Artists for a better world, exhibition

Peter Alma, 8 hours

From Museum Helmond in North Brabant province in the Netherlands:

Work for a better world

For art and design enthusiasts, now is the time to visit the Netherlands, for it is the year of Mondriaan and ‘Dutch Design’. 2017 is the 100th anniversary of the founding in Leiden of the Dutch artistic movement De Stijl (The Style). Beginning at the end of the First World War, artists such as Bart van der Leck and Piet Mondriaan attempted to utilise this principally abstract and entirely ‘new art’ to make the world a better place, and modernise society.

The ‘Work for a Better World’ exhibition at Museum Helmond gives art lovers the opportunity to enjoy art from artists including Peter Alma, Bart van der Leck and Johan van Hell. ‘Work for a better world’ will run from 4 April to 27 August in De Kunsthal, located in the centre of Helmond and easily accessible by bicycle, car, public transport and on foot.

Speaking up for workers

Artists such as Alma, Van der Leck and Toorop spoke up for workers at a time when they were afforded few rights, received low wages and worked long, hard days. Begun as a journal, De Stijl showcased artists who used their social commitment to produce paintings and prints. Peter Alma in particular, a friend of Mondriaan and Van der Leck, used elements such as black lines, primary colours and abundant white in his work. Alma’s main aim was to produce art for the ordinary man. His wood carving ‘8 uur’ (8 o’clock) from 1928 is a battle cry for workers’ rights, while ‘Stilleven met blaasbalg, hamer en bijl’ (Still Life with Bellows, Hammer and Axe) from 1918 is a textbook example of De Stijl.

Johan van Hell and others

The exhibition has been put together from the museum’s own collection Mens en Werk, supplemented by loaned items. In addition to works from proponents of De Stijl as mentioned above, the exhibition will also feature works from artists including Lou Loeber, Johan van Hell, Theo van Stiphout and Meijer Bleekroode.

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