temporary stedelijk 3

collection history


The Stedelijk Museum opened its doors in 1895, the same year as the first Venice Biënnale. "It was a quiet, civilised museum for the Amsterdam bourgeoisie in a time when there was nothing as troublesome as modern art," wrote Director Rudi Fuchs in the Bulletin on the occasion of the Museum's 100th anniversary in 1995.

Curiosa and period rooms
Initially, the new Museum exhibited the legacy of the eccentric Sophia Augusta de Bruyn, Douairière Lopez Suasso: a heterogenous collection of antiques, coins, jewels, timepieces, silver knickknacks and other curiosa. Period rooms, from canal houses that had been demolished when Raadhuisstraat was driven through, helped create a presentable whole.

Banners and a lying-in room
In 1895 the Vereeniging tot het Vormen van een Openbare Verzameling van Hedendaagsche Kunst (VvHK=Association for Forming a Public Collection of Contemporary Art) moved from the Rijksmuseum to the Stedelijk. There the association with the long name showed its contemporary French and Dutch masters. Very quickly the Museum filled up with a very diverse collection, ranging from banners of citizen's militia units to a apothecary's shop and lying-in room from the Medical/Pharmaceutical Museum. Between 1920 and 1940 the largest part of this collection moved on to other quarters. Only after the early 1970s, when the last period rooms also disappeared, was the Stedelijk exclusively a museum for modern art.

Van Gogh as crowd-puller
Thanks to donations from the VvHK of 217 works in 1949 and another 101 in 1962, the Stedelijk possesses a collection of late 19th and early 20th century art. From 1910 on the Museum also acquired important long-term loans and gifts from private collectors such as P. Boendermaker, F. Koenigs and P.A. Regnault. From 1930 to 1972 the Van Gogh collection of V.W. van Gogh, supplemented with Vincent's contemporaries from the collection of Theo van Gogh, was one of the most important attractions of the Museum. In 1972 a large number of these works moved to the new Van Gogh Museum next door to the Stedelijk.

CoBrA and Expressionism 
In 1945, the curator and designer Willem Sandberg, who had been forced to go underground during the war, succeeded David Roëll, who became Director of the Rijksmuseum. In addition to an active and controversial exhibition programme, Sandberg began collecting CoBrA, and the collections of German and Dutch Expressionism grew. In addition Sandberg purchased countless paintings and sculptures by 'classic' moderns. Under his directorate photography, applied arts, industrial and graphic design also received a serious place in the acquisitions policy.

Malevich collection
In 1958 the Stedelijk acquired a unique collection of works by the Russian artist Kazimir Malevich, including 29 paintings. Together with the paintings of the Dutch Stijl artists Mondrian, Van Doesburg, Van der Leck and Rietveld, these afford the visitor an outstanding picture of the genesis of abstract art. With his retirement, Sandberg presented the Museum 70 art works by Moore, Saura, Van Velde, Visser, Tajiri and Zadkine, among others, which had been given him by these artists as tokens of friendship and esteem. 

The Americans and Matisse
Director Edy de Wilde continued Sandberg's active exhibition programme from 1963 to 1985, but put his greatest emphasis on building the collection. In this he focused on art from the 1960s onward, with an accent on the work of artists like Dubuffet, Tinguely, Dibbets, Van Elk, Ryman and De Kooning, but also particularly on American Pop Art (Kienholz, etc.) and Colour Field painting (Newman, etc.). He also purchased important works from the 1950s by Matisse, Newman and Rauschenberg.

Since 1980 there has been a special room in the Museum for video art, after various exhibitions in this field had been organised during the 1970s. The video collection (presently being digitised) contains work by Paik, Viola, Nauman and others.

Arte Povera, the Young Italians and Minimalists
In the 1980s the Stedelijk acquired paintings and sculptures by Arte Povera artists such as Zorio, Paolini, Merz and Penone, as well as the then still Young Italians such as Cucchi and Chia. The German artists Kiefer, Baselitz, Lüpertz and Penck are also well represented in the collection. After 1985 Director Beeren expanded the collection of Pop Art with work by Warhol and Oldenburg. By purchases of Andre, Judd and De Maria, the Minimalists also became an accent in the collection. At the same time Beeren acquired recent works by Stella, Kounellis, Kiefer and Polke.

Lucebert collection
The Groenendijk-Voûte collection of Lucebert (supplemented by the CoBrA artist himself with 80 drawings) came into the Stedelijk's possession in 1986. This reinforced the old links with the CoBrA school.

Mondrian and young sculptors
In 1988 the Museum acquired Mondrian's 'Composition with two lines' (1931). The painting had been on long-term loan to the Museum from the City of Hilversum for many years, but was now threatened with sale. Beeren's acquisitions in the area of sculpture were also remarkable. New work was added to existing collections, and new, young sculptors entered the collection, among them Armajani, Cragg, Bickerton, Deacon, Koons, Solano and Veneman.

Under the directorate of Rudi Fuchs the line taken previously in collecting continued to command attention. That is illustrated in the acquisition of important works by Americans such as Judd, LeWitt and above all Nauman (a neon and a video sculpture). In addition Fuchs has emphasized German and Austrian art, with among others Baselitz, Förg, Herold, Lüpertz, Mik, Pichler, Rainer and Struth. British art has also been followed closely (Gilbert & George, Gordon and Hirst, among others). Fuchs is particularly known for his experimental arrangements of the collection in which works from different currents and periods are brought into dialogue with one another.

Interim period and Gijs van Tuyl

Between Fuchs´ departure and the arrival of Gijs van Tuyl as director in early 2005, the museum was headed by interim director Hans van Beers. With the privatisation of the institution, the need to recruit funds and other preparations for a new and larger Stedelijk Museum, it was the start of an unusually busy and exciting time. The period from 2003 to the present has also seen new works added to the collection: in 2003, the decorative arts and design department acquired nineteen silver and glass lamps, dishes and vases by Finnish designer Tapio Wirkkala, as well as a prototype armchair by product designer Ron Arad.

A year later, it proved possible to purchase Um den Kern der Sache, a large, late work by Dadaist artist Kurt Schwitters which had previously been on long-term loan to the museum. Important donations were also received: from Rudi Fuchs a painting by Richard Lohse and from Carl Andre a Sol LeWitt Wall Drawing. In the film and video field, works by a number of artists, including Johan Grimonprez, Julika Rudelius and Francis Alÿs, were added to the collection and one of the current highlights of the photography collection is a 15-part work by Bernd en Hilla Becher which was purchased in 2003. 

A new collection plan was drawn up in 2006 to provide a basis for future acquisition decisions. The main focus of the new policy is on contemporary art and its effect is already apparent in the form of recent acquisitions of works by figures such as Thomas Hirschhorn, Mike Kelley and Francis Alÿs.