Le commencement du monde, Constantin Brancusi, 1924.
Sculpting a new era of modern art TEXT: ARNE ADRIAENSSENS | PHOTOS: KRÖLLER-MÜLLER MUSEUM
Amidst the soothing nature of the Dutch Veluwe, the Kröller-Müller Museum has found its home. The cultural temple opened 80 years ago, displaying solely modern paintings. Nowadays, however, the museum is even more celebrated for its sculpture garden, which was installed over two decades later. During the exhibition The beginning of a new world, its story and that of its founding father unfold. It was 1938 when Helene Kröller-Müller opened the doors of her much-anticipated museum for modern art. Surrounded by nature, she created a house where many a modern master adorned the walls, preluding the era of modern art in the Netherlands. Just a year later, KröllerMüller passed away, leaving strict directions in her will on what would happen with her collection. It could remain exhibited in the museum, yet, no new painting 46 | Issue 66 | June 2019
could be added to it, dooming the museum to stagnate. “When, after the Second World War, Bram Hammacher took over the lead of the museum, the tide turned,” explains Lies Boelrijk, communication manager of the Kröller-Müller Museum. “He noticed that, while the will talked very explicitly about purchasing paintings, nothing forbade the addition of a sculpture collection.” In that philosophy, he started collecting modern and contemporary statues. In 1961, part of his collection got a new, permanent home in the museum’s sculpture garden, a three-dimensional trip through recent art history.
Start of a new era Until the end of September, the KröllerMüller Museum is looking back on the revolution Hammacher ignited in its house. The exhibition The beginning of a new world explores the evolution of sculpture from the early 19th century
until the 1960s. By bringing the nicest pieces from the museum, its warehouse and even the garden together in one hall, a walk amongst the statues really takes you on a journey through the last two centuries. “There are also numerous world-famous masterpieces on display; Little Owl by Picasso, for example, or Rodin’s La Femme Accroupie. Yet, Le Commencement du Monde by Brancusi received the honour of lending its name to the exhibition. It portrays mankind – or even life in general – in its most primitive shape: the egg. Although it was added to the collection after Hammacher passed over his duties, it remains one of the museum’s most important purchases to date.”
Mondriaan, Picasso and Van Gogh Of course, there is plenty more to discover in the Kröller-Müller Museum than just its temporary exhibition. In the Van de Velde Wing, the original museum wing built by