Published: October 12, 2004
The High Museum of Art will be the only museum in the southeastern United States to host an exhibition of 84 well-known but rarely lent masterpieces by Nineteenth and Twentieth masters, including Vincent van Gogh, Georges Seurat, Pablo Picasso, Diego Rivera and Piet Mondrian drawn from the Kroller-Muller Museum in Holland.
“Van Gogh to Mondrian: Modern Art from the Kroller-Muller Museum” will be on view at the High Museum of Art from October 19 to January 16.
Co-organized by the High Museum and the Kroller-Muller Museum, this exhibition marks the first time in history that an American exhibition has been drawn exclusively from the esteemed Dutch museum founded by patron Helene Kroller-Muller.
With a significant group of some 20 paintings and drawings by van Gogh as the core of the exhibition, “Van Gogh to Mondrian” tells the story of one of the Twentieth Century’s greatest patrons of modern art, architecture and design. One of the most important promoters of modernism in Holland, Kroller-Muller created a remarkable ensemble of paintings by the most significant figures of the early modern period, including Fernand Leger, Mondrian, Picasso, Seurat and van Gogh.
Working with leading Dutch modernist artists and architects in the 1910s and 1920s, Kroller-Muller and her husband Anton envisioned a future museum where the public could enjoy and study the development of modern painting from Pointillism and Cubism to Neoplasticism.
Influenced by her relationship with noted art historian H.P. Bremmer, Kroller-Muller’s educated eye and vast wealth provided the resources for creating a remarkable collection in a short time. Her interest in modern painting drew her to the leading Symbolist, Neo-Impressionist, and Cubist painters of the period. Kroller-Muller came to see art as evolving from Nineteenth Century Realism toward an increasing “idealism” of spirituality and inner clarity.
An early devotee of van Gogh (1853-1890), she created the largest private collection of the Dutch artist’s works, ultimately owning more than 90 paintings and 185 drawings. The Kroller-Muller Museum’s van Gogh collection is second only to that of the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam in size and quality.
“Van Gogh to Mondrian” features a grouping of 12 major van Gogh paintings and ten drawings from the Kroller-Muller collection. Of these, one has never traveled to this country (“Self Portrait,” 1887), and others were last seen in special loan exhibitions 50 or more years ago. This very significant selection of paintings includes iconic images, such as “The Café Terrace at Night,” 1888, “Sorrowing Old Man,” 1890, and portraits of Joseph and Augustine Roulin.
Mondrian is represented in the exhibition with seven paintings spanning a period from 1913 to 1919 and reflecting key moments in the artist’s evolution. The exhibition also includes architectural designs and models of the Kroller-Muller Museum produced by Hendrick Petrus Berlage, Henry van de Velde, and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, as well as furniture commissioned by the Kroller-Mullers from Berlage and a magnificent stained-glass window designed by Bart van der Leck.
A fully illustrated catalog will accompany the exhibition, featuring essays by co-curators David Brenneman, chief curator and Frances B. Bunzl family curator of European art at the High Museum of Art, Atlanta, and Piet de Jonge, head of collections and presentations at the Kroller-Muller Museum, as well as by Nancy Troy, chair of art history at the University of Southern California, Dr Marek Wieczorek, assistant professor of art history at the University of Washington, and Wim de Wit, head of special collections and visual resources and curator of architectural drawings at the Getty Research Institute. The catalog will be available in hardbound and softbound forms.
In conjunction with the exhibition, the High has developed a website that is devoted to “Van Gogh to Mondrian.” The new site, www.high.org/VanGogh, features extensive information on the artists represented in the exhibition, online ticketing and information about planning a trip to the High.
The High is at 1280 Peachtree Street at 16th Street. For information, 404-733-4550 or www.high.org
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