Rijksmuseum's Amsterdam Summer Exhibition explores Ideas about Gender

Thursday, May 23, 2024
Rijksmuseum's Amsterdam Summer Exhibition explores Ideas about Gender

As part of Women of Rijksmuseum research project, this summer Rijksmuseum presents Point of View, an exhibition exploring ideas around gender in Western Europe from the 16th to the 21st century through 150 works in the Rijksmuseum’s collection.

Highlights include a portrait of William of Orange wearing a skirt at the age of four, a flamboyant gold toothpick in the shape of a dragon and a glass decorated with copulating roosters. Featured artists include Gesina ter Borch, Marlene Dumas, Bartholomeus van der Helst, Kinke Kooi, Robert Mapplethorpe, Erwin Olaf, Maria Roosen, Charley Toorop and Sara Troost among others.

Every summer the Rijksmuseum stages an exhibition that explores objects from its own collection in a new light. Point of View arose out of the Women of the Rijksmuseum research project, which was launched in 2022 to embed female narratives in the Rijksmuseum collection.

Maria Holtrop, co-curator of the exhibition said, ‘Through this exhibition we would like to show how prevailing ideas about gender throughout history influenced not only art but also objects of everyday life. The works on view particularly reflect how varied these notions of gender can be and how they continue to evolve today.

Point of View explores objects such as furniture, drawings, photographs, accessories, items of clothing that, across the centuries, show particular associations with femininity, masculinity, and gender in general. They include the dresses worn by children in the 17th century in the Netherlands. Many Dutch children then wore dresses until about the age of seven, as can be seen in the recently acquired portrait of two-year-old Moses ter Borch painted by Gesina ter Borch (after 1667). In the 18th century, the colour pink was not associated with a particular sex as it sometimes is today – and the same applied to glitter, frills and floral patterns, all used in various clothing items for anyone who could afford them. One highlight in the exhibition is a rosy 18th-century men’s suit alongside a 20th-century skirt suit in a strikingly similar shade, that belonged to the Countess of Bylandt.

The exhibition explores individuals across centuries whose identity, modes of expression and personal experience didn’t fit within the dominant frame of masculinity or femininity. There were female artists – Ferdi, Kinke Kooi and Thérèse Schwartze, for example – who broadened and enriched perspectives on femininity, and individuals such as Christina, Queen of Sweden (1626-1689), who crossed gender boundaries by appearing in portraits in both feminine and masculine forms. The exhibition showcases their stories and images, as well as displays of gender fluidity in portraits of more recent iconic figures, such as Robert Mapplethorpe and Grace Jones.

Point of View runs from 5 July to 1 September 2024 in the Phillips Wing of the Rijksmuseum.

Main Image :Wombtomb, Ferdi 1968

Stephanie Cime

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Anna Melnykova, "Palace of Labor (palats praci), architector I. Pretro, 1916", shot with analog Canon camera, 35 mm Fuji film in March 2022.

Anna Melnykova, "Palace of Labor (palats praci), architector I. Pretro, 1916", shot with analog Canon camera, 35 mm Fuji film in March 2022.


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