The title of the exhibition is based on the work, Supplemented Standard Edition with Prussian Blue Shelf (for Eindhoven) (1990-1991). The artist Rodney Graham made this work specially for the museum and the title emphasises the inextricable links between the museum and the city of Eindhoven. Moreover, the work is a response to a work by Donald Judd (Untitled (Progression), 1969). The museum’s own collection forms the starting point in ‘For Eindhoven’ – The City as Muse. The works which are exhibited provide an entrance to important moments or quotations in the history of art, the story of the city and the museum itself. Some of these works are built up in a new form or context.
Over the years the artists in the exhibition have approached the city from a large number of perspectives. Some of them literally looked at an existing reality, like Stephen Willats, who responded to the social housing policy in Eindhoven with his Inside the Space We have Been Given (1979) and Contained Reality and Hidden Pressure (1979). Others found a source of inspiration in the location of the museum and its architecture, such as Gerard Byrne in his video A Thing is a Hole in a Thing that is Not (2010). In this video he films the museum’s collection of American Minimal Art and explores how it is installed, cared for and viewed in the museum context. A number of large scale installations will be rebuilt for the first time since their original presentation. For example, the architectural spiral designed by Aldo van Eyck to present the modular textile work by Joost van Roojen (1968-1969) will be exhibited again. Gerrit van Bakels’ work Eindhoven-aanwezigheidsmachine (1980) will also be reconstructed. This is a large machine to “process” his birthplace. Other works have been included because they focus on the debate about the role of the museum, such as Read the Masks. Tradition is not Given (2008 - 2009). This film by Petra Bauer and Annette Krauss about Zwarte Piet as a cultural phenomenon caused quite a bit of controversy a few years ago.
‘For Eindhoven’ – The City as Muse provides the public with their first, or a renewed introduction to key works from the museum’s own collection which have a direct link with Eindhoven as an artistic basis for contemporary art. The exhibition shows how art challenges the cultural climate and is important for a deeper understanding of our own culture. In addition, the works which are exhibited form a unique collection of specific memories of the role which the Van Abbemuseum has played in society for the last 75 years. Elements and details of historical projects and archival material from the last 75 years will be added and threaded through the whole exhibition.