It took weeks of preparation, consultations with the Navy in Naples, the security services in Rome and the ACTV in Venice, the company that operates the vaporettos, but as of this week, Rotterdam-based photographer Hans Wilschut is working on a special photo assignment in Italy: capturing in the "now" the cityscapes in Rome, Naples and Venice with which Caspar van Wittel gained world fame between 1674 and 1736.
Hans Wilschut carries out the commission as part of the exhibition MAESTRO VAN WITTEL - Dutch master of the Italian cityscape, on view at Kunsthal KAdE from January 26 to May 5, 2019.
''The choice of Hans Wilschut was a logical one. In the past fifteen years he has built up a large body of work with photographic 'vedutes' shot all over the world, in which he depicts the reality of the city in a penetrating way. As straight as it is possible. He is right on the city's skin. Often from height, a perspective that also characterizes much of Caspar van Wittel's work.'' (Robbert Roos, director of Kunsthal KAdE)
In addition to his distinctive perspective, Van Wittel is known for his precision in rendering architecture, his depiction of the "new" city and his attention to the figures inhabiting his street scenes. Traits that Hans Wilschut also mentions when talking about his work: ''With my photographic works I focus on the city as architectural and social space and the tension between them. Within that, I deal with themes such as globalization, migration, urbanization and world economy. I capture fleeting life by photographing not the actors in that great play, but the scenery." (Hans Wilschut).
A contemporary perspective
Due to the meticulousness of Caspar van Wittel's work, some of the buildings are the same as they were "back then. Other situations are almost completely different. The entrance to the Grand Canal in Venice - with the majestic Salute church on the left bank - has hardly changed from centuries ago, but sites in Rome and Naples have changed considerably in the intervening time. In Van Wittel's paintings, the Colosseum lies on a landed plain. Today it is lined with tourist activity. The similarities and differences make it interesting to compare then and now. In the exhibition, Wilschut's photographs are hung between Van Wittel's paintings, as contemporary vedute pieces.
MAESTRO VAN WITTEL - Dutch master of the Italian cityscape
Caspar Adriaensz. van Wittel (1652-1736), or Gaspare Vanvitelli, was famed and honored in his second homeland of Italy. He painted Rome, Naples and Venice in great detail in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. He influenced famous Italian cityscape painters such as Canaletto and Bellotto. He was born in Amersfoort, moved to Italy in 1674, gained name and fame there and did not return to the Netherlands. Today, the vast majority of his oeuvre is in Italian, English and Spanish collections. In the Netherlands there are only a few drawings and one gouache: 'View of Amersfoort' in Museum Flehite. With the exhibition MAESTRO VAN WITTEL - Dutch master of the Italian cityscape honor MuseumFlehite and Kunsthal KAdE from January 26 to May 5, this master, virtually unknown in the Netherlands, with a major retrospective. Read more about the exhibition here.
Program Project Hans Wilschut:
Venice: Oct. 25 to 27
Naples: Oct. 29 to 31
Rome: November 5 to 8