New addition to Museum Rotterdam's collection

New addition to Museum Rotterdam's collection

ROTTERDAM, 3 June 2024 – A notable addition has been made to the collection of post-war architecture art at Museum Rotterdam. The museum has acquired a design by Ian Pieters from 1958, depicting a mythological battle.

Museum Rotterdam expands its collection with historic artwork

Museum Rotterdam has expanded its collection of art focused on post-war architecture. The newest addition is a painted plaster plaque featuring a mythological scene: the hero Heracles battling the centaur Nessus. Ian Pieters created the design for a relief above the main entrance of the Marconiplein police station. Pieters, along with another Rotterdam artist, was commissioned to embellish the façade of this newly built police station in 1958.

Opening of Marconiplein Police Station (1958). Photo credit: Eric Koch, Anefo National ArchiveOpening of Marconiplein Police Station (1958). Photo credit: Eric Koch, Anefo National Archive

Marconiplein police station

In 1958, the Marconiplein police station in Rotterdam-West was opened as the first newly built police station after the war. Municipal architect Leo Voskuyl designed the L-shaped building, which features a slightly curved façade stretching 57 metres wide. Above the main entrance, a balcony is supported by two high columns, creating the effect of a canopy. Below this balcony, Pieters' artwork, which measures 3 metres high and 2 metres wide, is prominently displayed.

A battle between good and evil

Pieters’ artwork represents the struggle between good and evil through the fight of the legendary hero Heracles with the centaur Nessus. In Greek mythology, a centaur is a creature that is half-human and half-horse, often depicted as violent and drunken. The fight ensues when the centaur attempts to abduct Heracles' wife, Deianeira. Ultimately, good prevails, making it a fitting theme for a police station. Pieters chose a style reminiscent of ancient Greek pottery decoration, combined with the expressive lines of Picasso’s 'Guernica.'

Post-war art (1945-1970)

During the post-war reconstruction of Rotterdam, the integration of art in architecture played a significant role. Architects and artists collaborated closely, adorning new buildings with murals, façade sculptures, stained-glass windows, mosaics, and reliefs. Renovations, neglect, and demolition threaten this closely interwoven art and architecture. However, awareness is growing that this typical Rotterdam streetscape deserves recognition and protection. Pieters’ design is a valuable addition to the museum’s expanding collection of post-war art.

The Marconiplein police station in 2024The Marconiplein police station in 2024

The artist

Ian Pieters (Rotterdam 1925 - Rhoon 2020) studied at the Academy of Visual Arts in Rotterdam. Initially, he created bronze sculptures but later focused on environmental art using various materials. Four of his works are still present in Rotterdam. Pieters also designed commemorative medals. Museum Rotterdam possesses a medal from the placement of the sculpture 'The Destroyed City' by Ossip Zadkine in 1953 and one from the E55 exhibition. Pieters was awarded the Hendrik Chabot prize in 1981.

Ian Pieters. Photo credit: Ary Groeneveld (1968), City Archives RotterdamIan Pieters. Photo credit: Ary Groeneveld (1968), City Archives Rotterdam

Museum Rotterdam

Museum Rotterdam currently operates one location open to the public: Museum Rotterdam '40-'45 NOW at the Coolhaven. This museum focuses on World War II and the bombing of May 1940. The museum also enhances its visibility in the city by lending out pieces from its collection, providing educational programmes, lectures, city walks, and presentations. Museum Rotterdam is working on developing a new city museum to preserve and bring Rotterdam’s heritage to life. Together with the municipality, a permanent location is being sought for the new museum.

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