Energy line (1988) Jan van Munster

photo Max Dereta
About the artwork

The 24 meter long Energy line which Jan van Munster made for the roof of the Rotterdamse Schouwburg accentuates and enlivens - albeit mainly after sunset - the 'theater factory' that architect Wim Quist designed as a successor to the post-war theater. The austere building was born out of necessity. In 1982 - a time in which government spending had to be cut back drastically - Quist was commissioned to design a complex in which the theater was to be combined with social housing, offices, shops and a parking garage. This task, which was strongly determined by economic considerations, did not stand in the way of the realization of an original and usable theater, as became apparent after its opening in 1988. The new theater was provided with art on the outside. Jan van Munster's work was - unlike that of George Rickey - already ready at the opening. In the hall he made red and blue light lines in the floor and along the pillars. This work of art is crowned on the roof in the form of a balancing beam, in which the red and blue light lines return. The unlit square fly tower serves as a plinth. The light bar at a height of 36 meters appears to be in a shaky balance, but in reality it is immobile. Jan van Munster commented on this: “Just as that beam on the edge of the abyss balances, so everyone who is involved in making theater in a good way always lounges on the dangerous border between falling and staying afloat.”With the colors red and blue Van Munster refers to two sides of the theater: red for the warm plush and blue for the modern experiment. From 2006 to 2010, the Schouwburg has undergone major renovation. In consultation with the artist, some changes have been made to the light lines in the hall, but the Energy line on the roof was still present unchanged. Until March 2020, when the work was removed for thorough restoration work and various technical inspections. On March 21, 2022, the work is the Energy line placed back on the roof; a 24-meter long colored stripe balancing on the tip of the roof.

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About the artist

Jan van Munster (Gorinchem, 1939) studied at the Academy of Visual Arts and Technical Sciences in Rotterdam and continued his education at the Institute of Applied Arts Education in Amsterdam. Van Munster initially worked with wood, stone, bronze and glass. From the 70 years onwards, his attention shifted more and more to the application of light. His work also became increasingly minimalist. In 2002 the artist received the Wilhelminaring for his entire oeuvre.

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