GENT.- Design Museum
Gent is presenting the exhibition Art nouveau and art deco from the Netherlands. A selection from the collection of the Drents Museum in Assen until 27 February 2011. The Drents Museum in Assen houses one of the top five collections in the Netherlands in the field of art nouveau and art deco. Design museum Gent is displaying a representative selection from this collection.
The exhibition presents among other things furniture, ceramics and silver by renowned Dutch designers such as Hendrik Petrus Berlage, Johan Thorn Prikker, Gerrit Rietveld and Willem Gispen. Artists of lesser renown outside of the Netherlands are also represented, with works by Chris Lebeau, Chris van der Hoef, Theo Nieuwenhuis, Carel Lion Cachet and Gerrit Willem Dijsselhof.
A specially designed picture cabinet is being used to display works from the collection of Dutch book collector Rob Aardse, which was donated to the Drents Museum in 2009.
The entire exhibition presents a rich outlook on the burgeoning Dutch applied arts between 1880 and 1940, a period sometimes referred to as the second Dutch Golden Age.
Origins of Dutch art nouveau and art deco
At the end of the nineteenth century, many European countries entertained the idea that the use of historic styles of architecture and the applied arts in an age of renewal and industrialization was no longer fitting. A new age required new art and a new shape language. Moreover, beautifully crafted utensils had to be accessible to as wide a public as possible: 'beauty for the masses'. Particularly the English Arts & Crafts Movement gained foothold in the Netherlands with these ideas, leading to the creation of a new art form, or 'art nouveau', in the Netherlands around 1890; within which a constructive, taut, and an ornate or 'festooned' direction can be distinguished. Around 1915 Dutch art deco arose from the plastic architecture of the 'School of Amsterdam'; characterized by excessiveness, an abundance of colour and its abstraction vis-à-vis art nouveau. In the Netherlands art deco managed to stave off the breakthrough of sober and functional modernism until about 1930.
Dutch art nouveau and art deco: a look all its own
In the period between 1880 and 1940 the Netherlands underwent various foreign influences in the field of design. Around 1900, for instance, Dutch artists were clearly inspired by the elegant French-Belgian art nouveau, particularly in The Hague. The Dutch applied arts also had a look all their own, however. The taut, 'constructive' designs by Hendrik Petrus Berlage garnered a following, particularly in Amsterdam. His style was seen as the typical Dutch take on art nouveau and was therefore referred to as 'Nieuwe Kunst' in Dutch, or 'Art Nouveau'.
'Community art' was also a typical Dutch phenomenon which arose in the art nouveau period and persisted during the art deco period. The Berlage Bourse in Amsterdam (1897-1903) is the first and prime example in the Netherlands of this cooperation of socially involved architects, furniture builders, glass artists and painters. A few years on, around 1915, another Dutch phenomenon appeared: the so-called De Stijl movement, with modernist designers such as Rietveld. They sought simplicity and purity. While their work may have originated in the art deco period, their precepts varied greatly from the art deco movement and were long subdued.
Collaboration between Design museum Gent and Drents Museum
At the end of 2009 the Drents Museum presented the exhibition Art nouveau and art deco from Belgium, displaying top pieces from Design museum Gent. The Drents Museum is pleased that Design museum Gent is now offering the opportunity to showcase part of its collection to the Belgian public.