Corporate Entity (1963) Wessel Couzijn

Otto Snoek
About the artwork

The management of Unilever asked Couzijn to produce an image in 1958. The client believed that the spatial effect of the sleek architecture could be considerably strengthened by bringing about a contradiction. This was the reason to instruct Couzijn to design a dynamic, detached, monumental sculpture for the building, without an imposed artistic program.
Couzijn designed an abstract image with a threefold structure. In the middle a human figure with flaky limbs is recognizable, rising above two side parts. This motif of an 'Icarus' (used more often by Couzijn) stands for the human entrepreneurial spirit, which tries to transcend the limitations of everyday life. Couzijn wanted to give shape to the acting person, who creates order from above in a complex organizational structure. The original title was The Manipulator, but Unilever experienced this as too negative. The image was given the name Corporate Entity. The image weighs 18.000 kilos and is produced in 3 1 / 2 year. The color also contributes to the dramatic power of the image. At Couzijn's request, the bronze founder mixed a special bronze alloy with ninety-six percent copper in it, so that the surface would turn green as quickly as possible.
There is still speculation about the meaning of the image. There is talk of 'embodiment of the unity within the big company' (hence the incorrect translation of the title Embodied unit), but also of "an indictment of the dominant position of the multinational." It is probably the largest bronze plastic ever cast in the Netherlands. With his assistants, Couzijn produced a full-size casting model from sheets of perspex and wax. In 1963 the statue was unveiled at the office building on Burgemeester s'Jacobsplein. In 1992 the statue was moved to the new Unilever headquarters on the Weena. For more information: Sculpture International Rotterdam

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About the artist

Wessel Couzijn (Amsterdam, 1912 - Haarlem, 1984) studied at the Rijksacademie voor Beeldende Kunsten in Amsterdam, where he was taught by Prof. dr. Jan Bronner. Shortly after his graduation in 1936 he won the Prix de Rome. In 1940 he fled to New York. In the 1960s he gained national and international fame. Two sculptures by his hand can be found in Rotterdam, namely Corporate Entity to the Weena and the work Courier on the case of the Slaakhuys near Oostplein.

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