Henri's berichten over zijn recente activiteiten

Henri's reports on his recent activities

Personal website: http://members.ziggo.nl/here

dinsdag 23 juni 2015

Das Wissen der Dinge / The Knowledge of Things

Die Universität Wien besteht 650 Jahre und feiert dieses Jubiläum mit einer Vielzahl von Aktivitäten. Eine der Attraktionen in diesem Rahmen ist die Ausstellung "Das Wissen der Dinge" die vom 6. Mai bis 31. August 2015 im Naturhistorischen Museum in Wien organisiert worden ist. Dort werden auch Lehrmodelle aus den Sammlungen der Universität gezeigt. Hier sollen die Glasmodelle von wirbellosen Meerestieren  hergestellt von Leopold und Rudolf Blaschka nicht fehlen und auch die botanischen Modelle aus Pappmaché von Vater und Sohn Brendel sind dort ausgestellt.
Diese attraktiven und photogenen Modelle sind ideal für Ausstellungen für ein großes Publikum. Auch wenn im Jahre 2010 die Humboldt-Universität in Berlin den 200. Geburtstag feierte, hatten die Glastiere Blaschkas einen prominenten Platz in der Jubiläumsausstellung "Klasse, Ordnung, Art" erworben.

Die Universität Wien war wirklich schon sehr früh  dem Hintergrund der Glastiere bewusst. Harald Schwammer, damals  Präparator am Zoologischen Institut der Universität, berichtete darüber im Jahre 1984 in seinem Artikel "Berichte und Bemerkungen: Kostbarkeiten aus Glas"; Neue Museumskunde Vol. 27, Nr. 4, S. 276 bis 278 (veröffentlicht in Berlin: Deutscher Verlag der Wissenschaft). Als ich im Jahr 1993 anfing das Thema zu erforschen, hatte ich diese wichtigen Artikel über den Österreichischen Glastiere zu meiner Verfügung. Im Jahr 1993 war bereits Schwammer an den Tiergarten Schönbrunn verbunden. Er schrieb mir am 17. Mai desselben Jahres, dass es einer seiner Wünsche gewesen war, ein Katalog der Glasmodelle erscheinen zu sehen.

Möglicherweise könnte er die Veröffentlichung von "Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka" des Design Museums in London (2002); "Kunstformen des Meeres", der Tübinger Katalog aus dem Jahre 2006 und "Blaschka: les Dompteurs de Verre", veröffentlicht vom Muséum d'histoire Naturelle - Ville de Genève,  im Jahre 2008, schätzen. Ich habe an diese Veröffentlichungen beigetragen, aber im Anfang gab es Schwammer und die Glasmodelle der Universität Wien.
The University of Vienna celebrates its 650th anniversary with a multitude of activities. One of the attractions, organized in this context, is the exhibition "Das Wissen der Dinge" (the knowledge of things) from 6 May to 31 August 2015,  on show in the Natural History Museum in Vienna. It also features educational models from the collections of the University. Here the glass models of the invertebrate marine animals made by Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka cannot be missed and they are displayed, as well as the botanical models of papier-mâché by father and son Brendel.
These attractive and photogenic models are ideal for exhibitions, aimed at the general public. When in 2010 the Humboldt University in Berlin had its 200th anniversary, the glass animals by the Blaschkas also had a prominent place in the commemorative exhibition "Klasse, Ordnung, Art".

The University of Vienna was from an very early moment onwards aware of the background of the glass animals indeed. Harald Schwammer, then taxidermist at the Zoological Institute of the University, reported on them already in 1984 in his article "Berichte und Bemerkungen: Kostbarkeiten aus Glas"; Neue Museumskunde Vol. 27, Nr. 4, pp. 276-278 (published in Berlin: Deutscher Verlag der Wissenschaft). When I started exploring this topic in 1993, I had this important article about the Austrian glass animals at my disposal. In 1993 Schwammer was already employed at the Schönbrunn Zoo in Vienna. He wrote to me on May 17 of that year that it had been one of his wishes, that a catalogue of the glass models would be published.

Possibly, he might have welcomed the publication of "Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka" by the Design Museum in London (2002); "Kunstformen des Meeres", the Tubingen catalogue from 2006 and "Blaschka: les Dompteurs de Verre", published by: Muséum d'histoire naturelle - Ville de Genève in 2008. I contributed to these publications, yet in the beginning there was Schwammer and the glass models in Vienna University.


woensdag 17 juni 2015

Rudolf Blaschkas birthday

Rudolf Blaschka was born 157 years ago, on June 17, 1857.Thus, now we commemorate his life  and achievements as a scientific artist.

woensdag 27 mei 2015

Leopold Blaschka's 193th birthday

May 27, 1822, Leopold Blaschka was born. 
Thus, today we commemorate his life 
and achievements as a scientific artist.

New Home for Older Art

In 1987 I made, circling around the fragment "shards of space and granules time" a group of “memorials.” These were reliefs constructed from nondurable materials: painted collages of newsprint paper and paper-mâché on plywood. 
My moving to another house recently, resulted in an improvement in housing, but not so much in storage. Thus, I decided to cede  a selection of these earlier works – the ones that were still in good condition - to art lovers. I managed to find a place for several of these works in the offices of the Utrecht University Library,  the building where I work.

Een steen en een brood,  1987, Collage-Acryl (70 x 90 cm) 

The work “Een steen en een brood” / “A stone and a loaf of bread “  summarises a deep truth: punishment and nourishment alternate in a perpetual movement. This work went to a private home.

Donations to The Utrecht Archive

When packing my things in moving boxes, I refound two slideshows with sound. Both were dating back to 1982-1983. 

One of these shows deals with the fate of the Utrecht neighbourhood “Vaartse buurt” that was taken down in the early 1980ies in order to make room for social housing. Yet, the condition of the houses was still perfect and they only needed to be populated by smaller households. This, because  by the end of the 20th century, it was recognised that working-class families needed more space than was granted them in the mid-19th century. This slide-show is titled “Uit de Vaart Genomen” (“Taken out of service”).

The other show  summarises the conflicting interests and urban problems caused by parking and  lack of parking space, which seems to be chronic. In this story, we had two actors trying their skills at comedy. This show is titled “Doodlopende weg” (“Dead end street”).

I conferred with a co-author of these two slide shows, Matthes, with whom I am still in contact. We decided to offer the materials to the Utrecht Archive as a donation, which was accepted. In 1986 and 1989, watercolours I made were acquired as topography by the same Archive, Then, I could not fathom that later on, earlier photographical work - these slides - would follow suit. 

Leaving the asbestos behind and joining the bees

Bee study, 2012 watercolour, c. 14 x 10 cm 
July 2nd,2014, I reported the presence of asbestos in the house I lived in. By December the landlord still had not taken any action to solve this matter, and thus I decided to find another place, and I succeeded.  Since mid-March I live in a house adjacent to the communal garden “Bikkershof” (Click for website in Dutch). I feel deeply moved by the presence of three wooden beehives, where the insects are busy, flying to and fro.  I like to remind that the German artist Joseph Beuys (1921 – 1986) was taken away by the insight, that a principle of honey and milk in nature showed the possibility of unity among living things, transcending species boundaries. In his view the life of bees also exemplifies socialism as the insects live and work together. (Click here for more on Beuys on bees).

dinsdag 23 december 2014

Plaster Cast Anatomical Foot

Professor Louise Fresco, scientist, director and writer, recently published the essay bundle “Kruisbestuiving” (ISBN 9789035142527). The translated title reads: Xenogamy. It hints at the new combinations of genetic properties that are created, when one plant pollinates the stamen in the flower of another. She recognises this as a metaphor for insights that emerge when mixing scientific knowledge, artistic observation and personal experience.  In one of her essays she expresses the desire to own a glass jellyfish model from the Blaschka  studio herself: 
("En als de Financial Times me nog eens vraagt: als kunstwerk wil ik graag een glazen model van een veelkleurige zeekwal van de Blaschka-collectie hebben" , in translation: “And in case the Financial Times should ask me once more: as a work of art I should like to possess  a glass model of a multi-coloured jelly-fish from the Blaschka Collection".)

Well, who would not? Join the club. In 1993 I was sent a single glass tentacle of a glass squid made by Blaschka, and that was all that remained of the collection of glass models of Bonn University. I added this orphaned tentacle from Bonn to the glass animals collection of the Utrecht University Museum,  yet I was tempted to  keep it for myself in order to display it at home. It would certainly have been a thrill, to own a piece of Blaschka glass myself.
The lost Bonn collection is not the only one missing. It happens ever so often: things and even complete collections get lost, also in museums and universities. Another example: for many years I tried to uncover a Parisian collection of Blaschka glass animals, but all my attempts hitherto were in vain.
Anatomical foot, plaster of Paris, 14x28x14 cm
Yet finally I own an educational model myself – be it a plaster one; not a glass one. October 14, 2014  I visited the “Atelier de Moulage” (Plaster Casting Studio) in Brussels, which is part of the organisation of the “Musées Royaux d’Art et d’Histoire”. Then and there I ordered a plaster anatomical foot. It had to be cast first, but it was delivered last week and I was thrilled to unpack:

In the nineteenth century, many art museums used to have their own Casting Studio, and the exchange of plaster casts was a way of sharing knowledge of classical statues from ancient Egypt, Rome and Greece. Moreover, teaching aids were casted as well.
The Brussels studio is one out of three surviving institutions. The other two are based in Paris (Grand Palais) and Berlin (Gipsformerei; Staatliche Museen). 
See also the web site of the International Association for the Conservation and the Promotion of Plaster Cast Collections

 And if you prefer a glass animal: the skills of the Venice-based master glassworker Vittorio Costantini rival those of father and son Blaschka. Vittorio is in his seventies, and he is still going strong. His intricate glass fish, squid and beetles are awe inspiring. See Vittorio's website and gallery.