Preface

Judith van Kranendonk

This compilation of articles marks the departure of Gerdien Verschoor as the Director of CODART, a position she has performed with immense passion and success over the past thirteen years. We are grateful to Gerdien for what she has achieved for—and above all with—CODART. Over the years, Gerdien has become CODART’s figurehead in the Netherlands and Flanders and far beyond. With her art-historical expertise, her infectious enthusiasm, and her ability to forge relationships, she has played a key role in the growth and blossoming of our curators’ network. Developing an environment of mutual trust in which curators can exchange views on important and sometimes controversial subjects, she built up an enduring, ever-expanding network of CODART “Friends,” while surrounding herself with an equally loyal and expert staff that shares her strong commitment to CODART. It all adds up to a great achievement!

Gerdien has also written about what she herself has gained from CODART. For instance, she has learned a great deal about the Old Masters, and made many good friends among the curators. “To experience beauty and to share that experience with others have been my primary motives, and they will continue to be my driving force when I embark on a new adventure,” she said upon announcing her departure. The common thread in Gerdien’s career and her life is enjoying, writing about, and creating art. She has written dozens of essays and short stories, two novels, and her first literary non-fiction book, Het meisje en de geleerde (“The Girl and the Scholar”) is hot off the press.

On her website, Gerdien writes that art “surprises, confuses, delights. It gives meaning to the lives of almost all my characters, fictional or not.” As Gerdien takes her leave from CODART, we therefore think it right to honor her as an art historian and a writer by presenting her with a compilation of articles, written by authors with whom she became acquainted through CODART, and with whom she also forged friendships.

The volume opens with an article by Tom van der Molen, curator of the Amsterdam Museum and the former webmaster of CODART, addressing the future of museums and the changing public, an interesting and important subject, on which Gerdien and CODART have been reflecting for some time.

Michiel Franken, Curator of Technical Documentation / Rembrandt and Rembrandt School at the Netherlands Institute for Art History (RKD), shares Gerdien’s passion for literature, and has therefore chosen to write about the relationship between literature and art. Michiel is a member of the editorial staff of the eZine, CODART’s online magazine. Michiel and Gerdien frequently discuss the books they have read, as well as the books that really need to be read.

Quentin Buvelot, senior curator at the Mauritshuis, has contributed an article on the subject of Jacobus Vrel. Gerdien has frequently collaborated with Quentin over the years. The article was inspired by their shared love for the work of this seventeenth-century painter.

Maartje Beekman, CODART’s new director, reflects on the past thirteen years with all six chairs of the program committee. In a special interview each chair recalls their achievements, as well as their most memorable moments with Gerdien.

Hanna Benesz and Aleksandra Janiszewska discuss the past, present, and future of the curator’s profession. They do so from their vantage point as curators of the National Museum in Warsaw. Their interview dwells at length on Warsaw and more generally on Poland, where Gerdien lived and worked for many years. Indeed, she was awarded her PhD for a thesis on a group of Polish artists who were active in the years between the First and Second World Wars and served as cultural attaché at the Dutch Embassy in Warsaw. She still likes to seclude herself there from time to time while writing a book.

The article by the independent art historian Amy Walsh, former curator of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), focuses on the importance of collectors for the art-historical museum world. Walsh also highlights the contribution of the Friends of CODART, which Gerdien founded and developed into a fully-fledged foundation that helps to support the organization.

Gerdien, we wish you the very best in all your future endeavors. For now, we would like to present you with this collection of articles by some of your CODART friends, and hope that you will derive great enjoyment from reading them.

Judith van Kranendonk is former Director-General of Culture and Media at the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science and has been Chair of the Board CODART since 2016.