AMSTERDAM - The Van Gogh Museum is hosting the Stedelijk Museum with the presentation Fauvists and Expressionists, on view through April 5, 2009. The Stedelijk's Fauvist and Expressionist collection dates from the directorship of Willem Sandberg (1948-1963). Sandberg was inspired to begin collecting in this field after the museum was given a large number of Van Gogh’s works on long-term loan. Originally owned by members of Van Gogh's family, these works were entrusted to the Stedelijk Museum after the Second World War and remained in its safe keeping until the opening of the Van Gogh Museum in 1973.
Sandberg and the museum's curator at that time, Hans Jaffé, sought to emphasise Van Gogh's importance for modern art by presenting him as "one of the great figures in modern painting". This is the first time that the Stedelijk Museum’s Fauvist and Expressionist works will once again be shown alongside Vincent van Gogh's estate that provided the original impetus for their acquisition. The presentation on the third floor of the Rietveld building comprises a total of fourteen works and includes masterpieces such as Nude girl behind a curtain (Fränzi) by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Willem Wauer by Oskar Kokoschka, Blue foals by Franz Marc and Landscape in Dangast by Karl Schmidt-Rottluff.
The Stedelijk Museum concentrated mainly on acquiring works by German Expressionists such as those allied to Dresden's Die Brücke (1905-1913) and Munich's Der Blaue Reiter (1911-1914). These groups were influenced by Vincent van Gogh's thinking about the role of the artist, his purity of colour and the eloquence of his work. The museum also purchased works by the French Fauves, who were inspired by Van Gogh's lively use of colour and his thick, pasty application of paint.
Although the Expressionist artist Alexej von Jawlensky (1864-1941) never met Van Gogh, he regarded him as a mentor and in 1908 even bought a painting from Van Gogh's sister-in-law, Jo van Gogh-Bonger (The house of père Pilon, 1890, private collection). He later wrote to her: "For many years it has been my ardent desire to own a painting by his hand." Jawlensky was particularly impressed by Van Gogh's use of colour. The presentation shows Van Gogh's influence on Jawlensky, evident for example in the canvas Landscape he painted in 1914. Taking Van Gogh as his example, Jawlensky used bright contrasting colours in order to gain intensity. His landscape can be compared with Van Gogh's Orchards in blossom, view of Arles of 1889, where the principle of complementary colour use is deployed in the same manner.
During his early years as an artist the Expressionist painter Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (1880-1938) was also entranced by Van Gogh's clarity of colour and dynamic brush work. The complementary colour contrasts Kirchner used in his Three nudes in the forest, painted in 1908, clearly identify Van Gogh as his source of inspiration. The canvas bears a striking similarity to Van Gogh's Tree roots (1890), which is also on display in the museum.
As a self-taught artist, the Fauvist Maurice de Vlaminck (1876-1958) identified himself closely with Van Gogh, taking Van Gogh's expressive touch and spontaneous manner of painting as the basis of his artistic career. The exhibition features De Vlaminck's Landscape near Chatou from 1906, in which De Vlaminck instinctively used bright, pure colours applied in thick, pasty brushstrokes. A similar thick and pasty application is favoured by Van Gogh in his landscape Wheatfield from 1888.
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