From November 17, 2023 through September 1, 2024, Museum Het Schip presents the exhibition Michel de Klerk, inspirer of the Amsterdam School. One hundred years after the passing of the world-famous architect, the exhibition celebrates his talent and his enormous, ever-continuing influence. De Klerk was not only an idealistic and visionary architect who created works of art to live in, but a great artist in a broader sense: his drawings and applied art, too, still appeal to the imagination. The exhibition pays special attention to his rich body of work, sources of inspiration, and life in the Amsterdam bohemian and artistic environment of the 1920s.
One hundred years ago, on November 24, 1923, Michel de Klerk died of pneumonia on his 39th birthday. He was one of the greatest architects the world has known - in his day he was already called the Rembrandt among architects. Books, magazines, and articles about him were published at home and abroad, focusing mainly on his social spirit and his imaginative public housing.
With the Amsterdam bohemian and artistic milieu in which De Klerk moved in the early twentieth century, he shared a penchant for innovation. He wanted to turn buildings into works of art. De Klerk was therefore the trailblazer and inspiration for the Amsterdam School. Without him, the movement known for its expressive style full of symbolism would not have existed. De Klerk wanted to give beauty to the working class: "Nothing is beautiful enough for the laborer who has had to live without beauty for so long." His workers' palaces Het Schip and De Dageraad are still world-famous for this progressive approach and timeless beauty.
A multifaceted artist
Less well known is the fact that De Klerk was also a talented furniture maker, designer, and draftsman, among other things. The exhibition Michel de Klerk, inspirer of the Amsterdam School celebrates that versatility. In addition to his architecture, his furniture, stage sets, drawings and paintings occupy an important place. Visitors will discover who Michel de Klerk was. As an idealistic architect and artist, but also as a person, friend, and colleague. The exhibition gives a glimpse into his life, the journeys he made, and the people he surrounded himself with.
The exhibition features models of his buildings, pieces from Het Schip's own collection, and from other museums and private individuals. Special new acquisitions include a secretaire, cover designs, watercolors, and a painting by De Klerk. Films, photographs, and correspondence provide insight into his daily life and the ideas he shared with friends and colleagues.
The exhibition is structured into eleven themes: from De Klerk's early years in Amsterdam's Jewish neighborhood, through his education, family, free artistry, employers, sources of inspiration, plans and constructions, friends and colleagues, among others, to his national and international fame. And the rich exhibition extends further. It features collection pieces by architects with whom De Klerk worked and who were inspired by him. Also on display for the first few months is work by granddaughter Nanna de Klerk, who has followed in her world-famous grandfather's footsteps as an artist.
New book about Michel de Klerk
Architect and artist Michel de Klerk, inspirer of the Amsterdam School
The exhibition will be accompanied by a richly illustrated book with an overview of Michel de Klerk's life and work, supplemented by quotes from his statements. It also includes texts from friends and colleagues, including architects Berlage, Wijdeveld and Jan Wils, alderman Floor Wibaut and Arie Kepler, head of the Municipal Housing Service.
This book appears in both English and Dutch.
The exhibition and publication Michel de Klerk, inspirer of the Amsterdam School were supported by: