The artist’s association ‘De Ploeg’ was founded in 1918 in reaction to the artistic climate in Groningen. A number of young artists felt they did not have enough opportunity to develop themselves and exhibit their work. They hoped that as a group they would be able to exhibit their work and also organize exhibitions and lectures through which artists and the general public could learn about recent developments in art, architecture and literature. Among the initiators were Jan Wiegers, Johan Dijkstra, George Martens and Jan Altink. The name for the association was Altink’s idea. He felt that a lot of ground had to be broken with regard to modern art in Groningen and suggested that ’De Ploeg’, Dutch for ‘the plow’, should be their name.
The association had no formal agenda: anyone who concerned themselves with art in a ‘serious’ fashion was eligible for membership. ‘De Ploeg’ members worked in all manner of art from the outset.
‘De Ploeg’ as an artist’s association exists to this day, but its importance in the history of art lies in the twenties of the last century. An Expressionist school within ‘De Ploeg’ was soon followed by an Impressionist one, both of which were characterized by strong ties to the region and an international artistic orientation. Important members of ‘De Ploeg’ at the time were, among others: Jan Wiegers, Johan Dijkstra, Hendrik Nicolaas Werkman, George Martens, Jan Jordens, Jan van der Zee en Job Hansen.