De Stijl in Tilburg

report of a special friendship

8 Sept 2007 - 6 Jan 2008

In the fifteen years of its existence, De Pont has produced many exhibitions on contemporary art. De Stijl in Tilburg happens to be an exception to this. Here the subject is the long friendship between Theo van Doesburg (1883-1931) – painter, architect and advocate of modern art – and Antony Kok (1882-1969), railway official in Tilburg. In this versatile exhibition, their friendship is documented in letters, cards, photographs and other material. On display are artworks that the two discussed. In addition to this, one can hear poems being read aloud and music being played. The exhibition has been compiled by Dr. Alied Ottevanger, who carried out research on the correspondence between the two men; financial support has been provided by the City of Tilburg.

In the exhibition, light is shed on the course of this friendship, which is divided according to the various cities where Van Doesburg lived throughout his very active life: Leiden, Berlin, Weimar, Paris and Strasbourg. On display are works of art that the two friends discussed with each other. But that was not all: at the advice of his friend, Kok began to collect as well. And so, between 1920 and 1924, a collection took shape with not only works by Van Doesburg, but also other works, among them four paintings by Mondrian and a work by El Lissitsky. That collection, which was hanging in Tilburg in those days, can now be seen in a reconstructed form. 

"(...) My dear fellow, I’m very much looking forward to seeing you here again"