De Ploeg was founded in 1918 in response to the sedate artistic climate in the city of Groningen. The initiators included Jan Wiegers, Johan Dijkstra, George Martens and Jan Altink. Anyone who made serious art was allowed to join. De Ploeg's art is therefore much more than just paintings and watercolors. From the beginning, De Ploeg had members who worked in completely different art movements and styles. The mostly young artists found opportunities to exhibit and more opportunities to develop themselves artistically. There was no fixed substantive programme. They organized various exhibitions to share and showcase the latest developments in the field of visual arts, architecture and literature. De Ploeg also had its own magazine 'Het Kouter', which expressed an expressionistic sense of life and community. Altink came up with the name for the association because they believed that a lot of land needed to be cultivated for modern art in Groningen.
Although De Ploeg still exists as an association, its art historical significance lies in the 1920s, when first an expressionist and then an impressionist movement emerged within its ranks. Under the leadership of Jan Wiegers, there was a group of painters within De Ploeg who found inspiration in expressionism. From 1922 onwards they left an emphatic mark on all association activities. When Wiegers settled in Davos for his health, he definitively converted to expressionism in 1920-1921. In Davos he met Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, the most important representative of German Expressionism and co-founder of the German artist group Die Brücke. Back in Groningen, Wiegers introduced expressionism and gave a new direction to De Ploeg's arctic style. He practiced pure colors and bold transformation of nature in his landscapes and portraits. At his request, artists such as Altink, Dijkstra, Werkman and Martens gave in to experiments with color, wax paint and expressive forms of graphic art. A colorful expressionism develops, characterized by a powerful color palette and idiosyncratic representation of its subject. Not only in depicting the agricultural areas with the farmers, but also in still lifes, portraits, nudes and cityscapes. De Ploeg's expressionism is inspired by the work of Vincent van Gogh, Edvard Munch and Piet van Wijngaerdt, but with the techniques of Kirchner. Around 1926, Wiegers and Altink moderated their color palette and about three years later Dijkstra also returned to a more impressionistic way of working.
Under the influence of Jan Altink, a second period of more lyrical impressionist movement emerged around 1927 with lighter brushwork and transparent use of color. The most remarkable results in this direction were achieved by Altink and Johan Dijkstra, who mainly recorded the landscape. Other painters devote themselves to formal experiments. Wobbe Alkema, Jan Jordens and Jan van der Zee, for example, develop geometric, constructivist works within the four walls of their studio.
If you want to sell or buy works by De Ploeg, we can of course help you. We know our way around art-loving and -acting Netherlands (and Belgium). For example, we recently purchased the work of Johan Dijkstra and sold it to a collector who is very happy with it. The largest collection can be found in the Groninger Museum with more than 2,000 works that are partly on display.