Making Histories: Changing Views of the Collection, Temporary Stedelijk 2, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Installation view.

Opens March 3, 2011

Making Histories: Changing Views of the Collection explores how a museum collection constructs and embodies histories to be reconsidered over time, offering various views into the museum’s own history and its collections right up to the present day, through monographic installations of individual works or bodies of work by key artists and designers, thematic surveys, archival research projects, special projects and recent acquisitions. The exhibition showcases the breadth of the museum’s collections, which include over 90,000 works of painting, sculpture, photography, film, video, works on paper, artist’s books, applied arts and industrial and graphic design. As selections from the collections are presented on a rotating basis, returning visitors will have the opportunity to see different works over the coming months.

The climate-controlled Hall of Honor features iconic works from the collection, offering various perspectives on abstract painting, with works from the 20th-century painting is exemplified in the work of Piet Mondrian, while works by Kazimir Malevich are purely abstract. Color and autonomous form distinguish works by Jo Baer, Ellsworth Kelly, Brice Marden and Barnett Newman. The centerpiece of this presentation is The Parakeet and the Mermaid (1952–53), the renowned paper cutout by Henri Matisse, which is flanked by the intense gold and deep blue of paintings by Yves Klein.

A stunning installation of works using fluorescent light by Dan Flavin occupies the hall of the upper floor. Originally commissioned by the Stedelijk Museum, these works were first presented in this same location in 1986. Titled untitled (to Piet Mondrian through his preferred colors, red, yellow and blue) and untitled (to Piet Mondrian who lacked green), these works were conceived by Flavin to be in dialogue with Mondrian, the history of modern art and the museum’s distinctive architecture.

A number of gallery spaces are devoted to individual artists and designers. Works by Carl Andre, Lothar Baumgarten, Barbara Bloom, Ger van Elk, Donald Judd, Willem de Kooning, Bruce Nauman, Allen Ruppersberg, Willem Sandberg, Wieki Somers, Fiona Tan, Charley Toorop and Marijke van Warmerdam, among others, will be on view.

The Stedelijk Museum’s collection is also distinguished by its extensive holdings of applied arts and design, from which a special selection is presented. A collection of tableware will be on show, with services, flatware and accessories. Following two recently acquired aluminum chairs by Wieki Somers, the museum has dedicated one special room to the design of metal furniture, both modern classics and contemporary pieces by, among others, Ron Arad, Xavier Lust and Gerrit Rietveld. Four consecutive galleries host a presentation of work by important young designers, including striking pieces of jewelry by Karl Fritsch and Manon van Kouswijk and experimental industrial design by Joris Laarman.

In the field of graphic design, one room is dedicated to exceptional manuscripts by former museum director Willem Sandberg—made during World War II (when, as a member of the resistance, he was in hiding) that clearly anticipates later signatures of his design work. Another gallery features a selection of extraordinary Cuban posters from the 1970s that evoke the Castro revolution.