Untitled (1955) Joan Bakker

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About the artwork

The bombing of May 1940 reduced the center of Rotterdam to ashes, 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 later prove necessary. That is why, through the efforts of all Rotterdam lodges between 1953 and 1954, a completely new building was founded. This building in the Delftsestraat was completed in 1955 after a design by the Vermeer and Van Herwaarden architectural firm. Vermeer was a member of 'The Three Columns'. During the construction of this building, sculptor Joan Bakker was commissioned to make a facade cladding for the entrance porch. Bakker mainly worked in stone, which makes this mosaic somewhat of 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 bombardment, it seems as if he has depicted the phoenix rising from its 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) attended the Academy of Visual Arts in Rotterdam, after which he settled permanently in Rotterdam. He was, among others, a student of Herman Mees (1880 - 1964) and the husband of sculptor and ceramist Riet (Maria) Elias. He made it together with Jan Poot (architect at the Municipality of Rotterdam) Liberation Monument at the Brink in Vreewijk, Feijenoord. He designed ornaments for an office building on the Botersloot with great visual power and clear stonemasonry qualities. He could handle the hardest stone types, in which he applied reliefs with attention to the role of light on the different stone types. Several works by Joan Bakker can be found in Rotterdam.

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