Alain de Botton

Alain de Botton to curate an "anti-blockbuster"

The Art as Therapy author brings his Art as Therapy ideas to bear at Amsterdam's Rijksmuseum

As readers of our new book, Art as Therapy will know, Alain de Botton thinks art museums could be missing a trick or two. Rather than arranging their collections around periods or artistic movements, "a more fertile indexing system might group together artworks from across genres and eras according to our inner needs," he argues. "A walk through a museum of art should amount to a structured encounter with a few of the things which are easiest for us to forget and most essential and life-enhancing to remember."

Later this year, visitors to Amsterdam's Rijksmuseum will get the opportunity to visit a show set out according to de Botton's design criteria. The writer, alongside his Art as Therapy co-author John Armstrong, will present a series of captions for 150 works from the Rijksmuseum's permanent collection, also dubbed Art as Therapy. The exhibition will be on display at Amsterdam musuem from 25 April to 7 September 2014.

The Rijksmuseum says the exhibition will "seek to confront the visitor with a set of deeply personal concerns: work, love, status, mortality and difficult relationships. Art as Therapy aims to subvert the process of captioning paintings by showing not where art came from or who made it, but what it can do for the viewer."


Vermeer's Woman in Blue Reading a Letter (c. 1663)
Vermeer's Woman in Blue Reading a Letter (c. 1663)

While we don't know which works de Botton has chosen for the show, we strongly suspect it will include Vermeer's Woman in Blue Reading a Letter (c. 1663), which the author has already suggested could help us all with remembering experiences. To find out more, go here. And if you're intrigued by the whole idea, pick up a copy of the book from the people who made it, here.