Jan Beutener

From 19 January 2020 to 20 September 2020

With more than 70 paintings, Museum MORE brings a tribute to the work of Jan Beutener (1932). Beutener is a discoverer of things. In his realism, the detail that strikes him is central. A look back at 50 years of artistry.

The oeuvre of Jan Beutener (Maarssen, 1932) is relatively modest in size. He only paints a few works every year. This exhibition features 70 of his paintings: almost a complete survey. From the outset of his career as a painter, in 1969, Beutener’s works were well received. Most of the paintings in this exhibition are on loan from other museums, although his work also has a significant following among private collectors.

Still 39 days to see

The detail that strikes him is central

In the 1950s, Beutener attended art teacher training at the Rijksnormaalschool in Amsterdam. He initially only created graphic art in the CoBrA style. In 1969, he decided to focus fully on painting and in particular, on realism. He painted Potatoes in the same year, a work that set the tone for what was to come.

Beutener’s decision to become a realistic painter was quite bold in the late 1960s. At the time, the art of painting was under fire: it was considered to be outdated and redundant. Artists were experimenting with new media such as installations, photography, video and performance, while there was also a growing resistance to the dominance of CoBrA and American abstract expressionism. There were burgeoning new movements such as pop art, minimalism, the ZERO movement and conceptual art.


Jan Beutener | Windscherm | 1976 | Dordrechts Museum, bruikleen RCE 2010 | © Pictoright

Beutener was a solitary force swimming against this tide. Some contemporaries also made realistic paintings, such as Co Westerik, Har Sanders and Jan Roeland. They too operated solitarily: there was no common starting point, and each artist had their own opinions regarding how to make recognisable depictions of the world. Characteristic of Jan Beutener is how he ‘edits’ reality. He starts with situations, incidents and objects that strike him and attract his attention. He develops these subjects as abstract forms into a clear composition, often accompanied by a distorted perspective. Beutener subsequently accentuates or crops a detail in such a way that it demands the viewer’s attention. The apparently perfectly serious result is always mixed with a touch of humour. Beutener invariably offers us something of a hint. A reference to the invisible presence of a person. He forces us to think, to look more closely.

Jan Beutener | In between | 1986 | Dordrechts Museum, bruikleen RCE 2010 | © Pictoright

Moniek Peters is a guest curator in collaboration with Jan Beutener. A richly illustrated book will accompany the exhibition. Authors are Feico Hoekstra and Moniek Peters. The book is published by MORE Books. With dozens of loans from collections from the municipality of The Hague, Dordrechts Museum, Staatliche Kunstsammlung, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, De Ateliers, Collection G.A.L.H. Isaak, Houcine Bouchiba, Masja de Koning, Burger Collection, the artist’s studio and various private collections.