The Art & Project gallery was a dream come true. Always at the cutting edge, it was a place to meet and to discover new things. Reputations were made there. For decades, the gallery was a centre of attention, first in Amsterdam and later in a historic building in Slootdorp. In the nurturing hands of pioneering founder-owners Adriaan van Ravesteijn (b. 1938) and Geert van Beijeren (1933-2005), it grew to become one of the most important contemporary art galleries anywhere in Europe. Their close, on-going relationships with artists enabled them to acquire a multitude of artworks. The result was a collection of 850 works that they christened Depot VBVR. This is now being split up, with different parts being donated to the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag
, the Rijksmuseum Twenthe and the Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, while the Art & Project archives are being preserved by the Netherlands Institute for Art History. This year the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag presents a sample show of around 25 works.
The show at the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag is prompted by the recent donation of an early work by Carl Andre (Metamorphosis Piece, 1969) from the Depot VBVR collection. Metamorphosis Piece was produced for a solo exhibition by Carl Andre at the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag. Art & Project followed suit with a presentation of international conceptual art avant la lettre that included artists like Sol Lewitt, Lawrence Weiner, Jan Dibbets and Douglas Huebler. The gallery-owners friendships with artists gave rise to wonderful shows by Richard Long, Ger van Elk, Carel Visser, Stanley Brouwn and Gilbert & George. Art & Project was in close on-going touch with artists and kept effortlessly attuned to whatever was happening on the international art scene. Even in the 1980s, Van Beijeren and Van Ravesteijn continued to make their mark, paying early attention to the work of painters and sculptors like Francesco Clemente, Emo Verkerk, Ben Akkerman and Nicholas Pope. The forthcoming exhibition at the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag presents a selection of around 25 works by a wide range of artists, including Salvo, Daan van Golden, Gilbert & George, Juan Muñoz and Hanne Darboven.
Van Ravesteijn and Van Beijeren were influential players on the contemporary art scene. Operating worldwide, they were in constant touch with young artists who were to become top international figures. Art & Project was entirely motivated by a belief in friendship, dedication and inspiration. The gallery was famous, but never a major player on the commercial art market. Its most visible and tangible means of influence was the bulletin it issued. For Dutch artists, a show at Art & Project was a mark of success; for foreign artists, it often led to attention from leading Dutch museums and subsequent international interest. Wherever possible, Van Ravesteijn and Van Bergen also purchased work for their own collection. This eventually attained world stature. It reflects an extremely independent taste and encompasses a multitude of top works from the period between the 1960s and Geert van Beijerens death in 2005. The Art & Project archive is likewise of extraordinary interest, including for example the correspondence from Hanne Darboven that is included in this exhibition.
The exhibition is being organised in collaboration with the Netherlands Institute for Art History (Rijksbureau voor Kunsthistorische Documentatie), the Rijksmuseum Twenthe and Museum Boijmans van Beuningen.