He succeeds in bringing together a collection of sculptures that is a fully-fledged counterpart to Helene Kröller-Müller’s painting collection, thereby providing the museum a unique ‘profile’. Certainly at that time, there were very few major museums with an emphasis on sculpture.
Over the years, Hammacher manages to acquire works for Otterlo by Auguste Rodin, Antoine Bourdelle and Raymond Duchamp-Villon; by Alexander Archipenko, Julio Gonzalez, Jacques Lipchitz and Ossip Zadkine; by Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore. And by Constant Permeke, Jean Arp and Marino Marini. Hammacher also purchases non-Western sculptures, as he wants to show the sources of inspiration for modern sculpture and painting.
The sculpture garden
Hammacher’s ultimate dream is the creation of a sculpture garden. That dream is realized in 1961: the garden is opened to widespread international interest. The concept, a labyrinthine garden in which nature and sculpture are regarded as equal, is completely new and revolutionary at the time. As of that moment, the Kröller-Müller became one of the most important international museums for modern sculpture.
The sculpture garden is Hammacher’s most famous achievement, but he also acquires many sculptures for ‘indoors’, often in close correlation with the sculptures in the garden. With a large number of these sculptures, The beginning of a new world provides a richly varied picture of modern sculpture.
The exhibition also includes later acquisitions, some of which were made to complement the Hammacher collection. One of the most important is Le commencement du monde by Constantin Brancusi, the sculpture that inspired the title of the exhibition.