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Exhibitions Archive


“Figure & Ground - Rembrandt to Mondriaan” Landscape and People in Netherlands Art 1520-1920

14 February–2 April 2005

Crawford Municipal Art Gallery, in association with PM (Project Management Group) and in celebration of Cork's designation as European Capital of Culture 2005, will present an exhibition which brings together 60 watercolours and drawings spanning four centuries and including the works of Dutch artists including Rembrandt van Rijn, Piet Mondriaan, Jan van Goyen and Heindrick Avercamp. Exhibition dates are February 14 until April 2 2005.

Figure and Ground – Rembrandt to Mondriaan, is drawn from collections at the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, the Gemeentemuseum in The Hague, Chatsworth House and from other leading collections. The exhibition explores how Dutch artists, while separated by three centuries, are united by recurring themes, common values and concerns. The exhibition is a unique opportunity for the Crawford Gallery, Cork and Ireland. This is the first time that most of these drawings will be seen in Ireland.

The title Figure and Ground has two meanings. The first is literal, in that this exhibition sets out to document the lives of ordinary people in the Netherlands, who for centuries have worked hard to create and protect their own land. The travails of seventeenth-century labourers, inn-keepers and fishermen are documented in a direct way by artists, who were often eye-witnesses of the scenes they depicted, The clear and pragmatic vision of Hendrick Avercamp, Jan van Goyen, Esaias van de Velde and van Ruisdael is sometimes influenced, but rarely overshadowed by the academic conventions of French and Italian art.

Perhaps more than any other Dutch artist, Rembrandt van Rijn demonstrates an economy of means in his drawings, an ability to suggest a road or line of trees, with just a few strokes of the pen. The balance Rembrandt achieves between representation and abstraction, sketching figures adroitly but also letting pen and ink determine their own path, suggests the second, parallel theme of the exhibition. This examines the way in which artists, particularly in the twentieth century, moved beyond the conventions of perspective space and the illusion of depth, ultimately dissolving the distinction between foreground and background - between ‘figure’ and ‘ground’.

Located in the heart of the city, the Crawford Municipal Art Gallery is a critical part of Cork’s cultural and tourism infrastructure, welcoming over 200,000 visitors a year.

PM is an international provider of professional services in project and construction management, engineering design and technical consulting. Headquartered in Ireland with 1,100 employees, PM has offices in Cork, Dublin, the UK and Poland



For further information and visuals contact:
Anne Boddaert (Exhibitions Officer)
Crawford Municipal Art Gallery
Emmet Place Cork Ireland
T: +353 21 4907857

Emmett Place, Cork, Ireland
T12 TNE6
Tel: 021 480 5042

Opening Hours
N.B. Last entry is 15 minutes before closing

Monday–Saturday 10.00am–5.00pm*
Thursday until 8.00pm

Sundays and Bank Holidays
11.00 am4.00pm

*Second floor closes 15 minutes before closing
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