The exhibition Iconen van het Groningerland (Icons of the Groningen Countryside) is an overview of the oeuvre of Jan Altink. This retrospective exhibition in the Ploeg Pavilion presents around seventy paintings and forty works on paper. The work from the collection of the Groninger Museum and of De Ploeg foundation will be supplemented by loans from private collections and public institutions. The emphasis lies on Altink’s paintings and prints from the 1920s and ‘30s.
Icons of the Groningen Countryside
Jan Altink, born and raised in Groningen, completed his education at Minerva Academy of Art in Groningen. In 1918 he was one of the founders of the De Ploeg artists’ association. He was even the name-giver of the artists’ group: in his view, art life in Groningen should be drastically overturned (‘ploeg’ in Dutch means both ‘plough’ and ‘team’), so that it could germinate again. Although Altink also produced portraits and still lifes, he is primarily known as a landscape artist. In fact, his characteristic landscapes with high horizons and roads or waterways disappearing into the distance are almost prescriptive of the expressionistic way in which the artists of De Ploeg elevated the Groningen countryside to an idealized theme; they are icons of the Groningen landscape.
The expressive use of complementary colours such as purple and green contributes greatly to the originality of his visual language. This visual language was strongly influenced in the twenties by the expressionism that Jan Wiegers brought to Groningen after his meeting with E.L. Kirchner in Davos, Switzerland. In around 1927, a change occurred in Altink’s artistic approach; he developed a painting style that gave a more lyrical-impressionistic representation of the Groningen countryside. In addition to his autonomous work, Altink also produced advertising designs, for Vroom & Dreesman among others.
The exhibition will be accompanied by the catalogue entitled Jan Altink – Iconen van het Groningerland, published by Philip Elchers. This work forms the tenth and final volume of the series of monographic books about artists of De Ploeg, which the Groningen Museum has published since 1993.
This exhibition has been compiled by Mariëtta Jansen, curator of twentieth-century art and De Ploeg.