Anneke (Anna) van der Feer (1902-1956)
Portrait of Anka Nienhuis
Oil on canvas on panel
Signed bottom right Anneke van der Feer
47 x 36 cm
Frame: 54 x 43
Private collection Vlissingen,
Private collection Veere
Depicted in André Stufkens, Anneke van der Feer. Helemaal eerlijk zijn, Europese Stichting Joris Ivens (2023), p. 26.
Anneke van der Feer was a dedicated artist and committed communist, whose life and art were dedicated to the working class. She was known as an independent woman and political activist, and her art reflected her strong social convictions.
The portrayed individual, Anka Szymelmic Nienhuis (1912-1989), was of Polish-Jewish descent and resided in the Soviet Union in the mid-1930s. After moving to the Netherlands, she became friends with Anneke van der Feer. Photographer Cas Oorthuys (1908-1975) captured multiple photographs of Anka Nienhuis before and during the Second World War. One particularly intriguing photo by Oorthuys depicts the moment when Anka Nienhuis sews the Jewish Nazi star onto her coat in 1944-1945. This collection of photos is part of the Dutch Photomuseum's collection in Rotterdam.
Born in Sneek in 1902, Van der Feer moved to Amsterdam to pursue her artistic calling after breaking away from her affluent parents. She received artistic education from Harmen Meurs, a influential figure in her artistic development. From 1927, she exhibited her works at the annual Independent exhibition at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. During the preparations for the 1931 exhibition, she assisted Nola Hatterman in hanging works captured in the well-known and iconic photograph.
Anneke van der Feer's work aimed to represent reality powerfully and expressively, without embellishments. She worked in the style of social realism and new objectivity, showing similarities with prominent artists such as Charley Toorop and Dick Ket, whom she also befriended.
Through Meurs, she met the Russian filmmaker Joris Ivens, with whom she later had a relationship and moved to Moscow in 1934. While in Moscow, she produced sober charcoal drawings of hardworking workers at the Sikkel & Hamer steel factory, both men and women, which were published in communist magazines such as De Tribune. After Ivens' departure from Moscow in 1936, Van der Feer remained there until 1938, determined to participate in the struggle she deemed crucial. She later moved to Paris and eventually returned to Amsterdam in 1940. After the war, she designed the cover of the magazine Repoeblik Indonesië on the occasion of the first anniversary of Indonesia's independence, and in 1947, Van der Feer traveled to liberated Yugoslavia. The reconstruction of Yugoslavia attracted many international young brigadists who helped, among other things, in the construction of the national railway. It is here that Van der Feer would encounter Ivens once again.
Van der Feer's art, including oil paintings and charcoal drawings, is characterized by a coarser, socially realistic style, setting her apart from her mentor Meurs. Her works found their way into prominent museums and collections, including the Rijksmuseum, the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, the Frans Hals Museum in Haarlem, the Gemeentemuseum Helmond, and the Pushkin Museum in Moscow.
Her final years were spent in the Zeeland city of Veere. Based on her work there, she is considered part of the Veerse Joffers group. In Veere, she met Herman Schutte, her last partner. In 1956, Anneke van der Feer unexpectedly passed away due to a heart condition.
Bob Scholte Fine Art owns a collection of drawings by Anneke van der Feer. If you are interested, please send an email via the contact form.
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