Photo: Jannes Linders

Dismantling 'Reclining Figure' by Fritz Wotruba

Today, Monday December 11, the dismantling will take place Reclining figure (1969), the limestone sculpture by Fritz Wotruba on the Westersingel. Since 1971, this elongated statue has lain in the grass along the Westersingel. In 2000 it was placed on a pedestal and is part of the series of human figures on the sculpture terrace.  

At the beginning of 2023, a passer-by found several broken pieces of limestone on the pedestal of the artwork, which after discovery were immediately placed at Sculpture International Rotterdam (SIR), a program of CBK Rotterdam. The corrosion was caused by decades of weather and wind, which has significantly deteriorated the condition of the statue. A specialized stone restorer has Reclining figure restored on site.  

SIR has asked art historian Nathalie Zonnenberg to advise on the future of the statue. Her conclusion was that the statue must be accommodated quickly if the sculpture is to be preserved for the Rotterdam sculpture collection. SIR is discussing this with Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen.    

On Monday December 11th Reclining figure lifted from its pedestal and carefully stored. A suitable solution is being sought for the sculpture and the empty pedestal on the Westersingel.   

About work

Reclining figure is part of a series of reclining figures that Fritz Wotruba executed in stone and bronze from around 1960. Like the other reclining figures, this version also consists of elementary shapes that the artist cut from a single block of limestone, Wotruba's favorite material. The elongation of the figure places the emphasis on the long sides, which give the impression of forming the front view. The ends of the statue seem less important. This structure gives the image a landscape appearance. The work was commissioned by the municipality of Rotterdam and donated in 1971 by the Thyssen-Bornemisza Group on the occasion of its fiftieth anniversary.  

About the artist 

Fritz Wotruba (Vienna, 1907-1975) is considered one of the most important sculptors of the avant-garde. Shortly after the Second World War he already had several exhibitions in important museums and events, including the Venice Biennale (1948) and the Documenta (1959) in Kassel. From 1946 onwards, the reconstruction movement stimulated a turning point in his work and he started working increasingly monumental and abstract. From the 1960s onwards, Wotruba increasingly abandons the human figure and starts working on a larger scale and more in relation to architecture. Reclining figure in that respect is not necessarily representative of his style at that time, and is more in line with the works he made in the 1950s. 


Publication date: 11 / 12 / 2023