06 July 2019 till 10 November 2019

Ben Akkerman

H.P.  Berlage, table and chair, 1920-1927; Paul Schudel, KV Vase for Designum, 1980s, Ben Akkerman, No title, 1981-1982, Gemeentemuseum Den Haag

In 1981-1982 Ben Akkerman (1920-2010) painted a monochrome, diamond-shaped canvas in yellow. From close it is possible to see how he applied the paint layer by layer. From 6 July this work will be on display in Gemeentemuseum Den Haag’s Project Gallery, among some thirty other paintings and drawings by Akkerman. In this exhibition the museum will present a small retrospective of the work of this Dutch artist, and symbolically bid farewell to the yellow diamond in its current logo, ahead of its change of name to Kunstmuseum Den Haag this autumn.

In the 1970s Akkerman was one of the leading representatives of fundamental painting in the Netherlands. The diamond-shaped painting of 1981-1982 (Untitled) is representative of his oeuvre, in which every painting displayed elementary paint marks and brushstrokes. Akkerman’s impasto paint layers, in warm yellow, sombre grey or pale green, show how form and colour can work together to create a unique impression of light and space. By taking the act of painting itself as his subject – as Jan Schoonhoven also did, for example – he prompts us to reconsider what we understand by painting.

Art & Project

Akkerman, a self-taught artist, was 53 before he had his first museum exhibition (at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam). That same year, 1973, he exhibited work at Art & Project, a contemporary art gallery in Amsterdam. Founders Geert van Beijeren (1933-2005) and Adriaan van Ravesteijn (1938-2015) consistently and passionately supported Akkerman.

The Gemeentemuseum had a long association with Akkerman, Van Beijeren and Van Ravesteijn. Between 2002 and 2003 the artist donated a large number of drawings, paintings and photographs, and Van Beijeren and Van Ravesteijn undertook to bequeath to the museum the paintings and drawings they had provided on loan. The exhibition focuses in particular on the former Art & Project collection, to which the yellow diamond also belongs.

About Ben Akkerman

Ben Akkerman earned his living working as a financial administrator at the local authority in Enschede, where he lived his entire life. He produced his paintings and drawings at home in his free time. From a young age, Akkerman was fascinated by the landscape around Enschede. He would often paint the rows of trees, ploughed fields, sheds, barns and factories he saw every day. At first he worked in a naturalistic manner, depicting his beloved Twente region in a precise style with expressive lines. But his work grew gradually more abstract from the 1950s onwards.

Several museums in the Netherlands have work by Akkerman in their collections, including the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen and Rijksmuseum Twente. Gemeentemuseum Den Haag’s collection includes no fewer than 137 drawings, paintings and photographs by Akkerman. The museum staged an exhibition of his drawings in 2004 (Ben Akkerman: Drawings) and in 2012 GEM museum of contemporary art showed paintings by Akkerman with work by Belgian artist Michiel Ceulers (Michiel Ceulers and Ben Akkerman – En être et ne pas en être).

Over Ben Akkerman

Ben Akkerman verdiende zijn brood als financieel administratief ambtenaar bij de gemeente Enschede, waar hij zijn hele leven woonde. Zijn schilderijen en tekeningen maakte hij thuis in zijn vrije uren. Van jongs af aan was hij gefascineerd door het landschap rondom zijn woonplaats Enschede. Hij tekende veelvuldig de bomenrijen, geploegde akkers, schuurtjes, loodsen en fabrieksgebouwen die hij dagelijks zag. In het begin was zijn werk natuurgetrouw. In een trefzekere stijl met expressieve lijnen legde hij zijn geliefde Twente vast. Vanaf de jaren vijftig werd zijn werk steeds abstracter.

Akkermans werk is opgenomen in diverse Nederlandse museumcollecties, waaronder die van het Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, Boijmans Van Beuningen en Rijksmuseum Twenthe. In de collectie van Gemeentemuseum Den Haag is de kunstenaar met 137 tekeningen, schilderijen en foto’s ruimschoots vertegenwoordigd. Het museum organiseerde eerder een overzicht van tekeningen van de kunstenaar (Ben Akkerman: Tekeningen, 2004) en toonde in GEM, museum voor actuele kunst, Akkermans schilderijen samen met het werk van de Belgische kunstenaar Michiel Ceulers (Michiel Ceulers en Ben Akkerman – En être et ne pas en être, 2012).