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Project KATSHOEK

Without knowing . The VOORMOLEN company made an artist book which contains contributions by the very best artists from the Netherlands from the Sixties. Katshoek was an architectural project in the rebuilding of Rotterdam after WWII. New architectural design , enhanced with art from the very best of dutch artists.

Together with the project the Voormolen company made an artist book. with contributions by Boezem, Bonies, Dekkers, Dibbets, Eikelenboom, van Elk, Gribling, Koetsdier, Manders, n, Rous, Schuitema, Graatsma, Slothouber, Staakman, Struycken, Volten

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the above publication is also in the collection of several dutch museums and now available at www.ftn-books.com

Katshoek office building

Heer Bokelweg became the connection between Schiekade and the Rotte Tracé, a wide road from the centre to the motorway to Utrecht. The Katshoek building was the first structure built on this new and wide city boulevard.

Katshoek multi-tenant building on Heer Bokelweg.

Katshoek multi-tenant building on Heer Bokelweg.

Foto Kramer/Rotterdam City Archives

What a contrast between the large modern building faced in white Kirchheimer limestone and the Oude Noorden district behind it! The huge structure has been built on Heer Bokelweg in the Zomerhof District.

It was originally designed as a multi-tenant building for small industries that had previously been housed in temporary structures in the area. However, this plan was dropped on account of the drastic increase in construction costs since the plan was launched in 1959. The idea now is to house ten large offices in the building, among them probably, subject to approval by the city council, a number of municipal departments. In addition, the Voormolen contracting firm that built the structure hopes to move from its current address on Westersingel into the new building on Heer Bokelweg in early 1968.

Het Vrije Volk, 28 September 1967

Katshoek-Bouw-1966

Flashy perspective drawing of Katshoek multi-tenant building.

Bouw, 1966

The post-war Basis Plan for the centre of Rotterdam earmarked Heer Bokelweg as a main access route into the new city from the north-east; an entrance between ‘gateways’ like the Shell building and the Schieblok to the renewed Hofplein and Coolsingel. Heer Bokelweg later became the connection between Schiekade and the Rotte Tracé, a wide road from the centre to the motorway to Utrecht. The Katshoek building was the first structure built on this new and wide city boulevard. After completion of the building the widening was extended on the north side, including an unsophisticated gap punched in the Hofbogen viaduct. But the changing insights of the early 1990s are visible on the southern side in the narrowing of the street with the construction of the Scala apartment complex beside the RAC garage, which today houses the city archives.

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Model of Katshoek multi-tenant building.

Stedenbouw, 1968

Multi-tenant building

The sturdy seven-floor concrete-frame building is designed as a multi-tenant building, but it differs considerably in both layout and architecture from Maaskant’s other multi-tenant buildings such as the Industriegebouw, Groothandelsgebouw and Verzamelgebouw Zuidplein. According to Maaskant expert Michelle Provoost, this is an atypical work for Maaskant. “Especially the facade, which is very flat. You don’t see that very often in Maaskant’s buildings. The facades of his buildings are usually very expressive.”

The exterior is indeed fairly flat, with sleek bands of fenestration in aluminium profiles and stone cladding. The interior and the columns along the lower volume on Almondestraat are finished in bush-hammered concrete, a technique used to leave the concrete surface rough. The use of luxury materials gives the building a strongly representative feel. The floors of the two halls of the main staircases and of the shopping gallery are finished in Jura stone. The walls of the halls and the ground-floor columns feature exposed concrete adorned with a relief, while the entrances to the staff lifts are finished in white anodized aluminium.

The angle on the front facade is elegantly highlighted by the stone bands that continue as a vertical series of balconies.

Clearing the way for cars

The widening of Heer Bokelweg cleared the way for cars, but the building facilitates cars in other ways too. A car park for 250 vehicles was built behind the building and was directly connected to the office volume. In addition, an Aral petrol station was built on the triangular site between Heer Bokelweg and Almondestraat. And so the number of petrol stations within a 100-metre radius came to three!

Artwork

Art plays an important role in the building. The facade features an entrance relief by André Volten (1925-2002), one of the best-known abstract sculptors of the post-war period, whom Maaskant frequently worked with. The piece (Untitled, 1968) is a facade element with circular segments. The lines of the architecture are repeated in the work and distorted to form a new image. It was originally made of stainless steel and stone, but during renovation it was painted black along with the columns, ruining the effect. An art event was held in the entrance hall to mark the opening of the building in 1968.

Katshoek-Stedenbouw-1968-11-12e

Advertisement for NV Aannemingsmij. v/h H & P. Voormolen, proud builder and owner of the Katshoek multi-tenant building.

Stedenbouw, 1968

Until 21 December, the ground floor of the new Katshoek office building in Rotterdam is the venue for an exhibition that is as unusual as it is striking. At the invitation of Voormolen, the contractors responsible for building Katshoek, sixteen artists were given an opportunity to express themselves creatively with all sorts of construction materials.

Het Parool, 14 December 1968

It was, according to organizer Bob Bonies, a remarkable project:

“After all those exhibitions, which always consisted of the finest possible arrangement of existing works, I wanted to try another approach. I proposed inviting a number of Dutch artists to create their contribution inside that wonderful space by using construction materials supplied by Voormolen. Including engines, blowers and the like. And with the help of skilled workmen from Voormolen. It was an expensive project, but I immediately received full cooperation.

I chose sixteen artists: the cool guys Dekkers, Manders, Koetsier, Struycken and myself, Boezem, Dibbets and Van Elk with their micro-emotive art, the kinetic artist Staakman, Eikelenboom with his utopian situations, Rous, who makes a sort of minimal art, André Volten, Paul Schuitema with his colour scheme and his alphabet and the Slothouber-Graatsma team from the Cubic Construction Centre. And Gribling with his space structures.”

Het Parool, 21 December 1968

Today

The building housed the offices of Robeco, Procter & Gamble Benelux and a number of municipal departments. Owing to its out-of-the-way location, the building later fell out of favour. The current tenants are OMA and Havensteder.

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Time slots in art

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Within each decade there is always one or there are even multiple time slots that are important to art in genera. As for painting, the mid eighties from the 19th century is important because of the start of impressionism in art. The late Fifties from last century showed the start of abstract expressinionism in the US , followed in the Sixties by Pop ART and for the dutch there are the first four years of the Eighties. Here comes the art of some of the greatest dutch artist to bloom. Rene Daniels, Jan Dibbets, Ben Akkerman, Ger van Elk and the grand old master Bram van Velde found their way and art into galeries , private collections and museums. There even was a time that these 5 master of dutch Modern Art had a group exhibition at the MUSEU DE ARTE MODERNA DO RIO DE JANEIRO. It was 1984 and the museum presented these dutch modern artist together in one great group show. An important one , because now we know that these five dutch artists belong to the most important ones in the Netherlands from last century. The catalogue is now available at www.ftn-books.com

Because i like the photograph…it is Bram van Velde who represents these 5 artists for this blog

dibbets holanda

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Marinus Boezem (1934)

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Marinus Boezem (1934) belongs, together with Jan Dibbets and Ger van Elk, among the most important representatives of the Conceptual Art and Arte Povera movement in The Netherlands. In the 1960s, Boezem discovered that he could use elusive elements such as air, weather, wind and light as visual materials and made a name with radical, immaterial works that were far ahead of their time. Boezem was one of the initiators of the ground-breaking exhibition ‘Op Losse Schroeven: Situaties en Cryptostructuren’ (1969) at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam and took part in the equally influential exhibition ‘When Attitudes Become Form’ at the Kunsthalle Bern in the same year.

In 1969 he created one of his most famous works of art, ‘Signing the Sky Above The Port of Amsterdam With an Aeroplane, 1969’: exactly as stated in its title, an aircraft’s condensation trails were used to spell out Boezem’s surname in the sky, the ephemeral wording disappearing almost as soon as it was created. In 1971 he made an artwork for television that was broadcast under the auspices of Gerry Shum’s legendary Fernseh Gallery. Furthermore, Boezem created numerous works in public space and land art. The Green Cathedral is a beautiful example: 174 Italian poplar trees are planted to reproduce the floor plan and measurements of the Cathedral at Reims, in a flat polder near Almere, the Netherlands.

In an oeuvre spanning more than sixty years, Marinus Boezem has created a body of work that stands quite independently in contemporary art. His works are part of many important museum collections, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam; Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam; Gemeentemuseum Den Haag; Museum Kröller-Muller, Otterloo; Museum Voorlinden, Wassenaar; and many more public art collections.

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Jan Dibbets (1941)

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One of the first dutch modern artist i learned to appreciate and admire. Also an artist who has had exhibitions all over the world, so a nice selection of his publications is available at www.ftn-books.com

Conceptual artist in the beginning, he began to alter perspectives with modifications of and cutting out elements from photographs and with these new elements he created a new comopistion. A fascinating proces resulting in practically all cases a new way of looking at an object, building or landscape.

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Because i had to read something on Dibbets i encountered something i did not know before. Thanks to Dibbets , the republic of Albania has a small collection of Modern Art. When Dibbets visited Triana in the early nineties he noticed there was no Modern Art at all. He invited his artist friends to make a donation in art and 57 of his friend donated one or more works to start a collection of Modern Art in Triana. Dibbets himself coordinated the transport and thanks to Dibbets, Triana now has its own collection of Modern Art. A great success and important to know that such a small initiative by an artist can give great results.

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Art & Project and Conceptual Art

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In & Out of Amsterdam

The best book from the last years on the fascinating world of Conceptual Art is by far the book IN & OUT of AMSTERDAM/ Travels in Conceptual Art 1960-1976. A book which i cherish , because this is a treasure trove of ideas and excellent publications which can still be found on the market(s). The book si published by MoMa where in 2009 the exhibition was held with the same name. In &Out of Amsterdam  shows the most important and possibly the best works by the following artists:

Bas Jan Ader

Stanley Brouwn ( see blog)

Hanne Darboven

Jan Dibbets

Ger van Elk

Gilbert & George

Sol LeWitt ( see blog)

Charlotte Posenenske

Allen Ruppersberg

Lawrence Weiner

All excellent artist and all published within the series of Bulletins published by Art & Project.

These publications have certainly become highly collectable items, because during the time they were published and now ( some 40 years ) few have survived. So start collecting them now while they are still available. see www.ftn-books.com