In 2016, the Noordbrabants Museum in the Dutch city of Den Bosch held a special exhibition devoted to the work of Hieronymus Bosch, who died 500 years ago. This late-medieval artist lived ...
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In 2016, the Noordbrabants Museum in the Dutch city of Den Bosch held a special exhibition devoted to the work of Hieronymus Bosch, who died 500 years ago. This late-medieval artist lived his entire life in the city, causing uproar with his fantastical and utterly unique paintings in which hell and the devil always played a prominent role. In preparation for the exhibition, a team of Dutch art historians crisscrosses the globe to unravel the secrets of his art. They use special infrared cameras to examine the sketches beneath the paint, in the hope of discovering more about the artist's intentions. They also attempt to establish which of the paintings can be attributed with certainty to Bosch himself, and which to his pupils or followers. The experts shuttle between Den Bosch, Madrid and Venice, cutting their way through the art world's tangle of red tape, in a battle against the obstacle of countless egos and conflicting interests. Not every museum is prepared to allow access to ...
Hieronymus Bosch (1450-1516) was born Jheronimus (or Jeroen or Joen) Anthonissen van Aken. The first names are Latin and various Middle Dutch forms of "Jerome," and the last two mean "from Aachen," now part of Germany. He signed his paintings Jheronimus Bosch to indicate his birthplace, and the town where he lived all his life, 's-Hertogenbosh, commonly known as Den Bosch, or "the forest." See more »
Hieronymus Bosch: Touched By the Devil follows the development of an art exhibition celebrating the 500th anniversary of Bosch's birth at a museum in the artist's hometown. Although the film requires a keen attention span and leaves one wishing to learn more about the artist, it offers good insights about the art world.
The documentary is at its best when focusing on the intricacies of constructing an art exhibition. The curators are faced with numerous issues, not the least of which is determining which paintings are actually works by Bosch. They employ some surprisingly high tech methods in their quest for the truth. Some of the best moments in the film are when a curator tells someone whether the work they've volunteered for the exhibition is - or isn't - by Bosch.
However, the film also digs into the seamier side of the art world. We encounter collectors who purchase art works they don't appreciate simply for their value as an investment. Viewers also get a look at the wrangling that goes on when one museum tries to borrow an art work from another, with the curators at a certain Spanish museum displaying an unseemly glee over the fact that they have more works by the Dutch Bosch than Bosch's hometown.
The main challenge facing a documentary dealing with Hieronymus Bosch is that little is actually known about his life. Even with this restriction, it would have been nice if the curators had engaged in a bit of speculation about what forces molded his distinctive vision. Was he an early surrealist? Was he mentally ill? Even so, the film is worthwhile for those who are interested in art.
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