Hollandsche Kunstenaarskring Archive

 Archief Hollandsche Kunstenaarskring

In February the RKD acquired the archive of the Hollandsche Kunstenaarskring (Dutch Artists’ Circle). It amounts to 31 objects in total, including unknown correspondence from artists including Mondrian, Sluijters, Gestel and Charley Toorop.

Comings and goings

The letters and other ephemera from the period 1914-1957 give us a first glimpse of how business was conducted within this progressive artists’ society. As there was no jury, it was the sitting members who were responsible for nominating new members. The four previously unknown letters from Piet Mondrian reveal that he put forward his friends Peter Alma, Albert Hulshoff Pol and Bart van der Leck as members. Despite the different – less radically abstract – direction that they were pursuing. The newly acquired archive probably makes up only a fraction of the correspondence there must have been, but it seems to be all that survives of the papers of the Hollandsche Kunstenaarskring.

The Hollandsche Kunstenaarskring

The Hollandsche Kunstenaarskring was founded in the spring of 1915, when a number of members of the Vereniging Sint Lucas (St Luke’s Society) abandoned an organisation which they found old-fashioned. This was a new cohort of artists who have been dubbed ‘the blues’ because of their use of colour, and who distanced themselves from the more conservative ‘brown’ painters, the term used for followers of the Hague School. The ‘blues’ included Leo Gestel, Kees Maks and Hendrik Jan Wolter. The Hollandsche Kunstenaarskring which they set up was a small society with about twenty members. The artists, who included Piet Mondrian, Jan Sluijters, Leo Gestel, Charley Toorop, Lodewijk Schelfhout and Valentijn Edgar van Uytvanck, were carefully vetted, and their annual exhibitions at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam were often remarked upon.

Mondrian Edition Project

The letters from Mondrian will be added to the Mondrian Edition Project, undertaken by the RKD and Huygens ING: the digital, scholarly publication of the complete correspondence and theoretical writings of Piet Mondrian. More information can be found at www.mondrianpapers.org.

 Archief Hollandsche Kunstenaarskring
Correspondence to the Hollandsche Kunstenaarskring: a drawing by Matthieu Wiegman, circa 1916 and a postcard from Piet Mondriaan, 1923.
Collection RKD – Netherlands Institute for Art History