Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen and Museum Rotterdam will soon unveil the studio secrets of six Rotterdam artists. From the city’s seventeenth-century Spanish-Arab fashions depicted by Hendrick Sorgh to the forgotten streets painted by George Hendrik Breitner, and Kees van Dongen’s red-light district. The exhibition Rotterdam’s Studio Secrets brings together paintings and objects to show the city in centuries past.
During Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen’s major renovation and modernisation, parts of the collection remain visible in a series of exhibitions throughout Rotterdam under the name ‘Boijmans Next Door’. The exhibition Rotterdam’s Studio Secrets, organised in partnership with Museum Rotterdam, reveals the studio secrets of six Rotterdam-based artists, providing an insight into their lives through a combination of artworks and objects. Featured works from the collection of Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen include two paintings that have long been in storage: La commode by Kees van Dongen and Girl at the Window by Pieter de Hooch. Another highlight is George Hendrik Breitner’s painting In the Studio, which depicts the two daughters of his patron. The exhibition is supplemented by works by two contemporary artists: Monika Dahlberg and André Smits, each of whom relates to their predecessors in different ways. This special partnership between the two museums in the heart of the city opens on 14 December.
The exhibition explores the life and work of Hendrick Sorgh (1610/11-1670), Pieter de Hooch (1629-1684), Nicolaes Muys (1740-1808), George Henrick Breitner (1857-1923), Kees van Dongen (1877-1968) and Dolf Henkes (1903-1989). As the sons of a market skipper, a bricklayer, a wallpaper painter, a grain broker, a malt worker and a café owner, all six artists had deep roots in Rotterdam. They painted their everyday surroundings, the streets where they lived and the people they saw. Hendrick Sorgh, for example, painted Rotterdam’s large marketplace. His father was a market skipper, and Sorgh, who later took over this job, painted the vegetables they shipped to market. In the late nineteenth-century, Kees van Dongen frequented the red-light district, where the City Hall now stands, and made drawings of the local nightlife for the Rotterdamsch Nieuwsblad. Sjarel Ex, director of Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen: ‘The fusion of the two collections creates interconnections that reveal a panoramic view of Rotterdam and its dynamic history.’
Two contemporary artists who relate to these six painters in very different ways have been invited to make new works specially for the exhibition. Monika Dahlberg has made colourful collages based on enlarged photographic prints of historical paintings, transforming the works of these illustrious Rotterdam-based artists into new images. André Smits, famous for his Artist in the World project, has photographed more than six hundred artists who work in Rotterdam. Specially for the exhibition, Studio Maslow has made an animated route of artists’ studios throughout the city, based on a 17th-century map. The artists Anna Ramsair, Anton Vrede and Peter Koole add their own secrets to the exhibition.
Thanks to the Stichting Droom en Daad, during Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen’s large-scale renovation and modernisation, part of the museum’s collection remains visible and accessible in Rotterdam. Around five hundred masterpieces are included in eleven exhibitions at eight neighbouring institutions under the name ‘Boijmans Next Door’, creating new connections and encounters with works in the host venues’ collections. This is the first time that so many institutions in Rotterdam have helped to keep Boijmans’ collection visible. New exhibitions are planned for the second half of 2019 and 2020 at the Kunsthal, Museum Rotterdam, the Wereldmuseum, the Chabot Museum and the Maritime Museum.
Museum Rotterdam is a municipal museum with courage. Cultural historical collection pieces and new cultural heritage tell the story of the city and its inhabitants – from settlements near the Rotte to the colourful metropole. A unique combination that delivers bold exhibitions and impact, in the museum and in the city. Museum Rotterdam, the most Rotterdam museum in the world.
Over the course of its 170-year history, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen has amassed a worldclass collection of 151,000 works of art. The museum settled in its present location in the Museumpark in 1935. Many decades and millions of visitors later, the building is outdated and requires extensive renovation and modernisation. While the museum is closed, its world-famous collection remains visible in Rotterdam and further afield. Masterpieces from the collection can be seen in exhibitions in the Netherlands and abroad, and artworks are also being shown in classrooms in schools throughout Rotterdam. In the meantime, the construction of Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen is progressing steadily. The world’s first publicly accessible art storage facility will open in 2021 and will house 151,000 works of art.