The Kröller-Müller Museum attaches great importance to opening up the collection by publishing collection catalogues. By so doing, the museum explicitly makes the meaning and context of the artworks the subject of research, to thereby enrich the knowledge about the collection. Surprising new facts are brought to light in the extensive catalogue Hommes de valeur; Henri Fantin-Latour, Odilon Redon and contemporaries.
Redon & Fantin-Latour
Odilon Redon is linked to another French painter, Henri Fantin-Latour, a favourite of Helene Kröller-Müller. His work is based on visual reality but also more romantic motifs and thus forms an interesting counterpoint to the idiosyncratic, often dark representations of his contemporary Redon.
Exhibition 'Hommes de valeur', 2002
The title is also derived from Redon. With hommes de valeur, he referred to artists who created valuable work, somewhere between salon and avant-garde, without receiving their due attention. This idea is in keeping with Van Straaten’s collection policy. In addition to his focus on artists from ‘the margins’, he (of course) also gives attention to the ‘canonical’.
Hommes de Valeur
In addition to these two ‘big names’, twelve lesser-known or less well-represented French contemporaries in the collection are highlighted: Charles Meryon, François Bonvin, Philippe Rousseau, Théodule Ribot, Antoine Vollon, Alphonse Legros, Félix Braquemond, Constantin Guys, Rodolphe Bresdin, Pierre Puvis de Chavannes, Eugène Carrière and Théophile-Alexandre Steinlen. These are the ‘hommes de valeur’.
In the exhibition catalogue Hommes de valeur, Henri Fantin-Latour, Odilon Redon and their contemporaries, a short essay is dedicated to each artist, giving an impression of his world of ideas, followed by detailed information about the works in the collection. How the work of the ‘hommes de valeur’ was received in the Netherlands and how Helene Kröller-Müller assembled this part of the collection is also discussed. By accurately documenting the purchases, extra emphasis is placed on the origin of the works, their place in the context of art history and their significance within the collection.
Exhibition catalogue Hommes de valeur, Henri Fantin-Latour, Odilon Redon and contemporaries
A piece of the puzzle
Curator Toos van Kooten is in charge of the project. In the catalogue she writes: ‘It is a very small piece of the puzzle that, complemented by other research projects, may one day describe the complete, as yet still rather unknown collection policy of the Kröllers’.
Following this publication, the work of these French artists is presented in an exhibition of the same name. ‘By linking Redon to Fantin-Latour and by grouping the work of other contemporaries around them, an alternative art-historical order is created’, writes Van Straaten in the preface of the catalogue.