Exhibition — May 18 until Sep 24, 2023

The Stedelijk presents over 300 works by 200 artists and designers, from as many as 20 movements. MODERN takes a fresh look at internationally known names such as Vincent van Gogh, Gerrit Rietveld, and Fernand Léger, and highlights lesser-known creators such as Suzanne Valadon, Germaine Krull, and Christopher Dresser. Discover just how refreshing and innovative artists and designers were, and way ahead of their time.

a showcase of public favorites

works that have not been seen for a long time

New acquisitions shown for the first time

  • Painting by Jan Veth, portrait of a man
    Jan Veth, 'Albert Verwey', 1885
  • Painting Jan Toorop, three girls with yellow dresses
    Jan Toorop, 'Marie, Lies en Nelle Volker van Waverveen', 1901
  • black/gray rocking chair by R.W. Winfield
    R.W. Winfield (toegeschreven), 'Schommelstoel', 1840-1850, coll. V&A
  • Painting by Israel with a man and two children
    Jozef Israëls, 'Langs moeders graf', 1856
  • chair by Breuer
    Marcel Breuer, 'Model B3, Wassily', 1925-1928

The nineteenth century: a turning point

The nineteenth and early twentieth centuries: a time of industrialization, steam engines and ocean liners, of science and photography, advertising, and a flourishing nightlife. The public starts buying art and wants to identify with its own era. There is less need for history pieces and biblical tales, people want to see relatable subjects from everyday life, and preferably a glimpse of the future. The same applies to design: new materials and techniques are in tune with their own times.

Artists and designers broke with traditions and laid the foundations for what we now see as modern. From realism and impressionism to Dada, from Arts and Crafts and Art Nouveau to Bauhaus and De Stijl: each creator was ground-breaking.

  • Painting by Van Gogh with suburb of Paris
    Vincent van Gogh, 'Een buitenwijk van Parijs, gezicht vanaf het Montmartre', 1887
  • Painting by Weissenbruch with ship at sea and clouds in background
    J.H. Weissenbruch, 'Storm op de kust van Zeeland', 1900
  • abstract painting by Mondriaan
    Piet Mondriaan, 'Tableau III, compositie in ovaal', 1914
  • silver cutlery set from Hoffmann
    Josef Hoffmann, 'bestek Rundes Modell', 1906
  • silver jug by Muller Munk
    Peter Muller Munk, 'kan Normandie', 1935

For everyone

Many artists envision a better world and focus on creating art that reflects modern life, that everyone can see. One of the highlights of the exhibition is Jan Toorop’s monumental preliminary studies for a ceramic triptych that can still be found in the Beurs van Berlage. Likewise, designers want their work to contribute to an ideal society. De Stijl and Bauhaus introduced sober, functional design, stripped of ornamentation, and aimed at creating a new, universal society for everyone. However, the most successful art that served a social function originated outside Europe and North America: the exhibition features ceremonial objects such as a mosque tapestry from Iran, barkcloths from Fiji and New Guinea, a Kuba rug from Congo, and garments worn by the Maroon communities of Suriname.

preliminary studies of Jan Toorop
Jan Toorop, 'voorstudie Het heden, voor tegeltableau Verleden, Heden, Toekomst voor de Beurs van Berlage', 1902

MODERN shows how even works that look traditional were in fact innovative in their own time. And how objects with a surprisingly modern look were sometimes strongly influenced by work that originated outside Europe.

Book ticket

  • abstract painting with colors by Delaunay
    Robert Delaunay, 'Formes circulaires. Soleil, lune', 1912-1913
  • Abstract painting by Mondrian
    Piet Mondriaan, 'Compositie met blauw, geel, rood, zwart en grijs', 1922
  • abstract painting by Täuber-Arp
    Sophie Täuber-Arp, 'Composition à rectangles et cercles sur fond noir', 1931
  • flower pots red blue and yellow by Copier
    Andries Copier, 'bloempotten', 1929-1940
  • abstract painting by Odilon Redon
    Odilon Redon, 'Femme dans les fleurs', ongedateerd
  • photo of blocks from a construction game by Alma Siedhoff-Buscher
    Alma Siedhoff-Buscher, 'Bauspiel: Ein Schiff', 1923/1977

Dig deeper

Modern art in 1 minute

  • Tour Guide Khouloud Zaher about Vincent van Gogh
  • Curator Ingeborg de Roode about Charlotte Perriand
  • Tour Guide Djamila Abdalla about Jan Sluijters
  • Tour Guide Cas Hieltjes about the 'barkcloth (tapa)' from Fiji


What is the difference between modern, modernity, and modernism? The publication accompanying the exhibition gives insight in this and other questions. Curators and other specialists delve into the themes explored in the exhibition through texts and in-depth interviews. The publication is available in Dutch and English at the museum shop. 

Stedelijk Studies

Additionally, Stedelijk Studies, the museum's online research platform, regularly publishes articles, interviews, and essays related to the MODERN exhibition.

MODERN — Van Gogh, Rietveld, Léger and others

May 18 until Sep 24, 2023

Book ticket

The exhibition MODERN — Van Gogh, Rietveld, Léger and others is generously supported by the Blockbusterfonds.

Blockbusterfonds logo

Other partners:

  • Thonet logo

Campaign music: Petite suite, CD 71, L. 65: I. En bateau (Live), Performed by Martha Argerich, Composed by Claude Debussy, (p)2014 Warner Classics