Dissidents and Wanderers: Wim Beeren’s Exhibitions of Eastern European Art at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam
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This thesis examines two exhibitions of Eastern European art organized by Wim Beeren during his directorship of the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. The first of these, In the USSR and Beyond (21st of September 1990 – 4th of November 1990), was the first large-scale exhibition of Soviet art at a museum in the Netherlands and was intended to introduce artists from the USSR to the Stedelijk’s Western European audience. It was also remarkably early, having taken place before the Soviet Union itself collapsed just over one year later. The second exhibition, titled Wanderlieder, was inspired by Beeren’s existing interest in the question of Europe, first demonstrated in his 1986 exhibition Correspondence Europe. In light of the importance of these exhibitions, this thesis poses two questions. Namely, what kind of conclusions can be drawn from reconstructing Wim Beeren’s In the USSR and Beyond and to what extent was the exhibition succeed at introducing this topic to an unfamiliar Western public? And how did Wim Beeren approach the question of East and West in Wanderlieder, and to what extent was the exhibition an effective answer to the changing Europe of the early 1990s? In addressing these sub-questions, this thesis ultimately answers the overarching research question: what place did In the USSR and Beyond and Wanderlieder occupy in Wim Beeren’s later career and what is the importance of these exhibitions within the context of a changing Europe in the early 1990s?