A Matter of Time. Thom Puckey and the Thorbecke monument

10 June - 27 August 2017
Opening: Saturday 10 June at 17:00 hrs
by Jozias van Aartsen
, former mayor of The Hague
Location: Stroom Den Haag, Hogewal 1-9, The Hague
Open: Wednesday - Sunday, 12- 17 hrs

Admission: free

Each age, each generation is filled with its own ideal, but it remains to be seen to which extent this ideal is recognised and realised..
- Johan Rudolph Thorbecke (1798-1872)

Earlier this year, the new monument for J.R. Thorbecke at The Hague's Lange Voorhout was unveiled by Prime Minister Rutte and Mayor Van Aartsen.

J.R. Thorbecke, one of the foremost architects of our parliamentary democracy, is shown seated in his 19th-century study, looking out into the 21st century. A second scene depicts a contemporary, informal team meeting. This intriguing work of art was made by Thom Puckey. It is not so much a classical statue as an image that invites further interpretation and evokes new questions. Or, to put it in Thorbecke's words, the statue encourages the viewer to ‘engage his or her powers of perception and intellectual capacities'.

Stroom Den Haag's multifaceted exhibition A Matter of Time offers context and new insights: which place does the monument for J.R. Thorbecke occupy within Thom Puckey's oeuvre? And which role have previous portrayals of the statesman Thorbecke played in the genesis of this much-talked-about monument?

A monument often says less about its subject than about the times in which it was made. J.R. Thorbecke is already honoured by two older statues: one in Amsterdam (1976), showing him as his role of statesman; and one in his home town of Zwolle (1992), which portrays him as a passionate parliamentarian.

In 2017, the City of The Hague wanted to present Thorbecke as architect of his times - someone who reads the different threads that run through our history and uses these insights to develop a perspective on political structures. A viewpoint that is based on knowledge and science rather than the issues of the day. In Thom Puckey's design, a 19th-century ideal and iconography are brought in contact with the 21st century - like a journey through time.

About the Thorbecke monument (2017)
The unveiling was the outcome of a 2008 draft initiative by The Hague's Municipal Executive, to add a worthy monument for Thorbecke to similar monuments already found in the city for Johan de Witt, Johan van Oldenbarnevelt and Willem Drees. The statesman lived in The Hague from 1849 until his death in 1872. Thanks to this proposal, the city can finally officially commemorate the politician who saw the structuring of the state as a work of art: "In the political arena, reformers can be compared to those who are explorers or inventors in the arts, science or industry." How do we actually shape this democratic heritage in our own times?
>> read more about the Thorbecke monument

About Thom Puckey (1948)
Puckey's Thorbecke monument includes many elements that can be traced back to earlier works by the artist. We can draw an interesting line between the transparent and optical elements in Puckey's installations and sculpture of the 1980s to his present figurative work. In the early 1990s, Puckey began to focus on modelling the human figure, rendering textures and materials and multi-figure compositions. Rather than resulting in tame academic statuary, his increasing mastery of these techniques has led to fragmented photographic and cinematic ensembles that often encapsulate images of power and surrender. More and more, firearms, cameras and other attributes draw attention away from the human figure. The figures themselves increasingly serve as guides who direct our gaze or attention. Puckey's sculpture often elicits strong reactions. How could the Thorbecke monument come out of such a variegated and complex body of work?
www.thompuckey.com

Eline Vere
Incidentally, one can find another Puckey statue in The Hague: an exalted image of the fictional character Eline Vere (2012), as part of the The Sculpture Gallery in the city centre.

Stroom Den Haag bears responsibility for art-related policy in The Hague's public space. We advised and supported the selection committee during the realisation of the Thorbecke monument..

The exhibition A Matter of Time. Thom Puckey and the Thorbecke monument is possible thanks to the support of  Galerie Annie Gentils, Museum Arnhem, Narcisse Tordoir, Rijksdienst Cultureel Erfgoed (Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands), Mondriaan Fund and the City of The Hague.

      10 Jun '17 - 27 Aug '17
      Opening on Saturday 10 June at 17:00
      Stroom Den Haag, Hogewal 1-9, The Hague
      Entrance: free
A Matter of Time. Thom Puckey and the Thorbecke monument
photo: design: Karen Polder
Thom Puckey, 'Thorbecke monument', 2017
photo: Sander Foederer, courtesy Stroom Den Haag
Thom Puckey, 'Thorbecke monument', 2017 (detail)
photo: Sander Foederer, courtesy Stroom Den Haag
Thom Puckey, 'Thorbecke monument', 2017
photo: Sander Foederer, courtesy Stroom Den Haag
Thom Puckey, 'Treachery', 2013
photo: Gert Jan van Rooy
Thom Puckey, 'Treachery', 2013 (detail)
photo: Gert Jan van Rooy
Thom Puckey, 'Eline Vere', 2012
photo: Sander Foederer, courtesy Stroom Den Haag