Anna Verweij, Witte Tuin, 1975, 40 x 30 cm, Collection, Gemeentemuseum Den Haag.

Anna Verweij's Provocative, Pioneering Textile Experiments

Anna Verweij, De wisseling van de seizoenen (Het huis), 1975, 25 x 32 cm, Collection, Gemeentemuseum Den Haag.

Anna Verweij (1935-1980), Mondriaan concreet/ eind april/ontwerptekening, ca. 1971,  25 x 32 cm  viltstift op papier , Collectie: Gemeentemuseum Den Haag.

Anna Verweij (1935-1980), Mijn plaats aan tafel 2, 1972-1973, Geborduurd linnen, 172 x 124 cm.

 

Gemeentemuseum Den Haag
Stadhouderslaan 41
The Hague
+ 31-(0)70-3381111
Anna
April 28-August 25, 2007

It is partly thanks to Anna Verweij that the use of needle and thread is these days no longer taboo in the fine art field and that artists like Michael Raedecker and Berend Strik now work with these materials. A recent acquisition of several major works by Anna Verweij and a donation consisting of thirty of her design drawings by her widower, artist Hans Verweij prompts this exhibition.

Anna Verweij (1935-1980) started to experiment with materials and techniques in the late 1950s, after dropping out of art school. In 1958 she decided to call herself simply Anna. She started using various scrap materials to make jewellery and small wall hangings but was soon devoting herself entirely to textiles, the material to which she was henceforth to remain true throughout her career. In the 1960s she threw herself into designing large, vividly coloured wall hangings.

Over the next 10 years, her textile work became ever more detailed and conceptual in character. The idea that work in textiles could be considered a form of fine art was under perpetual fire during this period. The material was still associated mainly with the decorative arts. Anna’s work served both to fan the flames of the debate and to cast doubt on the need for it. For her, at the end of the day, the dividing line between the two forms of art was blurred anyway.

Anna first attracted public attention with a work called My Place at Table 2 (1972/73). It consists of a wooden table covered with a pristine white cotton tablecloth decorated with a delicate border of flowers embroidered in black. At one end of the cloth, the embroidery degenerates into a chaotic mass of stitches. In an earlier work entitled Alice Writes to Alice (1971), Anna showed how a wrinkled strip of fabric could mutate into a mysterious form of writing. In pieces like this, imbued with her light-hearted sense of humour, Anna comments on the inconsistencies in human behaviour and the conflict between the inner self and the public persona. The works are characterised by an experimental use of flannel, jute, cotton, silk and snap fasteners, in combination with plastic and foam rubber. Her love of nature is another recurring feature of her work, apparent for example in her design drawings for fields of flowers, based on compositions by Piet Mondrian.

In the summer of 1978 Anna fell seriously ill. From then on, her work was to revolve around the idea of physical change. She produced silhouettes of female figures modelled on her own body. A good example of these is The Vault (1979), a work showing a figure pole-vaulting: a clear reference to the transition between life and death. A large part of her oeuvre was produced in the remaining two years of her life, a period in which her most important exhibitions also took place. Her solo exhibition at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam opened in 1979 and in 1984 a posthumous show was held at the Boymans Van Beuningen Museum.

In honour of the exhibition, the museum shop will stock Henriëtte Heezen’s Dutch-language book on the artist’s work, Mijn plaats aan tafel: Anna.

Anna Verweij, Zonder titel, 250 x 168 cm applicatie van verschillende soorten textiel op jute, Collectie: Hans Verweij, Rotterdam.

 

 

Anna Verweij, Rotterdam, 1965, collection Hans Verweij.