Guido van der Werve
12 February — 29 May 2022
This first retrospective exhibition of Van der Werve features a broad selection of his films as well as new work.
In the world of Guido van der Werve, Romanticism, nature and the sublime are never far away. His films explore the futility of existence, yet they also capture its endless beauty.
A vast expanse of ice with a solitary figure in the middle, trudging along as a huge icebreaker approaches. The short film Nummer acht by Guido van der Werve leaves an indelible impression. Over the past two decades, this artist has built up an impressive set of works.
Van der Werve often films his extreme physical exertions, in which he does battle with himself. He runs around his house for twelve hours without stopping, stands on the north pole for 24 hours while the earth revolves beneath his feet, and completes a 1700-kilometre triathlon – between the church in Warsaw where Chopin’s heart is buried and his official grave in Paris.
On a blustery day, we take Guido van der Werve across the river IJ in a boat. A flag is waving behind him, and in the distance we can see the museum building. He is in his element on the water, closer to nature. He candidly talks about his quest for artistry and the origin of his films.
The films combine autobiographical elements with themes such as classical music, endurance sport, chess and nature. Trained as a classical pianist, Van der Werve composes the music for many of his films. His work, depicting a tiny figure surrounded by overwhelming nature, is often associated with Romanticism. But besides extremes and melancholy, the films are sprinkled with dry wit.
Van der Werve is currently working on a new film, Nummer achttien, prompted by his involvement in a serious traffic accident. Highly autobiographical, the film deals with, among other things, his difficult rehabilitation process. The exhibition also features new work taken from Nummer achttien.
Films, talks & events
Watch the exhibition registration:
Barbara London and Guido van der Werve in conversation
During one special evening, MoMA curator Barbara London and Guido van der Werve examined examples from MoMA’s collection and Van der Werve’s Nummer acht (2007) in search of associations and differences. Watch their conversation below.
An extensive publication featuring texts about and images of all films by Guido van der Werve is published to coincide with the exhibition. Published by Eye Filmmuseum in collaboration with nai010 publishers, Rotterdam. Available for € 29.95 in the Eye Shop...
About the publication
Various authors approach the work from different perspectives. Barbara London, former MoMA curator and founder of the museum’s collection of video art, places it in an international art historical context. She acquired Van der Werve’s work for the MoMA. In addition to an interview and a literary contribution, the book includes essays about chess and the role of music, by Jaap Guldemond, Dirk van Weelden, Xander Karskens and Sara Crombach.
Born in Papendrecht in 1977, Guido van der Werve is internationally renowned for films in which he records performances. He studied at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie and spent time in residence at the Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten in Amsterdam.
His work is held in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Hirschhorn Museum, Washington, D.C.; Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam; Goetz Collection, Munich; and Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam.
His work has been exhibited at the Kunsthalle Basel, MoMA/PS1 and Manifesta, and at the biennales of Venice, Moscow and Istanbul, and has been honoured with the Volkskrant Art Prize, the Prix International d’Art Contemporain from the Foundation Prince Pierre de Monaco, the Charlotte Koehler Prize, the Cobra Art Prize and a Golden Calf for the best short film.
Van der Werve lives in Berlin, Amsterdam and Hassi in Finland.
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