One hundred years ago, Helene Kröller-Müller had money (lots and lots of money), very good taste, and acquired art because she loved it, not as an investment. If this sounds familiar, we just read the obituary of Rachel “Bunny” Mellon, who recently died at the age of 104. Like Helene, Bunny Mellon used her wealth to buy beautiful objects and art. The obituary pointed out that few have had the combination of mega-wealth and great taste, and they purchased art for love and not for investment purposes.
Bunny and Helene certainly would have appreciated each other’s collections. Helene started to buy Van Gogh’s work before it was well known and amassed a collection so large that only the Van Gogh Museum has more of his works.
Helene Kröller-Müller and her husband, Anton Kröller, lived in the Netherlands, and their vast art collection is on display in the Kröller-Müller Museum at Hoge Veluwe National Park.
We visited the museum after a long bike ride around the park. We think the Kröller-Müller Museum ranks as one of the best art museums we’ve ever seen. The works were stunning and with so few people in the museum, we had space and time to really look at the works. We selected a few paintings you might enjoy seeing – with a few details you don’t see looking at their image in a picture book.
VAN GOGH STARS
Van Gogh’s stars are famous. We finally saw his stars close up.
The star detail was from “Terrace of a Café at Night”, Vincent van Gogh, 1888
A FEW STROKES OF PAINT IS ALL IT TAKES
Van Gogh created hills with a few deft colorful strokes.
The hills are in the upper right corner of “Wheat field with reaper and son”, Vincent van Gogh, 1889
LOOKS LIKE CONFETTI
If we’d only seen this detail closeup – we’d never be able to guess what it was.
The answer: a cloud! And we thought it really worked. (Sorry to have not recorded the name or artist for this painting.)
A SECOND GLANCE
On first glance we saw blocks of color outlined in black in “Composition with grid 5: lozenge, composition with colors”, Piet Mondriaan, 1919
On second glance the intersecting lines in many of the boxes offered a different dimension – a twist and texture.
DO WE SEE THE SAME THING?
Even when looking at the same scene, would we interpret what we saw the same as the next person? Two artists paint the same scene.
Landscape with haystack”, Jan Vijlbrief, 1894
Farm in the dune district”, Johan Aarts, 1895
We’re prepared to concentrate on the few pieces that we find compelling in art museums we visit. Who can see everything? This visit was different. Every work was drawing us in, and we wanted to spend more time with each. We guess that’s what happens when one person with good taste and lots of money puts together a world-class collection.