Gemeentemuseum – The Hague, NL

Francis Bacon

Creeped out in the Bacon room, with Man in Blue and Bruce Nauman’s Carousel.

THE TRIP
One month housesit in The Netherlands. In The Hague, Gemeentemuseum houses the best collection of modern art, design and decorative arts.

LOCATION
In The Hague’s Statenkwartier near the Peace Palace, connected to the Fotomuseum Den Haag.

ARCHITECTURE
Designed by Dutch architect Hendrik Berlage in 1935, in a geometrical modular grid formation in multiples of 11 cm. The specially made 11 cm yellow bricks used to clad the structure were subsequently marketed as ‘Berlage bricks’.

COLLECTION
Renowned for the largest Piet Mondrian collection in the world, including his last work, Victory Boogie-Woogie and modern art including Picasso and Degas, as well as Dutch artist, Jan Toorop. The museum also houses a collection of fashion items shown at temporary exhibitions.

FREE ADMISSION
Purchase a Museumkaart and also visit Fotomuseum Den Haag (next door), Museum Mesdag and Mauritshuis for free.

REFRESHMENT
The stunning, newly roofed-in Garden Gallery hosts the Grand Café which serves coffee, lunch and snacks. The Gispen Berlage chair by Richard Hutten, was designed for this space, the bandage dress in chair form!

OUTDOOR SPACE
The Art Deco style restaurant, Gember, has an open-air terrace and garden pavilion overlooking lily ponds.

MY FAVOURITE THINGS
Since my stay in The Netherlands, I am increasingly interested in the De Stijl movement and its founders. As a graphic and interior designer, the concept of artists and architects working together abstractly reducing to the essentials of form and colour is appealing. It makes sense that I have slowly been painting the interior of my home white!

The Mondrian collection depicts his evolution from landscape painter to abstraction, his inspiration and collaborations with other artists and his dedication to his politics through art. The simple energy of the unfinished (perhaps, intentionally), final work of Mondrian, Victory Boogie-Woogie, painted in anticipation of victory in World War II, seems to be the ultimate summary of his joy for life.

mondrian

Victory Boogie-Woogie, Piet Mondrian, 1944.

ODE TO DUTCH FASHION
Admittedly, I have very little interest in fashion and tend to be fairly utilitarian and conservative in my style choices, but I did find the latest exhibition on Dutch fashion designers interesting. Historically, the Dutch were heavily influenced by Parisian style with their own twists, such as a penchance for blue. But the recent rise of designers such as Viktor & Rolf and Iris van Herpen have given international recognition to the distinct Dutch style, lots of black and white, and emphasis on clean line and shape, origami anyone?

collignon dress

I’d wear that! Wool dress by Monique Collignon.

 

molenaar

Target on her back. Dress and cape by Frans Molenaar.

Mauritshuis – The Hague NL

mauritshuis

The Dutch Classicist style Mauritshuis in The Hague

THE TRIP
One month housesit in The Netherlands. A great selection of museums in The Hague, The Mauritshuis was my first choice due to Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring in the permanent collection.

LOCATION
In the heart of The Hague bordering the Binnenhof and the adjacent Hofvijver pond.

ARCHITECTURE
The Dutch Classicist house was built around 1636 for John Maurice, the governor of Dutch Brazil. The original two story, symmetrical building with a central great hall, was expanded by an underground tunnel to the Sociëteit de Witte building next door and reopened in 2014. Sumptuously decorated with silk wall coverings and painted ceilings, it is one of the top Dutch 100 heritage sites.

COLLECTION
Paintings from the Golden Age, by Dutch and Flemish masters, the Royal Cabinet of Paintings was a collection from William V, Prince of Orange. Highlights are Rembrandt’s The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp and Paulus Potter’s The Young Bull.

FREE ADMISSION
Purchase a Museumkaart and visit for free, also can be used at Gemeentemuseum and over a dozen other museums in The Hague.

REFRESHMENT
The Brasserie offers  a fusion Dutch meets the Far East menu and jazz concerts every Thursday evening.

selfies hall

Selfies of the Golden Age – Selfie Hall

SPECIAL EXHIBITION
Just in time to catch the end of the Dutch Self-Portraits – Selfies of the Golden Age exhibit. The seventeenth century self-portrait was considered an important marketing tool for a portrait artist presenting ‘the face’ and his particular painting skills. Of the 27 portraits, my highlight is the self-portrait of Judith Leyster who portrayed herself as elegant and confident amongst her male rivals.

A future must see exhibit, Sept 2016 – January 2017, of the British Royal Collection will include Vermeer’s The Music Lesson, recently copied using a camera obscura in the documentary Tim’s Vermeer.

MY FAVOURITE THINGS
Admittedly, Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring has a certain glow to it but like the Louvre’s Mona Lisa is more impressive in reputation. The realization that the painting is a tronie rather than a portrait makes it oddly out of place amongst the masterpieces. I was more charmed by the understated trompe-l’œil perfection and utterly modern appeal of The Goldfinch by Carel Fabritius, which apparently has a part in the Pulitzer “It” novel The Goldfinch.

Fabritius-vink

The Goldfinch by Carel Fabritius (1654)

MOVIE TIME
As a bonafide art geek I watched Peter Webber’s Girl with a Pearl Earring in preparation for meeting her in real life. If you can get past Scarlett Johansson’s mega pout and Colin Firth in all of his rock star glory, it is interesting historical fiction. The alternate theory that “the girl” in the study was Vermeer’s preteen daughter seems more likely to me.

HOLY JUXTAPOSITION
I don’t normally get excited by painted ceilings… they tend to be a pain in the neck; but this ceiling fresco by Dutch artist Ger Lataster, Icarus Atlanticus: Allegory of the Working Man, 1987 is amazingly refreshing in this space. What she said!

mauritshuis ceiling

Lovely abstract Ger Lataster ceiling.