Exhibition from 17 January through 17 May 2015
There are many talented Dutch illustrators, but even though their work is etched into the memories of many, their names are relatively unknown. Museum Meermanno and the Letterkundig Museum now shine the spotlight on the work of famous as well as forgotten illustrators. Inspired by the recent comprehensive study, De verbeelders by Saskia de Bodt, the two-part exhibition gives an insight into the rich heritage of book illustration in the Netherlands.
The exhibition in Museum Meermanno follows the chronological organization of De Bodt’s book and presents the development of Dutch book illustration from the end of the nineteenth century to the present day. Attention is given to illustrations for adults as well as for children. The exhibition begins with artists such as Theo van Hoytema, Antoon Derkinderen and Henriëtte Willebeek le Mair, who around 1900 hoped to make a contribution to a better world with their aesthetic illustrations. After the first World War, Rie Cramer, Nellie Bodenheim and Freddie Langeler carried on in this field. Even M.C. Escher illustrated a number of books early in his career.
Although many of them are not remembered as book illustrators, they made a number of artistically innovative images, especially during the interbellum period. This is particularly the case in books for adults with modernistic and sometimes erotic illustrations. After the second World War, artists such as Jenny Dalenoord, Max Velthuijs, Fiep Westendorp, Dick Bruna, and later also Thé Tjong-Khing, worked in an increasingly professional manner. They led the way for the current generation of book illustrators who now mostly work exclusively for children.
A visit to the second part of the exhibition, ‘Van Arendsoog tot Wiplala,’ in the Letterkundig Museum is highly recommended.