News — 20 Jul 2021

The press hailed artist Armand Baag (1941-2001) as one of the stars of the exhibition Surinamese School. The Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam concludes the successful exhibit with a generous donation from the Baag family. Baag's work Dede Oso (1994) has joined the museum’s collection. Thanks to this donation, the Stedelijk now owns three works by the artist.

Armand Baag, Dede Oso, 1994, pastel on board. Photo Gert Jan van Rooij
Armand Baag, Dede Oso, 1994, pastel on board. Photo Gert Jan van Rooij

The painting Dede Oso depicts four adult figures dressed in white: the colour of mourning. This activity is one of the Surinamese funeral rituals of the dede oso (literally: death vigils). This gathering marks an opportunity for loved ones to tell stories or anecdotes about the deceased. Other important funerary practices include dancing with the coffin and the funeral procession. This work by Baag reveals how West African traditions of ancestor worship were further developed by diaspora communities in the Caribbean.

Rein Wolfs, director Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam: "We are delighted to have the opportunity to celebrate the success of the exhibition Surinamese School with this generous donation! Baag's work is incredibly varied, celebrates the many facets of Surinamese culture, and represents an important artistic development in Amsterdam. The Stedelijk already owns two works by Baag 'De Stoffenhandel' (1976) and 'Rasta Morning' (1980). With the addition of 'Dede Oso' to our collection, we’ll be able to show work from different phases of the artist’s career in the future, side by side, and present a broader view of art history. We would like to give the Baag family a big thank you for their generosity and trust."

Surina Baag, artist and daughter of Armand Baag: "The family of Armand Baag was very happy to see his paintings hanging so prominently in the Stedelijk, 20 years after his death. We are grateful that this wonderful exhibition of Surinamese art has spurred a reappreciation of his work, brought it to the attention of a wide audience, and inspired a new generation. To celebrate this moment, which is a milestone for us, we chose to donate a work to the museum. My brother Sura and I felt that 'Dede Oso' would be a fitting contribution—a powerful and beautiful work by our father from his series on death and mourning rituals. The scene is also typical of Surinamese culture and resonates deeply with Surinamers. That’s why we wanted to donate this work to celebrate the 'Surinamese School', which, partly thanks to our father’s work, was such a great success."

ABOUT ARMAND BAAG

Armand Baag (Paramaribo 1941 - Amsterdam 2001) was born in Paramaribo. From 1955 he took drawing lessons at the Cultural Centre Suriname (CCS) in Paramaribo. He arrived in the Netherlands in 1961 and studied at the art academy in Tilburg. He continued his training at the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam. He formed a dance duo with his then wife, ballet dancer Willy Collewijn. Baag continued to paint while the duo toured, and eventually settled permanently in Amsterdam in 1968. He exhibited, and was friends with, other Surinamese artists, including Erwin de Vries and Quintus Jan Telting. In 1970 Baag and Collewijn founded The Maysa Foundation, a cultural breeding ground in the Amsterdam Jordaan. In 1971 he was also involved in the establishment of Galerie Srefidensi ('independence') in Amsterdam. The gallery focused on the presentation of Caribbean artists, who had very few opportunities to exhibit their work to the Dutch public.