EINDHOVEN.- The Van Abbemuseum
has rounded off a successful year in 2009. Director Charles Esche is satisfied: 2009 was a very good year for the museum. I was pleased with the reactions to our major solo exhibitions especially Sanja Iveković and Deimantas Narkevičius which showed our commitment to bringing the best international work to Eindhoven from the current artistic generation. We toured these exhibitions elsewhere in Europe and also took our 2008 group show Heartland back to the United States where it opened to great acclaim in Chicago. Our exhibitions were widely noted and we received a few best of 2009 awards in the international art press for Iveković and Lynda Benglis, as well as high expectations for Play Van Abbe in 2010.
Our work with the collection has prompted some penetrating and lively discussions on the function of a museum in our society and on the role of art today, and I was especially happy to welcome Frans Timmermans, the Minister for European Affairs to open our major Play Van Abbe programme in November. We have been fortunate to cooperate with many leading institutions and individuals in 2008, and we have also expanded our educational programme thanks to important sponsorships. We signed what will be an important agreement with MACBa, Barcelona and Moderna Galerija, Ljubljana and archives from Bratislava and Warsaw to work together on collection building and long term production across Europe. The support of the BankGiro Lottery, Mondriaan Foundation and the Promoters the Van Abbemuseum, now means we receive more basic support than ever to enlarge our collection. We look forward to 2010 as a year in which Play Van Abbe will make its mark on the world and confirm Van Abbemuseum as the most radical and hospitable museum in this region of Europe.
A varied series of exhibitions was shown in the Oudbouw (Old Building). The group exhibition Heartland, a multidisciplinary project on contemporary art and music of the geographical Heartland of the United States that started in 2008 was extended due to success until February 2009. The exhibition is currently on show in a modified form at the Smart Museum of Art at the University of Chicago until January 17, 2010.
In February the Van Abbemuseum presented the solo exhibition "The Unanimous Life" by the artist Deimantas Narkevičius (Lithuania, 1964) who won the prestigious Vincent Award in 2008. Narkevičius explored the links between record, memory and testimony in a selection of video and film works as well as sculptures and photography. This exhibition also reached a broad group of film lovers.
From June to October the Trio exhibition Jo Baer - Lynda Benglis - Jutta Koether was on display with solo presentations of three generations of artists: Jo Baer (1929), Lynda Benglis (1941) and Jutta Koether (1958). These artists use, each in their own way, a range of mediums their evaluation of the phenomenon of painting in terms of art criticism. The presentation of Lynda Benglis, her first solo exhibition in a museum in Europe, was chosen one of the most significant solo shows of 2009 in the magazine Frieze.
BAK, basis voor actuele kunst in Utrecht, and the Van Abbemuseum together organised Urgent Matters, a two-part solo exhibition by Sanja Iveković, connecting her feminist voice to the social, political, and historical developments in general, and specifically to such realities in Croatia, her country of residence.
It was the first time that the Van Abbemuseum participated in the Dutch Design Week 2009 in October with a large scale project. During "Take On Me" (take me on) the Old Building was transformed to an alternative production factory and the visitors played an active part in the development of the four different projects and the associated public discussions and debates. Take on me (take me on) was a great success and was well acclaimed by the visitors who came especially for the Dutch Design Week 2009 as well as by the regular museum visitors.
The Living Archive is a continuing series of documentary exhibitions that utilize the archive of the museum as an active working memory. In 2009 the exhibition Stars & Stripes Forever continued, which shed new light on the Van Abbemuseums longstanding links with America and American art. Civilian virtue, artistic sense and community spirit was focused on cigar manufacturer H.J. van Abbe, who gave the city of Eindhoven this museum in 1936, and on the works from his private collection that are the foundation of the museums collection.
Still on show in the museum is Lissitzky in context as accompaniment of the Lissitzky+ exhibition.
Five exhibitions were organized in the museums library; Burgi Kühnemann, Paul Heimbach, Photography with Cézanne by Jean Leering and Jan van Toorn, Toine Horvers and JCJ Vanderheyden, on view till February 2010.
"Het Oog" (The Eye) is a new area in the Van Abbemuseum that offers a stage to artists to create new work during a working period of six months. The first edition of this series in "The Eye" started in February with the artist Praneet Soi (Calcutta, 1971). He worked for six months in "The Eye" on a series of mural paintings and a new installation.