Anni and Josef Albers – Kunstmuseum The Hague

When you visit a show that features Josef Albers you can feel fairly sure that the twenty year long Hommage to the square is going to feature. But the exhibition at the Kunstmuseum in The Hague that is nearing its end now, offers a whole lot more.  Yes there is the room that features fifteen variations of the long running series, including a mesmerizing and large yellow composition. 

But Mr Albers is very much only half the story. There is Mrs Albers too. Anni, 11 years the junior of her husband is every bit as important in the display. Her textiles, graphics and drawings are every bit as eye-catching with their rhythmic repetitions and wandering lines that remind me of so many artists that were still to make there artistic mark in the second half of the twentieth century.

The work of both artists has a modest scale, you are drawn in to stand close and look carefully. A scale that is not dissimilar to my own paintings and drawings. I wondered beforehand if I would discover anything during my visit that may find its way into my own studio, and yes, I think I have. I’ve been folding landscape spaces in recent paintings and drawings, maybe there is something I will be able to do with Josef Albers Steps from 1935.

Steps, Josef Albers, 1935

Goodbye to an old friend…..at least for the time being

I first visited the Boijmans van Beuningen museum in Rotterdam early in 1989. The occasion was a cultural visit to the Netherlands with a group of college friends from Wimbledon School of Art where I was studying at the time. We couldn’t afford to join the official college trip to Madrid and Barcelona, so we put together a cut price excursion of our own, visiting the nearer to home delights that the Dutch museums had to offer.

Over the years I have returned to the Boijmans on countless occasions to visit the permanent collection and a variety of temporary shows. But today’s visit on 2nd May 2019 is going to be the last for quite some time. The museum is about to undergo a major renovation and refit that is scheduled to take seven years. Such projects though do have a tendency to run out; just how long was the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam closed for for its rebuild?

It is a slightly odd feeling that a museum that I know so well is simply going to be unaccessible for so long. But if I’m honest, maybe it really is time to bring the museum up to date. Museums have moved on a lot in the last twenty years. How they look and what they offer as an experience has changed and the Boijmans has perhaps got a little left behind.

The museum has a large and diverse permanent collection. It perhaps deserves an updated space to be displayed in. One of my own personal favourites certainly could do with a new home. I remember the two interior curved and slightly rusting steel arcs by Richard Serra from my early visits to Rotterdam. They slice through the space of a street level gallery. Nowadays these industrial scale interventions feel more like part of the interior design of the café with which they have to share the location.

So as the museum draws towards its temporary closure it ends with an exhibition about the Bauhaus. A celebration of the 100 years since the influential German school was set up and the ways it connected with the Dutch art and design world of the time. Presumably the museum won’t be reopening with a show celebrating 107 years of the Bauhaus or worse still 110 years. But that does some how put into perspective, just how long the museum is closing for.