Untitled (1929) Johan Coenraad Altorf

photo Otto Snoek
About the artwork

This striking residential building from 1929 on the Westzeedijk was designed by architect Frans Lourijsen and provided with a number of beautiful monumental decorations by visual artist JC Altorf. The sculptures fit in the art movements of the time, related to art deco. The different animals have a elegance combined with a volume that suits the heavy material as well as the architectural nature. They are decorative and at the same time expressive images. We no longer have many of these images in Rotterdam. The guard figures are to liven up 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 been noticed when he was apprenticed to a chair maker, who may have taught him to carve (animal) ornaments for furniture. After college he worked as a sculptor in stone, wood, ivory, ceramics and bronze. Great collectors such as Mrs. Kröller-Müller and Rotterdam 'harbor barons' regularly bought work from him. His vision of form is remarkable: the subjects are analyzed in parts that, in Altorf's view, are most characteristic of the representation of the given. By selecting the parts in such a way, reducing them and bringing them back together again, he builds images that express only the most essential. This sleek design is also ideal for decorative work in crafts. Although he is often known as a sculptor who concentrates on animal figures (especially monkeys and birds), he has also made portraits and furniture.

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