The Interwar period

The period between the First and Second World Wars was a time of political polarisation and economic recession all over Europe. Tensions ran high. Only in the Netherlands was the situation less traumatic. The upheavals of 1918-19 were not a disaster for the Netherlands and the economic slump of the 1929 to 1933 period was relatively limited and manageable. The great worldwide Depression and the political radicalization that accompanied it elsewhere had little impact on cultural life in this country. Nevertheless, even in the Netherlands, there were clashes between different styles and irreconcilable differences of opinion. However, the socio-political compartmentalization of Dutch cultural life ensured that everything remained fairly good-humoured.

Charley Toorop was a cohesive figure. She played a pivotal and stimulating role in the Dutch art world, bringing different movements and disciplines together by way of close friendships. Symbolism, Constructivism, Expressionism and Realism were also united in her highly personal painting style. She was a beacon of peace in a conflict-ridden world, where strong opinions produced a highly diverse cultural landscape and a wide variety of personal styles.

The Gemeentemuseum’s collection includes key works by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Wassily Kandinsky, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, Friedrich Vordemberge, César Domela, Piet Mondrian and Kurt Schwitters. There are paintings by Dutch artists like Carel Willink, Pyke Koch, Herman Kruyder, Jan Altink, Kasper Niehaus, Erich Wichmann and Jan Wiegers, and the collection offers a particularly full picture of the work of Charley Toorop. Sculptors like Hendrik Chabot, John Rädecker, Floris Jespers and Jules Vermeire are each represented by several works, while the work of designers like Piet Zwart, Gerd Arntz and Paul Schuitema is comprehensively covered. Finally, the museum also possesses a very complete collection of work by the important Expressionist artist Jacoba van Heemskerck. It encompasses every aspect of her oeuvre: paintings, drawings, stained glass windows and woodblock prints.

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