Constant. Space + Color
From Cobra to New Babylon

From May 28 - September 25, 2016

  • Constant. Space + Colour shows the experimental route Constant followed between his Cobra period and the New Babylon project in the 1950s.
  • Large-scale architectural constructions created in collaboration with Gerrit Rietveld and Aldo van Eyck, among others.
  • Exhibition design by Ben van Berkel (UNStudio).

The weekend of 28/29 May 2016 will be marked by the opening of two major Constant exhibitions in the Netherlands. Constant. Space + Colour will be presented at the Cobra Museum of Modern Art, Amstelveen, while the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag will be showing Constant - New Babylon.

From Cobra to New Babylon
In the early 50s, Constant sought out new pathways along which art could contribute to the reconstruction of postwar Europe. He envisioned an art that was at once "lyrical in its means and social in its very nature" (1956). Until now, this period of Constant’s artistic development has been underexposed in museum exhibitions, despite the fact that during these years a radical change took place. Constant. Space + Colour at the Cobra Museum of Modern Art reveals this crucial period. The exhibition is curated by Ludo van Halem (Curator of 20th Century Art, Rijksmuseum), Trudy van der Horst (Board member and Head of Research, Constant Foundation) and Katja Weitering (Artistic Director, Cobra Museum).

Ben van Berkel
Ben van Berkel's world-renowned architectural design studio UNStudio designed the exhibition. Van Berkel is a great admirer of Constant’s work and his artistic ideas. The exhibition design presents visitors with a labyrinthine experience, so characteristic for Constant, in which surprising spaces and sight lines, and unexpected connections contribute to a contemporary interpretation of Constant's work.

Collaborations with Gerrit Rietveld, Aldo van Eyck, Hy Hirsch and many others
In the 50s, Constant explored new spheres of activity and media. He also attempted to redefine his position as artist by regularly making alliances with other artists and designers at home and abroad. Artistic views were exchanged, insights shared and mutual influences assimilated, which will be manifest in the exhibition. One example is the collaboration with Gerrit Rietveld in the form of a model interior designed for the manifestation Colour Harmony in your Home in the Bijenkorf department store in Amsterdam in 1954. Earlier, working with Aldo van Eyck, Constant contributed to the so-called ‘a space in colour’ developed for the Humans and Home exhibition in the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam in 1952. Both influential projects have been reconstructed for this exhibition so visitors can physically experience Constant’s, Van Eyck’s and Rietveld's principles of the 1950s.

Two major Constant exhibitions
This summer, the visual artist Constant stands in the spotlight with two exhibitions, organised in close collaboration with Fondation Constant, in the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag and the Cobra Museum for Modern Art, Amstelveen. Recent years have seen an enormous international revival with a major exhibition featuring Constant’s long-term project New Babylon in the Reina Sofía in Madrid and a solo-exhibition at Art Basel 2015. Hence the Gemeentemuseum and Cobra Museum are collaborating in inviting the Dutch public to rediscover his work with two major parallel exhibitions that emphasize this artist's multifaceted character. New Babylon is the centre of attention at the Gemeentemuseum, while the Cobra Museum focuses on the road to New Babylon.

At the museum you will receive a discountvoucher for the other exhibition



March 2015

The Danish artist duo, Bank & Rau, based in Copenhagen, have been invited by the Cobra Museum to create a contemporary presentation of the museum collection from the perspective of their own unique vision. The collection of the museum, the stories associated with it and the history of the Cobra movement, with associated archival material, are the building blocks with which Bank & Rau have set to work. They will further complement this with their own work, inspired by the Cobra collection and thereby creating a new, total installation in which they tell a story of Cobra in a completely new way.

In the artistic practice of Bank & Rau (Lone Bank & Tanja Rau), hand crafting and elements of folklore are consistent elements. By setting aside accepted tradition and everything we tend to take for granted (in a museum), Bank & Rau endeavour to create new forms for museum presentations.

The Open Collection Programme of the Cobra Museum is an investigation in practice, in which contemporary creators are invited to open up the Cobra Museum collection and contribute new impulses and perspectives. The Open Collection Programme has been made possible by the Mondriaan fund. The presentation by Bank & Rau is also supported by the Danish Arts Council, SVFK (Danish Art Workshop) and the SKF (Danish Art Foundation).


CoBrA Collection

On view from 17 March

• Collaborations
• New acquisitions

The Cobra Museum presents its own collection in changing exhibitions, thereby emphasizing the wide range of the international Cobra movement, as well as revealing the dynamics between the various members of the group. Relationships between text and image played an important role right from the beginning of the Cobra movement, and this presentation focuses special attention on collaborations between poets and painters.

Three elements are now being shown for the first time: a recent donation of works by the pioneering Danish CoBrA artist Carl-Henning Pedersen, a recent donation of works by the Scottish CoBrA artist Stephen Gilbert, and a new, long-term loan of works by the Dutch Cobra artist, Jan Nieuwenhuijs.