Panorama Mesdag gives face to anonymous Scheveningen workers

Panorama Mesdag will open the exhibition Jan Giesen: Working on Scheveningen (1920-1930) on 4 March.

Survived workers’ heads, a sunset in the dunes and a stranded German Cruiser: The Hague artist Jan Giesen (1900-1983) found life-long inspiration in Scheveningen and Kijkduin. In this exhibition his art is central from the years 1920-1930, a period in which Giesen was fascinated by all the work on Scheveningen and Kijkduin. In this way he visualized the reinforcement of the seawall of the South Holland coast, the construction of railway lines and the expansion of Kijkduin. He alternated brute human muscle power with tranquil nature observations of, for example, a flowering sea buckthorn.

The eye-catcher is the nine impressive portraits of workers that Giesen drew in 1927. Their lived-on heads betrayed the hard labor they did at the seaside resort. Giesen gave ‘his’ men substance and humanity. They literally stand with their feet in the sand. It is the first time since 1939 that this series has been shown in a museum context.

Giesen developed a figurative, simplified visual language and chose as a medium for the easily reproducible woodcut. From the combination of powerful lines, large surfaces, black printing ink and white paper his most beautiful works were created. With his powerful woodcuts, Giesen grew into one of the best Dutch graphic artists in this decade.

The exhibition is the starting shot for Panorama Mesdag for the celebration of ‘Feest aan Zee, 200 year seaside resort Den Haag ~ Scheveningen’. The fishing village from Mesdag’s time grew into a popular seaside resort. Panorama Mesdag gives a face to the anonymous workers who had a share in the current appearance of Scheveningen and Kijkduin.

The exhibition Jan Giesen: Working on Scheveningen (1920-1930) can be seen from 4 March to 28 October 2018. The exhibition was realized in collaboration with the Johannes Theodorus Giesen Foundation.

20 February 2018 pac