The Collection Now
Starting on 2 November 2013, the Van Abbemuseum presents a completely new narrative presentation of its collection. Entitled The Collection Now, the exhibition brings together artworks, archives, histories and relations in historical constellations that connect individual artworks to the social and political contexts in which they were made and exhibited. The works are spread over five floors, starting with a Picasso from 1909 and ending with works from 2013. Never before has the museum exhibited such a comprehensive selection with over 600 elements being brought together to tell stories of aesthetics, ethics and politics over the last 100 years. Besides giving attention to art from the last century, a significant part of the exhibition is devoted to art after 1989 and to new acquisitions not previously shown. The presentation can be seen for five years, but it is certainly not a static exhibition, there will be regular changes.
Other elements in the exhibition
Besides the artworks, the museum introduces other elements which play an important role in the presentation.
Contexts provides a framework for the works that are exhibited, as well as an additional background for the basic story behind the presentation of the collection. In the Toolshop you will find different stories and interpretations by people from outside the museum, individuals with a different kind of knowledge and a different background. The Museum Index visualises the information that lies concealed in the numeric details of our art collection. The presentation shows fragments from Dutch documentaries and how Dutch film makers are related to the events in the world
The artworks on display
Basement: ‘Civilian virtue, artistic sense and community spirit’: Eindhoven around 1936
The journey begins with the establishment of the Van Abbemuseum in 1936 and the situation that prevailed at that time in Eindhoven. Parts of the regionally oriented collection of the museum’s founder, the cigar manufacturer Henri van Abbe, are shown alongside other work from the period up to the start of World War II. The withdrawal of government sponsoring in today’s situation places Henri van Abbe’s private initiative in a new light.
Ground floor: 1909-1975 – Modernity in Western Europe and the United States
The ground floor is devoted to paintings, photography, archive items and documentation from the period 1909-1975. From an art historical viewpoint this is the era of the avant-gardes and of modernism. The revolutions and wars of the twentieth century, the rise of the consumer society and its critics, and the ascendancy of New York, all receive attention. The period concludes with the late-sixties rejection of traditional norms and values, and the emergence of the art market. Significant moments and events in the history of art are illuminated and placed in a wider social perspectives.
First floor: 1965 - 1985 – Countercultures and DIY archive
On the first floor, which is devoted to the period 1965-1985, artists explore the consequences of the counter culture that developed post-1968. Dropping out, punk, feminism and gay rights influenced not only aesthetics but the ethics of art. New forms of dissemination and participation arose. This floor is constructed in the form of a DIY archive, in which visitors can explore for themselves the art forms of the period and create small presentations for others. The multiple media of the time, such as prints and multiples, artists’ books, posters, video works, LPs and audio tapes are all brought together in a single archive of the time. In a cinema and two project rooms on this floor attention is given to special developments of this period.
Second floor: 1983 - the present day – The global and the local
The presentation in this room is exhibited in response tot he exhibition The 1980's. Today's beginnings? in the old building. From within six European perspectives the relevance of the 80’s for today’s society is reviewed. The circuit on the extensive top floor begins with the decline of postmodernism, followed by the post-1989 period in which we find ourselves today. In the last twenty years, artists have concerned themselves with broad themes such as communication and conflict. Immigration and the body, the rise of networks, the rapid availability of information and the transition to a uncertain global power balance. Different cultures and creeds come into contact, sometimes clashing violently and sometimes blending.
For the presentation in the room it is inquired how the Van Abbemuseum in the ’80 dealth with the developments in the visual arts in that time. As startingpoint the exhibition Jonge Kunst (Young Art) is chosen, which took place in the museum in 1985. This exhibition showed the work of fifteen young artists; fourteen West-European and one American. Jonge Kunst (Young Art) was composed by the former director Rudi Fuchs and the conservators Jan Debbaut and Piet de Jonge. They all belonged to a slightly different generation and therefore had a different view on art. In the catalog from the exhibition, Fuchs stated the following: “Conversations on how exhibitions are supposed to look, lead to discussions about the current affairs of business of the art.”
Third floor: 1973 - 2006 – History strikes back
At the very top of the museum, three artists share an approach to the long span of history’s unfolding and the changing function of heritage. We see documents of a lost time reflecting the volatility of our existence, but also offering prospects for the future.
Artists in the exhibition
The exhibition contains works by, amongst others, Alptekin, Appel, Baer, Beuys, Billing, Braque, Broodthaers, Chagall, Delaunay, Dibbets, Van Doesburg, Dumas, Fontana, Gestel, Gordon, Haacke, Hamilton Finlay, Heiman, Immendorff, Jonas, Jorn, Judd, Karamustafa, Kiefer, Klein, Kusolwong, LeWitt, Lissitzky, Mareschal, Mondriaan, Murtazaoglu, Muñoz, Nauman, Perjovschi, Picasso, Qiu, Rosler, Sasnal, Schwitters, Sluijters, De Smet, Solakov, Stella, Toorop, Ugay, Warhol, Weiner and Willink.
The design of the visitors’ experience has also led to a number of surprising interventions in the architecture of the 2003 extension.