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Stedelijk Museum building.
Work by Gerrit Rietveld and Ellsworth Kelly.
STEDELIJK MUSEUM AMSTERDAM:
100 years of De Stijl TEXT: JULIËN L’ORTYE | PHOTOS: STEDELIJK MUSEUM
It was the year 1917 when Christian Emil Marie Küpper – better known as the Dutch painter, writer and poet Theo van Doesburg – decided to start a new artistic movement: De Stijl. Exactly 100 years later, its influence is still massive and can be recognised in many contemporary compositions. Enough reason for the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam to pay homage to this abstract style. While walking through the impressive collection with Bart Rutten, head of collections, he explains the importance and urgency of this exhibition. “There are many museums that will be referring to De Stijl this year and we wanted to present the world with a specific angle: the influence that the movement had and still has on other artists - all based on our own collection,” he smiles. No wonder that the Stedelijk is paying a great deal of attention to De Stijl’s anniversary, its collection is one of the largest in the world. 18 | Issue 37 | January 2017
It is amazing to see how carefully this exhibition has been set up. The route does not only include a range of works that are very characteristic of De Stijl, but also displays unexpected connections such as Bas Jan Ader and the Icelandic artist Sigurdur Gudmundsson, who started experiencing with diagonals. This shows that De Stijl’s influence went way beyond the Dutch borders, something that the Stedelijk wants to show as well.
considered [Piet] Mondriaan as his inspiration.”
Walking into the gallery, we are immediately confronted with one of De Stijl’s most famous works: Gerrit Rietveld’s Red and Blue Chair. Rutten: “Instead of placing it just on the ground, we decided to put it on a mound. That way it can be viewed at eye level, as a sculpture.” Another piece that the Stedelijk is proud of is Roy Lichtenstein’s Pop Art work As I Opened Fire. “This is one of the icons of our collection,” Rutten says. “And given the primary colours, you can see that he
Want to see it for yourself? De Stijl at the Stedelijk can be visited until 21 May.
Although Lichtenstein is not the first artist to come to mind when thinking of De Stijl, his way of working certainly had some common ground. Rutten: “Actually, De Stijl’s claim on primary colours – red, blue and yellow - has made it inevitable that every piece of art made with these colours has something to do with this art movement.”
www.stedelijk.nl Roy Lichtenstein.