The period of reconstruction after the Second World War was also a time of renewal in art. The styles from before the war were no longer adequate for many young artists. After all, the art of the interwar period had become "contaminated" because the occupier had prescribed classical figuration as the norm. Claiming total autonomy in art was a symbol of resistance against the occupier, who had called the free imagination "degenerate". A new society, a new art was the motto.
Although traditionalism in the Netherlands was still firmly in place after the war - there were a large number of artists who worked in the tradition of the Hague School and the New Objectivity - there were also artists who climbed the barricades. After the war, there were two important art centers in the Netherlands, where experiment and protest were given space: Amsterdam and The Hague. After the war, various artists' collectives were established in both cities, whose artists strived for innovation. In the capital - with the Stedelijk Museum under its young director Willem Sandberg as a stage for the experimentalists - the most important 'freedom movements' were Vrij Beelden (1947-1955), the Dutch Experimental Group (1948), Cobra (1948-1951) and Creatie (1950-1955). Vrij Beelden strived for an abstract and experimental art, referring to abstract art from the early 20th century. Members included Frieda Hunziker,
Bram and Geer van Velde, Piet Ouborg and Willem Hussem. The Dutch Experimental Group, with painters such as Karel Appel, Constant, Corneille, Eugène Brands, Anton Rooskens and Theo Wolvecamp, on the other hand, aspired to a radically new abstract art, free from any relationship with previous abstract movements. Later that year, this group was to found the Cobra movement together with kindred colleagues from Brussels and Copenhagen.
There was also a great need for innovation in The Hague. Painters and sculptors associated with the artists' collectives Verve (1951-1957), De Posthoorn (1956-1962), Atol (1959-1962) and Fugare (1960-1967) were also looking for a new visual language. As in Amsterdam, the emphasis here was on abstraction and experiment, but there was more space and understanding for figurative tendencies. Kees Andréa, Herman Berserik, Theo Bitter, Jan van Heel, Nol Kroes, Co Westerik and Ferry Slebe were artists associated with Verve. Fugare knew many former members of Verve, and within this group too there was room for both abstraction and figuration. Members of Fugare included Theo Bitter, Jan van Heel, Willem Hussem, Nol Kroes, Jaap Nanninga, Wim Sinemus and Theo van der Nahme. "De Posthoorn" derived its name from a café where, from 1949, experimental painters and sculptors exhibited. Artists such as Jan Roëde, Jaap Nanninga, Willem Hussem, Hans van der Lek, Nol Kroes, Jan Cremer, Lotti van der Gaag, Theo Bitter and Kees van Bohemen showed their work there. "Atol" only existed for a short time and had only a small number of members, some previously associated with De Posthoorn.
The Gemeentemuseum fulfilled a role in The Hague that was comparable to that of the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. From 1947 to 1959, the museum organized eight exhibitions that served as a platform for the Hague avant-garde. The term 'Nieuwe Haagse School' was launched in an introduction to one of their exhibitions. In this way they were incorporated into a centuries-old tradition of Hague art, of which The Hague Romanticism and the Hague School were already part of the 19th century. Theo Bitter wrote about this: "The Hague has a good climate for painters. (…) This is mainly due to the location of this city with meadows, forests, dunes and the sea with that silvery light all around. No wonder that the Hague School was created here, a school of artists who tried to capture that light on the bodies of their cows in those pastures and the sails of their boats at sea. The sea air blows refreshingly across the land, creating an atmosphere that tingles in a fine gray glow. That atmosphere still has an effect on the contemporary painter's climate."