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Art Market

Beyond TEFAF – the shows to see in and around Maastricht this month

24 February 2023

From the March 2023 issue of Apollo. Preview and subscribe here.

If what’s on offer in Maastricht’s exhibition centre has merely whetted your appetite for high culture in the Low Countries, there’s plenty more where that came from this month. Highlights include Flemish Caravaggism in Ghent, Swedish mysticism in Brussels and a once-in-a-lifetime Vermeer show in Amsterdam.

The Cup Bearer (Allegory of Temperance) (c. 1627–32), Theodoor Rombouts. MUba Eugéne-Leroy, Tourcoing

Theodoor Rombouts: Virtuoso of Flemish Caravaggism
MSK, Ghent
Until 23 April

The case is made for the little-known artist Theodoor Rombouts as the finest of the Flemish disciples of Caravaggio. After a sojourn in Italy in the early 17th century, Rombouts achieved success as a painter in his home town of Antwerp before his death in 1637 at the age of 40. Highlights include The Cup-Bearer (Allegory of Temperance) (c. 1627–32; pictured) and Rombouts’ Allegory of the Five Senses (1632) – the first Old Master painting acquired by the MSK back in 1860.

Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam
Until 4 June

The Rijksmuseum has brought together 28 works by the master of Dutch realism under one roof. Unlike his contemporary Rembrandt, Vermeer left behind a relatively small oeuvre – about 35 paintings – when he died at the age of 43. The exhibition will present not only the famous domestic scenes but religious works such as Christ in the House of Mary and Martha (c. 1655; pictured). Girl Reading a Letter at the Open Window (1657–59), from the Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister in Dresden, will go on show to the public for the first time since a recent restoration.

A Seated Women Looking at a Child through a Window (after 1656), Jacobus Vrel. Fondation Custodia, Frits Lugt Collection, Paris

Vrel, Forerunner of Vermeer
Mauritshuis, The Hague
Until 29 May

Jacobus Vrel (1617–62) painted street scenes and interiors of profound stillness – frequently a lone woman in a room – before Vermeer had completed his first masterpiece of genre. The Mauritshuis has brought together 13 paintings by Vrel to explore and celebrate this little-known artist. The works often seem naive, displaying a flawed perspective, but that only makes the viewer look more closely at their details – broken panes in a window, or a small white scrap of paper in the corner of a room.

The fourteenth of July (1912–13), Fernand Léger. Photo: Redivivus; © Pictoright Amsterdam 2022

Fernand Léger and the Rooftops of Paris 
Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterlo
2 April

Inspired by the many chimneys and plumes of smoke visible from the windows of his studio in Paris, over the course of 1911 and 1912 Fernand Léger created his series Fumées sur les toits ( Smoke on the rooftops). His move towards a more experimental approach to form and colour paved the way for the famous Contrastes de formes (1913–14) and later works such as La Partie de cartes (1917). At the heart of the exhibition is a newly discovered painting of rooftops (pictured), which was revealed on the back of Le quatorze juillet (1911–12) during conservation work.

Swedish Ecstasy: Hilma af Klint, August Strindberg and other Visionaries
Bozar, Brussels
Until 21 May

Hilma af Klint has largely been appreciated for her development of symbolic abstractions, produced at the start of the 1900s, which predate the work of Kandinsky and Mondrian. Bozar approaches her work by placing an emphasis on the Theosophist side of her life, locating her within a Swedish tradition of mysticism and the occult exemplified by Emanuel Swedenborg and placing her paintings alongside paintings and drawings by August Strindberg, Carl Fredrik Hill and Ernst Josephson.

Swan (1914), Hilma af Klint. Courtesy the Hilma af Klint Foundation; Photo: Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Sweden

‘Famous’ by Terry O’Neill
Fotomuseum aan het Vrijthof, Maastricht
Until 10 September

Terry O’Neill is best-known for his work documenting London during the Swinging Sixties, which established him as one of the leading photographers of celebrity. Over the course of his career the people he photographed went beyond London to include Hollywood stars, the Beatles and many other figures from the entertainment industry, as well as the Royal Family. At the time, he was renowned for candid, personal shots that were said to show a more human side to his subjects; what stands out now is the beauty of the images.

MORE & More: Realism from 1900 to the present
Museum MORE, Gorssel

MORE, the museum for modern Dutch realism, has just unveiled a new hang. The works showing throughout the museum, dating from 1900 to the present day, do not conform to an easy understanding of realism. Rather, the display is designed to throw up questions for the viewer, offering different versions of reality and perception. The often photo-based expressionism of Marlene Dumas and the photorealism of Annemarie Busschers are shown alongside the magic realism of Wim Schuhmacher – all artists who might not describe themselves as realists and whose works, like Bobbi Essers’s This time I’m ready to run (2022, pictured), are both intimate and intriguing.

This time I’m ready to run (2022), Bobbi Essers. Photo: Sara Roos Klijn

Jenny Holzer
K21, Düsseldorf
11 March–6 August

Jenny Holzer’s last major exhibition was at the Guggenheim Bilbao in 2019. Four years later K21 is presenting a retropsective of the artist’s oeuvre. Renowned for her text-based art, Holzer has consistently played on the tensions between words and the locations in which they are presented to express contradictions between knowledge and feeling, power and violence. She has always been interested in the public display of art and the private experience of it; her grappling with debates while trusting the audience’s ability to remain open-minded should transform the gallery into a sort of forum. The works in this exhibition will encompass posters, paintings and stoneworks.

Hrair Sarkissian: The Other Side of Silence
Bonnefanten Museum, Maastricht
Until 14 May

This is the first institutional show of Hrair Sarkissian’s work in the Netherlands. Sarkissian is a Syrian-Armenian artist who produces life-sized photographs, though the exhibition also includes moving-image works, sculpture, sound and installations. Many of his works are eerie scenes whose very emptiness suggests the presence of people at one remove, evoking the lives and memories of the displaced. His art demonstrates an interest in diasporas and disappeared people, and takes on subjects such as the Armenian Genocide, the Spanish Civil War and the ongoing war in Syria.

From the March 2023 issue of Apollo. Preview and subscribe here.