Gemeentemuseum Den Haag presents a major exhibition on the evolution of modern sculpture. Using top works by artists like Auguste Rodin, Edgar Degas, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Jean Arp, Alexander Calder, Alberto Giacometti, Julio Gonzales, Henry Moore, Naum Gabo, Barbara Hepworth, Carl Andre, Donald Judd, Jean Tinguely, Louise Bourgeois and many others - all high points in Western art history - the show in The Hague reveals the main developments in European and American sculpture over the period between 1876 and 1965. From Rodin's
Balzac right through to Fred Sandback's yarn sculptures, the exhibition demonstrates sculpture's conquest of space. The exhibition at the Gemeentemuseum in The Hague shows many works of art that have never previously been exhibited in the Netherlands.
The final key period in the history of sculpture Roughly speaking, the history of sculpture can be divided into three main periods: classical antiquity; the Renaissance, when Michelangelo took the art to new heights; and the 20th century, when artists freed sculpture from spatial constraints, hanging it from the ceiling, laying it on the ground, and liberating it from visible reality. Based on six themes, the exhibition
From Rodin to Bourgeois: Sculpture in the 20th century provides a largely chronological overview of developments in this final key period in the history of sculpture. The story begins with Rodin.
Rodin the innovator In the mid-19th century, sculpture was at a low ebb. Experiments with colour and loose brushwork were bringing rapid advances in the art of painting but there seemed to be little scope for innovation in the sculptural field. The pedestrian academic sculpture of the period attracted little interest at the annual salons. The famous French art critic Charles Baudelaire went so far as to describe the most distinctive property of sculpture - its three-dimensionality - as its main weakness. Rodin was the first artist to see that quality as a strength, not a weakness. He avoided focusing purely on the front of his sculptures and worked truly in the round. Inspired by the rapid brushwork of Impressionist painters, he left visible thumb prints on the surface and showed unfinished parts and fragments of bodies rather than complete and highly finished figures. After Rodin, sculpture would never be the same again.
The conquest of space Rodin opened the floodgates of change. New generations of artists explored the previously unrecognized potentialities of sculpture. Kirchner and Derain sought to exploit the expressionistic potential of materials: not modelling in clay, where every slip can be corrected before the final casting, but carving stone or wood. Primitive art became a major source of inspiration. Brancusi blurred the distinction between the sculpture and its pedestal.
Artists like Arp and Calder reduced the representational qualities of their work in order to achieve the purest form of image. Nevertheless, the human figure remained for a long time the accepted subject of sculpture. This was particularly so under totalitarian regimes, which used idealised images of the human body in their propaganda. The exhibition addresses this period too, including works like Bertelli's
Head of Mussolini. Other artists, like Giacometti, reacted by showing ravaged and emaciated bodies, while Arp, Moore and Hepworth created a biomorphic idiom that looks abstract but is still linked to visual reality.
For the first time, landscape became a subject for sculpture. And 1960s Minimalists, like Judd and Andre, no longer represented anything. They were concerned with the experience of space; their sculptures are intended to become an integral part of the surrounding environment. This development reached its pinnacle in Fred Sandback's yarn sculptures: works that no longer occupy a set point in space, but extend through three dimensions. Sculpture had finally conquered space.
Beyond the confines of the museum From Rodin to Bourgeois: Sculpture in the 20th century is literally overflowing the Gemeentemuseum's galleries and even the confines of the building itself. Visitors receive a folder relating other works in the museum and outside its walls to the exhibition narrative. For example, Henry Moore's renowned
Reclining Figure (1951) is on show for the duration of the exhibition in the museum's entrance hall, while Tony Smith's
The Keys to Given has been awarded a place of honour beside the museum ponds. For those interested in the use of sculpture in public space, there will also be a short sculpture trail featuring works by Arp, Marini and Turrell.
Artists featured in the exhibition Carl Andre, Jean Arp, Vladimir Baranov-Rossiné, Ernst Barlach, Renato Guiseppe Bertelli, Umberto Boccioni, Emile-Antoine Bourdelle, Louise Bourgeois, Constantin Brancusi, Alexander Calder, Henk Chabot, Honoré Daumier, Edgar Degas, André Derain, Marcel Duchamp, Raymond Duchamp-Villon, Emil Filla, Dan Flavin, Naum Gabo, Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, Alberto Giacometti, Eric Gill, Julio González, Otto Gutfreund, Barbara Hepworth, Donald Judd, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Käthe Kollwitz, Henri Laurens, Wilhelm Lehmbruck, Jacques Lipchitz, Aristide Maillol, Marino Marini, Henri Matisse, Joseph Mendes da Costa, Joan Miró, Henry Moore, Pablo Picasso, John Rädecker, Germaine Richier, Auguste Rodin, Medardo Rosso, Niki de Saint-Phalle, Fred Sandback, Kurt Schwitters, Tony Smith, Paul Thek, Jean Tinguely, William Turnbull, Carel Visser, Tjipke Visser, Ossip Zadkine.
Gemeentemuseum The Hague Gemeentemuseum, designed by Dutch architect Hendrik Berlage is a milestone in contemporary architecture. The museum is most especially known for Mondriaan's work. This collection includes his early, realistic pieces as well as the piece de resistance,
Victory Boogie Woogie.
Directions to Gemeentemuseum Gemeentemuseum Den Haag is located in Statenkwartier nearby Scheveningen beach and is easy to reach by public transport, car and bike. From Den Haag Centraal Railway Station and Hollands Spoor, tram 16 will take you to the museum in approximately 20 minutes. From Station CS you can also take bus 24, which runs between Station Mariahoeve and Kijkduin.
Gemeentemuseum can be reached by car via Utrechtsebaan towards Kijkduin. On arrival in the city follow the signs for 'Gemeentemuseum'. There are plenty of opportunities for free parking. If the car park should be full then paid parking is available in the World Forum parking garage at Churchillplein 10, which is about a 5-minute walk from Gemeentemuseum Den Haag.