Appreciating the beautiful Kroller-Muller Museum

Art: Appreciating the beautiful Kroller-Muller Museum

It took me some time to learn to appreciate the Dutch Vincent van Gogh as a painter. Until I realized I was merely being stubborn – everybody likes him, so I won’t. Very immature! So I tried to be open and studied his life and opinions about painting.

He wanted so much to be a good painter, to paint the inner souls of his subjects, that it literally drove him mad. Only a few people with vision appreciated him back then. Which is a pity, don’t you think?

Piet Mondrian, another Dutch painter, had my immediate love. He had the same drive as Van Gogh, but lived in a later timeframe, so his studied subject was different and his life was different. Where Van Gogh died a poor, ignored and troubled man, Mondrian experienced admiration for his work while he was still alive.

The Italian Marino Marini was an Expressionist. In hindsight it’s very easy to see the development of the arts from the early 19th-century realism to the 20th century expressionism and abstract art, but those three artists all had to overcome a lot of objections in there own time.

The Kroller-Muller houses a lot of works of these three artists

van gogh room in kroller muller
One of the Van Gogh rooms with people discussing the Four Sunflowers

We visit the area and the museum on a regular basis. But this time it was winter. It was nice to be out of the cold for a couple of hours. Of course the most important thing was looking at the art, but because of the cold our first steps led right to the coffee counter.

After the apple pie and coffee we wandered through the rooms. The museum has besides the permanent collection several halls for temporary exhibitions, so there is a lot to see. For me the highlights are the paintings of van Gogh and Mondrian and the statues and drawings of Marini.

Logic will get you from A to B.
Imagination will take you everywhere.
– Albert Einstein

Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890), a Dutch painter who lived in France

sunflowers van gogh

Four Sunflowers Gone to Seed by Van Gogh
You don’t necessarily have to go to the very nice, but also very crowded, Vincent van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. One of the largest collections of Van Gogh paintings is in the Kröller-Müller Museum. Including one of my favorites: the sunflowers.

What I like about this painting is the liveliness. The blue in the foreground enhances the yellow of the sunflowers. The leaves and the hart of the flowers are merely little stripes, but they’re all in the right place. You can see the same ruggedness in the sunflowers as Vincent painted in for instance the Potato Eaters.

potatoe eaters van gogh

The Potato Eaters by Van Gogh
Both paintings – The Sunflowers and The Potato Eaters – were stolen from the museum in 1988. As you can imagine, I am glad they were recovered undamaged half a year later.

By the way, did you know there are several versions of the famous Potato Eaters? In the Kröller-Müller Museum hangs the version with the forks. There is also a version in which the farmers eat with their hands.

Piet Mondrian (1872-1944), a Dutch painter who lived in the States

Beach with three or four piers at Domburg - Piet Mondrian
Beach with three or four piers at Domburg – Piet Mondrian

You’ll probably know the paintings of Mondrian that have black lines and red, blue and yellow squares on a white surface. He was a member of the art movement De Stijl at that time.
Very rarely an artist develops his skill in a linear way. Mondrian did. If you have a look at the YouTube video you’ll get a good notion of that development. It is said that he even put his glasses parallel to the edge of the table. And he ended up in a fight with his friend Theo van Doesburg, a fellow De Stijl-member, who had the nerve to make his compositions diagonal, instead of horizontal and vertical.

The landscape is one of his early paintings. Isn’t it beautiful? He lived near the beach in the early years of his artistic career and painted a lot of landscapes. Then went from landscapes to a single tree, and developed his square De Stijl paintings from there.

Marino Marini (1901–1980) – Equestrian and circus figures

statue by marini

I admire Marini particularly because of this wooden equestrian statue. The emotion, texture and patina, the frozen movement – everything is excellent. It has the same power as Picasso’s Guernica, although it’s made 20 years after the Guernica. I couldn’t photograph the statue without a lot of background, so have a better look here.

Marini made sketches prior to his sculptures. Several are on the walls in the museum. He sketched and painted like a sculptor, with lots of lines. Almost as if he erased material from the figures, even though they are on paper. Can you see the difference between a painter’s drawing and a sculptor’s drawing?

Helene Kroller-Muller, one woman’s dream, a pleasure for thousands

kroller muller the netherlands
Walking Man by Giacometti in the foreground and on the right side behind it Horse and rider by Marino Marini

When I was a teacher at a high school I used to come here often with my students. Those field trips had all the good in them: paintings and applied art inside – architecture and a sculpture garden outside.

The collection is a result of the dreams of Helene Kröller-Müller. She had very specific thoughts about modern art.

Helene Kröller-Müller collected almost 11,500 pieces of art when she could afford it. A lot of what she picked is exactly what I like. Probably the reason I love going to this museum.
In the crisis of the late twenties and thirties she couldn’t maintain the collection any longer and to prevent it from falling apart she donated her entire collection to the Dutch state in 1935.

The focus of the museum is on 19th and 20th century art. Helene K. was the owner of the second largest private collection of Van Gogh paintings and drawings.
She had statues of Giacometti and Marini. Paintings of Mondrian, Seurat, Toorop. To name a few.
After Helene died the museum kept on collecting pieces of art.

Children running through the museum
If the child has fun the parents are happy too

childrens program kroller muller

At times children were crawling around our legs, trying to outrun each other in search of something. I had no idea what they were after, until I discovered a brochure about a treasure hunt.

It’s awesome if a museum offers activities specifically for children. And better yet, if it is really fun to do. Of course, as a former teacher, I am inclined to say it should be educational. But I do know, that if it’s fun they learn more than when it’s boring.

Some visitors looked very harsh at the children running around. I guess they wanted the museum to be quiet like a library.

Located in a national park, surrounded by trees

kroller muller in de hoge veluwe
Kröller-Müller Museum hidden behind the trees. In summertime it looks even better, although you can hardly see the museum then.

20 tips when visiting a museum

The museum is in the National Park “De Hoge Veluwe”, 55 square kilometers of heath, sand dunes and woods. It’s a great area, especially since you can visit the rest of the park – after seeing everything inside the museum – with the white bikes that are free to use.

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If you are interested in knowing more about that park, than visit this article of mine.

If you are up for a quiet afternoon of relaxation in a museum, then get your own “20 tips on How to get the most out of a visit to the museum”.

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