Museum Het Valkhof – Exhibition programme 2008

Main exhibitions
26 January – 29 June 2008
Koen Vanmechelen – The chicken’s appeal

Artist Koen Vanmechelen (Sint-Truiden (B), 1965) is working on an ambitious breeding project:
‘The Cosmopolitan Chicken’. Since 2000 Vanmechelen has been crossing chickens of various characteristic races from all over the world to create a universal, cosmopolitan chicken. In fact, this chicken will become a ‘super bastard’, containing the genes of all its previous generations and nationalities. The artist does not intend to create a super chicken, in which unwanted genes are excluded, but rather a bastard chicken, in which the genes of all national races are included.
In the Cosmopolitan Chicken Project, the tenth generation of chickens (the Mechelen Denizli) has already arrived: they are a cross between the Turkish Denizli Longcrower and the Mechelen Auracana, which is the genetic sum of the previous eight generations.
The new tenth generation chicken can be seen for the first time in the Netherlands alive and kicking at the exhibition. Furthermore, drawings, collages, wooden constructions of the chicken’s motor system, glass objects, recent computer animations and large format photographic portraits of the various generations are on display. Of every generation the first chicken to reach adulthood is portrayed. In addition, once it has died a natural death, it is stuffed and displayed as testimony to its own generation. Out of respect for the animals, the artist maintains a resting place for old chickens at his home.
‘The chicken’s appeal’ is Koen Vanmechelen’s first large solo show in a Dutch museum.

23 August 2008 – 4 January 2009
Luxury and decadence – Life on the Roman gold coast

In autumn 2008 a new top exhibition will arrive at Museum Het Valkhof: ‘Luxury and decadence – Life on the Roman gold coast’. This exhibition shows the carefree lifestyle of the filthy rich, who lived in large numbers on the Gulf of Naples.
“Luxury requires admirers and participants”. This was how the Roman philosopher Seneca described the pomp and splendour that many of his contemporaries displayed some 2000 years ago. The Gulf of Naples offered the ideal décor for the Romans: a coast with fantastic views, a mild climate and exceptionally fertile volcanic soil at the base of Mount Vesuvius.
First-class showpieces from the National Archaeological Museum in Naples will be displayed for the first time outside Italy, such as frescoes, bronze and marble sculptures and exquisite gold jewellery. But you will also see a private bath with a refined hot water system and ceiling-high 3-D animations of Emperor Tiberius’ eight-floor villa on the island of Capri. Classical writers tell of the decadence of a small upper class, which focuses increasingly on status rather than traditional Roman values. Their criticism, partly objective and partly sarcastic, offers a revealing glimpse behind the facade of the luxury.
As supranational joint venture, the exhibition will be seen between 2007 – 2009 in Germany, the Netherlands and Japan. Collaborators are the LWL- Römermuseum in Haltern am See (Kreis Recklinghausen), the Focke-Museum in Bremen, Museum Het Valkhof in Nijmegen and the Archaeological Staatssammlung in Munich. These partners also worked together with great success on the blockbuster ‘Herculaneum’s final hours’.

Other exhibitions

16 February – 1 June 2008
Ferdi – Hortisculptures (Project room)

After a long wait, there will once again be an extensive solo exhibition of hortisculptures by artist Ferdi Jansen (Arnhem 1927-1969 Baarlo).
Ferdi studied in the early fifties in Paris with sculptor Ossip Zadkine and with her later husband Shinkichi Tajiri.
In 1966 she began to construct hortisculptures: brightly coloured objects that look like giant flowers and insects. The hortisculptures are constructed of plaiting, plastic foam, artificial fur and cloth: an exotic garden of carnivorous and also meaty-looking plants, that at the same time are also animal and human, erotic, sensual and threatening, poisonous and irresistible, mysterious and playful. Her art has a psychedelic character. The air of the sixties is inherent in these sculptures – a pioneering spirit, playfulness, bright colours, pop music, flower power and above all an appeal to the senses. Her hortisculptures invite us to enter an unknown and exotic world, an environment that is both personal and reflecting the spirit of the second half of the sixties.
Around 15 hortisculptures can be seen at the exhibition, along with a film about her work by Shinkichi Tajiri in Paris in 1955. At the same time a monograph will be published on her life and work, composed by the Tajiri family in collaboration with Museum Het Valkhof.

21 March – 22 June 2008
Flood (Print cabinet)

For centuries the Netherlands has been fighting against water, right through to the present day.
An exceptional 19th-century painting by the Amsterdam amateur artist Johan Veltens (1814-1894) – purchased by Museum Het Valkhof in early 2007 – is a reminder of one of the worst floods from that period: the flood of 1855. Veltens’ work consists of some 25 small paintings on panel, mounted in a frame, which touchingly depict the consequences of the flood for numerous towns in the Guelders valley and the countryside between the Maas and Waal rivers. The exhibition tells the surprising story behind the painting, a special initiative of the Amsterdam artists’ society Arti et Amicitiae and the role king Willem II played in helping the flood victims. Alongside a number of other paintings, drawings, documents and eyewitness accounts, it brings the flood of some 150 years ago back to life.

4 July – 24 August 2008
Historical Lace (Print cabinet)

During the summer months a selection of precious lace works from private owners in the Netherlands will be on display. The exhibition is being set up by guest curator Els Bartelink and presents not only lace work but also model drawings, tools and painted portraits in which exceptional lace is worn. The exhibition is associated with the 13th congress of the OIDFA (Organisation Internationale de la Dentelle au Fuseau et à l’Angille), which will be held in Groningen in 2008. The OIDFA is a worldwide organization, which promotes the transfer of knowledge of traditional and contemporary lace techniques.

29 August 2008 – 22 January 2009
Lauwerier and Korfmacher (Print cabinet)

As strategically located garrison town, Nijmegen was jammed between its city walls for centuries.
Towards the end of the 19th century 23,000 people inhabited a mere 2,300 houses in the inner city, which still had a medieval street plan. Due to the discontinuance of Nijmegen’s citadel status in 1874, the garrison walls were demolished and the city was extended. This led to a period of social and economic growth and changed the appearance of the city for good.
Late 19th-century photos, aquarelles, drawings and paintings by two Nijmegen artists can be seen at the exhibition. The artists were amateur painter Rudolphus Lauwerier (1797-1883) and photographer Gerard Korfmacher (1835-1877), who in their own way both recorded how the city shed its old skin.

(Subject to change, version 17.10.07)

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