The Stedelijk affirms its socially critical course with new acquisitions of works by Corita Kent and Isaac Julien
News — 22 Dec 2021
The Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam acquires an installation based on the first film by Isaac Julien and a large series of serigraphs by (Sister) Corita Kent. Both artists give two very different artistic renderings of social injustice, racism and protest. They demonstrate the unambiguous ways in which art is inseparably tied to resistance and change. The new acquisitions harmonise with the Stedelijk's acquisition policy, which focuses on broadening the collection with a spectrum of voices, stories and histories.
Rein Wolfs, director of the Stedelijk Museum: "Protest and resistance are perennial themes, and with this, Corita Kent's graphic work resonates with today's zeitgeist. Back in the 1960s, she got her protest message across through arresting visuals and sharply-honed slogans that many generations can still relate to. Isaac Julien's installation examines the tragic death of Colin Roach in the 1980s. Using still and moving images from 1983, Julien opposes the dominant historical narrative by showing the past through a different lens, with which he also protests against police brutality in the present."
The installation Lessons of the Hour (Who Killed Colin Roach?) (1983/2019) combines a series of archive photos and the first film (1983) by artist and filmmaker Isaac Julien (1960). The work reflects on the death of 23-year-old Colin Roach, who was gunned down in 1982 at the entrance of a police station in East London. Despite evidence to the contrary, police claimed Roach committed suicide. Julien's film offers an alternative and necessary perspective on the event, one that contests the version constantly portrayed in the media. The work not only references the institutional discrimination of the 1980s but also channels outrage at today’s systemic racism.
The Stedelijk is also expanding its collection with several serigraphs by Corita Kent (1918-1986), also known as Sister Mary Corita, a Roman Catholic sister, artist and designer. In the 1960s she came to prominence as a graphic artist whose work explores social and political causes. Her posters exemplify American pop art and speak out against social injustice, racism, poverty and the Vietnam War. She also played an important role in art education, becoming head of the progressive art department at Immaculate Heart College, where distinguished artists and designers such as Charles & Ray Eames and John Cage gave guest lectures. The serigraphs will join the new collection presentation Everyday, Someday and Other Stories - 1950 – 1980.
Isaac Julien's installation was acquired with the generous support of the Stedelijk Museum Fund and the Mondriaan Fund. Corita Kent's serigraphs were purchased with the help of the Stedelijk Museum Fund, the Mondriaan Fund and the Vriendenloterij. The Stedelijk also received a donation of four screen prints by Kent.
Earlier this year, the Stedelijk Museum also announced the acquisition of the monumental installation Guess Who's Coming To Dinner Too? (2017-2019/20/21) by Patricia Kaersenhout, purchased jointly with Centraal Museum Utrecht, Frans Hals Museum Haarlem and Van Abbemuseum Eindhoven. The museum also purchased numerous works from the Surinamese School exhibition.