News — 2 Aug 2011

The series Recollections looks back on legendary exhibitions from the Stedelijk Museum’s history that continue to stimulate research and discussion even today. The second edition focuses on Op Losse Schroeven: Situaties en Cryptostructuren (1969), a groundbreaking exhibition organized by Wim Beeren that is still considered one of the most innovative surveys of new art from that decade. Drawing on unique archival and documentary materials, shown together with works acquired from participating artists including Joseph Beuys, Jan Dibbets, Richard Long, Bruce Nauman and Mario Merz,Recollections – Op Losse Schroeven offers a detailed picture of this remarkable Stedelijk exhibition. Visitors with a smartphone can also take a virtual guided tour of the historical exhibition in the same museum wing where Op Losse Schroeven was originally presented.

Op Losse Schroeven: Situaties and Cryptostructuren was produced by Wim Beeren, then a curator (and later director) of the Stedelijk Museum, in 1969. Beeren decided to take stock of the latest developments in art at that time with particular interest in the use of new and unconventional materials such as gas, light and neon. His research served as the basis for Op Losse Schroeven, which highlighted the many new directions artists were exploring, from Land art to Arte Povera, from Conceptual art to Post-Minimal art. The installation itself also broke with tradition. Like Harald Szeemann (1933–2005), whose exhibition Live in Your Head – When Attitudes Become Form for the Kunsthalle Bern opened a week later, Beeren was eager to reflect the spirit of experimentation that informed the works on display. He also wanted to draw attention to ephemeral performances and conceptual interventions outside the walls of the museum, any of which were intended to critique both art and the museum.

Included in Recollections – Op Losse Schroeven are archival material and works byGiovanni AnselmoJoseph Beuys, Marinus BoezemWim Crouwel, Jan Dibbets,Ger van ElkDouglas Huebler, Joseph Kosuth, Jannis Kounellis, Richard Long,Mario Merz, Robert Morris, Bruce Nauman, Dennis OppenheimRobert Ryman,Lawrence Weiner and Gilberto Zorio.

Exhibition history meets collection history
The history of exhibition-making is an emerging branch of research in the fields of museum and art history; with its Recollections series, the Stedelijk hopes to promote new research in this area. This edition was partly inspired by the publication ofExhibiting the New Art: ‘Op Losse Schroeven’ and ‘When Attitudes Become Form’ 1969 by Afterall Press in 2010. Op Losse Schroeven marked the beginning of the Stedelijk Museum’s commitment to acquiring works by several major national and international artists. For instance, the museum bought its first Bruce Nauman work, My Name as Though It Were Written on the Surface of the Moon (1968), which was followed by many more acquisitions by that artist. The same holds true for Giovanni Anselmo, Mario Merz, Richard Serra and countless others. This edition ofRecollections demonstrates that Op Losse Schroeven was a milestone—both in terms of Beeren’s innovative approach to exhibiting contemporary art and for the way it helped shape the Stedelijk’s internationally renowned collection.

Recreation of Robert Morris artwork
Many of the artworks exhibited in Op Losse Schroeven were either ephemeral or subject to continual change: from Robert Smithson’s interventions in the landscape of Heerlen to Lawrence Weiner lighting a rocket flare on the outskirts of Amsterdam. To explore the impact of that aspect of Recollections, the Stedelijk has recreated a work that Robert Morris devised specially for Op Losse Schroeven. Morris’s pieceAmsterdam Project (1969) consists of a list of instructions to museum staff. Every few days, they are to gather flammable material from Amsterdam and the surrounding area and place it on the floor of the museum. Gradually increasing in size, the mound of turf, grass, magnesium and so on gradually fills up a gallery space until the last day of the exhibition when it is taken outdoors and set alight. Combustible can be read as a criticism of the art world that places too much weight on technical virtuosity and the primacy of the object. Morris’s critique is equally pertinent today and highlights a paradox of the current exhibition: in attempting to offer insights on a historical exhibition intended to subvert both the traditional art object and the traditional role of the museum, it must rely on objects from its own collection.

Virtual tour of Op Losse Schroeven
After visiting the latest edition of Recollections, visitors with a smartphone can take a virtual guided tour and experience Op Losse Schroeven in the gallery spaces where the work was originally displayed in 1969. Though Recollections is located in the leftdownstairs wing, the original presentation of Op Losse Schroeven was held in the rightdownstairs wing (currently the site of the exhibition Bellevue), on the staircase and in the former café, the mezzanine and the outside surroundings of the museum building. Based on archival photos and accompanied by a voiceover (Dutch only) narrated by Margriet Schavemaker, head of collections and research, and curator Bart Rutten, the virtual tour offers a fascinating reconstruction of this iconic presentation.

Starting August 2, the tour will be available at http://oplosseschroeven.stedelijk.nl and by using a QR code in the museum.