If you’re heading to Art Basel Miami Beach 2016, don’t miss the building decked out in rainbow tapestries. That would be the Wolfsonian's largest Art Week exhibition, "Modern Dutch Design." The exterior of the museum will sport the work of contemporary Dutch artist Christie van der Haak, while the interior will reveal the origin of her influences: works from 20th-century Netherlands ranging from furniture and drawings to posters and bookbindings.
Spanning the years 1890-1940, this exhibition is your crash course in the evolution of Dutch art-making. From the Nieuwe Kunst movement, deeply influenced by the East Indies colonies, to the rivaling avant-garde efforts of the Amsterdam School versus De Stijl, you’ll also gain a breadth of knowledge in the social and political strifes experienced by the artists who created them.
The creative output of the Netherlands might seem like an odd topic for a museum exhibit, especially during the flashy and competitive Miami Art Week. But curator Silvia Barisione says we just don't know Dutch.
"Modern Dutch design is relevant, especially during Art Basel and Design Miami, because it focuses on the history of Dutch design, which is nowadays very productive and creative. It has been internationally renowned, especially starting from the 1990s," Barisione explains. "To understand the innovative and experimental character, the playfulness, and sense of humor of contemporary Dutch designers, I think it is important to know their recent history.
“Many of these [artists] were very idealistic; they were socialist," she continues, "but then at the same time, they worked for wealthy clients to survive. So there was this kind of dichotomy.”
Dichotomies will be an ongoing theme, whether contrasting rich and poor or old and new. “There will be some amazing pieces that have never been displayed before, like a huge ceramic panel from a chocolate factory in Amsterdam... We also have an incredible collection of chandeliers... Some of them will be mounted for the first time,” she says.
One of the most fascinating aspects of the exhibition, according to Barisione, is observing the undeniable influence of Dutch modernism on contemporary art, particularly graphic design and typography. The presence of Christie van der Haak’s work is a perfect example, taking cues from the patterns of the Amsterdam School and batik techniques of Nieuwe Kunst. Trading in drab, muted colors for a palette of bold neons, van der Haak “reinterprets the period,” Barisione says.
"Modern Dutch Design"
November 18 through June 11, 2017, at the Wolfsonian-FIU, 1001 Washington Ave., Miami Beach. Admission costs $10 for adults and $5 for seniors, students, and children aged 6 to 12; Wolfsonian members, State University System of Florida staff and students with ID, and children under 6 get in free. Call 305-531-1001 or visit wolfsonian.org.
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