In November of this year, the exhibition In the shadow of tomorrow. Neorealism in the Netherlands will open at the MMKA. The exhibition is a reprise of the influential exhibition The fearful thirties (De bange jaren dertig) which was featured in 1960 at the Arnhem Municipal Museum (Gemeentemuseum Arnhem), now the MMKA. What made this exhibition unique was that the zeitgeist of the 1930s was used as a starting point for presenting a controversial movement of that time: neorealism. The idea was that this group of painters in the 1930s consciously or unconsciously displayed on canvas the threat of a new world war.
Since its beginnings in 1920, the MMKA has put together an important collection of works by neorealists. Over time, this collection has been carefully expanded with works by painters from the inter-bellum — the period between the world wars — including Dick Ket, Carel Willink, Pyke Koch, Raoul Hynckes, Johan Mekkink, Wim Schuhmacher and Edgar Fernhout. There were significant differences between these artists, but it was clear that they shared common features in their style at this time: figurative painting and fine brushstrokes. Due to the 1960 exhibition and the publication that accompanied it, written by curator Jan van der Mark, the above-mentioned artists are now part of the canon of Dutch neorealists.
Unfortunately, not all of the intended art works could be shown in 1960. Wim Schuhmacher did not participate since he refused to have his work displayed with that of Pyke Koch (who had sympathized with Nazi Germany), Edgar Fernhout was no longer interested in his early work, and Raoul Hynckes wanted to display recent paintings alongside older work.
There are two reasons for presenting a new version of the exhibition in 2012. One has to do with the museum itself. The MMKA was the first museum in the Netherlands to recognize, name, and collect work representing the neorealist movement at a time when other museums demonstrated a preference for Cobra and American abstract expressionism. In addition, it is now possible to display all the works that were originally selected. The second motivation for a reprise is the similarity between the zeitgeist of the 1930s and that of today, with its global crises and accompanying fears.
Curator Ype Koopmans states the following about In the shadow of tomorrow, 2012 : ‘Work by Dutch neorealists has now become well-known and loved by a large public, but the movement hasn’t been represented in a context where so many works could be seen together in one place since the 1960s. For this reason, In the shadow of tomorrow is a unique historical document and an exhibition that art aficionados have to see.’
A book with the same title will accompany the exhibition, with essays by Carel Blotkamp, Ida Boelema, Frits Boterman, Sjoerd van Faassen, Marieke Jooren, Ype Koopmans, Mieke Mekkink and Mieke Rijnders.
From 27 October through 27 January, partly overlapping with In the shadow of tomorrow, a new photo series by Erwin Olaf will be presented at the MMKA, inspired by the inter-bellum period. In October 2011, the internationally recognized Dutch photographer received the Johannes Vermeer Prijs, the Dutch national prize for the arts, and is using the prize money to create new works with the world of the inter-bellum period as a starting point. Erwin Olaf recognizes similarities between our own period and that of that era of the previous century and brings these into focus in Berlin, the city in which cultural life in the inter-bellum period dazzled before the approaching calamity like nowhere else.» lees meer