CODART, Dutch and Flemish art in museums worldwide

Werkman online!

Exhibition: 3 March - 28 May 2007

From the museum website

The Werkman Online! exhibition will be on show in the Ploeg Pavilion of the Groninger Museum. The presentation consists of work on paper. The exhibition has been organized in the context of the completion of the public version of the database that has been realized by researchers engaged in the Werkman project. In addition, the exhibition marks the end of a long-term loan from the Werkman collection of the Stedelijk Museum to the Groninger Museum. The database can be consulted at the exhibition.

The exhibition highlights seven groups of printings. The Museum presents early constructivist works from the twenties and the printings from the thirties in which the template technique was first applied. At the same time, the so-called Koppenserie (Head Series), consisting of heads made up of lines, circles, streaks, and arcs, and dating from 1941, will also be displayed. The sheets from the Amsterdam – Castricum series were inspired by a visit to the depot of the Stedelijk Museum in the dunes near Castricum. These works and the narrative figurative printings from 1941-42, the musical impressions and the compositions with human figures, both dating from 1944, give a splendid overview of Werkman’s printings.

The exhibition will demonstrate how Werkman moved freely between figuration and abstraction, how his pictures arose on the basis of stories, memories, associations and inner experiences, and how he made use of various techniques. In terms of technique, the printings distinguish themselves from regular prints because there is always mention of printing unique items. Werkman used the term druksels (‘printings’) to distinguish them from the drukwerk (‘printed matter’) which he also produced in identical series.

At the same time, a small selection of the graphic art, the prints that Werkman produced for De Ploeg (artists’ association), is also on display. The exhibition presents several issues of The Next Call, a literary typographic publication that brought Werkman in contact with international avant-garde figures such as Michel Seuphor, Hans Arp, Antoine Pevsner, and Wassily Kandinsky.


Since September 2002, the Groninger Museum has offered accommodation to a research project on the Groningen printer and artist H.N. Werkman (1882-1945). The project, supervised by Dr Dieuwertje Dekkers, was commissioned by the H.N. Werkman Foundation and could be realized as the result of a co-operative effort between the Groninger Museum, the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, and the University of Groningen. For the duration of the project, the Groninger Museum not only received the substantial Werkman collection of the Stedelijk on loan, but also the Werkman Archives that are also located in the Stedelijk. The result of four years of research, for which this collection and the material from the Werkman Archives served as a starting point, has been stored in a database. Werkman’s complete oeuvre has been charted: the printings and the paintings, the graphic art and the general printed matter (including the issues of De Blauwe Schuit), and many drawings and sketches.

As such, the database is a worthy successor to the oeuvre catalogue compiled by Jan Martinet in 1963, the renowned Hot Printing catalogue. Dozens of drawings and approximately a thousand sketches, which form an essential and substantial part of Werkman’s oeuvre, were absent from this catalogue.

After the exhibition, the paintings, printings, drawings, and graphic art will be returned to the Stedelijk Museum. The public can continue to consult the database in the Groninger Museum.