Two Hundred Years of the Kingdom of the Netherlands: The Atlas Van Stolk, Kunsthal Rotterdam

This spring, Kunsthal Rotterdam presents Two Hundred Years of the Kingdom of the Netherlands: The Atlas Van Stolk until 8 March. The exhibition includes hundreds of prints, drawings, photographs, cartoons and posters from the Atlas which illustrate the lives of the Dutch people during two centuries of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, and show how they have viewed themselves over the years.

The founder of the Atlas Van Stolk (“atlas” is an Old Dutch term meaning collection) was the Rotterdam-born timber merchant Abraham van Stolk. In 1835, driven by a passion for the history of his fatherland, he began collecting pictures that would provide a broad perspective on society as it was in his day. The collection has been further expanded by several generations of the Van Stolk family and now contains over a quarter of a million pictures.

In addition to this exhibition, audiences can see photography from Scottish photographer Simon Crofts, who lived in Russia for seven years in the 1990s when the country was transforming into capitalism. The images in The Horizon is calling… plumb the depths of its culture, having been taken across many trips to Russia, Belarus and Ukraine and illustrating their history and the relationships between people.

In The Factory Set, which runs until 1 March, almost 40 monumental reliefs by the Rotterdam-based artist Ron van der Ende have been brought together for the first time for an impressive retrospective in honour of his 100th bas-relief. The sculptures – almost flat sculptures of cars, buildings and space capsules – are archetypes of history that are familiar to everyone. Ron van der Ende’s works consist of a mosaic of countless pieces of thinly-sawn old wood that still bear their original layers of paint. The meticulously constructed perspective creates a fascinating trompe l’oeil effect, an optical illusion whereby the works appear to extend forwards into space, while their depth in reality is only about twelve centimetres.

Two Hundred Years of the Kingdom of the Netherlands: The Atlas Van Stolk, until 8 March, Kunsthal Rotterdam, Museumpark, Westzeedijk 341, 3015 AA Rotterdam.

1. Detail of Scheveningen Holland, 1959, Affiche, offset.Collectie Atlas Van Stolk, Rotterdam.