Hendrik Valk. 1897-1986

Between the abstract and the figurative

5 September – January 2016

In 2015, the collection of Museum De Lakenhal has again between expanded by a substantial donation of works by Hendrik Valk (1897-1986). His daughter Else Valk has donated more than twenty drawings and paintings to the museum. The majority of these works date back to the modern artist’s early period when he lived and worked in Leiden. This collection further emphasizes the artist’s importance within the sphere of influence of artist collective De Stijl during the early twentieth century. The donated works will be exhibited in Museum De Lakenhal until January 2016.


Included among the donation are an early self-portrait (1919) and the ‘Triptych’ (1925), featuring a stylized Adam and Eve in Paradise. In 1997, exactly a century after her father’s birth, Else Valk already donated a set of eight pastels and the painting ‘Solar spots in the kreupelbos’ (1917). This original collection was expanded with a donated self-portrait (1926) in 2004. Combined with the paintings ‘Small home in Wassenaar' (1924) and ‘The Breakfast’ (1921), which have been acquired with the support of Friends Foundation VBL, the museum can boast about a significant collection of works by Hendrik Valk.


Hendrik Valk (1897 – 1986) settled in Leiden in 1917 and organized his first solo-exhibition in Museum De Lakenhal in 1927. He had just moved to Arnhem the year before, where he would teach at the art academy until 1962.


Valk was a very versatile artist and worked during a period when the art world was bustling and moving forward. On an international level, various artistic schools were busy exploring the borders separating the abstract and the figurative. Hendrik Valk stylized reality in his works, but that reality always remained recognisable. His starting point was a naturalistic representation, from which he consistently removed more and more details. He never consciously and formally joined a broader artistic movement, though similarities can definitely be seen between his oeuvre and that of the artists from De Stijl. Theo van Doesburg, who founded this artist collective in Leiden in 1917, did ask Valk to join their movement, but he refused. The idiosyncratic Hendrik Valk refused to focus on the abstract out of principle, which is definitely reflected in the diversity of his oeuvre.

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Hendrik Valk

Hendrik Valk, Triptych, 1925
Hendrik Valk, Triptych, 1925 Collection Museum De Lakenhal. Donation Else Valk, 2015