Discover the modern

Images for this exhibition

  • Alexej von Jawlensky, Vrouwenkop, ca. 1911, Gemeentemuseum Den Haag
    Alexej von Jawlensky, Vrouwenkop, ca. 1911, Gemeentemuseum Den Haag

  • Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Csardasdanseressen, 1907-1920.
    Gemeentemuseum Den Haag

  • Claude Monet, Blauwe regen, 1920, olieverf op doek, Gemeentemuseum Den Haag


These days, history is no longer presented as a chronological series of events that is held to represent ‘the whole truth’. Fresh insights reveal new connections and the ebb and flow of political, social and economic trends produce new feelings or concerns, which then find expression in art.

The 19th-century idea of strictly chronological museum presentation is now outdated. Moreover, today’s visitors come to the museum with different expectations: they want to take a more active role and to discover their own narratives in the art on display. This is why, on 28 April, the Gemeentemuseum is opening an entirely new exhibition entitled Discover the  Modern. Based on visionary, poetic and human connections, the show reveals the personalities behind the work of top artists like Claude Monet, Wassily Kandinsky, Pablo Picasso, Piet Mondriaan, Francis Bacon, Constant and Louise Bourgeois – the artist’s doubts and difficulties, exuberance and sensuality, search for utopia or playfully child-like approach to creation.

Explore art for yourself

Dutch museums are blessed with internationally renowned collections that offer visitors access to work by virtually every iconic figure in the modern art field. Too often, however, their displays are still strictly chronological and this can prevent visitors from appreciating the true magnitude and significance of the artworks on show. The Gemeentemuseum sees itself as a medium for the communication of knowledge, emotions or moods. At a time when we need to abandon the conventions of the past, it is an obvious step to invite the public to explore art for themselves and to experience the excitement of a fantastic world of unlimited possibility. The Gemeentemuseum’s new thematic presentation is part of an international trend set by leading institutions like Tate Modern in London.

Lines of influence

Discover the Modern will allow viewers to discover fresh and exciting dialogues between the works on show. Basing the exhibition on the idea of lines of influence rather than general artistic movements throws up new themes such as stasis and motion, the child and the savage, tradition and experimentation, and play and utopia. The result need not always be a clash of opposites; it may be a pleasing harmony producing new and unexpected insights.

Six centuries of masterpieces

The opening of Discover the Modern will coincide with that of Masters from the Mauritshuis - In the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag. The presence of this two-year temporary display of approximately a hundred top paintings from The Hague’s Mauritshuis Museum offers visitors the thrilling experience of six centuries of masterpieces under the same roof. From Johannes Vermeer, Paulus Potter and Rembrandt van Rijn right through to Marlene Dumas, Daan van Golden and Anselm Kiefer, there will be plenty to delight visitors of every artistic taste.

Discover the Modern is accompanied by a new book of the same title. Written by Benno Tempel and published by Wbooks at € 19.95, the book is a thrilling exploration of the age of modern art, offering insights into the lives of the artists, their personal stories and the times in which they lived.