Florentijn Hofman, Five Paper Boats

Reading / debate

Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art

Historical Wel en Wee Café - art in public space

Walk-in: 17.00 hours,
Program: 17.30 to 18.30 hours
Location: Witte de With auditorium center for contemporary art
Witte de Withstraat 50, Rotterdam

A new edition of the Wel en Wee Café will take place on 20 September. This series of meetings is organized by the Rotterdams Historisch Genootschap Roterodamum. This edition takes place in the auditorium of TENT and Witte de With, at Witte de Withstraat 50, on Thursday 20 September. Both Siebe Thissen (head of BKOR) and Marjolijn van der Meijden (project leader BKOR) contribute to this evening.

Siebe Thissen won with Sculptures. Urban embellishment in Rotterdam since 1940 (2016) de Mr. J. Dutilh prize 2018. In this history of the Rotterdam statues, monuments and works of art, he shows how art and the city have changed since the bombing of 1940. But also that visual artists played an important role in the design and perception of the city. Before 1940, Rotterdam was a port city with only a handful of statues. Today, the city has a unique collection that counts more than 1000 images in public space. For the Historisch Wel and Wee Café, Thissen will present two cartoon stories that are not mentioned in his book, including The Picasso Fiasco (1964).

The Picasso Fiasco
In 1964 the city council decided - on the advice of the lawyer and art collector Piet Sanders - to place a more than twenty meter high concrete sculpture by Picasso in the Kralingse Bos, close to the windmills, beautifully situated in the green. Many Rotterdammers were bewildered. Citizens protested and hundreds of letters submitted reached the newspapers. The tone was unusually fierce: "Dynamite underneath!" or 'Concrete? Should have left those German bunkers in place '. Attempts to bring Picasso himself to Rotterdam came to nothing. Local artists scornfully spoke of a 'pseudo-Picasso'. Newspapers called the issue the 'Picasso fiasco'. In the end only shame remained and Rotterdam had to settle for an indulgence. Siebe Thissen looks back on the events of 1964.

Florentijn Hofman
This is followed by an introduction to Florentijn Hofman. His artworks adorn the public space worldwide, such as his fourteen-meter-high bath duck in Hong Kong or the giant aardvark in Arnhem. Hofman is currently working on a large work of art for Schiedamseweg in Rotterdam. Hofman shows an overview of his work for the Historisch Wel and Wee Café. Marjolijn van der Meijden (CBK Rotterdam) inquires about his motives and asks him how citizens can embrace a work of art in their arms.