Exhibition — May 9 until Sep 15, 2024

Ana Lupas — On This Side of the River Elbe is the first comprehensive overview of the oeuvre of Ana Lupas (1940, Cluj-Napoca, Romania) which opens at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam on 9 May 2024. Lupas emerged in the 1960s as one of the leading Eastern European artists of her generation.

photo of work Ana Lupas

Spanning over six decades, her career is a testament to her resilience and unwavering commitment to artistic expression amid challenging political circumstances.

Lupas’s varied oeuvre includes textiles, sculptures, installations and action art. Similarities with late modern avant-garde movements such as land art, post-minimalism and Arte Povera are reflected in her work. She also draws inspiration from folklore and centuries-old traditions with which she grew up. Lupas’s intentional use of 'poor' materials like wool, cotton, hemp, and flax, not only challenged artistic norms but also offered an incisive commentary on the scarcity and limitations imposed by the regime she grappled with.

photo of Humid Installation by Ana Lupas

Living and working in Cluj-Napoca, Lupas faced the challenges of creating art under the constraints of a four-decade communist dictatorship in Romania. Despite the oppressive political climate, Lupas's art became a form of covert resistance to the dehumanizing totalitarian regime, in power from 1945 to 1989. For many decades, she forged her own path, actively opposing the regime’s favored artistic and academic practices, and fostered a local artistic community.

Lupas's work is still relevant today, echoing current themes of resistance, individuality and the preservation of cultural heritage. Based on a meaningful engagement with the landscape, natural materials and local communities, her practice embraces a return to old values threatened by large-scale modernization, as well as a deep connection with nature and a desire to restore harmony.

Bringing together highlights of her oeuvre from the 1960s to the present, the exhibition at the Stedelijk Museum offers a comprehensive survey of Lupas’s career. Coats to Borrow (1989), the centerpiece of the exhibition, features handmade coats by Ana Lupas, suspended on orange-painted metal furniture like a garment rack, bed, and mirror. Crafted from scraps of leftover fabrics, clothing and textiles, Lupas circulated these coats among the members of Atelier 35, which she had initiated. Each person was encouraged to personally inscribe their name on a label attached inside the coats. Acquired by the Stedelijk in 2022, the installation emphasizes ideas of participation and the transformative power of textile sculptures, embodying Lupas's declaration that the work is an act of resistance. Other notable works include Humid Installation (1970) and The Solemn Process (1964-1976, 1980-1985 and 1985-2008), produced with the engagement of local communities in rural Transylvania. These works exemplify Lupas's commitment to intertwining art with local traditions, rituals and narratives, unveiling her profound exploration of history and identity.

Read more in the press release.

Ana Lupas

9 May t/m 15 Sept 2024

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The overview at the Stedelijk is a collaborative project with the Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein, which is highlighting an exhibition on other aspects of her work. Both museums are collaborating to develop a catalog covering her entire career with previously unpublished archival material. The publication includes articles by exhibition curators Leontine Coelewij (Stedelijk Museum) and Letizia Ragaglia (Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein), and with guest authors Tanja Boon, Marina Lupas, Ramona Novicov, Christian Rattemeyer and Mechtild Widrich. The publication is available in English and for sale in the museum store of the Stedelijk Museum. 


Image 1: Exhibition view Ana Lupas – On This Side of the River Elbe. Photo: Peter Tijhuis
Image 2: Exhibition view Ana Lupas – On This Side of the River Elbe. Photo: Peter Tijhuis
Image 3: Exhibition view Ana Lupas – On This Side of the River Elbe. Photo: Peter Tijhuis
Image 4: Ana Lupas, Humid Installation, 1970. Unknown photographer. Courtesy of the artist.
Image 5: Exhibition view Ana Lupas – On This Side of the River Elbe. Photo: Peter Tijhuis
Image 6: Ana Lupas, The Solemn Process, 1964–2008, original print ca. 1964–76. Courtesy the artist and P420, Bologna.
Image 7:Exhibition view Ana Lupas – On This Side of the River Elbe. Photo: Peter Tijhuis

The exhibition Ana Lupas — On This Side of the River Elbe is organized by the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam and a production of the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam and Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein. The exhibition is curated for the Stedelijk by Leontine Coelewij.

The exhibition is generously supported by The Administration of the National Cultural Fund* and the Mondriaan Fund.

  • The Administration of the National Cultural Fund logo
  • The Mondriaan Fund logo

Thanks to Maria Rus Bojan and the European ArtEast Foundation.

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*The project does not necessarily represent the official position of the Administration of the National Cultural Fund. AFCN shall not be held liable for the project's content or any use to which the project outcome might be put. These are the sole responsibility of the beneficiary of the funding.