Dutch museum to unveil donor-driven acquisitions

Dutch museum

Han Schuil, ‘Blast VII,’ 2010, collection Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. Gift of Adriaan van Ravesteijn, in honor of the 80th birthday of Geert van Beijeren (1933-2005).

AMSTERDAM – In September, under the title “True Luxury…,” the Stedelijk Museum will present a survey exhibition of works of art donated and purchased between 2012 and 2018. The presentation includes around 35 works that have never previously been shown in the museum.

Films, videos, installations, paintings, sculptures and works on paper are featured, by artists like Bell & Frick, General Idea, Magali Reus, Erik van Lieshout, Arthur Jafa, Tony Oursler, Ed Atkins, Meschac Gaba, Helen Marten, Han Schuil and Fiona Tan. Almost a third of the selected pieces were gifted by artists, private collectors and international and Dutch galleries.

With this exhibition, the museum underlines the increasing importance of private donations to the collection. The Stedelijk has traditionally received large numbers of works gifted by artists. Many of the purchased pieces were possible thanks to the generosity of funds such as the Rembrandt Association, Mondriaan Fund, BankGiro Loterij, Young Stedelijk and Stedelijk Circle. Some of the works were purchased jointly with fellow institutions in the Netherlands and beyond, a phenomenon that is gaining in popularity, as is the increasing number of collegial loans. The Stedelijk’s new acquisition of Imitation of Life (35 mm film, 2013) by Mathias Poledna, for example, goes on view for the first time in a presentation at the Centraal Museum, Utrecht in September.

The title of the exhibition at the Stedelijk is taken from the installation Echte luxe is niets kopen / True luxury is buying nothing by the Dutch artist Erik van Lieshout, who gifted the work to the museum in 2016. It is an ironic reference to the reality that, in a time of shrinking museum budgets and skyrocketing prices on the international art market, collections rely on magnanimous donors to expand their holdings.

Although the exhibition spotlights recent acquisitions, several clear thematic threads leap out, such as an engagement with new technology, digital culture and the repercussions of globalization. Among the show’s high points is the space-filling installation by Erik van Lieshout, the imposing video installations of Arthur Jafa and the donation of the archive of the former Canadian artist collective General Idea, including their graphic work, mail art, multiples, invitations and publications.