News — 6 Feb 2015

Amsterdam, February 6, 2015 - The Stedelijk Museum proudly announces that it has received a generous donation from artists Coosje van Bruggen and Claes Oldenburg. The donated artworks share a profound relationship with the Stedelijk collection in a rich variety of ways.

Beatrix Ruf, director of the Stedelijk Museum: “The Stedelijk is deeply honored to receive such a generous, essential and wonderful gift. Although Coosje van Bruggen and Claes Oldenburg lived in the United States, the couple remained closely involved with the Stedelijk in a myriad of ways. We are extremely moved about their decision to make the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam their collection’s new home. It reflects their deep engagement with the city as well as the Stedelijk’s relationship and engagement with the history of artistic exchange between the US and Amsterdam.”

The gift includes 175 artworks by 34 artists and also comprises a wealth of remarkable documentation such as correspondence material and archival documents. The donation straddles a wide range of media from installation, collage, sculpture and photography to works on paper, books and posters.

The donated artworks share a profound connection with the collection of the Stedelijk Museum; the Stedelijk has long collected work by many of the artists, such as Lawrence Weiner, whose large group of rare early pieces includes books, posters, coasters, and small sculptures. The Stedelijk is privileged to have a long history with Weiner and his oeuvre. Weiner has maintained a studio both in New York and Amsterdam since the 1970s, and his work is prominently represented in the Stedelijk’s holdings. A group of poems (Yucatan) and a small sculpture by Carl Andre are a remarkable supplement to the Stedelijk’s prominent Andre collection. The Bruce Nauman collection has also been enriched with highly unusual photo experiments.

Another highlight is three very early photos from 1979 by Jeff Wall – they are particularly remarkable because they differ widely from the monumental light-boxes that were recently on display in the museum. The gift also contains a number of renowned artist’s books by Ed Ruscha, dating from the 1960s and 70s, including the world-famous 26 Gasoline Stations. Another noted piece is the Donald Judd exhibition catalogue painted over by Anselm Kiefer, Donald Judd Hides Brünhilde (1976). It offers an unusual link between the works of Judd and Kiefer in the Stedelijk collection. Artworks by Christopher Williams and John Knight are a promising addition to the burgeoning cluster of their work in the museum’s holdings.

Bart Rutten, head of collections at the Stedelijk Museum: “Perhaps the most striking aspect of the gift is its intimacy. Where conceptual and minimalist art are often considered clinical and analytical, a very human and personal overtone resounds throughout this collection. You can almost feel Coosje’s presence – she had worked with many of these artists, and developed close ties with them. It is a personal archive of a prominent art critic and artist who sustained friendships with many artists. You can see a glimpse of this in the letters between Van Bruggen and artist Hanne Darboven in the years 1973 to 1993, which are also part of the donation.” 

Coosje van Bruggen (1942 – 2009) worked as curator of the Stedelijk Museum between 1967 and 1971. In 1976, she began working with artist Claes Oldenburg (1929), whom she had met at the Stedelijk. Together, the couple worked intensively on huge sculptures in public spaces such as the iconic Flying Pins (2000) in Eindhoven. The artists married in 1977. Claes Oldenburg lives and works in New York.

Note to editors:
For more information and visual material, please contact Annematt Ruseler, Stedelijk Museum Press Office on +31 (0) 20 – 573 26 60, or at