Untitled (1929) Johan Coenraad Altorf

BKOR archive
About the artwork

This striking residential building from 1929 on Westzeedijk was designed by architect Frans Lourijsen and equipped with a number of beautiful monumental decorations by visual artist JC Altorf. The plastics fit in with art movements of the time, related to the art deco. The different animals have a gracefulness combined with a volume that fits both with the heavy material and with the architecture boundary. They are decorative and at the same time expressive images. We no longer have many such images in Rotterdam. The guard figures are to enliven the entrance parties.

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About the artist

Johan Coenraad ('Jan') Altorf (The Hague, 1876 - The Hague, 1955) was born the son of a carpenter. His artistry must have stood out when he was apprenticed to a chair maker, who might have taught him to cut (animal) ornaments for furniture. After his academy he worked as a sculptor in stone, wood, ivory, ceramics and bronze. Large collectors such as Mrs. Kröller-Müller and Rotterdam 'harbor barons' regularly bought work from him. His view of form is remarkable: the subjects are analyzed in parts that in Altorf's view are most characteristic of the depiction of the given. By selecting the components in such a way, reducing them and bringing them back together again, he builds representations that only express the most essential. This sleek design is also ideal for decorative work in the arts and crafts. Although he is often known as a sculptor who focuses on animal figures (especially monkeys and birds), he has also made portraits and furniture.

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