Exhibition — 5 Dec 2020 until 25 Apr 2021

The Stedelijk presents the exhibition Small World Real World on the occasion of its 125th anniversary.  With this presentation, which takes the museum collection as its starting point, director Rein Wolfs shows how he intends to engage with and present the Stedelijk collection in the future.

The pandemic leaves us in no doubt that the world has become smaller than we thought. Globalization led to unbridled cross-border flows of all kinds. Reality has become global and our day-to-day experience, the world around us, has become steadily more virtual and less tangible.

As an international museum, the Stedelijk is a global player in contemporary and modern art and design. But no matter how international, the collection is largely an agglomeration of art works by white, male, European and North American makers. The vast majority of the world is not represented.

El Anatsui, In the World But Don’t Know the World, 2009, aluminum and copper wire, 560 x 1,000 cm, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam and Kunstmuseum Bern. Acquired with support of the Vereniging Rembrandt (thanks in part to its Titus Fonds, its Themafonds Naoorlogse en Hedendaagse Kunst and its Coleminks Fonds), Mondriaan Fund, BankGiro Loterij and the Stiftung GegenwART, with special thanks to the SIGG COLLECTION @ El Anatsui. (back) And Klara Lidén, Disco (left) en Joke (right), 2020. Thanks to Sadie Coles HQ, London. Photo Peter Tijhuis

Now 125 years old, the Stedelijk is ready for broadening, inclusion and polyphony. With more art by makers of colour, and women, with different stories and new visual languages. Small World Real World marks a new beginning for a broader, more inclusive Stedelijk. It is a sequel to the exhibition How Far How Near (2014/15), which challenged the narrow geographic focus of the museum's collection and presentation policy.

In the World But Don't Know the World by El Anatsui cries out to be included in our world and represents our world. The materials and technology are deeply rooted in reality, just like Lidén's readymades. Buhlungu has a direct and confrontational relationship to the work of filmmaker Spike Lee, Tsvetkova's drawings are an activist statement for a gender equal and LGBTQ + tolerant world. Adnan's aesthetic is entirely unique, Jungerman's visual language is a fusion of Surinamese and Dutch elements. And, somewhat removed from mundane reality, Malevich looks on from a historical vantagepoint of radical innovation. 

Simnikiwe Buhlungu, Rolling-A-Joint: Revisiting Spike Lee, 2015. Collection Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam.
Simnikiwe Buhlungu, Rolling-A-Joint: Revisiting Spike Lee, 2015. Collection Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam.
  • Yulia Tsvetkova, Woman not a doll, 2018. Collection Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam.
    Yulia Tsvetkova, Woman not a doll, 2018. Collection Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam.
  • Yulia Tsvetkova, Woman not a doll, 2018. Collection Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam.
    Yulia Tsvetkova, Woman not a doll, 2018. Collection Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam.
  • Yulia Tsvetkova, Woman not a doll, 2018. Collection Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam.
    Yulia Tsvetkova, Woman not a doll, 2018. Collection Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam.
  • Yulia Tsvetkova, Woman not a doll, 2018. Collection Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam.
    Yulia Tsvetkova, Woman not a doll, 2018. Collection Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam.
  • Yulia Tsvetkova, Woman not a doll, 2018. Collection Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam.
    Yulia Tsvetkova, Woman not a doll, 2018. Collection Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam.