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Rembrandt, Christ Crucified between the Two Thieves: The Three Crosses.

Dutch Republic

Video transcript

As a Jewish girl growing up in New York, it’s interesting that my favorite work of art is a crucifixion scene. For me a great work of art is something that goes beyond the image that it’s depicting. What Rembrandt does, that I find rather amazing is, he really sums up so much about humanity. It’s a familiar story that expresses universal emotion. Rembrandt looked at people all around him, all the time, was always sketching. How people stand; how people faint; how people move their head as opposed to the rest of their body. That’s what he introduces into a biblical subject. Rembrandt is able, in just a few lines, to show emotion in its most universal and simplest forms. From simple figures, bathed in very bright light--he shows them just in outline-- to very detailed figures in the darkness. He’s playing with this alternation of dark and light. Rembrandt printed it on vellum, a material that keeps the ink hovering on the surface and that really beefs up the richness. And Rembrandt is making changes right on the surface. First he put Christ’s foot straight down then he put this head on top. When I look at it I see the artist at work. And every single impression around the world and there’s only maybe fifteen of these in existence looks slightly different, so he’s really making a painted print. Whenever I look at it I’m always surprised at how small it is cause Rembrandt packs in so much and when you really zero in you can see these beautiful passages of lines that could be artworks on their own. After looking at this for a while, I go out on the street and I look at people in a whole different way because you see them in their most elemental forms and how they express themselves. I can see for a little while like Rembrandt looks at people on the street.