In this series I start about Dutch unique
sites outside Amsterdam. And where could it be better to begin than with the Kroller Muller museum in de Hoge Veluwe, a site nobody that comes to the Netherlands is allowed to ignore or miss. And I didn't, as aclose neighbour, I know the place almost up and down.
When you evoke Netherlands a few names pop into each mind: Amsterdam, windmills, tulips and…..Kroller-Muller. You don't see what I mean? Yes, yes, you do! It's about that museum with the famous collections, result of the flair of a MademoisellWhat mademoiselle? Let's make a little return in history.
Helen Muller was the daughter of a German industrial. In 1888 she marries the Dutch Anton Kroller, who will become the director of the company of his father in law. The young woman develops her artistic interests and love for art thanks to classes taken from the art critic H.P.Bremmer. She starts a collection in 1907, helped by her husband, buying works as well from the 16th century as more modern pieces dating second half of the 19th century. She also like to buy new works, juts painted by young artists. She starts to buy Van Gogh, since Helen Muller had an immense admiration and considered Vincent as one the of the greatest men of modern art, whose style had never been influenced by any artistic trend of his time.
The collection of the museum, today, has 92 oils and 183 drawings of the master of Auvers-sur-Oise, and these works constitute the core of an itinerary proposed to the visitor. It is fascinating to discover these paintings, which are among the most famous in the world, in all the violence of their materiality and colours. Mad suns, burning fields and prairies, portraits of men and woman with nervous hands and hypnotic stares…Every period of the artist is presented, from the "Potato Eaters", dark and terrestrial, to the "Terrasse d'un café le soir", where the night is not black but warm and peopled by scintillating stars.
But Madame Kroller didn't buy only Van Gogh. She took other risks by acquiring cubist works of Braque and Picasso in a period when people called you crazy when you did such a thing.
She was a woman with a very secure taste, distinguishing the artists of her epoch in two categories: the realists, only concerned to depict the perceptible reality, and the idealists. These artists were not interested in reality as it looked in front of their eyes, but
more about the emotions it raises. Helen Kroller-Muller acquired in that option many Renoir, Seurat, Monet, Courbet (her realists), and many Leger, Juan Gris, Cezanne (her idealists), or even the pure aerial abstractions of Mondriaan.
But what was wonderful about that woman that she wanted that everybody would be able to see the marvels assembled, by building a museum. She had to wait 27 years more to see her wish fulfilled. In 1935, she bequeaths the collection to the Dutch state and the museum, built by the famous Belgian architect Van de Velde, opens its doors 13 July 1938.
Madame Kroller dies in 1939, considering her collection as an achieved ensemble. Hers successors respected her vision and orientated the buying policy towards modern and contemporary sculptures. In the 50's, the present director conceived with a landscape architect, the first permanent sculpture garden of Europe, especially studied to bring forward the museum collections. It covers 21 hectares today.
Next article, a walk in Kroller Muller park, a hikers paradise.