Willinks wolken boven het Rijksmuseum

During his lifetime, the painter Carel Willink (1900-1983), who described himself as an ‘imaginary realist’, developed an idiosyncratic methodology for elaborating his ideas. When making his preparatory sketches he collected visual material, postcards, photos from newspapers and periodicals such as National Geographic, as inspiration, and when necessary he used a camera to capture his subjects photographically.

There are various examples of photos that he incorporated into his paintings. Besides portraits and nudes, Willink photographed statues and monuments that he encountered on his travels, which included Florence, Berlin, Paris and the park of Versailles. Back at home in Amsterdam he photographed streets, buildings, cloudy skies and animals at Artis zoo, most famously the sleeping zebra, the anteater and the marabou. He also photographed his cats, which he doted on. His use of photography was practical and functional. For him it was not about the photography itself; it was meant to serve as a preparatory study. If necessary he cropped, tilted and mirrored his photos.

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