'netherlands ⇄ bauhaus' Exhibition Shows How A Collaborative Art Movement Spread Ideas 100 Years Ago

  • ROTTERDAM, Netherlands
  • /
  • March 13, 2019

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Installation view of ‘netherlands ⇄ bauhaus – pioneers of a new world’ at Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam.
Photo: Aad Hoogendoorn.

Through May 26, 2019, ‘netherlands bauhaus, with over 800 Bauhaus objects and works of art, is a major survey exhibition at Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam. This year - 2019 - is the centenary of the founding of the Bauhaus, the legendary art and design school. netherlands bauhaus pioneers of a new world offers unique insight into the inspiring interaction between the Netherlands and the Bauhaus.

The exhibition exposes the Dutch Bauhaus network for the first time in a large overview, and is accompanied by a book with twenty essays about 'the netherlands ⇄ bauhaus', and an interactive digital tour. Bauhaus-related events take place throughout Rotterdam.  

Wassily Kandinsky, Gelbe Mitte, 1926, oil on canvas, 62 x 54 cm (incl. frame). Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam. Photo: Studio Tromp.

Mienke Simon Thomas, curator of applied art and design, says: "This exhibition about the influence of the Bauhaus fits very well with Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen and with Rotterdam: it exudes ambition, emphasizes the importance of collaboration and is unmistakably colorful."

'netherlands ⇄ bauhaus - pioneers of a new world' shows---with works of art, furniture, ceramics, textiles, photos, typography and architecture---what the influence of the Bauhaus was in the Netherlands and vice versa. The school in Germany, founded by Walter Gropius in 1919, was immediately characterized by a drive for innovation, idealism, ambitions and creativity. Artists such as Paul Klee, Wassily Kandinsky, László Moholy-Nagy and Oscar Schlemmer were part of the teachers' corps, but Dutch pioneers such as Theo van Doesburg, JJP Oud, Mart Stam, Paul Citroen and Piet Zwart also contributed to the character of the Bauhaus.

The Bauhaus worked from the ideal of making beautiful and functional design accessible to everyone. The radical formal language and innovative production techniques are still of great influence. The Bauhaus philosophy spread through a network of people, exhibitions, magazines, congresses, education and workshops, not only in Germany, but also in the Netherlands, especially after the closure of the Bauhaus in 1933. In 'the Netherlands ⇄ bauhaus', visitors can discover the network connections behind the exhibition on small tablets with an interactive tour.

Mienke Simon Thomas, curator of the exhibition: "It is unbelievable how well and quickly those architects and artists from the 1920s and 30s managed to reach each other without email or whatsapp, without radio or television and usually even without a telephone." 

Rotterdam, the most important city of the Nieuwe Bouwen in the 1920s, was the city where modernism was most prominent in architecture and design. Social housing projects by Rotterdam city architect JJP Oud attracted the attention of many German architects, including Walter Gropius. Cees van der Leeuw, director of the Van Nelle Factory, also became friends with the founder of the Bauhaus. Marcel Breuer, former Bauhaus teacher, designed the building of the Rotterdam branch of De Bijenkorf in 1957, a building that symbolizes the reconstruction of the city.

Marcel Breuer, four side tables, c.1926, nickel-plated metal, painted wood, 60 x 65 x 40 cm (largest). Private Collection, Germany.

In a series of Sundays in March and April and May the relationship between Rotterdam and the Bauhaus is illustrated at six special architecture locations, such as the Kiefhoek, the Parklaanflat and the Sonneveld House. A shuttle bus will run between the Museum Park Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen and the Van Nellef Factory. In collaboration with, among others, Scapino Ballet and the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, a side program is set up with mini lectures in the hall, Bauhaus music and theater, performances and workshops. You can also take guided tours of the various Bauhaus locations in Rotterdam.


The exhibition is accompanied by a scientific publication edited by curator Mienke Simon Thomas and author design historian Yvonne Brentjens. Twenty-one specialists from Germany and the Netherlands contributed to this. Available in the Museum Shop and the webshop .


On Thursday afternoon, 11 April from 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen is organizing a Bauhaus symposium in Arminius, where Dutch experts will highlight backgrounds and new facts about the 'Netherlands ⇄ bauhaus' network.

Tags: bauhaus design

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