Exhibitions to take place this Autumn at Gemeentemuseum The Hague

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June 24, 2014

First Dutch Rothko exhibition in 40 years to take place this September at Gemeentemuseum The Hague

From rosy pink and jubilant yellow to bright blue to sombre black – face one of the vast canvases created by Mark Rothko (1903-1970) and you feel yourself being sucked into his world. Constructed layer upon shimmering layer, his colour fields are of unparalleled intensity and communicate universal human emotions such as fear, ecstasy, grief and euphoria. Rothko was an intensely committed painter who invested his whole being in his art and, like many other great artists, led a difficult life. Deeply disillusioned by the two world wars and plagued by depression, he was a tormented soul, yet capable of producing great art with an enduring capacity to comfort and enthral. The Gemeentemuseum The Hague is proud to present a new exhibition of Rothko’s work, opening this September, forty years after the last such show in Holland. A unique chance to enjoy Rothko’s work, this exhibition will be held only in The Hague and nowhere else. It is also an opportunity to see his work side by side with that of Mondrian, one of his major sources of inspiration.

Rothko owed his worldwide fame to the ‘classic style’ painting he adopted in the 1950s. Interaction with the viewer was of great importance to Rothko. He felt that, for both artist and public, an overwhelming emotional experience was the most sublime form of inspiration, bordering on the spiritual. ‘The people who weep before my pictures are having the same religious experience I had when I painted them.’ Rothko was not the first abstract artist to attach importance to the spiritual aspect of art; artists like Mondrian and Kandinsky had also seen their work as a spiritual exercise. But he was the first to give pride of place to emotion, at a time when abstract art was still fairly impersonal.

In addition to a host of Rothko’s ‘classic style’ paintings, this exhibition will include examples of the rather less frequently exhibited early work. Recent research on Rothko’s transitional period shows that he moved towards full abstraction via a kind of Fauve-like Realism and a highly personal for of Surrealism. As home to the world’s greatest collection of work by Mondrian – an artist renowned for the unequalled lucidity of his own path towards abstraction – the Gemeentemuseum The Hague is the ideal place to show the development in Rothko’s work. Although Rothko was dismayed when one art critic called his work ‘blurry Mondrians’, he was indeed to some extent influenced by the Dutch artist. Speaking with his use of colour in mind, Rothko went so far as to say that Mondrian was the most sensual artist he knew. The exhibition will spotlight both the similarities and the differences in the artistic development of the two leading first and second generation pioneers of abstract art. It will also throw light on the differences between European and American abstract art, in particular in terms of format and composition.

Mark Rothko (born Marcus Rothkowitz) was of Russian Jewish origin but grew up in America from the age of ten. Nothing in his background or family seems to have predestined him to become an artist. Indeed, he discovered his bent for painting only relatively late and more or less accidentally. He took some courses but always regarded himself as essentially self-taught. The last years of his life were overshadowed by mental health problems. His palette became ever darker and more sombre. In 1970 he took his own life.

This exhibition takes place from 20 September 2014 til 1 March 2015.


Romantic Fashions Mr Darcy meets Eline Vere at Gemeentemuseum The Hague

Rustling silk, breath-taking embroidery, frills and flounces, vast crinolines. Sharply tailored suits for dandies and elegant ball gowns for ladies. This autumn’s major 19th-century fashion exhibition at the Gemeentemuseum The Hague features costumes from the time of Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, Eline Vere and Downton Abbey. In addition to entire costumes in all their glory, the show will include glamorous accessories, tightly laced corsets and original fashion prints and photographs. With the help of the Prince Bernhard Culture Fund, many items have been restored especially for the occasion and will be on show to the public for the very first time. The inclusion of contemporary creations shows how the 19th century still influences life today, as modern designers continue to draw inspiration from its forms, silhouettes and techniques. Famous examples include the magnificent embroidery of Jan Taminiau, the dandyism of Vivienne Westwood, and the (often dark) romanticism of Jean Paul Gaultier and Edwin Oudshoorn.

The 19th century was an exciting and turbulent are of dramatic social change. Fashion was no longer exclusive preserve of rulers and their wealthy aristocratic courtiers; it played a major role in the new social order. How did people dress to show off their ‘new money’? And how could the ancient nobility distinguish itself through its court dress? As the century progressed, new fashion trends were disseminated ever faster as fashion magazines emerged and became increasingly influential. The female fashion silhouette changed constantly, men’s clothing became less restricted and children’s dress was no longer simply a miniature version of what adults wore. Technological advances brought eye-catching new textile colours, although the dying processes sometimes involved the use of deadly substances like arsenic – anything to look good! The history and romantic attire of the 19th century is currently attracting keen interest. The return of William l, come to reclaim his royal title in 1813, was recently replayed in period costume on the beach at Scheveningen; costume dramas attract huge audiences; beards and moustaches are back in vogue.

This exhibition takes place from 11 October 2014 til 22 March 2015.