In a previous post I wrote about some humourous statues found in the Rotterdam centre and promised to return to the subject. So, here we are. In this post I look at four unusual and very different Rotterdam statues…
Santa Claus – Rotterdam wouldn’t be Rotterdam if it didn’t offer you something amusing and this statue by Paul McCarthy (no not that one, I had to read it twice as well) certainly offers you that. It can be found on the busy Eendrachtsplein and is one of the 47 images which form the “International Images Collection” in Rotterdam. This collection started just after the second World War and was completed in 2001, when Rotterdam was named the Cultural Capital of Europe. This statue has a controversial history. It depicts Santa Clause, but what he has in his hand is open to debate (and imagination). Needless to say, it has earned itself a cheeky nickname which we perhaps should draw a veil over. The artist intended it to represent a Christmas tree. Indeed, what else would Santa Clause be holding aloft? Poor “Santa Claus” has not been popular with certain entrepreneurs who didn’t want him anywhere near their establishments. But in 2008 he was permanently located on the Eendrachtsplein during a colourful celebration. Now it is probably one of the most photographed landmarks in Rotterdam.
Cascade This 8.5 metre polyester creation by Jope van Lieshout can be found on the Churchillplein. It shows a jumble of human forms and oil drums which are slowly leaking oil and represents the depletion of earth’s resources and the collapse of the consumer society. Some humans are reaching the top, while others are sliding to the bottom. Not the most joyful of images perhaps but a true representation of life. Clearly a sculpture to make you think and not for nothing has it been placed in the middle of the commercial and financial heart of Rotterdam.
Ode aan Marten Toonder If you want to be “entertained” by a monument then look no further than this one. It stands in the shadow of the impressive Markthal (to the left of the front entrance). Marten Toonder was a Rotterdam-born comic-book author and this monument shows four fantastic characters from his comics. It was commissioned in his honour and unveiled on his 90th birthday in 2002. Two years ago the image was moved from its original place by Blaak station whilst the bicycle storage was being built and on the 2nd May 2017, 105 years after the birth of Marten Toonder, it was replaced here; not a stone’s throw from its former site. The creators of this work are four Rotterdammers “De Artoonisten” Hans van Bentem, Luuk Bode, DJ Chantelle (Boris van Berkum) en Pepijn van den Nieuwendijk.
Monument voor een Ezel (Monument to a Donkey) also known as Lof der Zotheid (Praise of Folly) is the work of Geert van de Camp. You will find this monument in the central reservation along the Burgemeester van Walsumweg (near the cube houses). In 1988 the Erasmus University celebrated its 75th anniversary by organizing a number of scientific and cultural events and one of the projects was called “Praise of Folly” which is Desiderius Erasmus’ most renowned book. It was placed here in 1989 and cost E120,000. It is certainly unique and, in a series of interviews with the passing public, appears to be different things to different people. In my eyes it is a tap forcing its way through a stainless steel sink. The closer you get the more impressive it looks. It is definitely worth crossing the road and hopping over the dog poo on the central reservation to “get up close and personal”. Only then can you really appreciate its intricate form and mass.
By the way, an up-date on Het Ding (The Thing). In September 2015 I wrote about the demise of this 26 metre-high structure. At last, after much debate and controversy, it has been renovated. No doubt this has been done to coincide with the renovation of the Coolsingel. I happened to be there on the 2nd February when it was being “unveiled”. Next time you visit the Bijenkorf check it out. It stands right outside the entrance.
Rotterdam is rich in statues, monuments and installations and to focus on just these four examples was a very difficult choice. These public works of art are there for us to enjoy and to enrich our lives. Most of us visit the city to work or shop but if you can find the time to look around you I am sure you will be pleasantly surprised. A walk through Rotterdam is like walking through a museum – and it’s free!