Ger Lataster: fragments from his life and oeuvre

4 September to 3 January 2021

The Bonnefanten and the Province of Limburg are celebrating the 100th birthday of artist Ger Lataster with the joint exhibition Ger Lataster: fragments from his life and oeuvre. Lataster was regarded as one of the ‘Amsterdam Limburgers’ and his abstract-expressionist style contributed to the prestige of Dutch painting in the 1950’s. His work is represented in a great number of museum collections in the Netherlands and abroad, including the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. The exhibition in the Bonnefanten and the Gouvernement on the Meuse includes monumental works like Icarus Atlanticus and Children Playing, which Lataster painted in 1954 on commission from the City of Heerlen.

Ger Lataster

Ger Lataster (Schaesberg 1920 – Amsterdam 2012) is generally regarded as an abstract-expressionist artist. The theme of Icarus interested him greatly and was important – with regard to both context and technical form – in the development of his expressive, dynamic style. He called it the ‘abstract-expressionist method’ and he was to adhere to it throughout his life.

At the end of the 1930’s, Lataster studied at the Middelbare Kunstnijverheidsschool, in Maastricht, where director Jef Scheffers introduced him to modern masters like Henri Matisse and Paul Cézanne. About the latter artist, Lataster later said, “It was as if I’d been struck by lightning. […] I thought if there’s such a thing as real painting, then that’s it”.

When World War II broke out, Lataster went to Amsterdam and continued his studies at the Dutch National Academy of Fine Art, following which he stayed on in Amsterdam. Willem Sandberg, the influential director of the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam at the time, showed a lot of interest in his work and also acquired it for the museum. Sandberg included him in exhibitions of European and American avant-garde painting, so that Lataster also became known to museums, collectors and galleries abroad. But he also presented his work in the group exhibition Young Painters in the Town Hall in Heerlen, along with contemporaries from Limburg, like Jef Diederen, Pieter Defesche and Marianne van der Heijden. This group was referred to in the press as the ‘Amsterdam Limburgers’.

One exhibition, two locations

In the Bonnefanten, the exhibition opens with the two big paintings from 1954. The gallery dedicated to him contains a selection of mostly monumental paintings from the period 1960-1990. Canvas by canvas, you can follow Lataster’s experimental urge to paint. And his humanist engagement is also evident in, for example, the painting Vietnam and the four-part The hair of the women, the glasses of the poets, the shoes of the workers and the ashes of all: a direct allusion to the moving photos and film images of Nazi concentration camps.

In the central hall of the nearby Gouvernement on the Meuse, the emphasis is on his early years as an artist and his later work, in which his personal environment and the surrounding countryside play an important role. It revolves around everything that gives life, and features his mother, his wife and his friends.

Guest curator: Ad Himmelreich, in collaboration with Daniël Lataster

Credits: photo by Hermine van Hall


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