Charley Toorop (1891-1955) is regarded as the most prominent female Dutch artist of the 20th century. She created an oeuvre that is strong-willed, self-aware and socially committed. Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen presented a large-scale retrospective of her work, displaying 120 paintings, among which sixteen self-portraits.
The exhibition was put together by Marja Bosma, who has also written a book about the life and work of Charley Toorop. Both the exhibition and the book made it easy to see how key works fit into the larger body of her work that is characterised by a confrontational realism. As daughter of the famous symbolist Jan Toorop, Charley grew up with a deep interest in culture. At first she concentrated on music, but eventually chose painting.
After an unsuccessful marriage to Henk Fernhout, with whom she had three children, Charley Toorop settled in Bergen. Painting and her artistic calling always occupied a primary position in her life. Her house ‘De Vlerken’ was a meeting place for a select circle of artistic friends, which included Piet Mondriaan, Adriaan Roland Holst and Gerrit Rietveldt. For Charley Toorop, painting was the ultimate form of self-realisation. A perfect example of this is the self-portrait from 1928 that was recently acquired by Museum Boijmans van Beuningen and that was displayed at the exhibition. The retrospective ‘Surtout pas des principes! Charley Toorop’ was accompanied by a richly illustrated catalogue.
The exhibition ‘Surtout pas des principes! Charley Toorop’ was made possible thanks to the support of the Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds and the K.F. Hein Fonds.