In 1979, when I was about to present new work in the collection, I hung a painting by Georg Baselitz near a wooden sculpture made by Donald Judd. The photograph taken of that encounter serves as the starting point for my contribution to the ‘Plug In’ series.
In the artistic debates of the time, such works were considered opposites. To put it briefly: Judd was seen as the cutting, radical go-getter in the modernistic tradition (from which abstract art was born), while Baselitz was said to have returned to the old expressionistic principles. But I had bought both works because I was convinced of their uniqueness. The contrast was exhilarating and I believed a museum should not be led by aesthetic trends. Moreover, when I looked at the works patiently, despite the differences I also perceived a certain affinity in the stubborn will power that characterises both works. What also played a strange role in the debate at the time was that Judd was an American (and, therefore, modern and international) and Baselitz was a German (i.e., regional). But I felt that such considerations were irrelevant in a small and neutral country like the Netherlands. In the meantime, I had become friends with both artists - as with the others in this gallery except for Asger Jorn, who I unfortunately never met. In conversations with them, they used to talk about each other’s art all the time. That proved to be an edifying experience: things were never as black and white as the art critics (on both sides) would have everyone believe. That is how I became a pluralist. Because of the informative value, I thought it useful to always look for such opposites when arranging galleries with work from the collection. Often, works of art are mutually disruptive or hamper one other, but when they are shown in close proximity, the inevitable comparison only makes the contours of their uniqueness the more clear and precise. It enables you to look better and see more. And that is what a museum should promote and that is also how the gallery has been arranged. To highlight the contrasts even more, I have taken the liberty of adding a few recent works of art to the ensemble that I would have acquired for the collection had I still been director of this museum. I was once and I think nobody would blame me for doing so. After all, this was my first museum.