Together with Jan Toorop, Leo Gestel and Jan Sluijters, the Hague artist Willem van Konijnenburg represented the face of Dutch modern art abroad between the wars. A retrospective of his work is exhibited in the Print Room of the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, showing how his unique interpretation of modern art was seen as highly innovative in his day. The fact that the museum has acquired so many of his works testifies to his importance. The presentation will focus on drawings and paintings produced by Van Konijnenburg between 1910 and 1925.
In his youth, Van Konijnenburg was famous not so much for his artistic skills as for his dandy-like appearance and his active involvement in Hague art circles. This was to change after 1900 when he abandoned Hague School Impressionism and started to develop his own classical idiom. Using an invented system of rules in which symmetry and mathematical patterns played an important role, he created harmonious compositions which won him considerable fame. His theme was no longer landscape but the idealised individual.
His innovative ideas made a name for him as an artist. He was much exhibited and received special commissions. H.E. van Gelder, then director of the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, also admired Van Konijnenburg’s work and commissioned a wall relief from him for the new museum building. The relief Revere the Divine Light in the Revelations of Art can still be admired in the hall of the museum.
The exhibition will be accompanied by the publication Willem van Konijnenburg. Leonardo van de Lage Landen, by Mieke Rijnders, in a series of monographs on Dutch artists commissioned by the Prince Bernhard Culture Fund and published by Waanders Uitgevers.