Façades of The Hague #130

Due to a navigational mistake and bad weather the British RAF bombed residential areas and the northern entrance of the city centre of The Hague on 3 March 1945, just two months before the end of the German occupation..

It was hard for a city that had just survived one of its cruellest winters in terms of sheer cold and hunger.

Many lost their homes and the city centre itself lost part of one of its poshest streets, Korte Voorhout  

In fact the whole plot in between Korte Voorhout, Schouwburgstraat, Casuariestraat and Prinsessegracht was damaged and partly in ruins.

It is characteristic for a small city like The Hague that they were the ruins and damaged buildings of a court of justice, a theatre, a church, a jail, the Royal Dutch Automobile Club (KNAC) and a clinic, amongst others.

After the war the government wanted to have a new ministry, preferably a double one, of Justice and Finance, but decision making was stalled.

Only in the 1970s the present Ministry of Finance (Ministerie van Financiën) was built.

The huge building can be seen as symbolic for the power of the Ministry of Finance within the government.

More than ever it became clear that any political idea had a price tag, especially when society became socio-economically more and more sophisticated.

The building was designed by state architect Jo Vegter (1906-1982; who was not just responsible for modernist building but also for the restoration of quite a few old Frisian churches) and his assistant Mart Bolten (1916-2002) in strikingly modern brutalist style.

When in 1977 i went to study at the Royal Academy, just a few steps away from the Ministry, it was still a remarkably forbidding concrete palace.

The outlook of the concrete itself was only softened a bit by the prints of wood structure in it.

It was the impressive fortification of the state’s financial power.

Any Minister of Finance residing in that building must have had the idea of being a king in both a palace and a fortification.

In fact the inside of the building was a lot softer than that.

As art students we could see that, when the ministry offered rooms to show some of our graduation works, as the Royal Academy had a notorious lack of space at the time.

Enlightened civil servants would walk around amongst the works of these students who were training for a financially completely irresponsible future.

I’m not quite sure if the civil servants were really interested, but to them it was undoubtedly a nice diversion just before the summer break.

Coming to think of it, it wouldn’t be a bad idea if the Ministry would again give some space to students, who, for instance, would like to graduate with a performance or something like that.

Preferably with participation (obligatory!) of the audience.  (Surely, it would be beneficial to the dialogue between art and society if students were able to show their works in both public and private institutions and in public space around the Royal Academy. But that’s probably easier said than done)

Although the building had a very modernist outlook, it was technically outdated within a few decades.

There were no double glazed windows and the whole inner climate had to be completely renewed to make the building more cost-effective.

The normal Dutch reflex in such cases is to abandon the building, keep the workers in a temporary but even worse place for years, and make plans to build a new and far more prestigious architectural colossus somewhere else.

Usually, making plans will cost quite a while, sometimes years, but in case of this building it was decided it was to be refurbished, and reused.

The uniqueness of the building played a role in that decision too.

It was decided that the original design would be maintained.

However, a lot of postmodern glass was used to give the building a more open character.

Also the courtyard has been opened to the public.

Redesigning was done by Meyer and Van Schooten architects.

The official entrance at Korte Voorhout has been made more welcoming with colours by monumental artist Jan van der Ploeg (1959).

But don’t be mistaken: any political novelty may fall when civil servants in this palace strongly advise their minister that costs and benefits of the idea are not at all in balance, if the minister didn’t already have that idea.

After all, the philosophy is still that money should be spent on those who have the power to spend a lot themselves, while some drops of their honey will then trickle down to those living in the mud.

However, with different social and political crises at the same time, and a review of the Dutch civil service, that might become less normal than it sounds. Let’s hope so, or at least, let’s hope for the better.

© Villa Next Door 2021

All pictures were taken in March 2017.

Bertus Pieters

Façades of The Hague from #72 onwards: https://villanextdoor2.wordpress.com/category/facades-of-the-hague/

Façades of The Hague #1 – 71: https://villanextdoor.wordpress.com/category/facades-of-the-hague/

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Art in corona times 45. Rearrangement of The Hague Sculpture Gallery by The Hague Council of Children, Grote Marktstraat, The Hague

Alderman Van Asten and The Hague Council of Children, 26 October 2020

On Monday October 26th The Hague Council of Children called on alderman of culture Robert van Asten to keep art accessible and affordable for everyone and to show more art in the city.

Of course i can’t agree more with the children, and i think it’s very moving.

In addition, the Children’s Council selected eleven favourite statues from the Sculpture Gallery in the city centre (the so-called Pedestal Project) and rearranged them in Grote Marktstraat in between Spui and Wagenstraat in cooperation with Stroom Den Haag.

The only conclusion can be that the kids did a good curatorial job.

It’s basic but sound, straight forward, lively and multicoloured.

Alderman Van Asten and The Hague Children’s Council and Berry Holslag’s ‘Observer’, being photographed by the press, 26 October 2020
Femmy Otten

When Stroom introduced Femmy Otten’s statue, it did so in a less crowded spot, anxious about the reactions of the public.

Femmy Otten
Femmy Otten

The children didn’t have such qualms and placed the sculpture right at the beginning of the commercial hub of Grote Marktstraat.

Ingrid Mol
Ingrid Mol
Ingrid Mol

Ingrid Mol’s sculpture is in fact itself a concoction by children given to the artist and so it couldn’t be missed in a choice made by children, also as a comment on consumership.

Berry Holslag
Berry Holslag

Berry Holslag’s sculpture is placed so as that it will look at you if you leave the cinema.

Rob Birza
Rob Birza
Rob Birza

Rob Birza’s sculpture was chosen because it combines Hindu and Dutch traditional cultures,

Famke van Wijk
Famke van Wijk

while Famke van Wijk’s work has a partly Christian content.

André van de Wijdeven

André van de Wijdeven’s elegant pink sculpture was chosen because if you’re looking at it from the restaurant on the second floor of the department store you will see the inscription with the title on top of it.

Jan Snoeck
Jan Snoeck
Hans van Bentem

Jan Snoeck’s and Hans van Bentem’s works were chosen just for the fun of them.

David Bade
David Bade

David Bade’s Calimero sculpture was placed in front of a chic department store as, according to the children, you shouldn’t feel sorry for yourself, and make the best of it.

Atelier Van Lieshout
Atelier Van Lieshout
Atelier Van Lieshout

To many Atelier Van Lieshout’s sculpture feels a bit awkward and scary but the children thought it was interesting that it looks at you from all sides.

Tony van de Vorst

Tony van de Vorst’s Friends closes the sequence.

Tony van de Vorst

When it was added to the collection some years ago it caused a stir amongst narrow minded politicians who objected to the girls wearing head scarves, but for the children they are just what they are: friends.

Tony van de Vorst

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© Villa Next Door 2020

Contents of all photographs courtesy to (the estate of) the artists, Haagse Raad van Kinderen and Stroom, Den Haag.

Bertus Pieters

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Art in corona times 41. Huang Yong Ping, Ling Zhi Helicopters; The Hague

I visited Ypenburg (en enclave of The Hague in between neighbouring municipalities) and its new public work of art by Huang Yong Ping (1954-2019) called Ling Zhi Helicopters to write an article for Villa La Repubblica. Click here to read the article (in Dutch).

As i have written quite extensively about the work in VLR, i just leave you here with some impressions of it, with the strong recommendation to visit it, as it is quite impressive.

Click here to read the review in Villa La Repubblica (in Dutch)

Now that you’ve come here, you might as well subscribe to Villa Next Door (top right of the page)!

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© Villa Next Door 2020

Contents of all photographs courtesy to the estate of Huang Yong Ping and Stroom, Den Haag.

Bertus Pieters

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Art in corona times 6. Hoogtij #61 (High Tide Festival #61), The Hague

Usually Villa Next Door doesn’t pay much attention to events like Hoogtij (Dutch for ‘High Tide’). Hoogtij is a seasonal Hague event – always on a Friday night – in which most commercial and non-commercial galleries in the city are open to the public. Gallerists and artists are present and there are always many special events. Due to the circumstances this couldn’t take place yesterday night, so the organisation decided to go online. 22 venues took part in this edition.

So i sat down in front of my computer to see everything. Most of the material can still be seen on the internet. A special event was an interview by Marie Jeanne de Rooij with Jane Huldman, sister, mother and grandmother to many an artist in The Hague.

It is a warm blooded interview, recommended for those who are interested in modern and contemporary art history of The Hague and the nitty-gritty of, amongst others, the Dutch art subsidy system. The interview is in Dutch and  it is not subtitled.

I hopped alphabetically through The Hague in order not to miss anything, so i started at …ism which showed Museum Guards, in which the inhabitants of …ism perform as guards of their own house and collection, staring at you blankly in their own paradise.

1646 has a delightful presentation by Afra Eisma  of her exhibition Feline Whispers which had to close down because of the corona crisis, but which can now be experienced digitally.

Undoubtedly hers is one of the most moving Hoogtij presentations.

Victoria Kieffer’s presentation at Aether Haga is interesting for its content, but why didn’t she present it in French with English subtitles and with more creativity in the visual materials?

Baracca gives a trailer, or rather an announcement of its 2015 project Inside Job, which can be seen on Yvo van der Vat’s YouTube channel. It will take you more than an hour to see the whole movie.

At De Helena Hanna de Haan and Rik Buter have been working on a charcoal wall drawing, improvising on and reacting to each other’s work.

At Dürst Britt & Mayhew gallerist Jaring Dürst Britt shows you around in its first lustrum exhibition Vèf Jaaaah, with works by all the gallery’s artists. If you switch to the gallery’s Facebook and Instagram pages you can see Alexander Mayhew talking about the different works of art (in English). I reported about the exhibition here.

Galerie Maurits van de Laar presents a tour by artist and curator of its present exhibition Christie van der Haak.

As Christie has been a much valued teacher at the Royal Academy in The Hague she will be to many – like Jane Huldman – a kind of sister, mother and grandmother of the arts. It is a wonderful presentation in Dutch. I reported about the exhibition here.

At the Grafische Werkplaats (Graphic Studio) Nina van Dijk and Cedric ter Bals show you around (in English) in the exhibition Slechte verhalen fikken niet (Bad Stories Don’t Burn) while Christiaan Schoonenberg presents his own story.

All done in a wonderfully spontaneous way (at least, that is how it looks like).

At Heden artist Thijs Jaeger presents his work Four Horse Men, a small but intriguing work based on the Apocalypse. The presentation is in Dutch.

At HOK gallery, one of the very smallest in The Hague, Harold de Bree opens his own exhibition Borderlines.

His presentation is in English and there is even champagne!

At Maldoror Gallery Roeland Langendoen and Elsbeth Verheul show paintings.

Maldoror is one of the easiest accessible of the lot as it is just a shop window.

Malieveldwerk is at the Malieveld where on Saturdays you may find one or more artists experimenting. The short video is from 2013 (when snow was still a common winter feature in this country) in which the experiments are announced by Topp & Dubio. The announcement is in Dutch.

Projektruimte West end (West End Project Space) shows you around in an exhibition of paintings, drawings, photographs and objects featuring cats.

A must see for any cat lover or even not-cat lover.

Quartair presents the interactive exhibition stay-go.nl. It takes some extra clicks to get there, but it is fun.

Refunc is one of the very few venues which are digitally much better than in real, as far as i am concerned.

Those who need a reflective moment about space are well served by Henk Hubenet at Ruimtevaart with the short but fine video Circumstanced.

See Lab, itself located in far off Scheveningen, which makes it difficult to physically take part in Hoogtij, can be accessed now online with a presentation of the digital project Walking with Unimals by the artists of Pointer Studio. The project is presently on show ‘in real’ at See Lab.

In a very short presentation gallerist Alex Lebbink shows you the way to his SinArts Gallery.

It takes some extra clicking to SinArts’ own website to see the very interesting and worthwhile presentations of four artists and their works. Alex interviewed them all in English and it is a good way to get acquainted with their work. There are some short but beautiful video works and a recording of an impressive performance readily accessible as well.

Peter van Beveren’s The Archives has no short video. Why not? Surely all those books look interesting and intriguing enough, don’t they?

With a very short teaser Trixie announces its upcoming exhibition focus loslaten | ontspannen (let loose focus | relax) which takes place in June and for which you can apply in advance for a visit.

West Den Haag in “Onze Ambassade” (“Our Embassy” –  the former American Embassy) shows some slides of the four exhibitions it has at the moment.

Z Extra: Raamproject (Window Project), shows a short preview of a project by artist Yvette Teeuwen. Together with painter Casper Verborg – Yvette outside and Casper inside – they make a drawing on a window (at Heden). After some time a passer-by is also allowed to take part.

To end the evening i watched the short movie Dusk of the Harmonious Garden by Shen Wei, one of SinArts’ artists. A perfect and peaceful work to finish with!

Although these video presentations can never match the atmosphere and uniqueness of the usual Hoogtij events they are a good sign of life of the artists community in The Hague, and, as such, more venues could have taken part. Just to give a sign of life. Another good message is that most of the exhibitions are still on show “in real” and can be visited under conditions, so inquire at the websites of the galleries how you can visit them.

Click here to see all the Hoogtij presentations on its YouTube channel.

© Villa Next Door 2020

All photographs are stills / screen shots from the different presentations; courtesy to the artists, venues and the makers of the videos.

Bertus Pieters

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Art in corona times 4. Topp & Dubio in a Street, The Hague

I went on a bike ride to write an article for Villa La Repubblica about Topp & Dubio in a Street by Topp & Dubio, which can be seen at forty tram stops in town. Click here to read the article (in Dutch).

Click here for the page with a map where you can find the tram stops.

I’ve written quite extensively in VLR about the project, so i leave you here with some impressions. Take a look in your neighbourhood, i’m sure they are there as well!

© Villa Next Door 2020

Contents of all photographs courtesy to Topp & Dubio, Den Haag.

Bertus Pieters

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Façades of The Hague #102

Public sculpture, Lübeckstraat.

Neither the artist nor the year of creation are known.

Stylistically it was probably made in the 1960s for a school in the neighbourhood, which was replaced in 2014 by the present school.

The sculpture, in spite of its unknown maker, has been given a new, prominent place, giving a playful accent to the contemporary façade of the school.

It is also a reminder of an age when sculpture was used not just to decorate, but also to give (in this case) youngsters and their teachers the idea of living in modern times with promising and imaginative perspectives.

As such it has become a monument maybe much needed in our days despite its anonymity, and it is fortunate that it has been honoured with a new place next to the new school.

Please contact me if you know with certainty who the artist is and when the work was originally placed.

© Villa Next Door 2020

All pictures were taken in March 2017.

Bertus Pieters

Façades of The Hague from #72 onwards: https://villanextdoor2.wordpress.com/category/facades-of-the-hague/

Façades of The Hague #1 – 71: https://villanextdoor.wordpress.com/category/facades-of-the-hague/

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Façades of The Hague #99

Statue by Kees Verkade (1941) of Louis Couperus (1863-1923), Lange Voorhout, made in 1998.

Verkade is a prolific sculptor of the human figure.

Couperus is arguably the most important Dutch novelist of the Fin de Siècle and the period before WWI.

He was a sensitive stylist whose most important titles have been translated into English.

AS FAR AS I AM SOMETHING,

…, I AM A HAGUER

A real dandy, Couperus loved a stroll in Lange Voorhout, in his day the most distinguished street of the Netherlands.

© Villa Next Door 2019

All pictures were taken in March 2017.

Bertus Pieters

Façades of The Hague from #72 onwards: https://villanextdoor2.wordpress.com/category/facades-of-the-hague/

Façades of The Hague #1 – 71: https://villanextdoor.wordpress.com/category/facades-of-the-hague/

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Niels Post, On Spam, Comment Spam #67; The Balcony, The Hague

Spam are the purulent pimples of the advertising disease we are all suffering from. Niels Post (1972) makes it a feast of superfluity.

What irritates you in your email box or in the internet as spam, becomes something strange and unintelligible when posted in a more monumental way in a space where nothing seems to be for sale.

In spite of the superfluity of spam Post works with great dedication on the clarity of his works. Post makes a subversion of a subversion.

At the moment The Balcony shows a spam work by Post on its shop window in Herenstraat, one of those wonderful small initiatives in The Hague.

Herenstraat is used by many people as a passage way between their work and the railway station.

Do they notice? And what do they notice?

© Villa Next Door 2019

Contents of all photographs courtesy to Niels Post and The Balcony, Den Haag

Bertus Pieters

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Tirzo Martha, The Dematerialisation of the Five Commands in the Five Senses; Public Sculpture Gallery, The Hague

Today a new work was installed in the public sculpture gallery in the city centre, commonly known as the Sokkelproject (“Pedestal Project”).

The work is by Tirzo Martha (1965) (you may remind his wonderful show at Museum Beelden aan Zee last year) and is called De dematerialisatie van de vijf geboden in de vijf zintuigen (“The Dematerialisation of the Five Commands in the Five Senses”)

It promises to be a valuable addition to the whole series.

It is a collage of different objects, that could be seen as a totem amidst the crowd in the city centre.

With its guardian on top it may in a way remind you of Femmy Otten’s And Life Is Over There in the same gallery.

The sculpture will be officially unveiled next Thursday (29 August 2019) in front of Town Hall and the Public Library.

© Villa Next Door 2019

Contents of all photographs courtesy to Tirzo Martha and Stroom, Den Haag

Bertus Pieters

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Façades of The Hague #92

Haan (Cock) by Jan Snoeck (1927-2018), Dr. J. Presserstraat corner Escamplaan.

The sculpture was placed in 1984.

Snoeck was a prolific artist who made many sculptures for public space, many of them with his recognisable tiles in lively colours.

In spite of their popular outlook his public sculptures (like this one) usually are a bit edgy as well.

This one, a bit tucked away in the bushes at an anonymous street corner, clearly needs some thorough restoration for its original shiny brilliance to return.

© Villa Next Door 2019

All pictures were taken in March 2017.

Bertus Pieters

Façades of The Hague from #72 onwards: https://villanextdoor2.wordpress.com/category/facades-of-the-hague/

Façades of The Hague #1 – 71: https://villanextdoor.wordpress.com/category/facades-of-the-hague/

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