From the museum website
The Interbellum (1920-1940) was a period of economic and political uncertainty. During this time a large number of artists in the Netherlands and Belgium rejected the modernist developments of the early twentieth century and searched for a more traditional painting style. Jan Sluijters and Leo Gestel, for instance, put their modernist experiments behind them and painted depictions from everyday life in a more realistic and restrained manner. In the same period, artists like Constant Permeke, Gust. De Smet and Jean Brusselmans in Belgium as well as Herman Kruyder and Hendrik Chabot in the Netherlands were guided by their love for rural life or the lives of simple folk, which they depicted in an expressive manner and in a controlled palette. Their paintings are period documents which convey the spirit of their age in an exceptional fashion. Other artists like Carel Willink, Raoul Hynckes, Wim Schuhmacher and Charley Toorop applied themselves to a more refined kind of realism. Willink and Hynckes painted scenes so painstakingly that they also had something extremely unreal or oppressive about them. Charley Toorop employed a painting style which was perhaps less realistic but is no less confrontational for that. In her portraits she is able to convey the tragedy of human existence in a truly exceptional manner.
The Van Abbemuseum has a fine collection of paintings of the period, the basis for which was laid shortly before and immediately following the Second World War by the then directors Wouter Visser and Edy de Wilde.