CODART, Dutch and Flemish art in museums worldwide

Kees Verwey: een overzicht

Kees Verwey: a retrospective Exhibition: 21 May - 21 August 2005


Rudi Fuchs

From the museum website

This summer the Gemeentemuseum presents a major retrospective of the oeuvre of Haarlem painter Kees Verwey (1900 –1995) superintended by guest curator Rudi Fuchs. Ten years after the artist’s death, all aspects of his oeuvre will be on display in the museum: still lifes, portraits, watercolours and Verwey’s imposing studio paintings. Many works will be drawn from the collection managed by the Kees Verwey Foundation and have never previously been exhibited.

Kees Verwey grew up among the artistic intelligentsia of Haarlem; at an early age he was familiar with the collection of paintings owned by his uncle, poet Albert Verwey, and via another uncle, architect H.P. Berlage, he met artists like Jan Toorop and Richard Roland Holst. It is hardly surprising, therefore, that he quickly decided to become an artist and attended various art schools, where his tutors included Samuel Jesserun de Mesquita. Eventually, however, he chose to study under Haarlem-based painter H.F. Boot. Verwey was 33 when he had his first exhibitions in Haarlem and The Hague. A mere three years later, the Gemeentemuseum was already buying his work. As a result, his oil paintings are well-represented in the museum’s collection. It is a well-known fact that Verwey rarely ventured outside Haarlem, and indeed preferred not to leave his studio. Even so, Verwey was always well aware of current trends in contemporary art. He translated them into his own idiom but knew that he could not get away from the Dutch tradition of painting, with its emphasis on still lifes and landscapes and the technical mastery of Rembrandt and Vermeer. Within that tradition, Verwey proved a past master, conspicuous for his fabulous technique and unwavering concentration on his own universe. As well as the work of Verwey, the exhibition will also include items by contemporaries like Witsen, Nanninga and Ouborg. In addition, since literature was always a major source of inspiration for Verwey (who, for example, paid homage to poet Antony Kok – co- founder of De Stijl – by producing thirty portraits of him in the space of a single year), it will look at the great men of letters whom Verwey admired, including Lodewijk van Deyssel, Adriaan Roland Holst and Harry Mulisch. Visitors will also be able to watch a film featuring Rudi Fuchs and Max van Rooy talking about the artist plus archive footage of Kees Verwey himself.

Related exhibition

Kees Verwey’s women, De Hallen, Haarlem (25 June-11 September 2005)