To quote myself from some lines i wrote about a Theo Jansen (1948) exhibition at Heden in The Hague in 2016 : “Why should culturally interested tourists in The Hague flock to M.C. Escher while there is a Strandbeest by Theo Jansen currently on show at Heden gallery?”
The same could be said – and with even more conviction – about the present Theo Jansen show at the Kunstmuseum, The Hague.
A short history of Jansen’s Strandbeest phenomenon is given inside the museum.
Visitors are even invited to pull and push the creatures a bit. In videos projected on the walls you can see how they were developed by Jansen into monsters who only need flat space and wind to move by themselves.
They are made mainly of pvc tubes and they need neither food and drink nor psychological encouragement to move.
Jansen is certainly one of the most remarkable artists in The Hague and one of the most non-provincial ones (The Hague seems to be a good breeding ground for non-provincial artists anyway).
His so-called Strandbeests (“Beach Beasts”) have walked the sands of quite a few places in the world already.
And now they are on show in the Kunstmuseum at last.
One beast is more or less permanently on show in the museum’s courtyard, four are on show in the museum’s project room, one is hanging in the entrance hall and ten are on display outside along the museum’s pond for all passers-by to be admired.
Jansen’s works may at first seem to be the follies of a dazed and drunk technician, but they also contain the idea of the sublime, to make something awe-inspiring and never seen before, of second rate materials, something that generates sympathy, respect as well as joy in the viewer, and the feeling of being part of this great imagination.
As such Jansen’s Strandbeests are even more basic than religion.
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Contents of all photographs courtesy to Theo Jansen and Kunstmuseum, Den Haag.
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