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Indepth Arts News:

"Museum Acquires Eight Philosophers' Stones with Support from the SponsorBingo Lottery"
2002-12-20 until 2003-12-01
Kroller-Muller Museum
Otterlo, , NL Netherlands

The Kröller-Müller Museum has bought eight philosophers stones at a large auction of Chinese art in New York (September 2002). The entire EUR 100,000 cost of the stones was financed by the SponsorBingo Lottery. Philosophers stones originated in China. They are naturally formed objects, not cultivated by man. The collecting of philosophers stones began during the Song dynasty (960-1279 AD) when Chinese scholars discovered their aesthetic and spiritual qualities. They kept the stones in the rarefied atmosphere of their studios and used them as an aid to meditation, a guideline and a source of inspiration and enlightenment.

The stones symbolised the universe in microcosm and the selection of a stone was a highly personal affair. Natural aspects such as form, colour, texture and material played a crucial role, but the stones expression was also important in strengthening the owners character.

The Kröller-Müller Museum bought three philosophers stones in 2001. At first glance, these ancient Chinese artefacts may not appear to fit within the acquisitions policy of the museum, which is best known for modern and contemporary art. However, Helene Kröller-Müllers collection was characterised by an extremely broad and humanistic view of art and culture. In addition to late nineteenth-century French and Dutch paintings, she also bought Chinese and Japanese artefacts. This approach has been continued by the museum, which has an extraordinary collection of non-western artefacts, selected for their artistic value and their importance for the collection.

Although philosophers stones belong to a different culture and period, they possess qualities that are also found in western abstract art. The two are bound by a deep personal appreciation of form and colour and a non-prescriptive setting which allows the viewer to form his or her own interpretation. The philosophers stones unite two essential aspects of the Kröller-Müller Museums collection: culture and nature. Placing the stones on a plinth isolates and emphasises their extraordinary formal qualities.

Previous Kröller-Müller Museum acquisitions supported by the SponsorBingo Lottery include: Miroslaw Balka, 200 x 238 x 590, Ø 19 x 16 (fontein) (1995/2001); Tom Claassen, 18 Liggende houten mannen (2000); Hermann Maier Neustadt, WD-Spiral Part One Cinema (2001) and two sculptures by Rudi van de Wint, View (2002) and Beeld (1997/2001); Constantin Brancusi Tête denfant endormi (1908); Isaac Israels, De schermles (1886); Bart van der Leck, Compositie met grijze streep (1956-1958). The acquisition of this last work was financed by the SponsorBingo Lottery (60%) and the Mondriaan Foundation (40%).

The SponsorBingo Lottery was established as the Nationale Sponsor Loterij in 1989 by the Stichting Fondsen Promoties and transferred to the Nationale Postcode Loterij in April 1998. To date it has donated approximately EUR 100 million (60% of its gross income) to twenty-four sports, culture and health organisations.

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