Museum Voorlinden, Wassenaar
A new museum is born. The youngest museum in the Netherlands opened in September 2016 near The Hague. Museum Voorlinden houses the diverse art collection of Joop van Caldenborgh. The idea to develop a new museum to house this exceptional collection rooted a few years ago and finally saw the light in 2016. A new building was designed, the gardens were designed by Piet Oudolf and the stately building in the garden was turned into a restaurant. It must be said: Museum Voorlinden is a gem to be discovered!
What striked me most during my first visit is how the surrounding landscape is made part of the museum experience and also the pleasant way the visitor is invited to explore and learn about the art works.
Ellsworth Kelly – Blue Ripe (1959)
The opening exhibition in Museum Voorlinden was and ode to the late artist Ellsworth Kelly (1923-2015). It was the first solo exhibition of the American artist in The Netherlands since 1979 but it closed on January 8. Martin Creed is coming up next.
The exhibition ‘Full Moon‘ offers an introduction to the collection by presenting 40 art works to be discovered and to enjoy the pleasure of looking. Museum Voorlinden also has a number of works in its own permanent exhibition where they are shown in the best possible way. Museum Voorlinden is highly recommended by Fieldnotes. Some of my favourites are below.
Ron Mueck – Open Ended (2007-2008). Mueck makes extremely realistic human figures. Only the scale of the sculptures reveals that they are not ‘real’. As a son of a puppet maker he gets intrigued at an early age about puppets and the ways to make them move. At some point he works as assistent puppet maker with Jim Henson (‘Sesame Street’ and ‘The Muppet Show’). Mueck manages to never impose his own vision or story so that you can freely make your own story while looking at the works.
Kaari Upson – Janice, Tracy, Sarah, Kristin, Joan, … (2012). In 2003 Kaari Upson entered a deserted house close to Los Angeles where she lives. Apparently a pervert has lived here who is now serving his time in prison. Upson took some of the found objects, named the mysterious figure ‘Larry’ and created several works within this new reality. The installation on display here is the climax of Upson’s Larry project. All women that played a role in the narrative of the Larry project come together here and are named in the endlessly long title. the crutches are made from silicon and in their slackness have lost all functionality of support. The skin colours, the use of hair, dust and dirt make the work attractive and repulsive at the same time.
Rémy Zaugg – Imagine, you are standing here in front of me (1990-1993). Painted in white on a white canvas the text in Rémy Zaugg’s work is barely readable at first. Zaugg is well known for his word-paintings. This work is in a way a self portrait. By using the tool of language Zaugg challenges the viewer to visualise his portrait. At the same time it is an illustration of the relativity of all perception: everyone creates his own image.
Pascale Marthine Tayou – Cloth Painting F (2013). Various pieces of fabric, stitched together, stretched over a frame and eye-catchingly in the center is the skin of a swine. The fabrics, taken from second hand garments, and the skin almost come alive because of the filling with hay. These are recurrent materials and objects in the oeuvre of Pascale Martine Tayou, a Cameroon artist living in Belgium. Tayou creates universal images dealing with topics like migration, the circulation of people and commodities, equality versus inequality. He presents it in a colourful way by means of objects from his motherland.
Astrid Mingels – Introverted (2014). The skin of a zebra, folded neatly, displayed on a white pedestal. Astrid Mingels removes the skin from its colonial context. By folding up the skin, she refers to the downfall of the modernistic way of thinking. The trophy is reduced to a package that can easily be stored in a cupboard.
Ornaghi & Prestinari – Abito, 2014. In Italian the word ‘abito’ is used for the blue working garment. We see two versions: the one in the back is a common overall with paint splashes. The garment in the front is an exact copy but now knitted and every spot of paint is embroidered by hand on the wool. It brings hommage to the painter and the craftsmanship inherent in the act of painting.
Giorgio Morandi – Natura Morta con quattro oggetti e tre bottiglie (1956) & Natura Morta con cinque oggetti (1956). “Nothing is a s abstract as reality”, is an often heard quote of Morandi. In his studio he collected all sorts of pots, jars, vases and jugs. He depicted them in hundreds of combinations. Morandi is not interested in the representation of the objects as such, but in creating works where the main motif is the interrelationship of their form, the space in between and the interplay of light and shadow. It results in an endless variety as these two etchings on display illustrate.
Richard Serra – Open Ended (2007-2008). This monumental work in steel weighs 216 ton, is 4 m high, 18 m long and can be experienced by walking through. After a few steps you enter an other world completely surrounded by the art work. A museum room was specifically designed in close collaboration with the artist to house ‘Open Ended’. The result is an exciting contrast between straight and bowed, light and shadow, inside and outside.
Leandro Erlich – Swimming Pool (2016). Erlich plays with optical illusions. He creates disorientating installations, mostly architectural spaces where something is not quite right. When you visit make sure to go ‘in’ the Swimming Pool. You won’t get wet.
Seeing art is great fun at Museum Voorlinden. And that alone deserves a visit.
Pictures were taken by me, caption content is adapted from visitors guide “Full Moon” exhibition and the book “Highlights Collectie Voorlinden”.