In the first half of the 20th century, Paris was an irresistible magnet which attracted up-and-coming artists from all over the world. It was here that modern art history was written. The most progressive artists of the Netherlands were also drawn to this exciting site of renewal and artistic freedom. This autumn the flow has been reversed as the top collection of the Centre Pompidou comes to The Hague, forming the backbone of a major exhibition featuring Paris as the centre of modern art. This exhibition is being complemented by the historical photography exhibition Gard du Nord in The Hague Museum of Photography.
Never before has there been an exhibition focused on the relationship between the Netherlands and Paris as the cradle of modern art. A look at exhibitions in Europe in the past shows many examples of the connection between Paris and Berlin or Moscow, but up to now the Netherlands was missing from this list. Yet various Dutch artists experienced crucial developments in their career while they were in Paris. One such example is Piet Mondrian, who after visiting Paris embarked on a completely new direction, both in his work and his private life. And it was not only Mondrian: Kees van Dongen, Karel Appel and Constant were all inspired and influenced by the exciting and flourishing artistic life in Paris. This presence of Dutch artists in Paris will be given a special focus in the exhibition.
During the first half of the 20th century, art underwent a period of rapid renewal. Stirred up by the apocalyptical character of World War I and driven by the idea of a better future, or in a reaction against the style of their predecessors, the artists in Paris developed new styles in an enormous range of exuberant colours and forms. Paris was an artistic refuge where artists could meet in bars and cafés, form groups, discuss, influence each other and argue their principles. Nowadays we can use internet to exchange experiences and ideas with people all over the world, but in the early years of the 20th century, the only way to meet was ‘in the flesh’, and Paris was the community of modern art.
This autumn the Parisian air is also spreading to The Hague Museum of Photography. Here the exhibition Gare du Nord will also be opening on 15 October, featuring work by Dutch artists who worked in Paris in the period 1900 to 1968.
The exhibition is accompanied by a richly illustrated catalogue with contributions from Lieke Wijnia, Franz-W. Kaiser and others (Published by Ludion, € 24,90).
The starting point for the collaboration between Gemeentemuseum Den Haag and the Centre Pompidou was the much-talked-about exhibition Mondrian & De Stijl in autumn 2010.
This exhibition is made possible by Total E&P Nederland B.V.