Last week saw the opening of the sensational major exhibition Frans Hals and the Moderns in the Frans Hals Museum
. This is the first time that Frans Hals paintings have been shown alongside reactions to his work by modern painters at the end of the 19th century. Through its own collection and some fifty loan works, the exhibition shows the enormous impact that Hals had on Modern painters, who considered him as one of their own: Hals, cest un moderne (quote from the Belgian magazine LArt Moderne in 1883).
It is especially relevant that we are holding the exhibition that we have always had to hold at this particular point in time, because it is exactly 150 years since Frans Hals was rediscovered, according to Ann Demeester, Director of the museum. The exhibition shows how innovative Frans Hals was and can be seen at the Hof building from 13 October 2018 to 24 February 2019.
REDISCOVERING FRANS HALS
Exactly 150 years ago - in 1868 - Frans Hals was rediscovered by the influential French art critic Théophile Thoré-Bürger. Hals had been ignored by art critics for most of the 18th century and the first half of the 19th century. His innovative style of painting with its loose brushwork no longer matched the current academic style. Hals frivolous way of life was often associated with his loose style of painting and was presented to young artists as a bad example. As a result, his paintings were of little value on the art market and the name Frans Hals was missing from most retrospectives of the Golden Age.
In a short time, Hals image changed from that of a riotous drunk to a modern idol. Frans Hals was admired, even worshipped by late 19th century artists such as Édouard Manet, Max Liebermann, John Singer Sargent and Vincent van Gogh. They were impressed by his loose brushstrokes and rough style of painting, which came across as impressionistic. Many of them copied portraits and group portraits to literally get to grips with his style. For the modern painters, copies were often a personal souvenir. Hals inspired them, as can be inferred from their use of colour, the light and shadows, the poses of the sitters, the choice of subject, and their fascination with his collars. The chiaroscuro effects and the suggestion of movement can still be seen in the early days of photography. The illustrations by Aart Taminiau (illustrator/animator, 1982) show the visitor the story of the Moderns in Haarlem. Its almost like the spectator is looking over the modern painters shoulder.
THE MASTERPIECES I.A. MALLE BABBE AND JOSEPH ROULIN
The museum has so many special works on loan of other great painters from national and international museums and private collections. The following paintings have, for example, never been on view in the Netherlands before:
Postman Joseph Roulin (1888) Madame Roulin and her Baby (1888) by Van Gogh;
Corner of a Café-concert (1878/80) and Boy with Pitcher (1862/72) by Manet;
A lost copy by Manet of a group portrait by Hals has recently been recovered. The museum will closely examine the rediscovered Manet in the months to come;
A special work on loan from the Van Gogh Museum, Head of a Prostitute by Van Gogh;
Other works by Hals have also returned to their hometown, such as The Smoker, Laughing Boy and Malle Babbe. For the first time in history, two Malle Babbes will be shown together: the original by Frans Hals (1633/35) and the copy made by Gustave Courbet (1869). The last time Hals Malle Babbe (from the Gemäldegalerie in Berlin) was on view was during the major Hals exhibition in 1995.
The exhibition is accompanied by a beautiful glossy magazine featuring a varied mix of articles that combine detail with art appreciation. This inspiring magazine includes contributions by well-known Dutch journalists such as Merel Bem, Arjan Visser, Elma Drayer and José Rozenbroek and art historian Griselda Pollock. The magazine was designed and produced by Studio Room (known from LINDA magazine) and is available at AKO, the better bookstores (Haarlem and Amsterdam area) and the museumshop.