Johannes Carolus Bernardus (‘Jan’) Sluijters
Dutch, ‘s-Hertogenbosch 1881 – 1957 Amsterdam
Together with Piet Mondriaan, Leo Gestel and Kees van Dongen, Jan Sluijters belonged to the small group of Avant Garde artists in the Netherlands. During the turn of the century, in the period 1900-1920, they pushed boundaries and broke free of artistic conventions. Their main focus was to find new ways to express themselves. Sluijters’ paintings were often refused at exhibitions, which made him feel undervalued, but was also some form of acknowledgement of his leadership in the Avant Garde movement. Hereupon Sluijters continued his search and experimented heavily with luminism, fauvism, cubism and expressionism. Thanks to his close contact with Sluijters, Piet Mondriaan also begins to paint landscapes in vivid colours.
Sluijters intensively studied the works by Vincent van Gogh and Kees van Dongen and in 1909 spends some time in the rural villages of Heeze and Laren to paint en plein air. This resulted in some magnificent luminist landscapes, characterised by complementary colours, applied in fine dots and stripes, related to pointillism. And it inspired his close friend Piet Mondriaan to step away from traditional greens and browns in his landscape painting as well. In the following two years Sluijters moved on to larger colour fields and simplified forms. Sluijters found out that colour was an artistis’ most important tool to express personal perception.
During his career, Sluijters intensively experimented with still live pieces. They show an interesting shift of his artistic development from fauvist, to cubist, to expressionist, and varying background colours from light blue to dark brown or grey. He was also an excellent portrait and figure painter. Jan Sluijters was perhaps most know for his paintings of women. From 1910 onwards he made a series of female nudes in bright colours. It were his personal perceptions, expressed in colour and form, echoing the expressionistic tendency elsewhere in Europe.
In 1909 Sluijters met Greet van Cooten (1885-1967) during an exhibition at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, that he had organised with Piet Mondriaan, amongst others. Sluijters was completely captured by her and asked her to be his model and eventually his wife. (Sluijters divorced Berthe Langerhorst in 1910 and married Van Cooten in 1913.) He painted her in different poses, constantly changing contrasting coloured field and lines. He also made a series of studies in watercolour. From 1913 Sluijters focused on fauvism in his figure paintings, which resulted in less individual characteristics. From the 1920’s, when Sluijters moved slightly towards expressionism his figures regain their personal features.
Work in museum collections
Stedelijk Museum (Alkmaar), Amsterdam Museum, Stedelijk Museum (Amsterdam), Van Goghmuseum (Amsterdam), Joods Historisch Museum (Amsterdam), Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten (Antwerp), Gemeentemuseum Arnhem, Drents Museum (Assen), Gemeente Bergen (NH), Stedelijk Museum (Breda), Koninklijke Musea voor Schone Kunsten van België (Brussel), Gemeentemuseum (Den Haag), Postmuseum/Beeld & Geluid (Den Haag), Museum De Wieger (Deurne), Deventer Musea, Dordrechts Museum, Rijksmuseum Twenthe (Enschede), Van Abbemuseum (Eindhoven), Zuiderzeemuseum (Enkhuizen), Frans Hals Museum (Haarlem), Teylers Museum (Haarlem), Noordbrabants Museum (’s-Hertogenbosch), Museum Joure, Singer Museum (Laren), Zeeuws Museum (Middelburg), Museum Het Valkhof (Nijmegen), Kröller-Müller Museum (Otterloo), Rietgors Museum voor Moderne Kunst (Papendrecht), Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (Paris), Museum Boijmans-van Beuningen (Rotterdam), Belasting & Douanemuseum (Rotterdam), Stedelijk Museum (Schiedam), Centraal Museum (Utrecht), Museum Catharijneconvent (Utrecht), Nederlands Steendrukmuseum (Valkenswaard), Cucarçao Museum (Willemstad), Museum Henriette Polak (Zutphen), Museum de Fundatie (Zwolle).