"In the Shadow of Tomorrow: Neo-realism in the Netherlands" @ MMKA, Arnhem

January 26, 2013

(Edgar Fernhout (1912–74), Schedel (Skull),1935)

And in here we find the roots of much of the early Juxtapoz movements. What an amazing looking show going on in the Netherlands at the Museum of Modern Art Arnhem. In the Shadow of Tomorrow: Neo-realism in the Netherlands features an incredible group of works of early neo-realists working before World War II, all working under the guise of a threat of another massive, Europe altering war on the horizon. The exhibition is on view through February 17 2013. (via)

Here is press release:

The exhibition is a reprise of the influential exhibition The fearful thirties (De bange jaren dertig) which was featured in 1960 at the Arnhem Municipal Museum (Gemeentemuseum Arnhem), now the MMKA. What made this exhibition unique was that the zeitgeist of the 1930s was used as a starting point for presenting a controversial movement of that time: neorealism. The idea was that this group of painters in the 1930s consciously or unconsciously displayed on canvas the threat of a new world war.

Since its beginnings in 1920, the MMKA has put together an important collection of works by neorealists. Over time, this collection has been carefully expanded with works by painters from the inter-bellum — the period between the world wars — including Dick Ket, Carel Willink, Pyke Koch, Raoul Hynckes, Johan Mekkink, Wim Schuhmacher and Edgar Fernhout. There were significant differences between these artists, but it was clear that they shared common features in their style at this time: figurative painting and fine brushstrokes. Due to the 1960 exhibition and the publication that accompanied it, written by curator Jan van der Mark, the above-mentioned artists are now part of the canon of Dutch neorealists.


Unfortunately, not all of the intended art works could be shown in 1960. Wim Schuhmacher did not participate since he refused to have his work displayed with that of Pyke Koch (who had sympathized with Nazi Germany), Edgar Fernhout was no longer interested in his early work, and Raoul Hynckes wanted to display recent paintings alongside older work.

Two reasons

There are two reasons for presenting a new version of the exhibition in 2012. One has to do with the museum itself. The MMKA was the first museum in the Netherlands to recognize, name, and collect work representing the neorealist movement at a time when other museums demonstrated a preference for Cobra and American abstract expressionism. In addition, it is now possible to display all the works that were originally selected. The second motivation for a reprise is the similarity between the zeitgeist of the 1930s and that of today, with its global crises and accompanying fears.

Historical document

Curator Ype Koopmans states the following about In the shadow of tomorrow, 2012 : ‘Work by Dutch neorealists has now become well-known and loved by a large public, but the movement hasn’t been represented in a context where so many works could be seen together in one place since the 1960s. For this reason, In the shadow of tomorrow is a unique historical document and an exhibition that art aficionados have to see.’


Raoul Hynckes (1893–1973) , Ex-est, 1940
Pyke Koch (1901–91) , Mercedes de Barcelona, 1930
Carel Willink, Zelfportret met schede (Self-portrait with skull), 1936
Carel Willink, Stadsgezicht (City-view), 1934
Carel Willink, Landschap met omvergeworpen beeld (Landscape with overthrown statue), 1942