There is renewed interest in the history of the museum and its principle character Helene Kröller-Müller. Van Straaten intends to accurately document the collection history, and invests in opening up the historical archive and in researching the collection. This is developed into successful exhibitions such as Vincent & Helene and Helene’s favourites, among other things.
Delta Plan: the final touches
The museum is still working hard to improve the condition and registration of the collection. According to Van Straaten, eliminating the backlogs in these areas is a necessary condition ‘for the museum to function and for a policy renewal to be effected’. In the framework of the Delta Plan, several other major projects are planned, including the extension of the conservation studios and the conservation of Jardin d’émail by Jean Dubuffet and Venus with Amor the honey thief by Lucas Cranach the Elder.
Since the 1960s, the museum has acquired artworks made of unorthodox materials, such as plastics. ‘Nobody realized how fast the works would deteriorate compared to traditional materials’, Van Straaten explains in an interview in de Volkskrant. The Delta Plan gives the museum the opportunity to catch up in this area.
Pressure is mounting on the progress of the conservation work: the deadline of the Delta Plan is approaching. One of the largest projects planned in this framework is the extension of the conservation studios, which also has to proceed. An ingenious solution is found: conservation work is carried out in the exhibition spaces and the public is invited to watch. In the exhibition Major works, Major work in progress, the most voluminous and complex sculptures and installations are set up and examined in the exhibition spaces.
A major retrospective devoted to the oeuvre of Theo van Doesburg is organized in collaboration with the Centraal Museum in Utrecht. The Centraal Museum presents his early work up to and including 1922, the period in which he discovered abstract art and founded the magazine De Stijl. The Kröller-Müller Museum shows Van Doesburg’s work from the years 1923 through 1931, in which architecture plays an increasingly important role.
The collection Visser at the Kröller-Müller Museum
On 1 July, the many years of cooperation between the Visser family and the museum are honoured with the English-language catalogue The collection Visser at the Kröller-Müller Museum. The catalogue offers an overview of the more than 400 works by 42 different artists that the museum has acquired from the Visser collection since the 1970s. Unlike with a museum archive, information on the origins and creation of the artworks at Martin Visser’s home must be gathered from personal archives and through a series of interviews. Fortunately, Visser kept every shred of correspondence from the artists with whom he interacted.
Collection catalogue 'The collection Visser at the Kröller-Müller Museum', 2000
This does not mean that the cooperation between the museum and the Vissers is over. Together with the Van Gogh Museum, the Rijksmuseum and the Mauritshuis, the Kröller-Müller Museum shares the annual profits – no less than 10 million – of the Dutch Sponsor Lottery. This allows the museum to purchase 31 works this year, the majority of which come from the collection of Martin, Joke and Geertjan Visser.
Cobra from the Sanders collection
The museum receives 4 donations from the collection of Piet and Ida Sanders, including a folder with 8 lithographs by the artist Constant Nieuwenhuis.
An agreement is reached with the management of De Hoge Veluwe Park regarding the permanent addition of the forest area to the sculpture garden. This paves the way for the construction of new asphalt paths, the planting of rhododendrons and the replacement of a number of old trees with young ones.
Delta plan completed
After eight years, phase two of the Delta Plan can finally be completed. The backlogs in the maintenance of the collection have been eliminated and the collection management system – The Museum System, one of the first true museum databases – is fully implemented. Van Straaten considers the museum ‘capable of carrying out future maintenance in a responsible manner’. The extension of the main depot begins before the end of the year and the main entrance is renovated. But, furthermore, there is now more room for art-historical research.
In early 2001, there is an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in the Netherlands. Due to the location of the museum, in the heart of De Hoge Veluwe National Park, there are months of uncertainty about the accessibility of the park. With a 22% decrease in the number of visitors, the museum is forced to draw on the financial reserve that has ‘been built up with great difficulty’.
The main depot has been extended by 1000 square metres, specifically intended for the storage of sculptures. ‘We are pleased that with the completion of this extension our entire collection can be housed in the correct climatic conditions’, writes Van Straaten in the annual report.
IKIRO / Be Alive
On the occasion of his retirement as deputy director and head of collection and presentation, Jaap Bremer organizes the exhibition IKIRO / Be Alive. In preparation for this, he visits museums and studios in Japan. On this basis, he selects works by eighteen contemporary artists that ‘give a true impression […] of the quality and climate of Japanese art’. The artists install their own works in the museum.
5 works on paper are acquired from Isamu Wakabayashi and the artist donates 2 other works. Minako Saitoh donates 3 collages and Piet and Ida Sanders donate the small sculpture Remembrance by Kimio Tsuchiya.
Isamu Wakabayashi, Untitled (2000), Minako Saitoh, Design for 'The Grave at Midday-Nippon' (2000), Kimio Tsuchiya, Remembrance (2001)
Heringa/Van Kalsbeek; Absorb
The exhibition Absorb in the Rietveld pavilion features 11 sculptures by Liet Heringa and Maarten van Kalsbeek Afterwards, the artist duo donates a special group of sculptures to the museum. The work, which consists of three bronze sculptures on a concrete base, is placed in the sculpture garden. In the spring, the museum ensures that the base is strewn with flower petals, honeycomb and berries, which are replenished every week.
The museum already has an impressive collection of Van der Lecks, but Van Straaten also wants to have the artist represented in the collection with a post-war abstract work. He acquires Composition with grey line (1956-1958) – a key work and also the final piece in Van der Leck’s oeuvre – and 6 design drawings.
On the occasion of the acquisition and execution of 200 x 238 x 95, ø 19 x 16 (fountain) by Miroslaw Balka, the exhibition Eclipse opens on 27 October. The polish artist makes several new works for the occasion. The works connect the museum, as a house for art, with the artist’s studio, which is also his parental home and remains an important source of inspiration for him.
Martin Visser donates Untitled (1976) by Richard Long, 10 silkscreens by Carl André and 2 works on paper by Gilbert & George. Collector Piet Cleveringa donates a series of works by Krijn Griezen, T91-18 (1991) by Jan Schoonhoven, Landscape (1977) by Jiro Sugawara and Design for a sculpture in Berlin by Auke de Vries.
Richard Long, Untitled (1976), Carl Andre, Untitled (1974), Gilbert & George, 'We are only human sculptors', in 'The Sunday Times' van 10-01 1971 (1971), Krijn Giezen, Cutlery to eat crab and other shell-fish (1 person) (1980), Jan Schoonhoven, T91-18 (1991), Jiro Sugawara, Landschap (1977), Auke de Vries, Design for a sculpture in Berlin, circa 1994
The heirs of Daniël Groen donate 12 works by the artist, who died prematurely. Peter Otto donates the watercolour Untitled (for Andrée), 2001. Gerard van Soest donates 4 photographic works and Marjo van Soest 2 drawings. J.C.J. Vanderheyden donates his Camera Lucida, 1974-1990.
Daniël Groen, Untitled (1987), Peter Otto, Untitled (for Andrée) (2001), Gerard van Soest, Untitled (1981), Marjo van Soest, Circus in Murs (1981), J C J Vanderheyden, Camera Lucida (1974 - 1990)
Jaap Bremer donates a watercolour by Luciano Fabro and Renilde Hammacher-Van den Brande donates Spring as spring always used to be…(letter to Mrs. Hammacher) by Eduard Flor. The museum also receives a substantial legacy of ethnographic art from Louisa B. Meerloo-Duits.
Africa, Zaire, Magic fish (date unknown), Iran, Luristan, Animal figure (date unknown), New Guinea, Korwar (crane holder) (1928)
18 wooden men
This year Van Straaten enhances the collection with 15 works by Anselm Kiefer from the collection of Martin Visser, 3 paintings by Jo Baer, The martyr of Zwolle by Joost van den Toorn, The tongue by Rudi van de Wint and 18 wooden men, lying down by Tom Claassen. The wooden men are scattered around the wooded part of the sculpture garden, where they will slowly decay.
At the end of March, Hommes de Valeur opens with work by Henri Fantin-Latour, Odilon Redon and twelve contemporaries. ‘Dreamy fairies and nymphs, but also dark and ominous monsters populate the representations in their paintings’, according to the press release. The exhibition is the result of extensive art-historical research into this specific part of the collection. The plan is to thus chart and document the entire collection step by step.
The complicated conservation of Venus with Amor the honey thief (1537) by Lucas Cranach the Elder is completed successfully. For more than six months, specialists worked continuously to restore the panel and 19th-century frame to their former glory.
Van Straaten acquires the outdoor sculpture WD-Spiral Part One CINEMA, which Hermann Maier Neustadt made for Sonsbeek 9 in 2001. On the occasion of the installation of the work in the sculpture garden, an exhibition is organized in which Neustadt’s work is linked to the history of the Rietveld pavilion, an important source of inspiration for the artist. His installations are also on display in the museum.
Hermann Maier Neustadt, WD-spiral part one CINEMA, 2001
Opening of the new sculpture garden
On 21 June, the longest day of the year, the new sculpture garden is opened with the event Kröller-Müller Live! From 12 noon to midnight there is a programme with lectures, guided tours, music and cabaret. For exhibitions and activities such as this one, an events terrain has been constructed, in accordance with the plan by West 8, whereby the garden can better facilitate social needs and provide meaning.
The new entrance to the sculpture garden is brought into service in June. Piet Hein Eek designs a ‘porter’s lodge’. Toos van Kooten writes about this in the annual report. ‘It is a work of art, but it also serves a necessary function in that spot.’
Piet Hein Eek, Little house, 2002
The presentation Clair-obscur features recent work by Dutch artist R.W. van de Wint. His monumental sculptures are placed in two locations in the sculpture garden and five rooms in the museum, with each room presenting one work. Van Straaten acquires View. A huge sculpture, delivered by a convoy of five trucks and welded together in situ onto eight piles with the use of a crane. It is not without reason that the NRC Handelsblad runs with the headline: ‘Macho sculptures by Van de Wint burst out of the space’.
From November, the museum presents two exhibitions with work by the ‘promising young artist’ Mark Manders. In the largest space of the museum he creates Kaleidoscope Night and the print room hosts a presentation by ROMA Publications, an initiative of Manders and graphic designer Roger Willems.
In March it is 150 years since the birth of Vincent van Gogh. To celebrate that, the museum organizes the exhibition Vincent & Helene. The story of Helene Kröller-Müller, and thus the creation of the museum, the development of the collection and her fascination with the work of Van Gogh, has never previously been told in an exhibition. ‘In this special year, we want to focus attention on her passion, her exceptional eye, her world and her determination, as a tribute to the founders of this museum’, according to Van Straaten.
The exhibition shows almost the entire Van Gogh collection, and with letters, photographs, books and pieces of furniture that belonged to Helene, the personal character of the collection is revealed.
The catalogue The paintings of Vincent van Gogh in the collection of the Kröller-Müller Museum is published. Each painting is accompanied by wide-ranging information on its creation, Van Gogh’s ideas, the historical context, related works, exhibitions, the provenance and how it ended up in the museum’s collection. Attention is also given to several important early collectors of his work and to twelve paintings that were once part of the collection, but have ‘disappeared’ for various reasons. The catalogue concludes with an overview of all the paintings in the order of their acquisition.
Collecting without zeitgeist
The new insight into the history of the museum and the collection also informs Van Straaten’s collection policy, which increasingly finds points of contact with the existing collection. ‘The Kröller-Müller Museum does not strive for a representative collection of successive developments in contemporary art, but for a complex in which works from different periods merge into a coherent whole, without having to reveal their origins in a specific zeitgeist.’
This year Van Straaten acquires Skulptur 23 by Rudolf Belling and Tête de Femme by Constantin Brancusi. In these ostensibly very different works, the depiction of the ‘head’ is central. That provides insight into the artist’s ‘view of humanity’ at that time ‘a utopian aspect of art’, according to Van Straaten.
Rudolf Belling, Sculpture 23, 1923 (cast from the 1960's), Constantin Brancusi, Tête de femme, circa 1912-1918
Van Straaten acquires the painting Contra-composition X by Theo van Doesburg, dating from 1924. Only 23 paintings by Van Doesburg are known from the period 1924-1931 and until recently only two were held in the Netherlands. The Kröller-Müller Museum was already in possession of the preliminary study for Contra-composition X, and this ‘special acquisition’ can now be added.
Operation Panamarenko is an exhibition and conservation in one. In the largest space of the Kröller-Muller Museum, the public can follow the conservation of two works by the Belgian artist Panamarenko; Polistes, the lifelike jet-propelled rubber car, and Aeroplane Continental. The conservation work is explained with photographs and descriptions of the treatment.
The museum’s new website is launched on 2 April. This contains mainly public information about current exhibitions. But the intention is for the site to be expanded with substantive information on the collection and an image bank for the press.
Van Straaten is aware of the power that museums wield by determining which artists and works of art to include in the collection and to give a place in art history. But the hierarchy this creates is relative. Many artists that Helene Kröller-Müller collected were only appreciated much later. This is why Van Straaten also pays attention to ‘the margins’, to what happens outside the centre of art. He argues that ‘every historical perspective is subject to change’.
The work of Jewish American sculptor Pearl Perlmuter has also remained in the margins. But in May the museum presents a retrospective of her oeuvre in the exhibition Pearl Perlmuter; binnen/buiten - inside/outside. ‘With this exhibition we intend to demonstrate the importance of her work’, writes Van Straaten in the preface of the exhibition catalogue ‘and we want to promote its inclusion in the history of Dutch art and sculpture’.
The visitor figures are announced on the last day of the year: 419,378. This is the highest it has been since 1997. The welcome increase is mainly due to the exhibition Vincent & Helene. Van Straaten ‘looks back on a very successful and dynamic year’.
There is strong demand among visitors, especially from schools, for information on the collection and exhibitions. Van Straaten wishes to satisfy this demand and sees education as a means that can also increase the museum’s focus on visitors. In January, Herman Tibosch enters service as the first ‘educator’. His task is to draw up a contemporary educational policy for the museum. Tibosch designs educational activities and projects around the permanent collection. He is also a contact person for schools and educational institutions and he begins developing teaching materials.
Picasso’s little owl
At the start of the year, Picasso’s small sculpture Petit Chouette is acquired. In the annual report, Van Straaten writes that the museum had long sought to acquire a sculpture by Picasso ‘because of his significance as a sculptor and as a benchmark for many sculptors in the context of the museum’s collection’. To celebrate the acquisition, one of the rooms in the Van de Velde wing is installed with all of Picasso’s drawings and paintings from the collection. In addition, the museum presents a selection of other works from the collection on the theme of ‘owls’. Petit Chouette soon becomes a visitors’ favourite.
Collectors Piet Cleveringa, Piet and Ida Sanders and artists Marta Pan and Eugène Dodeigne make ‘wonderful donations to the museum’. Van Straaten acquires a number of contemporary sculptures, such as Hippopotamus by Tom Claassen, Blob and bone by Adam Colton and The jumper by Carel Visser. He supplements the existing collection with Etendue fermée by Georges Vantongerloo from 1936, Relief mit gelben Viereck 2, a work from 1928 by Kurt Schwitters, The defeated victor from 1957 by Oswald Wenckebach and The blue toaster by Bill Woodrow from 1982.
Tom Claassen, Hippopotamus (2004), Adam Colton, Blob and Bone (april 2002), Carel Visser, The jumper (2004), Georges Vantongerloo, Etendue fermée (1936), Kurt Schwitters, Relief mit gelbem Viereck 2 (1928), Oswald Wenckebach, The defeated victor (1957), Bill Woodrow, The blue toaster (1982)
Bart van der Leck
The exhibition Bart van der Leck provides an overview of the 42 paintings and nearly 400 drawings that Helene Kröller-Müller collected between 1913 and 1939. The works are presented in chronological order. The exhibition includes designs for interiors, studies for stained glass windows, tiles, plates, posters and carpets by the versatile artist.
Exhibition Bart van der Leck, 2004
On 1 May, the first exhibition to be held on the new events terrain opens under the title LAB. The Italian architects’ collective Gruppo A12 has designed a temporary pavilion, which simultaneously functions as a work of art, specifically for this exhibition. In the structure, which takes the form of a labyrinth, eight artists show their work: the Spanish Lara Almarcegui, Heman Chong from Malaysia, Minerva Cuevas from Mexico, the German artists Tino Sehgal and Manfred Pernice, the British Simon Starling and the Iranian artist duo Nasrin Tabatabai & Babak Afrassiabi. The exhibition receives widespread publicity both nationally and internationally. Afterwards, Van Straaten acquires God Bless Diana (2004) by Heman Chong.
Exhibition LAB, 2004
The Kröller-Müller Museum has been collecting British art for more than fifty years. The exhibition The British offers an overview of the sculptures by Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore, Anthony Caro, Phillip King, Barry Flanagan and Richard Long. The exhibition becomes a series, with later presentations of The Italians and The Americans.
From Airut to Uppik presents a selection of recent acquisitions of small sculptures and works on paper. The exhibition features works by artists from different cultures presented in combination with each other. It comprises works by the Inuit artists Luke Airut, Barnabus, Nelson Takkiruq and Lucy Uppik, the Dutch artists Daniël Groen, Nel van Lith, Martin van Oel, Peter Otto and Joost van den Toorn, and a number of Oceanic sculptures.
Exhibition 'From Airut to Uppik', 2004
10 years of autonomy
The Kröller-Müller Museum Foundation celebrates its 10th anniversary on 1 July. Van Straaten looks back ‘with pride’ on the past years. The freedom and responsibility that the museum gained has led to stability and self-confidence. The museum managed to retain its position as one of the top five Dutch museums, it is more rooted in society and, thanks in part to the new education policy, has become far more focused on the public.
After the successful exhibition Vincent & Helene, this year the museum presents Helene’s favourites. This features masterpieces by artists including Vincent van Gogh, Henri Fantin-Latour, Theo van Rijsselberghe, Jean Metzinger, Juan Gris, Paul Signac and Georges Seurat, but also crafts and small sculptures by Joseph Mendes da Costa, Johan Altorf, John Rädecker, Joseph Czaky and George Minne. There are also pieces of furniture and objects with which Helene Kröller-Müller surrounded herself. In combination with interior photographs of the Kröllers’ various houses, they give a personal and intimate picture of her taste.
Exhibition 'Helene’s favourites', 2004
In 2001, the scientific research department began a long-term project to open up the historical archive. The photographs from the Kröllers’ time have been digitized, entered into a database and will be published this year in the book HKM, een biografische schets in woord en beeld (HKM, a biographical sketch in words and images).
Vrije ruimte / Another space
Because so much of the painting collection is in the Quist wing as part of Helene’s favourites, Van Straaten sees an opportunity, for the first time in the history of the museum, to create a radically different arrangement in the Van de Velde wing. The exhibition Vrije ruimte / Another space presents the director’s personal selection from the modern sculpture collection.
Works by Arte Povera artists, such as Mario Merz, Giuseppe Penone, Francesco Lo Savio, Gilberto Zorio and Jannis Kounellis are presented in the sculpture room. The other rooms are reserved for land art projects by Robert Smithson and Dennis Oppenheim, a stone circle by Richard Long, the recently acquired work le témoin by herman de vries and works by the Dutch artists Jan Dibbets and Jan van Munster. In the Van Gogh Gallery, the Van Goghs have made way for the work of Louise Bourgeois, Eva Hesse and Anselm Kiefer, as well as sculptures and spatial studies on paper by Carl Andre and Bruce Nauman. Turning the world inside out by Anish Kapoor is presented in the adjacent space.