bar or measure of, in this case, African music). And the South African musician would always say: ‘Don’t count. They played some very highly developed music for me (the implication being that Michael would never be able to follow this music if he tried to count it out in standard Western or European forms).
One of the South Africa musicians used to tap me on the shoulder on ‘1’ when we would listen to recorded versions of this music when we would travel on buses and planes. I didn’t even have to ask after a while.
RCI: Did it affect your way of playing; give you ideas?
MB: It gave me writing (compositional) ideas, but it hasn’t necessarily affected my playing, per se. It did give me new avenues and opened other doors rhythmically. I’ve done some recording reflecting these influences, but I would still like to make a whole record of this music.
RCI: Coming from different societies, do you think that it’s possible to understand that music and make a representative recording of it?
MB: I wouldn’t try to do that; I see it more as cross-pollination. The idea wouldn’t be to pick an African flower and take it home, but to plant things around the flower and let them cross pollinate like taking some subtle rhythmic ideas and writing around them. That’s what I’ve done in the past in an attempt to make it something of my own.
The full interview with Michael Brecker can be found on: jazzprofiles.blogspot.com
The serious artist is always conscious of the debt he or she owes to those who have gone before and have made their art viable. Change has always evoked resistance. The resistance towards renewal has been informed, happily, by a certain artistic integrity, a certain aesthetic energy and artistic vision rooted in the rich heritage of a people’s varied historical and contemporary experience over time.
Imagine what art history would be like, how lackluster, were it not for the art of Egypt. From roughly 4000 B.C. when it was conquered, Egypt was said to have possessed wonders of such number and quality as to be indescribable. Today's interest in all that is Egyptian certainly supports that theory. Egypt was known as the Kingdom of Two Lands, referring to Upper Egypt and Lower Egypt. It was a physical and political division; the upper land was dry and rocky and maintained a rustic culture, while the lower land was opulent and urban. Great conflict emerged until around 3000 B.C., when the art of the time began to reflect a gradual change. The images began to depict Kings who now were shown as divine and of equal importance to gods. This marked a change in the fundamentals of politics and religion and began to create an idealistic form and structure in art.
Painting and sculpture complemented the architecture for which they were designed. Sculpture of the time is reflected in the popular image of everything from the Great Sphinx to thousands of other more human likenesses. The method used for most Egyptian sculpture was subtractive - working away the excess stone - and accounts for the block-like look of most statues of the time. Relief sculpture and painting were also practiced and seemed to echo that same stiffness and formality in design. But the purpose of these works was more to document and elevate those depicted. Pottery continued this same depiction of daily routines and events in a graphic yet somewhat ‘flat’ style.
As the power of Egypt began to slip, Greece and Grecian art began to rise. For the Greeks, the order of both nature and reason was beauty. The intellectual process became a part of the creative process, and the ‘good life’ was entwined with all that was cultural, social and political. Man was regarded as the highest creation and value in nature. It was the Greeks who created the natural image of man in art, an honoring of the individual.
Facing the stone of Rosetta, Britisch Museum, London.
The landscape differences - Egypt with its long, horizontal line and Greece with its diversified geography helped change the art as well. Nature worship became personified and gods assumed human form. Athens in many ways became the symbol of Greek culture. We think of masterpieces of Greek art as being temples and statues but not paintings. This is because temples and paintings still exist in some form, but not one painting has survived.
The art of Greece is more an embrace of older civilizations that were embellished with contemporary motifs and ideas. Greeks acknowledged their adaptation from others and melded it into the style and form we now consider so much a part of this time period. The stylized beauty of Greek sculpture, the form and design of the pottery, jewelry and glass, and the architecture clearly have had a lasting impact on the world of art.
Inevitably my return to Morocco meant a trip down memory lane. Good memories and also sad memories - to be honest. Since my last visit, nearly 9 years before, I wanted to ban the memory of a lost love from my mind and I swore I would never return to my beloved country that as well proved to be one of the most inspirational places I have ever been to. Morocco proved vital in my exploration of photography, that at the time was concentrated on structure and color. An exploration that still has not come to an end. Upon my return from my last trip to Morocco, that took me and my ex-girlfriend from the desert to the gorges of The Atlas Mountains and finally to the walled city of Fès - I immediately left on a journey that took me to all 26 locations where painter Vincent van Gogh had lived and worked. Rain was pooring down and I stood in a field - a single tree in front of me. The grass was of the freshest green I have ever seen and in the distance I could hear a thunderstorm approaching. The air was filled with the smell of moist. The tree appeared to be almost like a symbol of strenght - withstanding the elements that swept across the field. To me the tree also represented a learning moment.
As a young boy my mother Jeannette and I would sometimes accompany my father while on assignment. My mother taught me how to read in the shadow of a huge pine tree that stood right in front of our hotel. I remember seeing my father leaving our hotel carrying heavy equipment -heading for the mountains. I was a slow learner and very distracted by what I saw - I loved to draw and observe. The tree for me became a place synonymous to a classroom in open-air. I took a few photographs. My cell phone rang. ‘Hello Lex. How are you? ‘I am fine Vincent, how are you?’ I told Lex briefly what I had been up to and come across during the last couple of days. ‘Well, very good’, he said. A silence followed. Then he said: ‘Would you like to travel to Tanzania this monday?’ The break-up with my girlfriend followed suit as a result of my decision to travel to Tanzania.
My hotel in Arusha was unpleasant. Dark had fallen when I arrived around 10 O’clock at night. The garden was huge - the narrow concrete paths and apartments all looked similar too me. The rooms must have been very modern in the eighties, but the decorations were now fading away and I remember a strong smell of plastic. The walls, floor and ceiling were all covered with a thick hairy brown carpet. I was clear to me that in case of fire there was definitely no chance of survival. I returned to the Hotel bar for a drink and observed people moving in the colored neon-lights. The dark skin of a sexy dressed girl had a blue and yellow glow. I ordered a coke and a girl came to sit down next to me. I wasn’t looking for any company and neither for a conversation - but when a second girl sat down at my right I all of a sudden realized I was sitting in something like a brothel. I escaped quickly, immediately losing my way in the garden with a girl right on my tail.
I was happy to see the morning light appearing when I woke up, in the distance I could see mount Kilimanjaro. I will never forget the sight as the earliest light hit the peak covered in snow. Around 9 o’clock a driver came to pick me up. He carried my luggage to a car and on the side of the jeep I read: ‘National Geographic, explorers in residence.’ I felt I had finally arrived in Tanzania.
We drove up to a vast field at the foot of mount Kilimanjaro where other crew-members had already started filming. Without any cell-phone reception, with the worst means of communication you can possibly imagine I spent fourteen days dealing with my break-up and at the same time taking photographs of Masai. The tundra’s are a vast stretch of land, barren and mostly uninhabited. It is one of the few places where the nights have deep black skies, no sound disturbs the silence, except occasionally - one can hear screams of animals being attacked by lions. Despite the fact it was one of the most incredible journey's I have ever been on, it proved to be one of the most difficult ones as well. As a I experienced, taking photographs and strong emotions at the same time were an impossible combination.
A dog named Mogador
On the morning of August 17th I took a walk outside the old city walls of Essaouira. The fair just outside the walls had gone. "How long ago did the fair move?’, I asked a guard sitting on a chair and leaning against the wall of the Jewish cemetery. ‘For two years now Sir’. ‘I remember your face - did you work here back then?’, I asked. ‘I have been working here for twenty years, Sir.’ He smiled and bared his teeth, rotten and browned by too many cups of sweet mint tea. ‘Thank you, I go on, I wish you good luck’, I said ‘Don’t you want to see the cemetery Sir? It's not big, but it is well worth a visit.’ In the lee of the wind I followed the wall that separated the cemetery from the road - the releasing lime and the gray surface of the wall reminded me of whitecaps on waves during a storm.
Once outside the city walls I followed the road to the sea. A skeleton of an industrial complex had become a haven for dogs - looming in the shadows and following my movements. On a winding path near the sea a horse and carriage passed by - in the distance a thick veil of smoke obscured the coastline. A fire raged at the foot of a dune I was standing on and near the water tiny figures leaning forwards were searching garbage and piles of rubble left on the beach.
On my way back I found the streets deserted, an occasional car passing flared up clouds of sand. In the distance I could see the fragile silhouette of a dog delineated against the sand. I took one photograph. It walked several minutes before I came closer. The little dog was very weak and it seemed like she could drop dead any moment. I took another photograph.
‘How are you doing, are you ok?’, I ask in a soft voice. I took a long time before she answered. ‘Death is coming, she said in a broken tone of voice, ‘My name is Mogador, I am very pleased to meet you - I do not have much time left anymore.’ ‘Wouldn’t it be better if you lie down in the shade - it is a lot cooler’, I said. ‘I heard you were here’, Mogador continued slowly without answering my question, ‘the news has spread rapidly’. At that moment she could not keep her balance and she sank to her feet and fell into the sand.
After a long silence she said: ‘I have heard the horrible story of the cat with three legs - it was a terrible and sad accident - but is she safe now..? ...you did save her didn’t you?’ I waited and searched for answers with the right words. There were no proper words. Heartbeats in my throat. I wiped the dusty sweat from my face with the sleeve of my shirt and took a deep breath. ‘We have not succeeded, we have searched for her this morning; in the streets, in courtyards, underneath cars and also near the sea - everywhere - unfortunately we had no luck. She has been seen last night but this morning we couldn’t find her. A man in the streets near the gas station told us she has died this morning.’ Mogador looked at me as tears welled up in her eyes. It took several minutes before she calmed. ‘It is time’, she said.
In the distance a truck was approaching in a cloud of dust. Time passed. The shadows slowly crept up to Mogador, who now had curled up. At that moment the truck drove by, blazing a cloud of dust over the Mogador - a chill crept through her small body.
A short film I recently shot on location in Paris and Morocco featuring Saskia the Brauw. Styling by Anna Schiffel, make up by Hugo Villard and hair by Vincent de Moro Giafferi. The track 'By My Side' was written and performed by Jeff Lorber and Steven Dubin and remixed by Jeff Lorber at JHL sound in Los Angeles. Link: http://vimeo.com/32322168
For some reason I became interested in war photography during my secondary school. I don’t know precisely why. Certainly it had to do with my father who was a professional photographer for many years.
When I grew up in the little village of Warmond (Netherlands) as a young boy, photography was always part of our daily routine. My father George would leave early in the morning and every night he would be editing his photographs he had shot the day before.
I heard my father speak about the days he photographed in Biafra, during the war, and I really wanted to see those pictures.
‘Can I see the photos?’, I asked. When my father finally called the magazine, after many requests from my side, to send him a copy, I finally had the proof in my hands he had been there the year I was born. 1967.
I remember it was exciting and disappointing at the same time. The pictures were very grainy and not very clear.
I had seen Don Mc Cullin’s photographs made during the same period and I was hungry to see more. I kept asking my father questions.
‘Were you both on the same plane?’ I asked. ‘I can’t remember’, he said.
‘Where are the negatives’, I asked. ‘I don’t know’, he said.
Finally I asked: ‘Why did you stop taking those pictures?’
And he replied: ‘Because you were born and your mother didn’t want me to go to those places anymore’.
That sounded conclusive to me and I never asked him again.
My grandfather George was an amateur photographer, but as I heard him talk about photography it was only a matter of time before he would become a professional. Above the desk in his working-space was a grainy black &white photograph he took of an anonymous landscape. I looked at the clouds and thought the picture had been taken after heavy rainfall.
It must be the best he has made, I thought, for what other reason would it be up there?
On a Saturday, when we visited my grandparents, my grandfather said he was in need of a really good camera. Upon the advice of my father he bought a used black Nikon FM, a camera that looked both advanced and very impressive to me.
As fas as I can recall, he never really started using it. After he passed away I inherited the Nikon and used it for many years - until it was stolen when on assignment in Harare, Zimbabwe, in 1994.
During school holidays I would spent much time at my grandparents house, it was built just before the World War II.
In summertime I went fishing. I used to sit on a boat near a farm, not very far from my grandparents’ house. The water was dark, still and smelly. At noon my grandmother would come and get me for lunch. We ate bread, cheese, butter and fish. After lunch I returned to the boat and would spent the rest of the day - looking out over the water, thinking. The sun was burning, the world didn’t seem to move to me as a young boy. Around five o’clock my grandfather came by to ask if I had caught anything - I usually didn’t.
He would always say the same: ‘you fish in the wrong spot my boy'.
After my grandmother had died my grandfather said he wanted to travel.
We nearly fell from our chairs. Isn’t it a little late?, I thought.
My grandfather was in his eighties. We decided to make a family journey to Switzerland. Shortly after arrival I noticed him standing in the garden of the house we had rented. He looked at the mountains that surrounded him and I heard him mutter: ‘well, only mountains everywhere, everything looks the same'.
That very night we went out for dinner. As young as I was I told my grandfather the best he could do was to order a local dish.
He looked at me over his pair of glasses and said: ‘he had not decided yet'.
When the waitress finally showed up he tried to order the dish of his choice in Dutch, when the waitress didn’t understand it, he repeated it - once more - but now v-e-r-y slowly.
What proof did I need? There was definitely lurking no traveler in him, he would be better off staying home in the end.
I have been fortunate enough to have traveled a lot at a very early age with my parents. We traveled the world and I loved it. It became a second nature to me. I started taking pictures more seriously when traveling in Indonesia.
I couldn’t stop talking about photography, the pictures that I had seen in Life, Time and National Geographic. The pictures made by Larry Burrows, Don Mc Cullin, W. Eugene Smith and James Nachtwey made a lasting impression on me. I would show the pictures I had taken to my father and he commented: ‘you must respond quickly and try to be invisible’. This was the best advice I ever got. I took it very serious - and I still do.
The day came when I declared I wanted to be a photographer - my parents were shocked. ‘What do you want to do?’, my dad asked. I said: ‘I want to travel and take photographs’ and he said: ‘that is impossible since there are very few photographers doing that'.
My other grandmother lived alone in a poorer area of Leiden. A calm neighbourhood where nothing was happening until renovation was on it’s way. It came very slowly, then it hit hard. A wall was knocked down in my grandmothers house. She hated it, but I was really excited - finally something was happening! I could look from the bedroom directly into the kitchen and watch my grandmother preparing food, something she in fact rarely did. I started taking photographs, and I am happy I did -
if only for the document that it represents for me.
Over the weekends I would bike and took my camera with me - explore the neighborhood where I lived. I preferred rundown area’s or places that I had not been to before. Somewhere I read photographer Don Mc Cullin used 28mm, 85mm and 105mm lenses. I looked in my bag and - to my surprise - found a 28mm lens. If it works for him, it must certainly be good for me I thought - that is why I started using the 28. In fact I still use the 28mm and have never changed it ever since.
On one of my trips I ended up in a car graveyard. A man in overalls full of oily stains came up to me and asked: ‘do you need a car?’. ‘No, I have one’, I said full of confidence , ‘If you don’t mind, I just want a few pictures’.
He stared at me in disbelief and finally said: ‘Go and see the owner kid’ - and pointed towards a yellow wooden shack.
I crossed the car graveyard slowly looking at the piles of stacked of cars.
I was out of sight of the workman now. I doubted if asking permission was the right thing to do. Finally I took a deep breath and knocked on the door - there was no answer. What to do, I said to myself? I badly wanted to take some photographs. Taking a small risk seemed best to me. I waited for a minute or three, walked back and said: ‘Hey, it’s ok, there is no problem - I have permission’.
This is how I became interested in photography and the enduring curiosity I have to explore and investigate is probably why I still like taking photographs. Sometimes photos offer me another perspective on the world or provide me a different insight I might not have had If I wouldn’t have been in that place at that moment in time. It’s as much about the past as it is about the future - old photographs can still provide new insights.
Some years ago I scrambled the famous antique market Marché aux Puces in Saint-Ouen (Paris). One of the stands had a box with pictures that drew my attention. I carefully looked through the photographs, papers and postcards. Some photographs had stamps on the back stating: Visa. Visa was a well known press agency in the seventies. In this box I found two contact-sheets depicting scenes of war. These photographs could have been taken in Algeria. The photographer used classic Kodak Tri-X film.
Among the pictures on the sheet are different scenes: There is a scene in which a soldier drags a wounded comrade away from the shooting. There is a scene where a wounded soldier is carried by two other man. And a scene of a soldier drinking a glass of water in the 'middle of' the battle. Does anyone know the photographer who took these remarkable photographs?
Important notice: I did not take these photographs! If someone knows who did, I will credit him/her properly and return the contact-sheets, which I will guard carefully until then.
Once more I will take you to Asnières. The actual reason I went there is the photograph shown below. It shows Emile Bernard and his best friend Van Gogh, Bernard facing the camera, Van Gogh seen from the back. In the left hand lower corner we can read: Asnières. But is this the case? In the right part of the image we can see a solid building near the Pont d’Asnières - this is the building that is now a selling point for Lexus cars. This means the photograph was taken on Quai de Clichy and not on Quai d’Asnières - then called Boulevard de La Seine. In other words the photograph has been taken in Clichy and not in Asnières. It is uncertain who made the picture but this photograph could have been taken by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, he owned an early Kodak Camera. Toulouse-Lautrec mentioned he first met Van Gogh near PorteSt. Ouen (east of Asnières) and not in the atelier of painter Fernand Cormon, where they both studied under his guidance.
When I first visited Asnières-sur-Seine, as it is called now, I didn’t notice two separate railway tracks branched off at Asnières station, one line for the ‘RER’ the other for ‘Grandes Lignes’. There are only few detailed maps of Asnières available to my surprise, therefore I decided to use one from the 1860s - it is not very detailed and leaves out most little alleys and unimportant streets.
In a corner café near the station I asked for rue Flachat, a narrow street leading in the direction of station Bois de Colombes. I decided to follow an old unused path now overgrown with plants and trees. The path is separated from the railway tracks by a fence of wrought iron. A sign on the entrance gate warned me for imprisonment or a fine of 3750 euro’s when trespassing.
Making my way through the bush on this quiet sunday-morning fortunately didn’t wake up unwanted company. There it was, at the end of the lawn: the house of the Bernard-family. A typical mid-nineteenth century house surrounded by elegantly decorated fence, a big garden and a barn near the main-entrance. It was said Emile Bernard had a small atelier and I immediately thought it could very well have been this little barn. I imagined Van Gogh and Bernard walking side by side from the station to the house. After a quarrel between Van Gogh and Emile Bernard’s parents- Van Gogh never returned to the house again. I left as quietly as I came.
I followed the tracks again and took rest under the railway bridge crossing the river Seine that Van Gogh had painted. The bridge had been widened at later date. In the distance I could see the arches of Pont d’Asnières. Sounds of the trains that passed made traveling memories come to life.
ps. the location of the Bernard family house will be revealed in my upcoming book.
On many of my travels exploring Vincent van Gogh’s footsteps I was accompanied by Ken Wilkie, a travel writer and a dear friend who, when I started out as a photographer, was the first to assign me to do a travel-story for Holland Herald . Ken used to be the Editor-in-chief of Holland Herald. It seems my explorations in Van Gogh’s footsteps slowly come to an end. Finally I am able to explore the outskirt of Paris called Asnières-sur-Seine. In early days it was simply called Asnières. Knowing Ken always wanted to explore this area I regret he is unable to join me - he is taking care of his wife Laura who is very ill.
In search of Restaurant de La Sirène
Rain kept me inside yesterday as it was pouring down most of the day. When I finally left for Asnières-sur-Seine, in an attempt to locate Restaurant de La Sirène which Van Gogh had painted, it was about three o’clock. The smell of moist filled the streets near Bastille. The trumpet player in the metro didn’t really cheer me up - a sad melody that was mostly out of tune. I changed subways at Invalides, then I went up north. I figured it would be a good idea to start walking from station Mairie de Clichy, near the Seine, cross the Pont deClichy, then follow the Quai du Docteur Dervaux. The concrete structures near Mairie de Clichy made me fear that anything authentic might had been removed. The Pont de Clichy had been reconstructed and the people crossing it appeared ignorant of the rich history that this area has. At the end of the bridge I instantly recognized two solidly built houses, at both sides, which Van Gogh had drawn. I crossed the street to take a closer look. At my left I noticed the Cimetière de Chiens, it was built in 1899 - so clearly it had not been there in Van Gogh’s time. On the nameplate Quai du Docteur Dervaux I also read Docteur Dervaux had been executed during the war - for sure the reason why the Quai was renamed in 1944. In early days it was named: Boulevard de La Seine. Restaurant de La Sirène was located: 9, Boulevard de Seine.
A narrow pavement now leads along the Quai. I tried to imagine how Van Gogh, accompanied bij his friend the painter Emile Bernard, must have walked here enjoying the view of the banks of the river Seine.
I knew Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec bought a Kodak Camera and made a photograph of Van Gogh and Bernard, in the distance another café. I approached the Pont d’ Asnières and I walked 'right into' Van Gogh’s painting Restaurant de La Sirène. Where the restaurant had been was an empty space. Ignoring all history and probably unaware of the fact that Van Gogh and many other artists had visited this spot, the entire building had been demolished. A small section of a building reminded me of Vincent’s painting. A tall building seen in Van Gogh’s painting now is a Lexus selling point - Toyota’s luxury car brand. I looked around to see if I might had overlooked something. I did not.
Heavy rain was pouring down when I crossed Pont d’ Asnières, then I crossed the Quai de Clichy and passed into a narrow street seeking shelter. I noticed that some of these buildings must have been there when Van Gogh was around. Café de Pont, now closed, being one of them. Everywhere I noticed signs saying demolition is on it’s way. Paris is systematically demolishing it’s early industrial history. If you want to get a last glimpse of it’s remains - be fast.
Special thanks to Paul Harting, my agent, for his research on this topic.
Last couple of days I have worked in the area of Place Pigalle in Paris. Mainly adding photographs to the Paris chapter of my upcoming book about Vincent van Gogh. The number of historical events are incredibly dense in this area. When Vincent van Gogh arrived unannounced he stayed with his brother Theo in rueVictor Massé No.25, then rue Laval, just around the corner of Place Pigalle. Theo worked for the art-dealers Goupil & Cie, the company had a storage and administration room in rueChaptal No.9 - in fact one block away from his house. A narrow alley, now closed, connected both streets and must have been very covenient for Theo. Père Tanguy, who ran an art supply shop where Van Gogh obtained some of his colors, also lived nearby - in rue Clauzel No.14 and later he moved to No.9. It was here that the famous Van Gogh painting of The Irisses was shown in the window. On the square Place Pigalle itself you would find the famous Le café de la Nouvelle Athènes (it was sadly demolished only a couple of years ago), café Le Rat Mort now is a closed sex-shop called Cupidon. Strangely enough a little Cabaret called Pigalls, tucked away in a corner next to Folies Pigalle is closed but still there, it appears on early photographs of the Place Pigalle as well and looks virtually unchanged. Hopefully I will be able to enter real soon.
Photographic projects have taken Vincent van de Wijngaard to more than seventy countries. He studied music and graphic design before turning to photography.
Recent work can be found in CR Fashion Book, Vogue Hommes International, Muse Magazine, GQ-Style and Interview