Hendrik Werkman  27 June 2008

The Blue Barge

From 27 June to 30 November 2008 the Jewish Historical Museum presents the exhibition Hendrik Werkman: The Blue Barge. The exhibition contains Werkman's preparatory studies for the suites of prints he made for The Blue Barge during the Second World War as an act of resistance against the Nazi occupation. The most famous of these is Chassidische Legenden (Hasidic Legends). Many of the handcrafted prints bear annotations by Werkman.

Hendrik Nicolaas Werkman (1882-1945), best known as a member of Groningen's artists' association De Ploeg (The Plough), was one of the Netherlands' most important graphic artists. His unique visual language was expressed in countless experiments with printing techniques. During the war he established The Blue Barge together with three friends. One of these was the clergyman August Henkels, who gave Werkman a copy of Martin Buber's Legend of Baal-Shem (1932) in 1941. Werkman made a series of twenty beautiful illustrations for these Hasidic stories. The texts and images were an act of resistance against the Nazi occupation and were intended to give courage to the Dutch people during the war years. As a result of his resistance work Werkman was executed by firing squad by the Sicherheitsdienst (Security Service) on 10 April 1945.

In 1976 August Henkels' widow presented the JHM with Werkman's letters to Henkels and his wife plus the complete series of proof sheets for The Blue Barge (including the Hasidic Legends). The JHM is exhibiting the prints (more than 60 pieces) and the correspondence between Werkman and Henkels for the first time since 1977.

The exhibition is complemented by the concurrent exhibition Welcoming the Stedelijk Museum: 'Druksel prints' by Werkman organised by the Stedelijk Museum at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam (11 July - 12 October 2008). In May 2008 a complete catalogue of Werkman's work will also appear (H.N. Werkman, The Complete Works, NAi Publishers, €65.00) followed in June 2008 by a new edition of the letters of Werkman and the members of The Blue Barge (H.N. Werkman. Brieven rond De Blauwe Schuit (1940-1945), Uitgeverij SUN, Amsterdam, €95.00).

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