Art Nouveau, Book Covers, Ceramic Tile Panel, Egon Schiele, Gemeente Museum, Graphic Art, Gustav Klimt, Jan Toorop, Jugendstil, Symbolism, The Hague
Until the end of this month (29 May 2016), the Gemeentemuseum in The Hague is presenting a large exhibition about Johannes Theodorus ‘Jan’ Toorop. Around 1900 Toorop was, together with Van Gogh and Mondriaan, one of the most important Dutch painters. And not only was he an excellent painter himself, he is also said to have inspired other great painters, like Gustav Klimt!
Now, I’m not going to bother you with a biography as enough about his life has already been written. But if you’d like to read about Toorop’s life anyway, I strongly recommend you click on the links below, in the Read more section.
Toorop, a Fin-de-Siècle Chameleon
We all know Toorop for his famous 1894 poster for the Delftsche Slaolie (Delft Salad Oil), right? But he did só much more! At the exhibition, what struck me most was Toorop’s versatility. And you would expect a versatile artist to work in phases, wouldn’t you? Not Toorop! He worked like a chameleon constantly changing styles…
If you browse Toorop’s chronologically ordered works on this website, it becomes even clearer that Toorop didn’t work in phases. He worked in styles and shifted back and forth between those styles like a 16-year old girl changes outfits on a friday night. Toorop worked in Realism, Impressionism, Symbolism, Art Nouveau, Pointillism and Catholic Symbolism. And in between he made a vast number of portraits ranging from very realistic to impressionistic.
Having seen the entire exhibition, I find it hard to say “I love Toorop’s work”. I would rather say I am impressed by his work. I am impressed by his talent and his versatility. I don’t dislike what he did. I just didn’t go crazy about it. Didn’t go crazy about Henry van de Velde’s pointillist works at the Fin-de-Siècle Museum either. Unlike most works by Egon Schiele and James Ensor at that exhibition… I genuinely disliked those. That is just not my cup of tea.
To give you an impression of Toorop’s versatility here are some examples of his work:
I did like Toorop’s Art Nouveau work, most of which actually qualifies as symbolism at the same time. And from 1894 Toorop threw himself at the decorative arts too. He produced book covers, tile panels, stained glass windows, posters, mirrors etc…
I recall a funny story from my visit to the Louis Couperus Museum last year: Toorop designed the book cover of Couperus’ book Metamorfoze and that turned out to be a great success. When Toorop was asked to design the cover of Couperus’ next book Psyche, Couperus wrote to his publisher “Frankly, I find Metamorfoze better, both drawing and color (black and white). Toorop disappointed me this time.” And about Toorop’s design for Babel he said “This is what he does. It is nice, no more than that”. Today, however, book covers by Toorop are regarded as the highlight of Dutch book ornamentation and especially the Couperus covers are sought after collectibles.
So… if you haven’t seen the Jan Toorop exhibition yet, head to The Hague before the end of May 2016. This is a unique opportunity as the guest curator of this exhibition, Gerard van Wezel, has spent the last thirty years conducting in-depth research on Toorop’s oeuvre. His involvement has enabled the Gemeentemuseum to gather all of Jan Toorop’s principal masterpieces in the first complete overview of his work ever to be presented in the Netherlands.
And while you’re at the Gemeentemuseum, you might want to take advantage of a unique opportunity to see Gustav Klimt’s gloriously erotic Judith I and Egon Schiele’s Portrait of Edith. The Klimt-Schiele Exhibition lasts until 19 June 2016.
Exhibition Jan Toorop 1858-1928
26 Feb 2016 – 29 May 2016
Gemeentemuseum The Hague
A book published about the exhibition can be ordered by clicking here.
There seems to be only a Dutch version of the book…
De Boekband van Jan Toorop (Dutch)
De Couperus Banden van Jan Toorop (Dutch)
Gemeente Museum The Hague – Jan Toorop
Hoe de kwikzilverige Jan Toorop verhardde – NRC (Dutch)
Jan Toorop Research Center
Klimt – Schiele Exhibition
Wikipage Jan Toorop (Dutch)
Wikipage Jan Toorop (English)
Hello, There is a beautiful exhibition in Museu del Modernisme Barcelona : Ramos Casas, la vida moderna. Pls write about it to the Art Nouveau lovers. Highly recommend , Tks, Anat
Thank you for bringing this exhibition to our attention. It is difficult for me to write about it, as I have not been there myself. Instead, I have added the exhibition to the Agenda 2016 and promoted the exhibtion on facebook! (https://aboutartnouveau.wordpress.com/agenda/agenda-2016/)
Did you visit the exhibition in Barcelona yourself? What did you like best?
If you find another exhibtion, please do let us know!
Kindest regards, Olga
Fred Westen said:
Hello Olga, thank you for this wonderfull presentation of the TOOROP exhibition. He was extremely important for the introduction of Art Nouveau in the Netherlands. As member of the XX group (Les Vingts) in Brussels (Belgium) he brought the new style and among others Henry van de Velde to The Hague (Netherlands). When visiting the GEMEENTEMUSEUM (Municipal museum) in The Hague you MUST see the DIJSSELHOF ROOM, a gesamtkunstwerk of Art Nouveau, designed by the artist Dijsselhof. Fred Westen, The Hague.
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Thank you for your kind words. I agree with you that everyone should also go see the Dijsselhof room while visiting the Toorop exhibition! And for those who don’t know the Dijsselhof room: this is what I wrote about the room 3 years ago: https://aboutartnouveau.wordpress.com/2013/11/29/dijsselhofkamer-the-hague/
Kindest regards, Olga
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Thank you for sharing my Blog about the recent Toorop exhibition!
Henk Spierings said:
This is almost spam. My apologies. I live in Australia and when we came from Holland in 1957, we brought with us a copy of the painting by Toorop, Paterke van Hasselt. It is either a print, or a page from a book. I am very curious to know who, and how, somebody made a copy of the original work, which was probably a breach of copyright, and how it came be in the possession of my parents. Do you know of anybody who is familiar with the works of Jan Toorop who might know anything about this?
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Olga Harmsen said:
Hi Henk, no problem at all! I don’t know if you still know Dutch, this may be interesting for you to know: “Deze tentoonstelling is mede tot stand gekomen dankzij de fascinatie van gastconservator Gerard van Wezel. Hij doet al ruim veertig jaar onderzoek naar Toorops werk.” It says on the website of the museum. Shall I try to locate him for you?
Henk Spieirings said:
Thank you for that. A bit of memory, a bit of google translate, and I got it. If you can locate him, I would be grateful. This is one of those things that has been nagging at me for years.
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