On Not Buying Anything – Part 2

November 4, 2011 at 1:44 PM | Posted in Art, The Way We Live Now | 5 Comments
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I was recently in Frankfurt and with several hours set aside from the cares of commerce, I planned to visit the Städiches Kunstmuseum and finally see their Vermeer, The Geographer. The Museum has been closed for restoration and so, on prior trips to Frankfurt I went without. My usual policy, when seeing paintings by the great Artist, is to buy posters and so
both commemorate my seeing one of the slender list of painting extent by the man from Delft and to be able to look on them over and over.

But I have a new regime of not buying anything and that would include, if I was to play fair, even a one Euro post card. I bounced from feeling disciplined to feeling ridiculous.

Eventually, my mind ran down the following stairs: if I bought a poster

  • I would have to pay for it.
  • Carry it home on several planes and taxis.
  • I might lose the poster as I once did.
  • I would have to choose a frame or have someone
    choose it for me.
  • I would have to pay for the frame.
  • I would have to find a place to hang it and most
    likely take down one that is already up.
  • I would have to ask someone to hang it for me,
    as I am incapable of doing so.
  • Once hung, I would have to ignore it as I have
    most of my other posters (but not all, I love my View of Delft)

On the plus side, I thought that if I decided not to buy the poster in advance, I would spend more time with the picture itself, knowing that I might never see it again.

So, I voted NO but my discipline was not put to the test as the Museum was still under restoration, save a special exhibition which I did see. I did forswear a postcard and took holy solace in that.


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  1. I always found that buying posters overseas and bringing them home is an iffy proposition. Its easy to crease them while traveling. Having said that, I did purchase a couple of posters from one of my all time favorite museums, The Heinken Museum in Amsterdam. They’re now hanging proudly framed in my daughter’s condo.
    But my all time favorite overseas purchase was a Dutch clock. It was sheer agony carrying it on board the plane and even worse walking to my car upon arrival. But for those minutes of physical agony, my wife eternally loves that clock which hangs in our dinning room. I spent all day trying to find such a clock in The Hague one Saturday in December. But, I couldn’t find what I wanted and returned to my hotel down hearted after hours of endless searching. But there I found the clock I exactly wanted ! It was in my hotel’s gift shop.

  2. Tom, I’m not a poster guy but when I used to go to Holland, I decided that I loved the Van Gogh Museum so much, I would buy a poster. I went through all the trials and tribulations you describe and got it home unscathed. I put it down, it fell over and I promptly stepped on it, creasing it. I hung it anyway. It was the last poster I bought.
    On the larger topic of ‘stuff’ and the acquisition thereof, bravo. I’m coming to the same conclusion.

  3. Whatever you do nothing compares with the thing itself so I usually just buy a postcard as a memory-jogger and hope to see the original again one day. View of Delft may be the exception though as I can never find the ‘little patch of yellow wall’! Nice exhibition in Cambridge just now – Vermeer’s Women – with The Lacemaker from The Louvre and Young Woman at a Virginal from our NG. Also some good Dutch 17thC paintings, by de Hooch and Maes in particular. Very enjoyable.

  4. Will you promise not to buy anything? I have something in mind for you for Christmas Eve…

    • Cross my heart and hope to die.

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