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A morning at the Groninger Museum

May 4, 2012

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Photos of the museum by Rende. Other photo credits: de Ploeg paintings – Groninger Museum. Fashion photos- site of Iris van Herpen

I spent yesterday morning in the Groningen Museum.  It is an edgy, internationally acclaimed building and collection. It is very competitively positioned and run as a status symbol for this northern city, which is considered inferior by the culture gurus in Amsterdam. Maybe that is why most of the exhibitions, chosen for the wrong reasons (commercial and status)  in my mind, rarely speak to me.

But Thursday, I went especially to see the Jan Altink paintings, he is a member of the ‘Ploeg’ which was mentioned in a previous post.

While there I also saw two other featured shows, both having to do with fashion. I wouldn’t have normally gone out of my way to see these, but they were both inspiring. This vimeo of  the opening of the Azzedine Alaia show gives an impression of this fashion artist’s mastery. He designs, cuts and sews each piece. The craftsmanship is to die for, and the details, materials, and ingeneious handling of materials were so inspiring.

The entry into this show was in a dimly lit room, showing off his black evening dresses on a round platform. You can see this in the above mentioned vimeo. They were all body hugging exquisitely feminine pieces in luxurious velvets and silks, shown on nearly invisible plexiglass forms, and draped impeccably.

The other show was of a young designer very much in the picture here and internationally, Iris van Herpen. Her work is more sculptural than wearable, in my opinion. I like it as art, it is fresh, and as exquisitely crafted as Alaia’s. She uses all kinds of materials and techniques from 3D printing to casting. She thinks alot about things and each collection is based on an issue that is up for her. It was impressive to see this work in real life.

Finally, I spent the rest of the time with the Altink paintings. Ate luch at the beautiful museum café overlooking the large canal, and went back for another hour to see a selection of the Ploeg collection.

The paintings are so messy!! Not just the tossed off strokes, but the surfaces! They look like they’d been dragged through the dirt, or at least as if the brushes with paint had. Close up all you could see was gritty colours, step back and there was a reasonably harmonious whole. Totally not my way of perceiving or working, but intriguing all the same.

Holland is kind of progressive in some areas. (The Dutch tend to think of themselves as very progressive, to some extent they are, but not as much as they would like to think. How progressive is a society that is cutting the art budgets to suicidal levels and at the same time elevating the sales tax on art from 6% to 19%, and in 2013 to 21%!!) later: as of July 2012, this has luckily been reversed. Praised be!

Anyway, there is a new feature in the museum I really like. You get a memory stick type thing on a key ring when you get your admission card. Every exhibition has selected works with an electronic box beside it. If you want to ‘collect’ that work, you just put the stick up to it and a little green led flashes on the box to show that piece has been added to your images. When you are ready to leave, you just go to a computer and send your collected images home via e-mail and turn in the stick.  You can see mine here . My collection starts with the dresses in the banner across the top of the page. Just click on each image to see a larger version.

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2 Responses to “A morning at the Groninger Museum”

  1. decorartuk Says:

    An attempt to recreate the lost comment:

    I said that I liked the new technology that lets people collect photographs; it would help me as it would mean that I wouldn’t have to drag my camera to all the museums or galleries that I visit. I also was not happy about the tax change as this might really affect the quality of art – did you know that quite a lot of artists are using smaller canvases in order to save money? What can you create when the only thing on your mind is your financial situation?

    The last bit was about Jan Altink – I loved his paintings and the colours that he chose. Would you think of making hay stacks purple!? Great idea! I also mentioned that some of his paintings reminded me of Pranas Domsaitis artwork (maybe some of the subjects are similar). It’s a pity, but there isn’t a good website where you can see his painting, so just enter his name into google and choose “images”.

    I think that was all, more or less 🙂

    • szoutewelle Says:

      thanks K, for recapping the lost comment. The new technology for collecting photos is cool, but it is only for selected works. So I guess I’d bring my camera anyway.

      That is sad to hear about artists economising by reducing canvas size. Although with some, the financial limitations could work the other way and stimulate new forms and solutions.

      I’ll look up Pranas Domsaitis’work, cheers, Sarah


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