We have had our share of lists the last couple of weeks. The best films of 2015, the worst books, the crappiest songs etc. People love them, me included. When it comes to the art world however, things slightly differ. Even though musea and galleries also like lists, they simply adore dates. Especially years that mark anniversaries are immensely popular. For example: 2015 marked the 125th anniversary of Vincent van Gogh’s passing. To celebrate, we have seen several exhibitions, book releases, documentaries, and even a brand new wing added to the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. But as the saying goes: 2015 is dead, long live 2016.
Or otherwise stated: Exit Vincent van Gogh, enter Jheronimus Bosch.
In 2016, it is 500 years ago that artist Jheronimus Bosch (born as Jeroen van Aken, c. 1450-1516), the most important medieval artist of the Netherlands, died. Such a great opportunity to celebrate, don’t you think? And that is exactly what Den Bosch, where Jheronimus Bosch lived all his life, will be doing. In a big, big way. The city in the south part of the Netherlands has prepared itself for five years, and not without result. It has put together an impressive program.
The Jheronimus Bosch 500 Foundation has developed a website, www.bosch500.nl (also available in English), where you can find all sorts of information about the artist, his work and the events taking place this year. There are exhibitions, theatre shows, documentaries, lantern parades, you name it. They also haven’t forgotten about the merchandising. Do you want your coffee in a Jheronimus Bosch cup? No problem, you can buy one. There is even the possibility of booking a hotel for your visit. Which I can highly recommend. I have been in the city on numerous occasions and it is fun to be in, both day and night.
When looking at the program, I am especially excited about two events: the exhibition Visions of Genius and the Bosch Parade.
The exhibition in the Noordbrabants Museum is truly remarkable. Never in history have there been so many works of Bosch reunited. Twenty paintings, nineteen drawings, several triptychs and panels from all over the world are coming home, so to speak. Nine works are even especially renovated for this occasion, so they can admired in the best possible condition. There will also be panels of his atelier and of important followers on display. Finally, to put Bosch’s work in context, about 70 works of other artists from the 15th and 16th century are also being shown.
The Bosch Parade is a happening that started in 2010. On three days in June, the waters that surround the city of Den Bosch are filled with a colourful procession of boats, inspired by and in the spirit of Jheronimus Bosch. You can watch from the riverside and see different varieties of art, such as performance art, dance and architecture. Since 2016 is the actual anniversary year of Bosch’s passing, this edition will surely be extra special.
I hope you will get the chance to go to Den Bosch this year to enjoy the work and spirit of the inimitable Jheronimus Bosch.