Ype Koopmans

Winner Dissertation Prize 1998

Fixed & chiselled. Sculpture in architecture 1840-1940

Supervisor: Prof. dr. C. Blotkamp
Nomination: VU Amsterdam, Faculty of Arts

Report by the selection committee

In the historiography of Dutch art, sculpture has always received less attention than, for example, painting and architecture. This fact is only partly to be explained by the smaller production and the infrequent occurrence of quality in Dutch sculpture. Dr Koopmans is concerned with sculpture which is associated with buildings during this period 1840-1940. However, since all and certainly the most significant sculptors also created free-standing works, the book in fact covers the whole of Dutch sculpture from the second half of the nineteenth century and the first half of the twentieth. More important than this, however, is the fact that the thesis also makes a fundamental contribution to new ideas on modern sculpture. Up to now the literature in the field has concentrated on the concept of space and the structure ? an approach which gives rise to considerable problems as far as most Dutch sculpture is concerned. Koopmans shows that during this period concepts related to the métier of sculptor, such as ‘taille directe’ and ‘honest’ use of material, are much more dominant. The author advances the provocative proposition that Dutch sculpture has in fact been the only original contribution to international sculpture during the modern period. Clear links are drawn with elements to be found in foreign sculpture. Finally, the book represents an important contribution to discussions on the conservation, restoration and management of historic buildings.