Phoenix (1966) Hans Ittmann

Otto Snoek
About the artwork

This Phoenix by artist Hans Ittmann is one of his best works. It is a quirkily designed sculpture of a Firebird, which expresses the resurrection or rebirth of what was then post-war Rotterdam. The bird is a twisted figure, in which the wings are figurative elements, which Ittmann combined with a blocky visual language. It is a tough reconstruction image, elegant and raw at the same time, a connection between earth and heaven, destruction and dream. The statue was originally designed for the Jan Prinsschool at Blaak and Binnenrotte. It was placed on the steps of the school. The sculpture taught the youth about how the city was founded after the bombing of Rotterdam. That feeling of growth was a metaphor suitable for growing youth. Ittmann imagined that by working against gravity: upwards the Firebird becomes wider and more heroic, which is fitting for a bird that takes off and conquers. The school and the Phoenix however, had to give way to the construction of the Markthal. With the new building of the school there was no room for the image anymore, with which one of the many special post-war works of art that Rotterdam is rich in threatened to disappear permanently from the streets. But a new place to stay on St. Jobsweg, a park called the Zevenhemelllocatie, offered a solution for the sculpture in 2013. The four meter high samples Phoenix gives a powerful appearance to the park and the entrance to the Lloydkwartier; a former port area that has also been reborn, because it has developed into a residential area. CBK Rotterdam worked for the relocation of the Phoenix together with the residents' association of the De Herder building and the municipality of Rotterdam.

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About the artist

The Dutch sculptor and painter Hans Ittmann (Waalwijk, 1914 - Amsterdam, 1972) studied sculpture during the Second World War. His teacher was Cephas Stauthamer. After the war he studied international new developments. He traveled to Paris and worked in Zadkine's studio for a year - exactly when Zadkine made his models for The destroyed city designed. Ittmann made the deformation of human forms the core of his work. He had a good eye for the avant-gardes of which he incorporated characteristics in his own style, but sometimes had difficulty developing his own visual language.

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