Helly Oestreicher - Small Works

Helly Oestreicher, Head Wind (1994), 40 x 44 x 17 cm, ceramic, glass. Photo: Thijs Quispel


Helly Oestreicher
Small Works

25 June – 25 September 2011

In 1962 Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen acquired the first ‘anti pot’ by the visual artist Helly Oestreicher. This abstract work in ceramic entitled ‘Birdbox’ (1961) was typical of the innovative character of her work in this period. Almost fifty years after this first acquisition, the museum is exhibiting a selection of small works from Helly Oestreicher’s multifaceted oeuvre. 

This summer Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen is showing a selection of approximately thirty small works by Oestreicher (1936) in several vitrines and on the wall. In the early 1960s Helly Oestreicher was part of the innovative generation of Dutch ceramicists who redefined the discipline. The expressiveness of the object is central to her oeuvre. Her works appeal to the viewer’s senses and imagination by exploiting the specific characteristics of the material, using contrasting materials and playing with the balance between materiality and negative space. Oestreicher’s material is her instrument, with which she gives concrete form to her thoughts. 

Dutch ceramics since the 1960s
Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen has previously shown the work of Oestreicher’s contemporaries Jan van der Vaart (in 1991) and Johan van Loon (in 2009). Like Oestreicher, these artists broke in different ways with traditional ceramics. Johan van Loon is known for his extremely diverse forms and experiments with decoration, and Jan van der Vaart made innovative, abstract geometric works, but remained dedicated to function. Helly Oestreicher’s work is the most sculptural of the three. 

Helly Oestreicher
Helly Oestreicher (1936) was born in Karlovy Vary in the Czech Republic and grew up in the Netherlands. In the mid-1950s she graduated from the ceramics department of the Rietveld Academie, where she has taught since 1979. Oestreicher had a solo exhibition at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam in 1984. Her exhibition ‘Denkbeelden’ (Conceptual Images) was shown at De Beyerd in Breda in 1989 and at the Jewish Historical Museum in Amsterdam in 1990. As part of a solo exhibition in 1997, she made the large installation ‘Labyrinth’ from bricks and glass in the Bergkerk in Deventer. 

The exhibition coincides with the publication of the book ‘HELLY OESTREICHER’, which provides an overview of fifty years of her work. It contains contributions by Marjan Boot, F. Starik, Beppe Kessler, Thimo te Duits, Elisabeth Moortgat, Inge van der Vlies, Monica Strauss and the artist herself. The book is available from the museum shop, price €40.00, ISBN: 978-90-78670-19-3