maandag 10 december 2012

Guided tour 'Prix de Rome' and 'Blikopeners' Stedelijk Museum 10 October 2012

Guided tour 'Prix de Rome' and 'Blikopeners' Stedelijk Museum 10 October 2012

For many years the building of  'De Rijksacademie'  at the Sarphatistraat served as barracks for the cavalry. The building was so enormous that on the ground floor alone approximately 200 horses could be stabled. The building's facade hides a huge block containing technical workshops, studios, artists' documentation, a library and art collections. Since only very few people know about it 'De Rijksacademie' opens its doors and organizes guided tours on special occasions.

On such a special occasion presented itself on 10 October 2012. On that day a press release was issued which announced that as of 1 January 2013 the organization of the Prix de Rome will be transferred to the Mondriaan Fund. This concludes a long period of cooperation between 'De Rijksacademie' and the Prix de Rome. Saying farewell to the long standing accommodation of the price was a good opportunity for looking back on the history of the Prix de Rome. For a  week, tours of the building of  'De Rijksacademie'  were held. One of those tours was given to a group of young Blikopeners of the Stedelijk Museum.

The group was welcomed in the Rijksacademie's great hall and  A brief overview of the history of the Prix de Rome was given. King Louis XIV instituted it in 1666. The recipient of this award received a stipend which enabled the artist to work  for four years at the 'Académie de France' in Rome. In 1808, during the French occupation of the Netherlands King Louis Napoleon introduced the Prix de Rome in the Netherlands.

Starting in  1870, the Prix de Rome was awarded by 'De Rijksacademie' and until recently this was also the place where the participating artists could  work for three months on their submission for this art prize.  Because 'De Rijksacademie'  possesses a large number of technical workrooms it can offer the artists the opportunity to experiment with every conceivable material and all possible techniques. During the tour there was ample opportunity to have a good look at the workrooms.

The tour started in the collection depot. It was explained that in earlier times the artists that were participating in the Prix de Rome contest had to complete a prescribed commission within a week. The classical education from that time can still be seen in the engravings and drawings collection which is retained here. Gertjan Forrer of the graphics department explained with great enthusiasm the graphic techniques that were used and allowed the group members  to inspect the carvings with a magnifying glass.

The Blikopeners inspect the graph collection with a magnifying glass      
Interest in the trial version of Ryan Gander's work of art

The next place that was visited was the wood shop where the group was received with an enormous amount of noise. This noise was caused by a great number of running  sawing and sanding machines and therefore it was not easy to follow the explanation about the  workshop. One of the exhibits on display which drew much attention was the famous zebra wood chess game of Ryan Gander. This was a good opportunity to explain the meaning of Conceptual Art.

Next the tour visited the sculpture depot which houses an extraordinary collection of sculptures of recipients of the Prix de Rome. One of the works of art that could be viewed here was a plaster cast of a creation of Wessel Couzijn. The original thereof brought him  a gold medal as a reward in 1936.

Then followed a visit to the pottery workshop. Pieter Kemink, who is the chief of this department, casually mentioned that there was 'something' of Ai Wei Wei in the oven. Of course that made quite an impression. Also impressive was a scale model of Anouk Vogel and Johan Selbing that was especially exhibited for the occasion. There were many trees in this model, all of them made of ceramics. The 3D printer that was present in this workshop was also viewed with great interest and deemed 'very cool'.

Arend Nijkamp explains about  different kinds of paint 
Maquette Anouk Vogel and Johan Selbing                                                        


The last visit concerned the paint laboratory where Arend Nijkamp gave a very knowledgeable explanation about many different kinds of paints and resins. He explained about some new environmentally friendly methods to make resin from corn and potatoes.

This concluded the tour. The Blikopeners themselves very much enjoyed the interesting afternoon and thought it was fun. 

Text: Anja Marbus
Photos: Jordi Huisman

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