News — 20 Aug 2018

First museum retrospective of Lily van der Stokker

This fall the Stedelijk Museum presents a survey of the work, including wall paintings and drawings, produced by Lily van der Stokker (1954) in the last thirty years. The exhibition Lily van der Stokker - Friendly Good is her most extensive presentation in a museum so far and most of the works have not been shown in the Netherlands before.

Curator Leontine Coelewij: “Lily van der Stokker has developed an extensive and idiosyncratic oeuvre composed of exuberant, decorative drawings and gigantic wall paintings. Her work refers to beauty, friendship and friendliness, as well as everyday chores like house-cleaning, clearing up, and visits to the doctor. Her work makes no attempt at either irony or cynicism.”

Often incorporating words and phrases, Van der Stokker’s work is firmly rooted in the tradition of conceptual art. Similar to her conceptual forbears (Joseph Kosuth, Lawrence Weiner, Robert Barry), Van der Stokker uses text to explore the essence of art, although as she does so, asks very different questions. Can artists show failures? Is it alright for art to be untrue? Or funny and sweet?

Lily van der Stokker, Easy Fun, 2003, acrylic paint on wall and couch with textile applications, Kosterfelde, Berlin

Van der Stokker’s visual language of flowers, looping lines, clouds and curlicues in bold, bright colors, raises questions about what we regard as typically feminine. Her work can be placed in the tradition of feminist art, which does not conform to prevailing standards of good taste. As such, she often exploits concepts that are ‘banned’ from contemporary art, such as the frivolous and decorative.

Van der Stokker: "I am a beauty specialist. I have commissioned myself to research happiness and friendliness in my artwork, and with that I take a stand against irony and cynicism."

In addition to murals and drawings about family, daily life and old age, visitors to the museum will have the opportunity to see an adapted version of the large installation that she made in 2015 for the lobby of the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles. It is a colorful, text-based mural on the subject of housework and cleaning. A selection of video recordings (1994-2007) made by her partner, cameraman Jack Jaeger (1937- 2013) also provide a unique insight into her creation process. In one room new work is performed, which has been specially developed for the exhibition.

Lily van der Stokker, Friendly Good, 1992, 260x440 cm, acrylic paint on wall and mixed media, Grey Art Gallery, New York

About Lily van der Stokker

Lily van der Stokker (born Den Bosch, 1954, lives and works in Amsterdam and New York) ran a gallery in New York in the 1980s and staged one of her first exhibitions at Museum Fodor, Amsterdam (1991). In the 1990s she received international acclaim with shows at venues such as the Walker Art Center (Minneapolis), Centre Pompidou, (Paris), Villa Arson, (Nice). Lily has had solos at Tate St. Ives (2010), New Museum in New York (2013) and the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles (2015). She has also completed several monumental public art projects such as the Celestial Teapot, Hoog Catharijne, Utrecht, (2013) and Pink Building during the World Expo in Hannover (2000).

The exhibition Lily van der Stokker – Friendly Good is generously supported by the International Collector Circle and Curator Circle of the Stedelijk Museum Fonds.

Lily van der Stokker, The Tidy Kitchen (detail), 2015, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, USA

Note for editors

For more information and images, please contact the Press Office of the Stedelijk Museum, +31 (0)20 573 26 660 / 662 or