The sculpture terrace on the Westersingel

by Siebe Thissen 19.02.2021
photo Jannes Linders

Philanthropists and Collectors

Collectors, museum directors and philanthropists have played an important role in acquiring images for the city. You can certainly see this development on the sculpture terrace on the Westersingel. So is Goodbye from Umberto Mastroianni on loan from the Dutch Railways and became the Reclining figure by Fritz Wotruba donated in 1971 by the Bank for Trade and Shipping. This bank was owned by the Thyssen-Bornemisza family who also own the New Delftse Poort van Cor Kraat. With The braid, a donation from the Droom en Daad foundation, continues this Rotterdam tradition. On March 8 The braid unveiled by councilor Said Kasmi.

 

Business card 20 years!

The sculpture terrace on the Westersingel celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. In the context of Rotterdam Cultural Capital 2001, the old quay was transformed into a beautiful, deepened and 175-meter-long pedestrian promenade along the water. The quay was revitalized, the lighting improved and the terrace fitted with blue-gray plinths, creating an outdoor museum hall. CBK Rotterdam and the City Development and City Management departments had worked together on this feat in the city center. The visitor leaving Central Station was now guided past a selection of internationally renowned sculptors. The sculpture terrace was the calling card of the Cultural Capital.

 

Works of art with ambition

Since 1945, Rotterdam had already built up a great collection of artworks. Unique in the Netherlands and Europe. But the images were scattered across the city. A sculpture route along the water was a long-cherished wish. So showed the city manifestation Rotterdam '88 an ambitious sculpture route of temporary works of art - also along the Westersingel. The exhibition was opened by none other than Prime Minister Ruud Lubbers. Images in the city of Rotterdam, as the route was called, showcased work by renowned artists such as Daniel Buren, Scott Burton, Günther Förg, Zaha Hadid and Aldo Rossi. In 1993 the well-known professor and poet JW Oerlemans praised the Rotterdam collection of artworks, but found that 'grandeur' and 'dignity' were lacking in Rotterdam. Only by presenting large-scale sculptures in groups - preferably along the water - could the city do justice to the exceptional character of the sculptures.

 

The human body

That wish finally took shape in 2001. There was a permanent display on the terrace on the Westersingel. The central theme in the image series was 'the human body'. That choice was not surprising. As early as 1960, the Municipal Executive had set up the Urban Embellishment Commission. Art connoisseurs and collectors such as Gerrit van der Wal (director of De Bijenkorf and KLM) and Piet Sanders (lawyer and professor at EUR) advised the city to purchase international works. They chose 'the human body' as their theme and bought unique images such as L'homme qui marche from Auguste Rodin and La grande musicienne by Henri Laurens, which can be seen today on the sculpture terrace on the Westersingel. Also new purchases, such as in 2021 The braid from Kalliopi Lemos, have the body as their subject.

 

Siebe Thissen, February 2021

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