Last year, the Gemeentemuseum and publishers Leopold launched a special series of children’s art books. As they appear, each book is the subject of an exhibition. The present show features not just one, but two of these books: a picture book by Wouter van Reek called Keepvogel en Kijkvogel in het spoor van Mondriaan ( 4 +) and a novel entitled Mister Orange, written by Truus Matti for slightly older readers ( 9 +). Both books are about the artist Piet Mondrian and are directly inspired by the Gemeentemuseum’s Mondrian collection, which is the greatest in the world.
From 17 September, the adjacent wing of the museum will be dedicated to permanent displays of work by Mondrian and De Stijl. The long wall of this gallery features a display of all the computergenerated illustrations that Wouter van Reek produced for his book. The story tells how Kijkvogel (based on Piet Mondrian) goes in search of the future. Keepvogel says you don’t have to look for the future; it will come all by itself. But Kijkvogel has a different kind of future in mind: one full of things so new that nobody has yet imagined them. Van Reek’s illustrations are shown in association with original furniture and objects from Piet Mondrian’s studio, all from the museum’s own collection.
The audiovisual presentation features the voice of Truus Matti, reading from her novel Mister Orange. Before starting to write, Truus Matti (b. 1961) worked as an editor and attended the Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam. In 2008, her first children’s book Vertrektijd (now available in English as Departure Time) won a Vlag en Wimpel book award. Mister Orange was commissioned by the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag and publishers Leopold. It tells how a boy called Linus meets Piet Mondrian when he regularly delivers crates of oranges to what turns out to be Mondrian’s New York studio: an amazing place where, even in rainy weather, it is bright inside and coloured shapes dance across the walls. Visitors can experiment with different arrangements of coloured shapes on the wall of this gallery, just as Mondrian used to do in his studio!
Wouter van Reek (b. 1960) also trained at the Rietveld Academy, in the Audiovisual Department. He creates hand-drawn computer animation films for children. The best-known series is Keepvogel, broadcast on Dutch TV between 2000 and 2006. Van Reek won the 1st Prize for Animated Short Films at the Chicago International Children’s Film Festival in 2002. Since 2005, he has also been producing picture books about Keepvogel. He draws the illustrations in the same computerassisted way as his animation films. His books have been published in a number of countries. In 2007 Keepvogel: De uitvinding was awarded a Zilveren Penseel prize. Keepvogel en Kijkvogel in het spoor van Mondriaan and Mister Orange are both for sale in the museum shop. A Keepvogel en Kijkvogel colouring sheet drawn by Wouter van Reek can be d downloaded from the museum website (www.gemeentemuseum.nl), where details of the relevant schools programme and children’s workshops can also be found.