Wim Schumacher, Portrait of Adine Mees, detail.

Dutch Artists and the Magical Realism of the Early 20th Century

Carel Willink, Girl in Renaissance costume.


Rijksmuseum Amsterdam
+ 31 (0)20 6747000
Amsterdam Schiphol Airport
Dutch Realism,
Masterpieces from the ING Collection

June 7-October 1, 2007

For the first time, a selection of masterpieces from the ING Collection can be seen with works from Rijksmuseum collection at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. The exhibition, Dutch Realism, includes eight paintings from the ING Collection by magical realists Carel Willink, Dick Ket, Wim Schuhmacher, Raoul Hynckes and Edgar Fernhout, among others. Two recent Rijksmuseum' acquistions are also on display: a unique scenery design by Pyke Koch for the play In Holland staat een huis (There is a house in Holland), performed in observance of the marriage of Princess Juliana and Prince Bernhard, and Carel Willink's Johannes, for which the artist himself served as a model.

The ING Collection is known for its masterpieces by Dutch magical realists. The artists of this movement, which began in the 1930s, often opted for an accurate rendering of the things they painted. In so doing, they sometimes revived old techniques or chose traditional subjects, such as those seen in the 17th century. Indeed, painting in the old style meant portraying the subject as realistically as possible. The magnificent Girl in Renaissance-costume, which was painted by Carel Willink in 1945, and Still life with fruit and landscape, which was painted by Raoul Hynckes in 1935, are two such examples. Whereas the symbolism in the 17th century paintings is common knowledge, works of magical realism seem to obscure an unknown personal world beyond the realistic surface. The interplay of the ING and Rijksmuseum collections, encompassing both 20th century works and their 17th century predecessors, is a splendid testament to realism - a predilection that can perhaps be called typically Dutch.

As used today the term is broadly descriptive rather than critically rigorous. The term was initially used by German art critic Franz Roh to describe painting which demonstrated an altered reality, but was later used by Venezuelan Arturo Uslar-Pietri to describe the work of certain Latin American writers.

In painting, magical realism is a term often used interchangeably with post-expressionism. In 1925, art critic Franz Roh used this term to describe painting which signaled a return to realism after expressionism's extravagances which sought to redesign objects to reveal the spirits of those objects. Magical realism, according to Roh, instead faithfully portrays the exterior of an object, and in doing so the spirit, or magic, of the object reveals itself.

Pyke Koch, decoration design of In Holland staat een huis by Martinus Nijhoff and Anton van Duinkerken.


Dick Ket, Saint Nicholas still life, detail.