O MUSE! - De Hallen Haarlem Summer Series

06.06.2015 - 30.08.2015

The extensive exhibition O MUSE! in De Hallen Haarlem showed which women and men were important sources of inspiration for Dutch artists from 1850 onwards. Individuals who inspired by their bodies, their personality or their expressions. Paintings, photographs, video works and sculptures from the 19th and 20th centuries are on display, complemented by notable contemporary examples. From Kees van Dongen, Isaac Israels, Jan Sluijters and Carel Willink to Gijs Frieling, Pavèl van Houten and Manon de Boer.

The word museum is derived from the Greek Mouseion: 'a place where the muses are worshiped.’ The history of art is unthinkable without muses. Raphaël, Renoir, Picasso and Dalì had their favourite models, or partners who were vital for their work. Up to today Dutch art history has known many muses. O MUSE! brings together works that highlight different sources of inspiration: lovers, nude models, colleagues, writers, biblical characters, doppelgängers and stage stars.

Inspiring individuals

Artists are often inspired by their models or lovers: Jan Sluijters had his Greet van Cooten, Carel Willink had Sylvia Quiel. Artists can also inspire each other: legendary is the friendship between Piet Mondriaan and Marlow Moss. Writers can also make artistic ideas flourish: the theosophical books of Madame Blavatsky made the painter Janus Winter turn to abstraction. Well­known biblical figures such as Jesus and Mary have remained significant even after secularization. For years, performing artists have enticed their colleagues in the visual arts: dancer Gertrud Leistikow and actress Asta Nielsen intoxicated many a painter, as did dancer/boxer Jimmy Lucky. These and other muses were the hallmark of an exhibition based on the modern art collection of the Frans Hals Museum | De Hallen Haarlem, in which a multitude of fascinating figures, from 1850 until now, passed in review.

De Hallen Haarlem Summer Series

O MUSE! is the ninth exhibition in De Hallen Haarlem Summer Series and was curated by Antoon Erftemeijer in collaboration with Marie Stel, Lex ter Braak and director Ann Demeester. The generously illustrated catalogue is for sale in the museum shops of the Frans Hals Museum and De Hallen Haarlem for €10. The exhibition was generously supported by the Dr. Marijnus Johannes van Toorn & Louise Scholten Foundation.

Muses in the Frans Hals Museum

The Frans Hals Museum joined the Summer Series Exhibition with a small presentation about classical muses: the singing goddesses who were called upon by artists in antiquity. In addition, several examples were shown of depictions of muses in the Golden Age. 20 May -­ 20 September 2015

Photography: Gert Jan van Rooij