In the first place we want to thank Willemijn Gertsen for her inspiration, hospitality and generosity to lend us her Five Volumes books of The Sukarno Collection.

Above all we want to thank Helena Spanjaard, Dutch art historian, specialized in modern and contemporary Indonesian art, to quote from her book ‘Artists and their Inspiration, A Guide through Indonesian Art History (1930-2015)’, published by LM Publishers, Volendam, the Netherlands (


(Preface, p.7):

‘President Sukarno, who proclaimed independence on 17 August 1945, became the first Maecenas and promotor of modern Indonesian Art. His collection of paintings can be considered as  the basis for later developments in the Indonesian art world.’

‘During the period of Sukarno (1945-1965), the art world developed a romantic realism, in which the Indonesian people and the Indonesian landscape were the main subject.’

(Chapter II, p. 64):

‘The art world between 1950-1965 was intimately connected with Indonesian government policy and with the aspirations of President Sukarno. One of the best documentations of Indonesian art has been compiled by the curators of the presidential palace.

The splendid books in which the Sukarno Collection can be admired are important historical documents. The collection itself is not yet open to the public. The documentation in these five impressive volumes is therefor indispensable for he understanding of the development of Indonesian art history.’


(Chapter II, p. 64+65, The Sukarno Collection):

‘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 at that time was the 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).’

(Chapter V, p.179, 180, Collectors):

‘The first ‘art collector’ of Indonesia was president Sukarno. His collection has been documented in five prestigious books. If one analyzes the preferences of many Indonesian collectors, it become clear that the collection of Sukarno has been an important example.’

[Click on a photo to enlarge]

66] R. Bonnet – Bali dancers dressing for a performance

67] R. Bonnet – Bali girl scattering flowers

68] R. Bonnet – Djoged dance

6969] R. Bonnet – The weeder 7070] C.L. Dake jr – Madura beach 71
71] C.L. Dake jr – Ankor

7272] W.G.Hofker – Gusti Kompjang in the temple 7373] W.G.Hofker – Bali girl attending the ceremony of Melis 7474] Imandt– Volcanic crater

75] Ch.Sayers – A Cremation in Bali
76] Annie Blauwpot ten Cate – An old woman
No77m77] Antonio Blanco – Bali dancers dressing for a performance

7878] N.White – The wave 7979] Romualdo Locatelli – Harrowing a field in Java 8080] L.Amato – Italian girl

8181] G.Giovanetti – Nude under the moonlight 8282] Galli – Seascape 8383] T.Massimo – Roses

8484] Roland Strasser – Cock-fighting man in Bali 8585] Roland Strasser – Balinese girl and her fan 8686] A.J. Le Mayeur de Merfres – Beside the pool

8787] Theo Meier – The enchanting flute 8888] Theo Meier – Miss Sutarti