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Contemporary Realism

The Drents Museum has an extensive collection of contemporary realism, including work by the Northern Figuratives and the Neue Leipziger Schule.

Contemporary art in which you recognise what you see. That is what you will encounter in our collection of contemporary realism. Figurative art, in other words, and the Drents Museum was one of the first museums in the Netherlands to start collecting it.

Realism from the Netherlands

Prominent within this collection is the work of the Northern Figuratives, including Matthijs Röling (1943), Wout Muller (1946-2000), Henk Helmantel (1945) and Clary Mastenbroek (1947). From the end of the 1960s they rejected the idea that only abstract work is ‘good art’. At the Minerva Academy in Groningen, where Röling and Muller taught, revaluation of the craft was central. There were classes in anatomy, form study and colour theory. Many of their students stuck to what they learnt in their student days. 

Thus, Minerva Academy became a breeding ground for several generations of figurative artists, including Sam Drukker (1957) and Pieter Pander (1962). Their work can be found in the museum collection. But other Dutch realist artists are also represented here, such as Atousa Bandeh Giasabadi (1968), Tamara Muller (1975), Carolein Smit (1960), Stijn Rietman (1979) and Simon Schrikker (1973). 

Featured objects

  • Interior with the Painter and his Model
  • Drents Heideschaap with shepherdess
  • Still Life of Archaeological Objects from Drenthe

De Buitenplaats collection

Since 2024, Museum De Buitenplaats in Eelde is part of the Drents Museum and the museum bears the name Drents Museum De Buitenplaats. The entire collection of De Buitenplaats has become part of the contemporary realism collection of the Drents Museum.

At the heart of De Buitenplaats's collection was married couple Jos van Groeningen (1934-2018) and Janneke van Groeningen-Hazenberg (1943-2007). The core of the Buitenplaats collection consists of figurative art from the Northern Netherlands and beyond. You will find work by Matthijs Röling (1943), Olga Wiese (1944), Piet Sebens (1961), Charlotte van Pallandt (1898-1997) and Eja Siepman van den Berg (1943), among others.

The Van Groeningen couple not only collects, but from 1983 onwards they also commission Matthijs Röling, Wout Muller, Clary Mastenbroek, Olga Wiese and Pieter Pander to paint the walls of the 17th-century Nijsinghhuis. The house can be visited as part of Drents Museum De Buitenplaats: highly recommended!

Neue Leipziger Schule

Since 2009, the Drents Museum has also shown and collected work by artists from the Leipziger Schule, a group of modern painters from the German city of Leipzig. Their students later formed the Neue Leipziger Schule. You will find work by Rosa Loy (1958), Matthias Weischer (1973), Tilo Baumgärtel (1972) and Mirjam Völker (1977), among others.

Almost all of these artists studied at the Hochschule für Grafik und Buchkunst in Leipzig. At this academy, as at the Groningen Academy Minerva, a lot of attention was paid to craft.

In the GDR period, which lasted from 1949 to 1990, realism was a popular art form in Germany. This also applied to the Leipzig Academy and coloured the formation of these generations of artists.

Realism outside Europe

The Drents Museum is increasingly focusing on figurative art from beyond European borders. The recent acquisition of work by South African artist Deborah Poynton (1970) is a good example of this. 

Top collection thanks to donations
The 4,500 objects in the contemporary realism collection have largely been collected through donations. In 2010, for example, the museum received the ING collection of 271 masterpieces of Dutch figurative art. Partly because of this donation, the Drents Museum is the place in the Netherlands for contemporary realistic art. Several important collections of work by Matthijs Röling and other artists have also recently been donated to the museum.

Contemporary masterpieces

Important works from the contemporary realism sub-collection are Interior with the Painter and his Model by Matthijs Röling, Substances by Rosa Loy and the self-portrait In-Between Self by Deborah Poynton. However diverse, these works have an attention to craftsmanship in common. Röling, for instance, draws a lot of inspiration from the technique of his predecessors from the 17th century and Loy works with homemade paint. 

Humour is central to Carolein Smit's ceramic artworks. Her Drenthe Heathland sheep with shepherdess is an absolute eye-catcher in our collection. The same goes for Atousa Bandeh Giasabadi's poetic work. With Requiem for a beggar mother, she tells a very personal, yet symbolically designed story.

Requiem for the beggar mother
In-Between Self

Exhibitions on contemporary realism

The Drents Museum regularly organises exhibitions on contemporary realism. One of the highlights was Minerva meets Leipzig (2009). A first in the Netherlands, this gave an overview of three generations of Leipzig artists. Several solo exhibitions by artists from the Neue Leipziger Schule followed, such as Rosa Loy – Bilder Bergen (2017-2018), Kristina Schuldt – Brutal Paradise (2021-2022), Neo Rauch – Wegzehr (2022-2023) and Tilo Baumgärtel – Das selbe Wasser (2023-2024).

Another highlight was the exhibition The American Dream (2017-2018), about American realism from the period 1945-2017. Artworks by Edward Hopper (1882-1967), Alice Neel (1900-1984) and Andy Warhol (1928-1987) were on display at the Drents Museum and Kunsthalle Emden in Germany. There were also major retrospectives by Henk Helmantel (2020-2021) and Antonio López (2024), among others.

Studio DM

Right next to the museum you will find artist residence Studio DM, a house where artists can stay and work. The museum wants to be a place not only for art that has already been made, but also for art that still needs to be created. We invite artists to be inspired by Drenthe or the collection of the Drents Museum during a working period. Are you interested in staying at Studio DM? Please send us your proposal.

Upcoming 28 September 2024 till 2 March 2025

Mirjam Völker – Falsche Flagge

In het voorjaar van 2024 opent Labyrinthia, onze geheel vernieuwde collectiepresentatie. In Labyrinthia maak je als bezoeker een magische ontdekkingsreis door vijftien zalen van het museum. De reis voert je langs alle topstukken, zoals het meisje van Yde, de kano van Pesse en de schilderijen van Van Gogh. Daarnaast krijgen vele andere werken uit onze collectie een speciale plek in de presentatie.