An unconventional meeting of design and fine art

Berry Flanagan, Chess, 1971. Cotton, sand, cork, aluminium. Collection: Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam

Press release

Setting the Scene
From 7 February 2015

How do fine art and design relate to each other? And what common ground do the artist and the designer share? Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen is arranging an unconventional meeting between the two disciplines, with work from the museum’s collection by artists including Barry Flanagan, Joep van Lieshout, Jan Schoonhoven, Ettore Sottsass, Walter van Beirendonck and Scholten & Baijings.

Museums almost always present fine art and design separately. This spring Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen will be placing the two disciplines side by side in an associative show. The curators of the different specialities will set the scene for this meeting in seven rooms with as many themes and explore the way art and design from the 1960s until now relate to one another. This singular presentation is in the ideal location in Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, one of the few museums in the Netherlands where both disciplines are strongly represented.

Setting the Scene
Movements and epochs are not what determine the selection and presentation of the works in the museum; it focuses on seven problems that are relevant to artists and designers alike. Basic principles like form, style, mass and arrangement are common denominators in both practices. Although the dilemmas are often the same they lead to different outcomes in art and design.

Seven dilemmas
One of the dilemmas is ‘arrangement’. A principle of arrangement underlies the work of Jan Schoonhoven (1914-1994) and the designers Stefan Scholten (1972) and Carole Baijings (1973) of Scholten & Baijings. But where Schoonhoven makes a monochrome white relief, the design duo use a broad palette of different colours, shades and transparencies for their Colour Porcelain tea service. Artist Joep van Lieshout (1963) often strays into the domain of the designer to make a work of art. In ’12 Stones – 12 Crates’, for example, he plays with the standardized dimensions of everyday objects; in this case paving stones and beer crates. Artist Barry Flanagan (1941-2009) also subverted the accepted difference between design and art in his sculpture ‘Chess’ by substituting sandbags for the chess pieces.

Showcasing the museum’s own collection
This spring the museum will be drawing almost wholly from its own collection when staging exhibitions. In five exhibitions and displays the director and the curators will show how this can be achieved with the rich museum collection and the surprising connections that result from it. ‘We hope visitors will increasingly relate to the collection; a labyrinth of beauty and knowledge that links people and centuries’, explained director Sjarel Ex.