Hans Arp, The Final Work; Kunstmuseum, The Hague & Bezuidenhoutseweg, The Hague

The things / we call lifeless / are not lifeless at all. / They often rub / their hands with glee / and laugh up / their sleeves / for joy at / not being human

Well, there you are: more than twenty pictures about an exhibition at Kunstmuseum The Hague, with only eight objects.

And three of them are even omitted in this report! But what an exhibition it is! It is all about the last stone sculpture made by Hans /Jean (depending whether you are more German or French inclined) Arp (1886-1966), and today still on public show along Bezuidenhoutseweg.

Arp was asked in 1964 to make a sculpture for the then new and modern neighbourhood.

It became Scrutant l’horizon (Looking out over the Horizon), which was placed in 1966.

The whole story of how the work was commissioned and made can now be seen and read in the Kunstmuseum.

The museum obtained Arp’s plaster model for the work in 1964.

After Arp’s death some bronze casts were made of this plaster model, two of which are now on show, together with the plaster model.

That in itself already makes it a great but intimate show.

At least, it caused a kind of photographic frenzy in me, as you can see here.

The sheer repetition of the sculpture and the difference in patina of the two bronzes are a feast for the eyes.

As such this small presentation is both art historically and aesthetically a gem.

Apart from the three Scrutant l’horizons there are five more works by Arp on show, a sculpture and two reliefs amongst others.

Arp was also a prolific poet in both German and French and two examples, in both languages, are present in the show, breaking the barriers between seeing and reading.

in infinite space / he stood / on his left arm / holding up the earth / with his right arm / when the bursts of fire / from fallen angels hit him // an incandescent fruit / a terrifying fruit / beat in his breast

The German poem is more deliberate in its content, while the French poem grows in the mind like his sculptures.

If there would be a shortcoming in the exhibition, it should be the fact that there is no recent picture of the present state of the public work on show.

So, the next day i rushed to Bezuidenhoutseweg to make a few pictures of Scrutant l’horizon there, which are included here as well.

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© Villa Next Door 2022

Contents of all photographs courtesy to the estate of Hans Arp and to Kunstmuseum, Den Haag

Bertus Pieters