Untitled (1955) Joan Bakker

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About the artwork

The bombing of May 1940 destroyed the center of Rotterdam, including the building of the Masonic lodge 'De Drie Kolommen' on the Oppert. After the war the members of this lodge therefore bought a new building on the Haringvliet, but a major renovation would prove necessary later. That is why, thanks to the deployment of all Rotterdam lodges between 1953 and 1954, a completely new building was founded. This building in Delftsestraat was completed in 1955, after a design by the Vermeer and Van Herwaarden architectural firm. Vermeer was in fact a member of 'De Drie Kolommen'. During the construction of this building, sculptor Joan Bakker was commissioned to make a cladding for the entrance porch. Bakker mainly worked in stone, which makes this mosaic somewhat an exception. From small mosaic stones he made a bird with spread wings, which is placed pontifically above the entrance. Since Bakker also shows the flames of the bombing, it seems that he has depicted the phoenix rising from his ashes, a common theme after the war. To the left and right of the doors are the twelve signs of the zodiac, symbols that were used more often by freemasonry. It is a striking reconstruction work of art, in which Bakker looked at the pre-war mystical traditions and in which he wanted to depict the ideas of the Freemasons.

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About the artist

Joannes (Joan) Petrus Anthonius Maria Bakker (Oosterblokker, 1919 - 1999) visited the Academy of Visual Arts in Rotterdam, after which he settled permanently in Rotterdam. Among other things, he was a student of Herman Mees (1880 - 1964) and the husband of sculptor and ceramicist Riet (Maria) Elias. He made it together with Jan Poot (architect at the Municipality of Rotterdam) Liberation Monument at the Brink in Vreewijk, Feijenoord. On an office building on Botersloot, he designed ornaments with great visual power and clear stonemason qualities. He was able to handle the hardest types of stone, in which he applied reliefs with attention to the role of light on the various types of stone. There are several works by Joan Bakker in Rotterdam.

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