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Rooskens’ travels

The exhibition Rooskens’ travels: a Cobra artist in search of inspiration can be seen in Stedelijk Museum Schiedam (the Netherlands) until 25 June 2023. 

Anton Rooskens (1906-1976) travelled to many different countries in search of inspiration for his work – from four countries on the African continent to the expansive landscapes of Iceland and Greenland and the warmth of the Italian village of Rivello. ‘Rooskens’ travels’ showcases paintings, gouaches and photographs he made during, and inspired by, his travels. Travel is a prominent theme in modern art because it symbolises freedom and encountering the new, but it is one which, as the exhibition reveals, we also look at from a different perspective today.

Three influential journeys
The exhibition shines a light on three different periods in Rooskens’ oeuvre, each profoundly influenced by a different journey. In 1954, he visits four African countries. The artists of the Cobra group – to which Rooskens belonged – were inspired by art from the African continent. During his trip, he discovers that his expectations about ‘primitive Africa’ are wrong; in truth, Rooskens can sense the influence of the colonial era everywhere he goes.
In his later travels, Rooskens adjusts his expectations. In 1960, he travels through Iceland and Greenland, where the landscape enchants him. The works he creates here, reflect the mysterious and overpowering feeling he experiences while being there.

Anton Rooskens, Afrika, 1954

Anton Rooskens, Afrika, 1954
Oil on canvas, 102 x 124 cm
Collection Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam

Anton Rooskens, Birds of Marathea,1973

Anton Rooskens, Birds of Marathea, 1973
Oil on canvas, 108,5 x 135 cm
Collection Museum van Bommel van Dam

Towards the end of his life, Rooskens, now a celebrated artist, spends a period of time painting in Rivello, Italy. These works are lighter and more colourful.
The exhibition illustrates how these travels have influenced Rooskens’ art.

The privilege of travel
The exhibition reveals how artists like Rooskens thought and lived in their time. It highlights the privileged position of Rooskens himself: how his travels came about, who introduced him to new places and how he financed his trips. In Rooskens’ case, the exhibition also affords a glimpse into his personal development, showing how he continues to adjust his expectations of new journeys.

Cobra in Schiedam
Since 1954, at a time when few museums collected contemporary art, Stedelijk Museum Schiedam has been building a Cobra collection, which has now evolved into one of the leading collections of its kind in the Netherlands. The museum regularly organises exhibitions dedicated to Cobra or affiliated artists.

In the course of the exhibition, a monograph on Anton Rooskens will be published, written by art historians Marguerite Tuijn and Eliane Odding, also curators of the exhibition. The monograph, that wants to shed new light on Anton Rooskens’ contribution to Dutch post-war art, is entitled Anton Rooskens (1906-1976). Publisher: Jap Sam Books.

Stedelijk Museum Schiedam
Hoogstraat 112
3111 HL Schiedam
The Netherlands
Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday, 11:00 AM to 05:00 PM
T +31 (0)10 246 3666