Exhibition to focus on Dutch modernist painter Jan Sluijters' 'wild years'
5 July 2018
The exhibition Jan Sluijters: The Wild Years, which runs from 17 November 2018 until 7 April 2019 at Het Noordbrabants Museum in Den Bosch, is the first exhibition to focus on the early work by the renowned Dutch painter Jan Sluijters (1881-1957). It shows how he became a leading modernist under the influence of both national and international modern art. This period is characterised by Sluijters exploring different modern art movements. During this wild, experimental phase, the power of colour is central to his paintings.
“Well, townspeople and countrymen, fellow artists in your elegant tailcoats and high collars, here it is, Life, living work, scintillating, splendid!" – critic Conrad Kickert on the work of Jan Sluijters in 1907.
Avant-garde in Paris
In 1906, Sluijters spent a few months living in Paris, the capital of modern art in these days. The exhibition shows how Sluijters was first introduced to fauvism there. He incorporated its wild, modern influences into his paintings, and lost his prestigious Prix de Rome scholarship as a result. In the Netherlands, he processed his Parisian experiences and spurred the development of modern art at home. Alongside Piet Mondriaan and Leo Gestel, Sluijters was in the vanguard of thrilling luminism. A productive period followed after a subsequent visit to Paris in 1911, and the artist started experimenting with cubism. From 1914 onwards, Sluijters would gradually leave the avant-garde and experimentation behind him.
In addition to works by Sluijters, Het Noordbrabants Museum is also showing a number of pieces by inspirational figures and like-minded peers such as Kees van Dongen, Georges Braque and Leo Gestel. These place Sluijters' early work inside the context of national and international modern art. A great many of Sluijters' own colourful paintings and drawings are on display. In addition to showcasing his work, the exhibition also sheds light on the artist's life: who was this figure that turned the Dutch art scene upside down in the early 20th century?
Alongside loans from various museums, a large number of Sluijters pieces on display are privately owned, some of which have rarely been shown publicly. The exhibition counts approximately 75 works, spread over three galleries.
Jan Sluijters was born and raised in Den Bosch, where he also began his journey towards artistry. Het Noordbrabants Museum has one of the largest collections of work by Sluijters. In a recently revised presentation of the modern art collection, this selection of works occupies a prominent position in the museum's palace galleries. Brabant is the birthplace of Jan Sluijters, Hieronymus Bosch and Vincent van Gogh alike. This is why they are returning names on the exhibition programme of Het Noordbrabants Museum.’
Catalogue and audio tour
The catalogue for this exhibition is published by WBOOKS. It is a richly illustrated publication with text by Helewise Berger, Karlijn de Jong, Anita Hopmans and Wietse Coppes. In realising this exhibition and the catalogue, Het Noordbrabants Museum drew on the expertise of the RKD - Dutch Institute for Art History. The audio tour to the exhibition offers a deeper insight into a selection of the pieces of art.