On holiday for a few days in Amsterdam, I paid a visit to the Stedelijk Museum. It’s not my first visit here and I always love it. This time was no different and I spent the entire afternoon poring over the exhibits.
A massive highlight for me this year was a new permenant installation at the museum – ‘The Collection Stedelijk Base’. This was a chronological history of art and design from 1880 to the present day.
The exhibition mixes iconic artworks from various art movements with elements of furniture, jewellery etc., showing, not only how styles of art evolved and were influenced by changing politics and culture, but also how art influenced design.
This exhibition resonated so much with me because of all the reading I had been doing around this subject in Part 4 of this course here:
..and in particular my reading of the book ‘Graphic Design A History’ by Stephen J. Eskilson.
Here was an exhibition with approximately 700 pieces of art of design, bringing to life everything I had been reading about. I was also impressed that the museum seemed to have made a real effort to include plenty of works by female artists and designers. It does irk me that iconic artworks from the past only ever seem to have created by men so well done to the Stedelijk for reminding us that women made art too – even in the 1900s!
Had my husband allowed it, I would have gone back to the museum for another day and done it all again. He likes art but not quite that much!
Highlights for me where:
When I first saw this, I thought it was a Monet. I was very pleasantly surprised when I read the caption to see that it was a woman who had painted it, albeit one I had never heard of!
Jan Toorop – Delft Salad Oil Poster 1894
A beautiful example of the art nouveau style being used in an advertising poster.
Examples of how new ideas in design were being employed in typography in the 1920s and 1930s. These works were described as illustrating ‘a dynamic negotiation of geometric forms and starkly angled typography coupled with an unprecedented degree of white space’.
The Cobra Art Movement
Not mentioned in ‘Graphic Design A History’ by Stephen J. Eskilson, the Cobra movement of around 1949 was a style of art ‘rooted in antagonism towards intellectualism and the established order of process-orientated modern life’. The works are described as ‘reclaiming a childlike, expressive and essentially emotional gaze towards reality’ and ‘paintings full of bright colours, naïve figures and abstracted compositions, puncturing the purity of painting with fierce and passionate expression’.
The cobra artists initially were not very popular but went on to revolutionize Dutch modern art.
Willem Sandberg’s posters.
New Objective Portraits
Around 1923, between the two world wars, the ‘New Objectivity’ style was developed in Germany. Often featuring portraits, it was described as ‘an unsentimental, somewhat detached depiction of reality, characterized in painting stark graphic lines, an exacting near-mechanical technique and vivid colours.
In the Netherlands, artists of this style included Charley Troop, John Fernhout and Eva Besnyo.
I really, really like the somewhat illustrative style of these images!
A Whole Wall of Malevich Paintings!
Martha Rosler – Bowl of Fruit 1966 – 1972, Print 2010.
Another artist that I have learnt about through this course and consequently was very excited to see some of her original artwork.
The museum caption here states ‘Martha Rosler combines images of immaculate American homes with photographs of the Vietnam War to devastating, and polically critical effect in her photomontage series’ House Beautiful: Bring the War Home.’ Roseler also addresses power relationships between men and women by ‘splicing together pictures of naked women from Playboy magazine with photographs of ideal domesticity.
Grayson Perry – Gulf War Dinner Service 1991
I am a big fan of Greyson Perry, so was very happy to find some of his work in the museum.