Ken Aptekar

To appreciate his great masterpiece, 1994

Ken Aptekar (American, born 1960), To appreciate his great masterpiece, 1994, oil on wood with sandblasted glass and bolts, 30 x 60 in. Schwartz Art Collection, Harvard Business School, 1995.2.

Aptekar appropriates historical paintings, selects aspects of them, and reworks them into new works. He then attaches glass panels that are etched with statements meant to inspire dialogue with the viewer. This work is after Rembrandt van Rijn's 1642 painting, The Night Watch. The etched text reads: "To appreciate his great masterpiece, I studied its components. Embarrassed by my interest in the trivial details of the men’s appearance, I struggled to grasp the overarching theme, the historical significance, the universal drama. The magnitude of his accomplishment would become clear to me only after learning the truth about 'The Night Watch.'"