Willem Sandberg

After the Second World War, Willem Sandberg (NL, 1897–1984) transformed the Amsterdam Stedelijk museum into a dynamic centre for modern and innovative art and culture. He did this with exceptional creativity and in close collaboration with artists and architects.

Sandberg had distinct ideas about heading up a museum for modern and contemporary art, about the importance of art, about dealing with artists and about his work as typographic designer, but also about social responsibility and community.This book is based on interviews with Sandberg (from 1971 and 1981) and offers first-hand insight into questions such as: what does the task of museum director entail; how does art criticism work; what is the essence of being an artist; what does the ideal museum architecture look like; and what is the role of art and the museum in society?

His involvement in setting up various museums, such as Beaubourg/Centre Pompidou testifies to his ideas. He also discusses his experiences in the resistance during the Second World War and his unique personal life style. Many of Sandberg’s ideas about these issues are still intriguing and provocative. They can give new impulse to the ongoing discussion and place it into an historical perspective.

In addition, a striking picture is drawn of the period with fascinating stories about artists such as Piet Mondrian, Picasso and Alexander Calder, and architects such as Gerrit Rietveld, Le Corbusier and Mies van der Rohe. Sandberg’s cosmopolitan spirit and his many foreign contacts made him into an internationally renowned pivotal figure in culture.

Thanks to this English translation of the revised text, plus photographic material and typographic work by Sandberg, a broad international public can now get to know those ideas which have still not lost any of their significance and relevance.

Graphic Design: Rutger de Vries/Werkplaats Typografie
supported by: Gerrit Rietveld Academie, Sandberg Institute

Willem Sandberg - Portrait Of An Artist
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