01 November 2005 till 26 March 2006

The switch

Illusion and reality in art of the ’50s and ’60s from the Triton Collection

Persbeeld tentoonstelling De omslag
This exhibition in the Triton Room reveals the inventive way in which artists like Balthus, Braque, Cézanne, Ernst, Fontana and Klein explored the relationship between illusion and reality in the 1950s and ’60s. It is the third in the current series of presentations of works from the Triton Collection being organised by the Gemeentemuseum. Confusing

However realistic the representation of – for example – an oak tree, it will never be anything more than a pale reflection of an actual tree. Nevertheless, artists are sometimes able to create so convincing an illusion that the viewer may be misled to the point that – just for a moment – he confuses image and reality. In the 1950s and ’60s, it became the fashion among artists to play with this phenomenon. They were amazingly ingenious in the way they confronted viewers with their own capacity to be deceived. Around this time, Cézanne produced an extraordinary drawing depicting deep green leaves with what appears from a distance to be complete accuracy in every detail. For a moment, you really think that you are seeing real leaves. As you get closer to the drawing, however, it quickly becomes clear that the leaves are simply an illusion created with a few casual lines. Henry Moore adopts a very different approach in his rarely exhibited ‘Shelter Drawings’. From a distance, these drawings appear to be no more than a pattern of flowing lines. Moving closer, you start to distinguish human forms and you gradually realise that the lines represent the walls of the London underground and that the sketch is the artist’s impression of an underground station serving as an air raid shelter during WW II. In this instance, therefore, something initially perceived purely as a visual image proves within a few seconds to be a record of a genuine historical event. Alongside these works by Moore and Cézanne, the exhibition also includes work by such major figures as Balthus, Grosz, Klee, Ernst, Fontana, Klein, Kelly, Stella, Baselitz and Van Golden. Each of them explores the dividing line between image and reality in his own way. The common element in all the works on display is the sudden switch that occurs in the viewer’s perception as reality proves to be illusion or illusion becomes reality.

Triton ‘cahier’

The Triton Foundation has built up a private collection featuring masterpieces from the period 1860-1970, which in many ways ties in perfectly with the Gemeentemuseum’s collection. Works from both collections are therefore combined in this series of presentations. Each presentation is accompanied by a Triton ‘cahier’ containing pieces written by several authors.

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