Mikado (1975) André Volten

BKOR archive
About the artwork

“Plastic from pipes decorates Zestienhoven,” is the headline in the NRC Handelsblad of 26 June 1975, and then: “Seen from the sky, the Rotterdam airport has been given a distinctive landmark, which since yesterday has had a place on the lawn in front of the station building. Although the Rotterdam city council decided four years ago that Rotterdam airport should be closed, the artwork was nevertheless created on the basis of the percentage scheme that must be set aside for artistic decoration in new buildings. The new station building has been there since 1970 ". The Amsterdam artist André Volten has been involved in the negotiations for his artwork for ten years. Because when Zestienhoven airport seemed to have a prosperous future, he had made a first design for a series of advertising towers (as an extension of his 'Communication column' for Central Station). But these were too expensive and a second design with a smaller design was not approved either, because the small airport would attract few advertisers. The discussion about the necessity of a work of art for an airport that was doomed to close lasted for years (in the early 1970s the airport suffered millions of losses every year). Nevertheless, Volten received the definitive assignment in 1974, while alderman Jan Riezenkamp still found the work superfluous. PvdA councilor Gerrit Schilder, however, saw the object as a memorial monument that could beautify a new residential area on Zestienhoven in the future (Schilder would later become 1983 - 1989 director of CBK Rotterdam). With his design, Volten took this uncertain future into account, as he made his black tube design relocatable without many technical problems. And they would also come into their own in a different, spacious place. After years of uncertainty, the approximately 750 employees at the airport were so frustrated by the municipal closure plans that they could not find any appreciation for the work of art. The tube plastic, which should give an impression of the ascending and descending air traffic in all directions, is more likely to be a "showcase of a collapsing airport" reports Het Vrije Volk on 3 July 1975. “Not impressed by the sleek, shiny metal, people talk about a sloppy pile of tubes and the tube plastic was nicknamed 'the knitting needles of Mrs. Van der Louw'. But the airport would continue to exist and years later change its name to Rotterdam The Hague Airport. The work received appreciation and the unofficial title 'Mikado'. It was stored for years during renovation work, restored and in 2016 it was placed back in the water. If you drive to the airport, you will still see this striking landmark.

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About the artist

André Volten (Andijk, 1925 - Amsterdam, 2002) was one of the most important post-war Dutch sculptors. He developed a non-figurative sculpture with a lot of stainless steel. In the 1950s and 1960s, his work was characteristic of new developments in art. He has appeared in, among other places, the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam and in Duisburg, in group exhibitions and solo. In the public space he made many freestanding sculptures with a geometric design language. He has made seven works of art for Rotterdam. In 1966 he received the important oeuvre prize from the Fund for Visual Arts, Design and Architecture.

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