Our former director Edy de Wilde died on Saturday, 19 November 2005. He was 85 years of age. As a tribute to the man and his work, we are presenting a small documentary exhibition drawing attention to the period of his directorship at the Van Abbemuseum.
After graduating in law at Nijmegen University, the 26-year old De Wilde took up his position in 1946, as successor to Wouter Visser who had been the Van Abbemuseum’s director since it was founded in 1936. With the help of letters, memoranda, photographs and other archive material an impression is given of De Wilde’s groundbreaking collection policy. He began by buying Dutch expressionist works by artists like Hendrik Chabot, Jan Sluijters and Charley Toorop. Later, as his budget increased, he bought such major international expressionists as Beckmann, Kandinsky and Kokoschka. His immense fondness for la belle peinture led to a splendid retrospective of the Ecole de Paris, the French counterpart of the CoBrA movement, which thanks to De Wilde’s efforts is well represented in the Van Abbemuseum’s collection. He also drew together a magnificent array of paintings from the early 20th century, including works by Picasso, Braque, Chagall, Léger and Mondrian. Although De Wilde collected a small amount of sculpture, purchases of pieces by Barlach, Lipchitz, Rädecker and Zadkine fit in extremely well with the remarkable collection he left behind.
In 1963 Edy de Wilde was appointed director of the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, a position he held until his retirement in 1985.