Art Nouveau in the Netherlands

The Gemeentemuseum, The Hague, will host the exhibition Art Nouveau in the Netherlands until 28 October 2018.

A new art form and a better society: this is what many artists were looking for in 1900. After almost a century of styles that re-proposed the past to the letter, a new artistic language emerged, based on asymmetry, curved lines and decorative motifs. The Netherlands also took part in this new artistic research where the so-called Art Nouveau developed with the desire to innovate but also to seek authenticity. In this exhibition, which spans a range of disciplines, the Gemeentemuseum shows decorative fin de siècle art in a broader context, opening the discourse to the dynamics of the period (1884-1914), in which authenticity and craftsmanship play a very important role.

The drive towards artistic innovation coincided in 1900 also with great social changes: first of all the growing urbanization at the expense of rural areas. New means of transport speeded up the process of internationalisation. The first cautious steps towards universal suffrage paved the way for the emergence of civil rights and industrialization movements, together with growing wealth, made luxury and entertainment accessible to a larger part of the population. All these changes brought a new tendency to contradiction to the art world, rediscovering by opposition the values of nature, the countryside and tradition.

As in the neighbouring countries, the new industrial society in the Netherlands was held responsible for the decline of art. “We are the children of the era of steam engines, telegraphs and electricity. We have turned our backs on beauty and so we no longer know how to understand it,” said decorative artist Johannes Ros.

However, some differences between the Netherlands and neighbouring Belgium and Germany were evident: the expressive language created in the two countries was designed to attract the enthusiasm of a society with an impetuous impetus towards modernity, while in Holland Art Nouveau identified itself more as a search for the true, the genuine, for what is original, through the re-evaluation of tradition, artistic education, the qualities of nature and the fascination for exotic and uncontaminated cultures. The need for innovation and idealism went hand in hand here with the search for authenticity.

Beauty as a primary necessity
Many Dutch artists and art critics rejected the artistic language used by neighbouring countries. They believed that the “new art” should be consistent with the national character and that the wild, curved lines were not appropriate to the sober Dutch arrangement. Nevertheless, many Dutch artists were not immune to the new international artistic trend. Looking closely, one can see that these same decorative swirls also left their mark in the Netherlands and especially in The Hague at the turn of the century, both in art and in architecture.

No matter how strenuously artists criticized each other theoretically, in practice tastes went hand in hand, and many elements of different movements were combined with each other. As a result, Dutch Art Nouveau developed in many forms. The only thing all the artists shared was the conviction that art was a vital constituent element of a better society.

After the success of the exhibition Art Deco – Paris, which explored the work of the French artist Paul Poiret, we now want to focus on the period prior to Art Deco. The exhibition “Art Nouveau in the Netherlands” focuses on the period between 1884 and 1914, and on developments in the country, comprising more than 350 pieces. The approach chosen by the curators is interdisciplinary and will explore the artistic movement starting from general themes such as the “return to nature” and the “dream of the East”.

In addition to emphasizing the union of different forms of art, the exhibition will also give space to the individual works of the artists, some of which are almost unknown (including some women). Attention will also be given to specific recurring motifs and details and to the role The Hague plays as an important centre of Art Nouveau in the Netherlands.

A long tradition
The Gemeentemuseum has a long tradition of collecting and presenting decorative art, which began in 1931, when the museum acquired the design interiors designed by Gerrit Dijsselhof between 1895 and 1900, which the architect Berlage then incorporated into the museum spaces, making them a permanent part of the collection since the inauguration of the museum in 1935.

Devi essere registrato per inviare un commento Entra o registrati