Erwin Blumenfeld [1897-1969]
Untitled | circa 1932View object
Until the 1950s, it was extremely unusual for museums in the Netherlands to include photographs in their collections. Photography was not yet a universally recognized art form. So it came as something of a surprise when, in 1956, the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag decided to hold its first ever solo exhibition of such work: by New York photographer Peter Fink. It would be another fifteen years before the museum began actively to collect photography. Over the decades since then, the Gemeentemuseum has built up a collection of approx. 7000 photographs. The collection is multi-faceted and includes both classic and contemporary work, both applied and autonomous photography, and work by both Dutch and foreign photographers. Key areas include the Dutch New Photography movement of the inter-war years (with work by Piet Zwart, Paul Schuitema, Gerard Kiljan, etc.), conceptual photography (represented by photographers like Hans Eijkelboom, Jan Dibbets and Marcel Broodthaers), autonomous photography by visual artists (including Frans Zwartjes, Anton Heyboer and Gerard Fieret) and portrait photography (with work by contemporary photographers like Erwin Olaf, Rineke Dijkstra, Koos Breukel, Céline van Balen and Robin de Puy). Together, these works make up one of the most important photographic collections in the Netherlands.