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"Conceptual Art (1965_1975) from Dutch and Belgian Collections"
2002-04-20 until 2002-06-23
Stedelijk Museum
Amsterdam, , NL

Many contemporary artists prefer a focus on processes, social interaction and communication to a focus on the material interpretation of their ideas and concepts. In this sense their work is related to the conceptual art of the sixties and seventies. This relationship to and the growing interest in the art of thirty years ago, prompted the Stedelijk Museum to an overview of conceptual art between 1965 and 1975, an overview in which the relationship to the Dutch language area is central.

Between 1965 and 1975 there was an international network of well-known and lesser known conceptually -- oriented artists, whose work and actions have been important to and characteristic of this art movement. The works shown at the Stedelijk exhibition were taken from Dutch and Belgian public and private collections and occupy all the rooms on the ground floor and the print gallery. For the first time the conceptual art developments in the Netherlands of the 1965-1975 period will be put in a context. A context in which attention will be paid not only to the role of our country as a meeting place for Dutch, European and American conceptual artists, but also to the important contribution to its dissemination and support, made by galleries, museums and private collectors in the Netherlands and Belgium. Some Dutch artists, such as Jan Dibbets, Ger van Elk and Marinus Boezem, played a decisive role, as did the exhibitions organised by Wim Beeren in the Netherlands at the time, e.g. the 1969 Stedelijk exhibition 'Op losse schroeven' (Everything is unsettled) and 'Sonsbeek buiten de perken' (Sonsbeek park unlimited) of 1971. A work typical of the Stedelijk exhibition was Boezem's ephemeral action, where white sheets were hanging from the windows of the building, as if the museum was hanging out its wash. The work is characteristic of the associative spectrum of conceptual art, and can be compared to the much more recent but just as symbolical action of the Dutch artist Job Koelewijn, who some years ago, had a number of Spakenburg women in their traditional costumes clean the windows of the Amsterdam Rietveld Academy pavilion.

The present Stedelijk exhibition shows only the conceptual artists of this famous 'first 'generation. The large difference in country of origin and background of the conceptual artists who created a furore here and the large amount of attention paid to the individual expression make it virtually impossible to give a sound conceptual art definition, although some artists, including Joseph Kosuth, Lawrence Weiner and Sol Lewitt have tried (The idea itself, even if not made visual, is as much a work of art as any finished product'' - Lewitt). It is certainly true that is it not the made forms or the matter, but the ideas, the intentions - the concept - that are central. One of the most important features of conceptual art is its often little material character. At the Stedelijk exhibition many photos and videoworks will be shown, in addition, of course, to documents, notes, textworks and installations. Text, which in conceptual art can be very visual and associative, will - naturally - be one of the central elements in this exhibition. Conceptual art responds to the typical urge of the sixties for a completely different way of presenting, examples of which also include Land Art, Arte Povera and performance art.

The first stage of conceptual art, the 'creative' stage, was mainly oriented towards the idea and the experiment, while later on the emphasis on materialising the concept was more dominant; the 'productive' stage.

One of the exhibition elements is a reconstruction of a textwork that Lawrence Weiner once made for the Stedelijk. The colour scheme which Buren made for the arches in the Stedelijk hall in 1983, will be reintroduced as well. Neonworks by Nauman will be shown, as will be all Lewitt's original notes about conceptual art, his 'Map of Amsterdam without the Amstel River', Andre's' poems, On Kawara's 126-part, picture postcard 'I got up' and Gilbert and George's videowork 'Gordon's makes us Drunk'. In all, the exhibition will show 281 works, including Marcel Broodthaers‚ 'L'Entree de l'exposition' installation from the Maastricht Bonnefantenmuseum - how extraordinary to see this work in the exclusive context of its time.

At the exhibition and in the accompanying catalogue - to be published in co-operation with NAI publishers - documentation material and a time bar will be used to add a broader social/cultural perspective to the conceptual art developments. Rudi Fuchs, Camiel van Winkel and Carel Blotkamp will make a contribution to this catalogue (Dutch and English edition, ISBN 90-5662- 247-3/1).

In co-operation with Amsterdam University a symposium will be organised on 24 May 2002. The (conditional) list of speakers includes: Hripsime Visser, Margriet Schavemaker, Marga Bijvoet, Kitty Zijlmans and Jeroen Boomgaard.


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