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A Century of Modern Dutch Sculpture in an International Perspective


Admission requirements

Not applicable.


The seminar aims to promote academic research about modern and contemporary international sculpture and its historiography, viewed as a cultural product anchored in society and closely related to other forms of visual art. Teaching and research will focus on placing the historiography of modern and contemporary sculpture in the Netherlands in an international perspective.

This seminar is the third in an interdisciplinary research project of 5 years that will result in an exhibition in the Beelden aan Zee Museum and a publication. The main goal is to write the history of a century of modern Dutch sculpture in an international perspective. The third theme focuses on the relation of architecture with sculpture.

Architecture is sculpture and sculpture is architecture. This statement is attributed to various pioneers of modern sculpture – Rodin, Maillol, Bronner – and is in the Netherlands linked directly to the sensational development of architectural sculpture in the inter-bellum period. This movement burgeoned after the middle of the 19th century as a decorative element in the historicizing building projects of the architect Cuypers, and experienced its slow demise in the middle of the 20th century after the architects of the so-called ‘Nieuwe Bouwen’ trend (or functionalism) had declared the death of decoration and classified their architecture as sculpture. Figuring between two extremes are the red-brick functionalism of Berlage and the exuberance of the Amsterdam School. But for the research it is important that the Nieuwe Bouwen architects, linked to De Stijl, in the post-war decades built the suburbs that formed the background for the young, non-figurative Dutch sculpture that is also described as abstract or geometric-abstract. This tradition had various sources, as artists such as Henk Zweerus and Ben Guntenaar were products of the Rijksakademie tutelage of Bronner, whereas Carel Visser and André Volten had gained their training elsewhere. Owing to the emergence of Conceptual Art and thereafter the so-called New Figuration of the 1980s, the flame of the abstract movement flickered in Dutch sculpture with the occasional representative such as Auke de Vries. At the same moment we were confronted by the degeneration of this ‘roundabout art,’ which apparently because of its formal nature has not managed to delight the Dutch citizenry, this to such an extent that the RCE, together with the Universiteit van Amsterdam and the Rietveld Academie commissioned research into the matter. In addition, attention will be devoted to the tension between sculpture and architecture (e.g. Atelier Van Lieshout) and architecture and sculpture (e.g. the Sonsbeek Pavilions of Rietveld and Van Eyck).

In this course, all students develop case studies, addressing these kinds of questions.
Literature study is combined with lectures by invited sculptors; students should expect to present their case in class (e.g. in a Pecha Kucha presentation); to prepare a lecture discussion with visiting artists; to write texts and to discuss each other’s work. A prepared visit to an exhibition or an artist’s studio is included in the course.
A great deal of discussion is encouraged. The focus is on modern sculpture, with occasional older examples.

Course objectives


  • to know developments, in contemporary examples as well as historical examples, in the use of materials connected with the meaning of a sculpture;

  • to know the development of modern architecture, in relation to modern sculpture (20-21st centuries)

  • to know the sculptor’s role as an autonomous artist;

  • to know the sculptor’s role as an artist working on a commissioned monumental / public work;


  • to present your case, or part of your case in a pecha kucha presentation;

  • to present your case in a traditional presentation, or discussion, in class;

  • to prepare questions and a discussion in class, and to do the actual discussion itself with a visiting sculptor;

  • to write decent critical or historical texts;


The timetable is available on the Master Arts and Culture website

The seminar meetings will take place at Locatie museum Beelden aan Zee, Harteveltstraat 1, Scheveningen. More information will be made available through blackboard.

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar

  • Research

  • Excursion

Attendance is compulsory. Students are allowed to miss a maximum of two seminars, provided they present a valid reason beforehand. Students who have missed more than two seminars will have to aply to the Examination Board of the Ma Arts and Culture in order to obtain permission to further follow and complete the course.

Course Load

  • Lectures / classes (26 hours)

  • Study of compulsory literature (70 hours)

  • Assignment(s): 1 paper (124 hours)

  • Other components: 1 Pecha Kucha introductory presentation (6,40 min.); 1 concluding presentation (30 min.) (60 hours)

Assessment method


  • Two presentations (20%)

  • Literature exam (40%)

  • 2 Papers of 1500 / 3500 words (50%)


The final grade is the average of the three grades (20%, 40%, 50%). A student passes the class if the weighted average is a 6.0 or higher (marks under 5.0 are not allowed) and the paper is a 6.0 or higher.

The final mark for the course is established by determining the weighted average.


There is a re-sit for every assessment.

Inspection and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.


Blackboard is used for this course.

  • communication

  • assignments

  • more information

Reading list

  • P. Curtis, Sculpture 1900-1940, Oxford 1999;

  • A. Causey, Sculpture since 1945, Oxford 1998;

  • Teeuwisse, Sculpture, An Apology

  • Koopmans, Muurvast en Gebeiteld (fragments)


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.

General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable



Official course information is communicated in Blackboard.