Moissey Kogan at the Museum de Wieger
A number of sculptures by Moissey Kogan is currently featured in a show at the Museum de Wieger, Deurne in the Netherlands. The exhibition, entitled Van Armando tot Zadkine. Collectie Lex en Leonie van de Haterd, is being held to mark the retirement of museum curator, Lex van de Haterd, and showcases, in a display of around 200 works, the collection he and his wife have amassed over the years. There is still time to see it, coronavirus willing, as the Museum has recently extended its run until 16 May 2021.
The Kogan sculptures exhibited include a dancing Torso of a Woman (Vrouwentors – see featured image), made in a reddish-brown chamotte or grog, which has never before been published. It is dated by Mr van de Haterd to c.1933, although I believe it might well be earlier (full research has still to be carried out). As the catalogue makes clear, the van de Haterds acquired it, along with other works, from a collection belonging to the Roman Catholic poet and art critic, Jan Engelman (1900-1972). Over his long career, Engelman wrote extensively about the contemporary culture of his times. Notably, he was the editor of the influential, modernist journal, De Gemeenschap (1925-1934), for which he reviewed an exhibition of Kogan‘s works, held at the Kunsthandel Santee Landweer, Amsterdam in 1936.
Kogan can be numbered amongst the ‘slow’ artists. He despises the temporal, anything that departs from the artistic realm or the ideal. For him, this is what taints the work of so many artists, binds it to the era in which it is produced, thus seeding its destruction. Nothing leaves his hands that has not risen above the moment and the fleeting emotion.
Jan Engelman, ‘Moïssi Kogan’, De Gemeenschap, 12, 1936, p. 105 (translated Helen Shiner)
The above photograph, which illustrated Engelman‘s review, features (to the lower centre) what appears to be a terracotta, or more probably a plaster, variant of another of the sculptures currently on display at the Museum de Wieger, albeit in bronze. Known as Friends (Freundinnen/Vriendinnen), it is in fact a relief sculpture. The terracotta/plaster work illustrated above probably dates to 1933, as does a very similar relief, which was fired for Kogan in Amsterdam by Austro-Hungarian ceramicist, Lea Henie Halpern (1901-1985). The bronze in the van de Haterds‘ collection (see below) is believed to have been a gift to Engelman from Kogan during his lifetime.
The exhibition is divided into 3 sections. Of particular interest to readers of this blog perhaps will be the section entitled, Interbellum, which focuses on the circle of friends, including Kogan, sculptors Ossip Zadkine and Jozef Cantré, painters Otto van Rees, Jan Sluijters and Leo Gestel, as well as Engelman and others, who gathered around art patron, doctor, and artist, Hendrik Wiegersma, in whose former home the Museum de Wieger is now housed.
Kogan was introduced to Wiegersma via van Rees, who had moved to live in Deurne in 1923. Prior to the First World War, Kogan had made the acquaintance of van Rees in Paris. The painter regularly invited him and his other Parisian friends, including Zadkine and the Swiss poet and musician, Charles Albert Cingria, to stay in the Dutch village, where he introduced them to Wiegersma. The latter also acquired a sizeable collection of works by Kogan and would go on to provide the sculptor, and other artists in this grouping, with a great deal of support of various kinds, until the Nazi invasion of Europe brought contact to an end.
For more information on the exhibition at Museum de Wieger, please click here.
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