Artspot 4: Collectie Marianne van der Heijden Expanded
22-01-13 / wo 31-07-13
Artspot 4: Collectie Marianne van der Heijden Expanded

Marianne van der Heijden Collection

Exhibitions in Venlo and Maastricht, an art-history book and a film.

Museum van Bommel van Dam in Venlo presents a keen selection from the legacy of the Limburg artist Marianne van der Heijden, which was donated in its entirety to Venlo municipality by the Marianne van der Heijden/Bruno Borchert Foundation in 2009. Under the title Marianne van der Heijden Collection the museum shows the many sides of her turbulent life as an artist. A presentation in Maastricht University’s administration building will run concurrently with the retrospective in Venlo.

Marianne van der Heijden (1922-1998) lived and worked in Limburg for most of her life. Her student years at the Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten in Amsterdam immediately after World War II gave her work an interregional character. 

Because she was a classmate of Ger Lataster, Jef Diederen and Pieter Defesche, and they exhibited with her in Heerlen, Van der Heijden is considered as one of the so-called Amsterdam Limburger group. 

Marianne van der Heijden’s works are very varied and show rigorous changes. In the nineteen fifties she was famous in the south of Limburg for her remarkable mosaics and stained glass windows for churches in the region. The wall mosaics for the Jesuit chapel in Maastricht and the stained glass windows for the Lambertus Church in Kerkrade are the best known. At the end of the nineteen sixties she turned her back on working for the church. From then on, her art became an expression of her personal ideas, commenting critically on the idealised image of women as presented by the media in the nineteen sixties and seventies. She focused on graphic art, lino cuts and etching in particular, and had great success with this. 

In the nineteen eighties she was introduced to the endless applications for paper at the Art Paper in Maastricht. She made impressive, abstract collages that, in contrast to the expressive graphic art, are oases of peace with a very contemplative character. This period of peace and success was ended abruptly by the death of her life partner Bruno Borchert in 1994. She slipped into a mental crisis and expressed her feelings concerning the transience of life in very emotional pastels.

Marianne van der Heijden Collection in Venlo

Central to the exhibition in Venlo is the wall mosaic Growth from 1965, because this work heralded the radical turning-point in her work. It is her first abstract work of art and the remarkable sketches show her creative search. With this work of art centre stage, the exhibition focuses on her remarkable artistry that revolves around the art of assembly, thinking in colour and selecting special materials. The person Marianne van der Heijden comes to life in a short film by Annelotte Verhaagen and Adri Schrover. The film was produced by Oogland Filmproducties and was broadcast in a full-length version on the regional channel L1 in April 2013.

Marianne van der Heijden Expanded Collection in Maastricht

Central to the exhibition in the Maastricht University administration building is the monumental work of art Van der Heijden made for the Jesuit chapel (now the auditorium for the Economics and Business Economics Faculty). From 1953 to 1962 she made mosaics here for the apsis ‘The seven mysteries in the life of Christ’, the triumphal arch ‘Heavenly sacrifice of Christ’ and eight stained glass windows. At the presentation, this clerical art is placed in the context of her complete works. Besides photographs and documents showing the creation of the works, free works are shown. This way, the exhibition zooms in on her search for abstraction, which started even before her first abstract wall mosaic Growth.


A publication accompanies the exhibition with a foreword by Rick Vercauteren and substantive texts by Lies Netel. Based on the legacy, she provides an art-historical description of the complete works. In the last part of the book, the artist is brought to life using photographs and documents.

​Mieke Derickx

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