From primal beast to smoking croissant*

*New acquisitions and old friends.

14 May to 26 June 2022

From primal beast to smoking croissant shows almost 50 recent purchases alongside familiar faces from our collection, including works by Karel Appel and Jan Schoonhoven. Since the 1950s, the Stedelijk Museum Schiedam has focused on contemporary visual artists in the Netherlands – a bold move at that time. This means we collect artists still in the process of breaking through, rather than established names. ‘In this exhibition, you can see the collected harvest of the past three years,’ says museum director Anne de Haij. ‘The artworks are often fresh from the studio, and a number of them are on display for the very first time. It’s also extra special that we can show this exhibition after the long renovation of our building.’

‘We mix very different works of art in the galleries. They’re not neat sets that you’d expect to see together,’ says Catrien Schreuder, head of exhibitions and collections. ‘They’re made in different periods or have different subjects, but as a visitor you can compare them with each other. Everyone can have their own connections and build bridges between the works, hopefully leading to some nice conversations.’


Of course, there are common links. When you enter the exhibition, for example, there are several pieces of contemporary activism with works by Iriée Zambé, Eugenie Boon and a portrait of Gloria Wekker, emeritus professor of gender and ethnicity by Iris Kensmil. The museum acquired these paintings last year, and they now hang alongside early portraits by Jan Sluyters and Karel Appel, among others.

Personal boundaries
Another gallery shows how artists create works on subjects such as war, violence and boundaries. A drawn collage by Susanna Inglada refers to a notorious Spanish gang rape. In it, arms and legs are intertwined, inspired by a 17th century sculpture the artist saw during a stay in Rome.

In the same gallery hangs Scorched earth, painted by Constant in 1951, probably in response to the Korean War, though it could just as easily be about wars today. Schreuder says, ‘Unfortunately, the war in Ukraine has made the work extremely topical once again.’ The painting also features in a recent short film where people explain why the work moves them and how they recognise their own lives in it.

Smoke bombs
The second floor shows purchases the museum made together with SCHUNCK in Heerlen, including SMOKEBOMBSMOKE by Navid Nuur. It consists of four canvases and a mobile phone that filmed the creative process: remarkably, the artist didn’t colour the canvases with a paintbrush but with different coloured smoke bombs.

The title of the exhibition comes from two artworks: Karel Appel’s Primal beast, which the museum bought in 1955, and a more recent purchase, a tapestry by Rotterdam artist Koen Taselaar. He gave his work the tantalising title After Long Consideration And Soul Searching The Smoking Croissant Turned Out To Be My Mom. In search of smoking pastries, the work sucks you in to its exuberant world.

The top floor is reserved for art relating to Schiedam. You’ll see photos by Margi Geerlinks made during the first pandemic lockdown, and works by Schiedammers Sarah van der Pols and Diet Wiegman. You can also see the photographic series of Turkish Schiedammers by Cigdem Yuksel, a recent purchase made together with the Schiedam city archives.

Also hanging in this gallery are two recent video works by Paulien Oltheten in which she compares Schiedam to Lourdes in France. Her work is about the devotion of saint worshipers, inspired by Liduina (1380-1433), the Schiedam woman paralysed after a fall on ice. She was officially canonised by the Pope in 1890, and her relics are kept in Schiedam and still visited by many pilgrims today.

Karel Appel, Yael Bartana, Fatima Barznge, Tjebbe Beekman, Bob Bonies, Eugenie Boon, Jenny Boot, Eugène Brands, Constant, Corneille, Charlotte Dumas, Maria van Elk, Hamid El Kanbouhi, Esiri Erheriene-Essi, Isabel Ferrand, Alicia Framis, Lotti van der Gaag, Daan van Golden, Margi Geerlinks, Theo Gootjes, Sjef Henderickx, Heringa/Van Kalsbeek, Frieda Hunziker, Susanna Inglada, Nour-Eddine Jarram, Iris Kensmil, Atelier (Joep) van Lieshout, Chaim van Luit, Jan Nieuwenhuijs, Navid Nuur, Paulien Oltheten, Femmy Otten, Sarah van der Pols, Tomas Rajlich, Anton Rooskens, Jan Schoonhoven, Meryem Slimani, Jan Sluijters, Shertise Solano, Robin Speijer, Peter Struycken, Koen Taselaar, Jennifer Tee, JCJ Vanderheyden, herman de vries, Anne Wenzel, Diet Wiegman, Cigdem Yuksel, Iriée Zamblé

With thanks to
Gemeente Schiedam, purchases were made with support from the Mondriaan Fund and Vereniging Rembrandt

Image: Visitors to the exhibition From primal beast to smoking croissant. Photography: Aad Hoogendoorn and Marco de Swart