Local Heart, Global Soul

February 4, 2014

With The Frog Or The Bird’s Eye Perspective: Italy Makes An Impression…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I’m continuing my yesterday’s post where I am detailing some of  Dutch artist M.C. Escher’s early works, may of which were done in Italy, a country Escher fell in love with and later moved to until his conflict with the ideas of Fascism forced him to move with his family to Switzerland, then Belgium and then back to The Netherlands.

One of the information boards in the Escher Museum located in the former winter palace of Queen Regent Emma of the Netherlands, on the Lange Voorhout in The Hague tells me:

Early in his career, Escher experimented with perspective by choosing an unusually high or low vantage point to draw from. The mountains in Italy were perfectly suited to this. For “San Gimignano”, “Bonifacio”and “Temple of Segesta”, he selected an extremely low vantage point, from a valley. As a result the viewer looks up at an object located far above. This is known as “the frog’s perspective”.

In other works Escher chose a very high vantage point, for example in “Morano”, “Ravello”and “Calvi”, the fishing town seen from the citadel. In these prints the viewer looks down at the subject of the work. This is known at as the “Bird’s eye perspective”.

Escher never used the “panoramic view” so popular with other artists at the time. When in 1939 Escher made prints of Delft commissioned by the Dutch Government, he climbed up the tower of the Nieuwe Kerk to show the marketplace from a dizzying perspective.

The viewer’s eye is led downwards rather than out towards the broad surroundings.

In Escher’s time (more specifically, between 1920 and 1940), many European artists played with extreme forms of perspective. Giorgio de Chirico in Italy, Carel Willink in the Netherlands and Ludwig Kirchner in Germany had been using perspective as a stylistic tool since 1910. but their most predecessor was Giovanni Battista Piranesi, who in the 18th Century portrayed spaces using the most bizarre perspectives. 

Personally I think that Italy and the early works Escher did there, and the discovery of  the possibilities  that these altered perspectives offered, heavily influenced Escher’s later works for which he became world famous: the seemingly  “impossible” ascending and descending staircases and waterfalls and the transitional spaces works like “water and air” where fish become birds and visa versa.

Certainly it may be disputed that Escher didn’t always stick strictly to reality, but in fact I have found that as a general rule most artists don’t… it’s impossible to see every twig and blade of grass in a landscape, real world “litter”  in the broader sense of inconvenient  buildings, people, or the distractions of everyday items are often left out of compositions for cleaner lines, better perspective, balance, light, mood or colour. In a way I love these earlier works even more than the more famous later ones because they document the source of inspiration and reveal that Escher’s genius about “thinking outside the box” was a quirky personality trait present right from the start.

I love quirky and I adore detail… this won’t be my last visit here…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

“Temple of Segesta, Sicily”, 1932 (wood engraving) Note: the block in printing is always opposite to the final printed image of the first photo in this post.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

“Pineta of Calvi, Corsica”, 1933 (woodcut in light grey, dark grey and black, printed from three blocks)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

“Study for Atrani, Coast of Amalfi”,1931 (black chalk,pencil)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Study for “Atrani, Coast of Amalfi”,1931 (black chalk, pencil)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

“Calvi, the Fishing Town seen from the Citadel, Corsica”, 1933 (wood-engraving)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

“Nocturnal Rome: Basilica of Constantine”, 1934 (woodcut)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

“Delft, Nieuwe Kerk”, 1939 (woodcut)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

“Delft, Roofs”, 1939 (woodcut)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

“Inside St. Peters’ 1935, (wood engraving)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

“Venice”, 1936 (woodcut)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

“Venice”, 1936 (woodcut) Detail…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

“Porta Maria dell’ Ospidale, Ravello”, 1932 (wood engraving)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

“La Mezquita, Córdoba”, 1936 (black and white chalk)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

“Coast of Amalfi” (composition) 1934, (woodcut)

http://www.escherinhetpaleis.nl/

October 9, 2011

Cheese Journey’s though Our Back Yard that is Europe…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Yes, yet another cheesy post, taken from my archive photos as I take you on a virtual tour of one of The Netherlands best Specialist Cheese Shops: Ed Boele’s in the Fahrenheitstraat in The Hague.

We’ve been looking at the Dutch cheeses on offer, and the Bleu’s from around Europe, but there are so many more to explore in the world of European Cheese. Of course, no shop could even start to hope to stock them all, there are literally tens of thousands of European cheeses, so Ed does the next best thing: he goes looking for the best of the best.

Ed Boele makes regular trips around Europe, sampling cheeses and bringing back some of the more exquisite examples to share with his customers.

Not for nothing does he have Best Foreign Cheese Selection Awards to his name. One of the best things about both him and his shop is that not only are the contents divine but that he and his staff take the time to know all there is to know about everything they sell.

The awards they have earned over the years are based not only on a visiting  senior industry specialist jury but also by multiple random visits by mystery shopper specialists so the staff  have a good incentive to keep their knowledge up to date.

There are the artisan “Producteurs de fromages de chèvre” from the around the area of the Pyrenées, some are mild goat cheeses, other have a real kick to them.

Made in the mountains of north east France,  Munster or Munster Géromé, are the two names for one cheese.  Monks here started making it  in the 17th Century as a way of preserving the milk and to help feed the local people.

Milk comes from cows that graze the Vosgesmountains and is made into cheese by local farmers but bought to the  natural cellars at Rochesson in the Upper Vosges to mature. In the cellars it is washed and rubbed for two to four weeks during which time the rind turns a soft orange colour and the cheese becomes soft and creamy.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The cheese is still made the same way today and the recipe has little changed over the centuries. Ed Boele’s stocks “Munster Ermitage” , an award winning cheese from a company that’s been going strong now for  some 70 years.

Trappe Échourgnac is a pasteurized cow’s milk cheese produced by nuns at the “Abbaye Notre-Dame de Bonne Espérance” (Abbey of Our Lady of Good Hope) in the Dordogne area of France.

The Abbey was formerly called “Abbaye d’Echourgnac” and was inhabited by monks who made cheese here, but in 1910 when war broke out the monks left the abbey. Cistercian nuns came to the Abbey, bought with them the new name and picked up the cheese-making production where the monks had left off.

The original cheese production started in 1868, when some monks from the Abbey of ‘Port du Salut en Mayenne’ came to Échourgnac and bought with them the recipe for Port Salut cheese.

Over time the recipe was amended for local taste and has always been popular but in 1999 the nuns decided that it would also be a good idea to combine two local specialities: their cheese and a local walnut liquor, and so they did, with very successful results.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The freshly made cheese is washed in the walnut liquor during it’s two month ripening time in the Abbey’s cellars, and this in turn produces a soft, smooth, creamy mellow cheese that has a wonderful walnut after-taste.

(I like this cheese a LOT).

From Cressier near Morat in the mountains of Switzerland comes Mont Vully cheese, it’s a “different” sort of cheese made in an area that’s the heart of Emmental style cheese country, so is not of the same style at all.

This semi-hard Mont Vully cheese quickly caught the attention of cheese connoisseurs when it won a gold medal at the Käsiade in Tirol in 1998.

Adding the Swiss Cheese Champion Award for the Mont Vully Bio at the Swiss Cheese Championships in 2006 means that Mont Vully is clearly going from strength to strength.

“Le Moulis Vache ” cheese comes from the  Department of Ariège  nestled next to Andorra in the Pyrenées and is pale, semi-soft mild-but-tasty tasting cheese with a flavour all it’s own.

It’s charactorised by it’s distinctive small holes (I always think it looks like bread!) and is matured from between 10 and 12 months, an excellent addition to any cheeseboard!

“Sbronzo Caciocavallo di Bufala”‘ is the strange looking cheese in the temperature controlled cabinet…  it’s a cheese from Eboli, Italy, that’s  made from unpasteurised water-buffalo milk  and then aged slowly at precise temperatures.

As is usual with hand made cheeses, the wheels are hand turned daily but this one differs from other cheeses because it’s  also “dressed” with aromatic herbs, olive oil or vinegar or in the case of this one, grapes.

Because the  10 month ripening process for this cheese needs to happen under exact temperatures,  it’s one of the few cheeses in the shop to require a temperature controlled environment but apparently  the end result will be a crusty looking, sweet aromatic  cheese and I have no doubt that if the rest of Ed’s stock is anything to go by, that it will taste rather good too.

Of course these are not the only non-Dutch cheeses in the shop, these are just a small sample of what’s on offer to show you the benefits of having a shop that’s dedicated solely to something as delectable as cheese and a staff who know their stuff. Like any society, The Netherlands has things that annoy you and things you adore. In the case of the traditional Dutch cheese shop, I  think it’s an idea par excellence…  after all there’s sure to be something in here to suit everyone’s taste, so what’s not to love?

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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