Kasteel Wijlre estate was founded by Jo* and Marlies Eyck, and it is truly a Gesamtkunstwerk. From their unique philosophy on life, they have connected art with the beautiful nature around the castle in Wijlre. ‘In Wijlre, art, architecture, and landscape form a perfect unity.’
The couple acquired the dilapidated Kasteel Wijlre estate in 1981 and restored the historic castle, gardens, and coach house. Designed by architect Wiel Arets, the Hedge House was built in 2001. This beautiful art pavilion accommodates an orchid greenhouse, an orangery, a henhouse, and an exhibition space. ‘It is probably the only art gallery in the world where one can see plants and orchids grow above the space where artworks are displayed and where a glass chicken run complements the building.’
Jo and Marlies Eyck began collecting modern and contemporary art in the late sixties. Artists, including Ad Dekkers and Peter Struycken, were purchased in their early periods and followed throughout their careers. Abstraction would become an important focus point of the collection, in which work by a.o. Ben Akkerman, Rob van Koningsbruggen, Richard Long, Jan Schoonhoven, and Carel Visser would be brought together. The work of a younger generation of artists like Jean-Marc Bustamante, Leo Vroegindeweij, Guido Geelen, and Joelle Tuerlinckx, also became part of the collection.
In 2012, with financial support from the Province of Limburg, the Bonnefantenmuseum purchased a large part of their collection. Kasteel Wijlre estate regularly organises exhibitions that relate to what is now called the ‘Collection Jo & Marlies Eyck‘ at Bonnefanten.
Over the years, Jo and Marlies Eyck have organised inspiring and internationally acclaimed exhibitions. In 2012, on the initiative of Jo and Marlies Eyck and Albert and Hannie Groot-Wijnands, the estate’s management and maintenance and the programming of exhibitions, educational activities, and cultural projects were transferred to Kasteel Wijlre estate Foundation.
In September 2017, the Eyck couple donated the estate to the Elisabeth Strouven Fund. Since then, the fund has been responsible for the estate’s maintenance and restoration. The Kasteel Wijlre Estate Foundation is responsible for the running of the estate, its cultural programme of exhibitions and projects, and the maintenance of the Garden.
*Jo Eyck (12 July 1929 – 14 November 2021)
Quotes: Sandra Smallenburg, NRC Handelsblad and Jane Garmey, The New York Times