From 5 June, a unique asset to the National Collection goes on public display: an interior model by architect and artist Theo van Doesburg. The design, from 1926, is for Café Aubette, one of De Stijl's most important architectural projects.
It is the only model by Van Doesburg to survive after his death in 1931. At first sight, it seems to be a one-dimensional work. But the walls open outwards, as can be clearly seen in a photo from Van Doesburg’s studio. The model shows how Van Doesburg approached space as the synthesis of painting and architecture.
The work is shown as it was acquired: framed. For decades, it was owned by the Swiss Galerie Gmurzynska and exhibited as an autonomous visual work, framed on the wall. But such a strictly disciplinary approach was exactly what Van Doesburg was against: for him, a visual work could be an architectural project, model and autonomous artwork all at the same time.
With this acquisition, the model regains its original, ambiguous meaning and becomes part of the design process again. Het Nieuwe Instiuut already has a series of 32 drawings in its collection that document the origins of Café Aubette’s cinema and dancehall.
In addition to the model itself, visitors will be able to see a video about it by Tanja Busking, with explanations by curator Hetty Berens and conservator Elizabet Nijhoff Asser.
Het Nieuwe Instituut manages archives on behalf of the nation. It has its own collection and collection policy, with an emphasis on the cultural and creative dimension of architecture and urban design. The National Collection focuses in particular on the design process and the underlying history of ideas.
The acquisition of Theo van Doesburg’s interior model was made possible partly by the generous contributions of Vereniging Rembrandt, the Mondriaan Fund (the public fund to stimulate visual art and cultural heritage) and Galerie Gmurzynska.
Part of Rotterdam Architecture Month 2021