Eyes Wide Open – New to the Stedelijk & The Monique Zajfen Collection
22.12.07 - 1.06.08
Over the last few years, the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam has expanded
its collection through the acquisition of a number of extremely
important works by artists such as Mike Kelley, Neo Rauch, David
Goldblatt and Atelier Van Lieshout.
Among the most outstanding is Three Houses with Slits, a
masterly monumental triptych by Martin Kippenberger, who died in 1997 –
the first painting by this influential artist to be included in any
public collection in the Netherlands. It is striking how many of these
new acquisitions demonstrate a clear – if sometimes indirect –
involvement with political or social issues.
In Eyes Wide Open the
Stedelijk Museum presents a selection of recently acquired paintings,
photographs, examples of film and video art, sculptures and graphic
works by artists working in the Netherlands or elsewhere. These
acquisitions represent the realisation of the museum’s plans to expand
the collection, in particular in the field of narrative painting,
paintings that reflect on the medium, and contemporary photography and
film. In addition, the museum has aimed to strengthen existing powerful
clusters by acquiring work by winners of The Vincent Award.
exhibition includes many works which demonstrate an engagement with
society, politics and (art) history. In his 1985 painting Three Houses with Slits Martin Kippenberger ingeniously interrelates his own personal history
with that of his country, Germany, by depicting three places with a
strong emotionally charge: the Betty Ford Center, a Jewish primary
school and Stammheim prison (where members of the Red Army Faction were
tried and several of them committed suicide in the 1970s).
Kippenberger links these places through their relationship to his
own biography. By depicting institutions concerned with correcting
behaviour, Kippenberger self-mockingly situates himself on the margins
of society: addicted, taken firmly in hand and probably a risk to those
around him. This acquisition, made with the support of three major art
funds, is a welcome addition to the posters and artist’s books by
Kippenberger which already formed part of the collection of the
In Rome (2007), the personal also becomes political and
vice versa. The imposing canvas is by Luc Tuymans (b. 1958) and has
been acquired for the Monique Zajfen Collection (which is allied to the
Stedelijk). Tuymans frequently blends references to his Catholic,
Belgian background with film footage of mass public events – in this
case the investiture of a Belgian cardinal at St Peter’s Basilica in
Rome – to produce a vision of a church triumphant.
In Slave University (Female) (2006), Atelier Van Lieshout
takes a similarly critical look at the utopian idea of an efficient
society, revealing it as a dystopia in which there is no room left for
humanity. In Der Vorhang (The Curtain, 2005), by contrast, Neo Rauch looks to the past and refers to history and art history (in particular that of East Germany).
exhibition also includes work by artists who act almost as
sociologists, monitoring their subjects over long periods of time. In
his series entitled The Brown Sisters, Nicholas Nixon has
been photographing his wife and her three sisters every year since
1975. Rineke Dijkstra shows how French teenager Olivier changes when he
joins the foreign legion and in Black Curtain Mike Kelley uncovers forgotten examples of popular culture and reconstructs them using actors.
The museum has likewise acquired work by South-African photographer
David Goldblatt: an early black-and-white series and a recent one in
colour offer a penetrating and moving portrayal of the tensions and
complexity of post-Apartheid society.
Some artists, like Maaike Schoorel, Matthias Weischer and Mark
Grotjahn, reflect on the medium of painting. For example, the work of
Grotjahn is clearly related to that of Brice Marden, which is already
prominent in the collection of the Stedelijk.