05 December 2015 till 03 July 2016

Space as portraiture

The Vincent Award Room

Long corridors, cluttered studios and rooms devoid of human presence. Empty interiors are the subject of this latest presentation in the Vincent Award Room, in which works from the Monique Zajfen Collection are combined with items from the in-house collection of the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag. Whether portrayed by great 19th-century painters like Toorop and Weissenbruch or depicted by contemporary artists like Matthias Weischer, all the interiors in this show are like bizarre still lifes: these spaces are eerily quiet; no-one is there and nothing is happening. 

The empty interior as subject
Artists have often used interiors as backgrounds: settings for genre scenes, mythological tales or historical events. But for centuries the empty interior has also been a favourite subject. In the 19th century, artists regularly painted their own studios. Inspired by 17th-century studio scenes, they produced carefully orchestrated still lifes of tables, brushes, frames and easels, or dusty interiors full of props like skulls and ceramics. The absence of narrative or human presence seems to give the interior a character of its own. Modern and contemporary artists have taken this a step further. The early pictures of time-worn interiors and abandoned studios painted by German artist Matthias Weischer evoke the past and therefore reference our own memories. In his quest to find a way to depict the interior life itself, Weischer has omitted more and more elements. But his ‘Resonanzräume’, rooms for reflection, never become completely abstract. The presentation Space as portraiture comprises 12 works by Jan Toorop, Gino Severini, Marie van Regteren Altena, Johannes Bosboom, Jan Weissenbruch, Frans Zwartjes, George Hendrik Breitner, Matthias Weischer and Lilian Kreutzberger.

The Vincent Award
The Vincent Award is one of the world’s leading contemporary art prizes. It is awarded to a European mid-career artist whose work is regarded as influential on international developments in contemporary art. The purpose of the Vincent Award is both to encourage artistic talent and to promote communication in a free, united and peaceful Europe. The Vincent Award was launched by the Broere Charitable Foundation in 2000. It was established in memory of Monique Zajfen, a beloved friend of the Broere family and former holder of Galerie 121 in Antwerp. It was her commitment to and passion for contemporary art that inspired the Broere Foundation to institute the award and to seek to encourage artistic talent in Europe. Since 2014, the organization of the prize has been in the hands of the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag.

The previous winners prize are Eija-Liisa Ahtila (2000), Neo Rauch (2002), Pawel Althamer (2004), Wilhelm Sasnal (2006), Deimantas Narkevičius (2008) and Anri Sala (2014).  The artists shortlisted for the Vincent Award 2016 are Nairy Baghramian (b. Iran, lives and works in Berlin), Manon de Boer (b. Netherlands, lives and works in Brussels), João Maria Gusmão + Pedro Paiva (Portugal), Jutta Koether (Germany) and Slavs and Tatars (established in Eurasia in 2006, now based in Berlin).

Monique Zajfen Collection
The Gemeentemuseum maintains a close and continuous collaborative relationship with the Broere Charitable Foundation. As part of this, the museum holds the Monique Zajfen Collection on long-term loan. This is among the foremost private collections of contemporary art in the Netherlands. In addition to pieces by four earlier winners of The Vincent Award, it features works by top contemporary artists like Marlene Dumas, Luc Tuymans, Thomas Schütte and Stephan Balkenhol. Twice a year exhibitions of items from the Monique Zajfen Collection are held in the Gemeentemuseum’s dedicated Vincent Award Room.


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