With the prospect of the realization of the new wing, there is hope. Thanks to available funding in the form of the ‘percent for art programme’, in close consultation with Wim Quist, a number of special artworks can be realized ‘in direct relation to the architecture’.
Minister of Culture, Recreation and Social Work Harry van Doorn breaks ground on the final phase of the Quist wing. Together with his wife, he donates the oil drawing Trewyn by Barbara Hepworth to the museum.
Functions of drawing
The exhibition Functions of drawing takes place in the summer months: a selection of 133 drawings from the Visser collection. Oxenaar writes in the annual report: ‘For 10 weeks, this made a musée imaginaire into a reality. What is also quite exceptional is that a large number of the drawings were created in Bergeijk itself, when the artists benefitted from the boundless hospitality of the Visser family: a modern patronage that scarcely exists in the Netherlands in this humane way.’
For years, Martin and Mia Visser had the work 56 Barrels in their garden in Bergeijk. This is a large work by Christo, with whom they are good friends. However, by now the work is in such poor condition that even their neighbours complain about ‘the pile of junk’. After consultation with Christo, Martin decides to donate the work to the museum, on the condition that it is restored and given a place in the sculpture garden. The stacked oil barrels prove to be so oxidized that they have to be replaced by the company Janus, the regular partner of Christo. The new barrels are treated with a protective layer to prevent rust in the future.
The original version of Christo's '56 Barrels', 1968
More high-profile donations
Upon her death, Baroness Françoise Bonger van der Borch of Verwolde bequeaths Pegasus, the three-part screen by Odilon Redon, which the artist made at the request of André Bonger in the autumn of 1906. The artist Tony Smith donates his Wandering rocks to the museum. Roman Cieslewicz donates the sculpture Bellies as a tribute to his wife, the artist Alina Szapocznikow, who died in 1973. Given that her work is not yet represented in Western European museums, this donation is ‘an indication of how much the sculpture park in Otterlo is also appreciated by renowned foreign artists’, according to Oxenaar.
As part of the national monument year, the Kröller-Müller Museum, the Gemeentemuseum in The Hague and the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam organize three architectural exhibitions. In The Hague they focus on the work of architect H.P. Berlage, partly due to the 40th anniversary of the Gemeentemuseum that Berlage designed. The Stedelijk looks at the Amsterdam School in connection with the 700th anniversary of the City of Amsterdam. At the Kröller-Müller Museum, the bilateral influence of American and Dutch architecture in the 20th century is the subject of the exhibition Americana.
Cornelius Rogge is the second Dutch artist invited to realize a project in the sculpture garden that cannot be executed on the desired scale in the studio. Rogge creates his Tent project and describes this fascinating settlement of six ‘tents’ in red-brown canvas as follows: ‘The tents are exposed to the elements, they deteriorate, discolour and decay in a very slow process, the sacred interior space is not accessible, only imaginable’. ‘Only by thinking, through the power of thought, can humankind endure to some extent in the face of nature’s gruelling violence.’ The studies for the project are shown in the museum; ink drawings that clarify the development of the form and intention of what Oxenaar describes as the ‘very closed, alienating objects’.
Cornelius Rogge, Tent project, 1975
Furniture by Quist
The service wing can already be brought into operation in the autumn. Quist, who is always seeking the correct balance between appearance and functionality, also assumes the responsibility for the furnishings. He designs the tables and lamps in the offices and meeting room, the tables for the restaurant, the benches in the exhibition rooms, the desks in both entrance halls and a number of display cases.
The spring is devoted to the exhibition Daniel Buren; ici-ailleurs-désormais, which takes place in three museums simultaneously: the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, Stedelijk Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven and Rijksmuseum Kröller-Müller in Otterlo.
On the occasion of the hundredth birthday of Bart van der Leck, Oxenaar, who has recently obtained his doctorate on Van der Leck, organizes a retrospective that is representative of all the facets of his oeuvre. Furthermore, ample attention is given to the projects that are closely related to architecture. The exhibition is an unexpected success. Oxenaar finds it ‘especially gratifying that a younger generation, which actually knew nothing about Van der Leck, showed such intense interest’.
On the occasion of the major Van der Leck exhibition, the museum receives a rare vase from the artist’s three daughters. Oxenaar describes the piece as ‘a very welcome addition to the group of Van der Leck’s ceramics, tiles and plates that the museum possesses’.
As thanks for the acquisition of the two bronze works Song of the vowels and The scream (The couple), and the monograph that Hammacher writes about the artist, the Jacques and Yulia Lipchitz foundation decides to present the museum with a series of plaster pieces. Oxenaar selects 36 larger and smaller models ‘in which virtually all essential developmental stages of his large and diverse body of work’ are discernible. This makes the museum ’one of the very few places in the world where the work of Jacques Lipchitz can be seen in all its facets’.
Jacques Lipchitz; Standing figure (1915), Seated man with a guitar (1918), Man with a guitar (circa 1920), Figure (1926), Ploumanach (1926), Form seen in a Cloud (1929), Study for 'To a new world' (1934)
Percent for Art
In the framework of the Percent for Art programme, during construction several projects are realized ‘in direct relation to the architecture’, in close consultation with Quist. The second section of Wall relief by Ad Dekkers is realized posthumously and in the Van der Leeuwzaal, Peter Struycken makes a wall sculpture from aluminium slats, for which he seeks ‘the outer limits of technical possibility’ by allowing the colour gradient to be determined by a computer programme.
Peter Struycken, 1117-piece slat wall 'Wave', 1967-77 and Jan van Munster, Light-dark, dark-light, 1977
After the work by Dekkers and Struycken are complete, it becomes clear that there are still enough funds for other projects. André Volten makes a black granite cubic sculpture which, in consultation with the architect, is placed on the terrace near the large sculpture hall ‘in direct relation to the architecture’. Herman Scholten designs a tapestry for the new meeting room and Jan van Munster designs an artificial lighting project for the dark corridor between the museum shop and the restaurant.
Opening of the Quist wing
A grand opening of the Quist wing is planned for 11 June. Princess Beatrix will perform an opening ceremony as part of a photographic project designed by Shinkichi Tajiri. But when the news of the dramatic end of the Moluccan train hijacking reaches the museum, Oxenaar decides to cancel the programme. Instead, an informal preview is chosen whereby Princess Beatrix and Prince Claus are still present but incognito. Although this milestone cannot be celebrated with a grand opening, Oxenaar takes solace from the ‘hordes of visitors’ that reach the museum after the new building has been opened. ‘The building easily withstood this test. There were virtually no teething problems, the systems all worked perfectly.’
Second part Quist wing with new exhibition space, ca 1977
Furnishing and presentation
The new exhibition spaces are ‘basically’ intended for modern art. According to Oxenaar, ‘the most diverse works of art […] come into their own there, scale and climate are automatically conducive to an informal, contrasting, but flowingly coherent presentation’. For the first installation, he chooses neo-constructivist works, op art and arte povera. Later in the year a new installation follows with a selection of recent acquisitions, whereby the work of Richard Long, Hamish Fulton, Gilbert and George, Peter Struycken and Bruce Nauman shifts the emphasis toward ‘land art and the direct experience of nature’.
The first part of the Kröller-Müller collection is still on display in the Van de Velde wing, but Oxenaar also presents sculptures there in order to create ‘a balance in the presentation of painting and sculptural art’. For the first time, the large stained-glass window by Bart van der Leck is given a permanent place in the presentation. The early plaster pieces by Lipchitz prove ‘unexpectedly compatible’ with the work of Thorn Prikker and Toorop. The cubist works by Lipchitz are placed between the paintings of Gris, Léger and Braque.
In the first months of the year, work begins on restructuring the grounds and the plants around the building. The plan for this is drawn up by landscape architect Jan Vallen. He takes over this task from his tutor Jan Bijhouwer. The plans also include a second car park, a bicycle parking area for the white bicycles and a small parking space for the disabled. ‘Apart from a few minor inconveniences, the museum and garden are now completely accessible for disabled people.’ For the first time, a complete corporate identity is also being considered. Otto Treuman designs the lettering and signage that is used in the museum.
Oxenaar wants to give several Dutch artists the opportunity to present recent work every year, with modest presentations in the sculpture garden or the new exhibition space. After exhibitions by Ad Dekkers, Ger Dekkers, Peter Struycken and Sjoerd Buisman, it is apparent that a ‘need for such an arrangement’ exists among artists and that the building ‘lends itself perfectly to it’.
Quietly to the memory of…
Thanks to the resources from the Van der Leeuw Foundation, this year ‘essential expansions and completions can be realized for both the older and the newer part of the collection’. This includes a rare drawing by George Seurat, six early drawings by Jacques Lipchitz, sculptures by Sol LeWitt, Robert Morris, Carl Andre, Marta Pan and Umberto Boccioni, light sculptures by Dan Flavin and a painting and large sculpture by Michael Heizer.
Dan Flavin, (quietly, to the memory of Mia Visser), 1977
The ‘light project’ is a commission for Dan Flavin to make a new work that is also ‘in direct relation to the architecture’, like the works of Ad Dekkers and Peter Struycken. Flavin chooses a spot on the outside wall of the restaurant. The preparations are slow and when Mia Visser passes away in the interim, Flavin dedicates the work to her.
Christo also honours Mia by dedicating the second version of 56 Barrels to her. When the conservation of the artwork is completed, Oxenaar, together with the artist, chooses a place in the sculpture garden for the work.
The public reacts enthusiastically to the new building and the interest from professional circles is considerable, as articles in professional journals reveal. The museum also welcomes a surprising number of architects, professionals from the museum world and students from abroad, who are keen to see Quist’s modern design. Oxenaar is more than satisfied with the exhibition rooms and seems to test the capacity thereof with diverse exhibitions.
Reviews; De Volkskrant, Cobouw, The New York Times, Elsevier magazine, 1977
The exhibition Panamarenko presents a retrospective overview of the artist’s oeuvre. Countless assemblages related to flying are shown, in addition to drawings, sketches and other studies. A documentary about the artist is also screened.
David Vandekop, Jan van Munster and Cornelius Rogge
To celebrate the realization of Jan van Munster’s light sculpture, Oxenaar offers him and his friends David Vandekop and Cornelius Rogge an exhibition in one of the new rooms. Van Munster designs a light object and Vandekop makes a steel sculpture specifically for this room. Rogge shows how the tent theme has developed in his work.
At the end of the year, Nobuo Sekine transforms the new sculpture room into an environment. Out of the 40 black polyester sculptures that the artist has delivered, he finally places 13 of them at a considerable distance from one another. Oxenaar finds it ‘fascinating […] to experience how much more emptiness and how much more silence a Japanese artist dares to present, compared to a Western European’.
The legacy of Mia Visser
In her will, Mia Visser expressed the desire for 63 works from the Visser collection to be sold to the Rijksmuseum Kröller-Müller in instalments and 102 works on paper to be donated. Martin honours her wish and agrees with Oxenaar to donate or sell a large number of works from their collection. The works mainly comprise many drawings and are therefore a fine addition to the sub-collection of sculptor’s drawings.