Jan Schoonhoven - Biography | David Zwirner

Jan Schoonhoven

- Biography

Regarded as one of the most important Dutch artists of the late twentieth century, Jan Schoonhoven (1914-1994) is recognized for his extensive and systematic investigations into light, form, and volume through his sculptural wall reliefs and works on paper. Despite spending the majority of his life in Delft, Holland, Schoonhoven worked in dialogue with and had a significant impact upon an international group of avant garde artists. Beginning in the 1950s, he played a central role in the Nederlandse Informele Groep (Netherlandish Informel Group) and the Nul-groep (Nul Group)—which were affiliated with the European Informel movement and the Zero Group, respectively—and was included in numerous important and related group exhibitions including Zero-O-Nul at the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, The Hague, in 1964, and Amsterdam, Paris, Düsseldorf at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, in 1972. He participated in documenta 4, Kassel, in 1968, and the IX Bienal de São Paulo, Brazil, in 1967, where he was awarded second prize.

Schoonhoven's work has been the subject of solo exhibitions at museums including the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, The Hague (1967) and the Stedelijk Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, the Netherlands (1968, 1972, and 1973). Major surveys and retrospectives of the artist's work have been held in international institutions. In 1972, Jan J. Schoonhoven traveled from the Städtisches Museum, Mönchengladbach, Germany, to the Westfälischer Kunstverein, Münster, and the Museum van Bommel van Dam, Venlo, The Netherlands. In 1985–1986, Jan Schoonhoven Retrospektiv: Tekeningen en reliëfs traveled from the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, The Hague, to the Kunsthalle Nürnberg, Nuremberg, and finally to the Badischer Kunstverein, Karlsruhe, Germany. In 1995–1996, Jan J. Schoonhoven – retrospektiv traveled from Museum Folkwang, Essen, to the Bonnefantenmuseum, Maastricht, and the Aargauer Kunsthaus, Aarau, Switzerland.

In 2009-2010, Jan Schoonhoven Reliefs en tekeningen was on view at the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, The Hague. In 2015, a centennial exhibition of the artist's work was held at Situation Kunst, Bochum, Germany. In the same year, Museum Prinsenhof Delft, The Netherlands, presented Kijk, Jan Schoonhoven and Stedelijk Museum Schiedam, The Netherlands, presented De werkelijkheid van Jan Schoonhoven. In 2016, Order and Chaos: Balance in the Drawings of Jan J. Schoonhoven was on view at the Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin College, Ohio.


David Zwirner presented the first significant exhibition of the artist's sculptural wall reliefs and works on paper in America in over a decade at the gallery’s 537 West 20th Street location in 2015.


Work by the artist is represented in museum collections worldwide, including the Art Institute of Chicago; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, The Hague; Hamburger Kunsthalle, Hamburg; Kunsthaus Zürich; Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebaek, Denmark; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam; Museum Ludwig, Cologne; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin; Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Helsinki Art Museum, Helsinki, Finland; Tate Gallery, London; and Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, The Netherlands.


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