Wednesday, January 25, 2017

"Holy Rembrandt!"

     "I was in England during World War I,  moneyless and miserable.  My wife, who is younger and more courageous than I am, said 'Let's go to a museum for relief.'  There was destruction in the whole world.  Not only were bombs  being dropped on London--but every day we heard of another city being destroyed.  Devastation, ruins, the annihilation of a world becoming poorer and sadder.  That was bitter.  I looked at Rembrandt's last self-portrait: so hideous and broken; so horrible and hopeless; and so wonderfully painted. All at once it came to me: to be able to look at one's fading self in the mirror--see nothing--and paint oneself as the  néant, the nothingness of man. What a miracle, what an image! In that I found courage and new youth. 'Holy Rembrandt,' I said.  Indeed, I owe my life only to the artists."
-Oskar Kokoschka, in  Horst Gerson, Rembrandt Paintings, p. 478.
 Told in Henri Nouwen and Walter Gaffen's "Aging," p. 91

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