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Wally Elenbaas - Early Lithographs, 1948-1958

from July 27 2013 until September 29 2013

Wally Elenbaas, The Ferry, 1952. Collection Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen. Wally Elenbaas, Party Hat, 1952. Collection Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen. Wally Elenbaas, Blue Nude, 1953. Collection Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen. Wally Elenbaas, Still Life With Trumpet, 1955. Collection Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, with thanks to Stichting Derkzen van Angeren, 2008. Wally Elenbaas, Palmistry, 1950. Collection Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, with thanks to Stichting Derkzen van Angeren, 2008. Wally Elenbaas behind a press. Photo: RKD The Hague archive Wally Elenbaas.

In the Print Room Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen shows rotating selections of its permanent collection of prints and drawings. An exhibition with lithographs by the Rotterdam-born artist Wally Elenbaas is now on view.

This summer the exhibition ‘Wally Elenbaas, Early Lithographs, 1948-1958’ is on view in the Print Room in the entrance area of the museum. The exhibition concentrates on a selection of 35 lithographs from the early oeuvre of the artist Wally Elenbaas (1912-2008). This period was important for the artist because he was searching for his own style and story. In addition to lithographs the exhibition contains a selection of objects for lithograph-making, New Year cards and several book covers. Attention is paid to the book covers of Harry Mulisch and Ellen Warmond, but especially to the book ‘Ruth’, for which Elenbaas designed the cover and illustrations on behalf of Stichting Roos. Elenbaas was part of Rotterdam’s vanguard; he was autodidact and master of his craft and he ignored the resistance to the use of colour in lithography.

Recurring Themes
Elenbaas’s whole oeuvre contains a number of recurring themes such as the (ferry)boat, water, birds and (nude) female figure; the lonely human being. Elenbaas found these themes close to home. The shapes and colours were inspired by his travels to the south of Europe, in particular by his trip to Corsica in 1939. Elenbaas experimented a lot with colour, to which there was much resistance at that time; people believed prints should be black-and-white, but Elenbaas believed that everything was made more beautiful by colour. In addition to the recurring themes, Elenbaas’s work can be recognised by the static scenes in which almost no action or movement can be found. In this way, people are set into a dream world, which gives Elenbaas’s work a mysterious quality.

Wally Elenbaas, Master of the Lithograph
Elenbaas started his career as a photographer. He photographed according to the rules of the New Photography in which mainly technical and pragmatic photo’s were taken. In the 30s Elenbaas exchanged his camera for drawing- and painters palette because he thought that photography did not allow him enough forms of expression. In 1945 he started making his first etchings in the studio of Rotterdam-based printer Andreas Schotel. A number of these etchings were shown in the exhibition Rotterdams Grafiek (Rotterdam Prints) in Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in 1947 and were purchased for the Print Room of the museum afterwards. A conflict with Schotel, after which Elenbaas was no longer welcome in his studio, led Elenbaas to give up etching and start making lithographs. Endless experimentation made him master of this medium and he became incredibly important for the development of the one-stone lithograph. With this method of printing only one stone is used, meaning that once the drawing is applied to the stone it cannot be modified. Each colour is printed using the same stone. Due to this difficult method, Elenbaas printed his lithographs in small editions, sometimes only three copies.

The exhibition is being made on the occasion of the publication ‘Grafiek Wally Elenbaas’, published by the Stichting Derkzen van Angeren. The publication will be available in the museum shop and via the website of Uitgeverij Douane for €39,95 (only in Dutch).