Drawn from our own museum’s collection, the development of modern twentieth-century sculpture is the main theme of Eigen+Beeld. To provide some form of synopsis this overview is staged in five acts, a thematic layout in a particular chronological order in which the past, present and future are closely linked.
The first act entitled ‘Places to be’ presents the theme of the monument. Within the Netherlands, modern sculpture is rooted in public, naturalistic sculpture from which in the nineteenth century the nation took its chauvinistic shape. In the following section, Onbegrensd (Boundless) marks the beginning of important, modern sculpture. This came into being as the result of the great fascination for the exotic and the extravagance of sculptors who, in the first decades of the twentieth century, were influenced by the modern architect Berlage and later by the expressionist Amsterdam School. The third act – Back to the future – focuses on the neoclassicism that in reaction to the devastation of the First World War heralded the retour à l’ordre of the interbellum period and found direct inspiration in the universal values of Mediterranean, classical antiquity. Act four – De innerlijke constructie (Inner construction) – deals with the abstract movement within modern sculpture. Inspired by the pre-war, artistic experiment of the neoplasticism of the Dutch ‘De Stijl’ movement, the abstract image was accepted and even dominant in the post-war decades. With a strong conceptual basis, the return to figuration constitutes the fifth and final act entitled Untitled. It is presented as the direct reaction of a new generation of sculptors from the 1980s and ‘90s to the non-figurative work of their colleagues who produced abstract forms as well as the negation of the object and the craft of conceptual art.
Of course the boundaries are arbitrary and certain works could be displayed in one or possibly more galleries. Art will not be dictated to, and the history of art provides only a modest armoury of tools when it comes to the explanation of works of art. At best, this quintet will stimulate the viewers themselves to set about classifying the works.
Eigen+Beeld consists of approximately 75 sculptures by well-known and lesser-known sculptors of Dutch and other origins, who date from bygone years or very recent times. Once placed within the five themes, works by artists of international reputation join the company of unknown talent coming from all corners of the globe and spanning many centuries, where the emphasis of course lies on modern times. Eigen+Beeld also pays homage to the many collectors who in the last twenty-five years have donated one or more sculptures to museum Beelden aan Zee. In the first place these are the founders of the museum, Theo Scholten and Lida Scholten-Miltenburg, who in 1994 housed their extensive collection of modern sculpture in their museum. It garnered the attention of many private collectors, artists, cultural and commercial institutions, whose donations have contributed to the exceptional and unique collection entrusted to Beelden aan Zee.