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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
Museumpark 25
3015 CB Rotterdam


Admission is free.