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Willemijn Gertsen for her inspiration, hospitality and generosity of lending and using her Five Volumes books of The Sukarno Collection.
We also want to thank dr. Helena Spanjaard, Dutch Art historian, to quote from her book ‘Artists and their Inspiration, a Guide through Indonesian Art History (1930-2015)’.

President Sukarno, the first President of the Republic of Indonesia, who proclaimed independence on 17 August 1945, became the first promotor of modern Indonesian Art. He was an art connoisseur and a great lover of art. His collection of paintings and statues, documented in five prestigious books, can be considered as the basis for later developments in the Indonesian art world.

‘President Sukarno was a great admirer of art. Privately, he also like to paint and draw. During the course of the revolution, he asked painter Agus Djaya, who was a colonel in the republican army, to collect paintings and other objects for a future National Art Museum.

The first results of this project can be seen in two books (Volume I and Volume II) that were published in 1956 with reproductions of the collection that had been gathered so far. In 1959, two more books were added (Volume III and Volume IV). These volumes were a present from Mao Tse Tung, given to president Sukarno during his state visit to China in 1956. They were published by the People’s Fine Art Publishing House in Peking, the People’s Republic of China. The introduction is written in four languages: Indonesian, English, Chinese and Russian.’

‘The editor of the first edition was the painter Dullah (1919-1996), who also worked as curator in the Presidential Palace. In his preface, Dullah writes about the personal connection between the artists and Sukarno.’

‘In 1964, the Four Volumes of the collection were reprinted in Japan (Topan Printing, Tokyo), with the addition of a new Volume V. In this additional volume, the sculpture and porcelain collection were documented.The editor of the Japanese collection was the painter Lee Man Fong (1913-1988), who was at that time curator of the Presidential Palace.

In Volume I-IV, four hundred paintings are depicted. Half of the amount is made by Indonesian artists, the other half by foreigners. The top four in the collection are: Basoeki Abdullah (15), Lee Man Fong(24), Dullah (15) and Rudolf Bonnet (14).’

(from H. Spanjaard, Chapter II, p. 64+65, The Sukarno Collection)

Every Volume starts with a painting of Sukarno. We have shown them in the subsections of the quotes here above.


For background information on Sukarno’s art colection, please click on one of the following links:

Mikke Susanto: Sukarno Collector & Patron of Modern Indonesian Art (WEBSITE)


A message from President Sukarno as Introduction to the first Volume

In addition to images of paintings, this series of books also contain sculptures and antique porcelain. The collection of paintings and sculptures will continue to be expanded. Art in Indonesia, now that it is independent (Indonesia Merdeka), will flourish. This was impossible during the colonial era. The paintings and sculptures from the collection are not always of the same quality, but are the proof, the result of “independence.” A joyful development for a free nation.

Soekarno, January 1, 1964

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