479. Melle Oldeboerrigter

Melle Oldeboerrigter
Blauw interieur – Kennemerland (Blue Interior – Kennemerland)(cat.no.112) (1954)
Signed lower right
Oil on panel, 29.5 x 66.9 cm
Private collection, the Netherlands
– Galerie Magdalena Sothman, Amsterdam, 1-15 October 1955
– Museum Arnhem, De schepping van Melle, 25 October 2008 – 19 februari 2009
Melle, a prominent Dutch artist, emerged onto the mid-20th-century art scene as a provocative and controversial figure. Born in 1908 as Melle Oldeboerrigter, he gained recognition for his distinctive contributions to post-war painting. Melle’s work was marked by a daring exploration of sexuality, evident in his explicit depictions of genitalia that stirred both admiration and controversy. His artistic journey unfolded against the backdrop of societal shifts, with Melle becoming a key figure in the post-war Dutch art landscape, challenging norms and sparking discussions around the intersection of art, censorship, and human nature.
The two paintings on offer by Melle in this sale, lot 478 & 479, both created in 1954-1955, hold a significant place in his oeuvre from an art historical perspective, as they became the subject of controversy caused by the influential director of the Amsterdam Stedelijk Museum, Willem Sandberg. The foundation ‘Artists Commemorate May 5th’ organized an exhibition of the same name at the Stedelijk Museum from May 5 to May 31, 1955. A committee, of which Sandberg himself was part, invited numerous artists, including Melle, to participate. Melle submitted three works, including ‘Landschap met witte kip – blauw meisje’ (Landscape with White Chicken – Blue girl) and ‘Peter de Grote’, the latter now owned by the Museum Arnhem.
Nine days before the opening, Sandberg informed Melle that these works could not be exhibited because they were deemed unsuitable for children to see. This sparked considerable protest, leading Sandberg to call Melle a few days later, requesting him to submit alternative works. It is known that Melle complied with this request. Due to his low production in 1954-55, very few works qualify, and this lot, Blauw interieur – Kennemerland’ (Blue Interior – Kennemerland), must have been one of them. The committee might have found this work “unsuitable for children” as well, as Melle’s name does not appear in the exhibition catalogue.
After this unpleasant affair for Melle, it was noted that the number of genitalia in his work increased explosively, particularly phalluses. While Melle never provided commentary on his work, it is plausible that this increase was fuelled by his anger over the humiliation inflicted upon him by this experience.

Fore more information about the artist: www.tranendal.nl/melle

Second photo: The letter Melle received in 1955 from the Stedelijk Museum
Third photo: Melle Oldeboerrigter by © Ed van der Elsken – Nederlands Fotomuseum
* Condition report available upon request

€ 4.000 - 6.000
€ 4.000