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A Century of Modern Dutch Sculpture in an International Perspective


Admission requirements

Not applicable.


The seminar aims to promote academic research about modern and contemporary international sculpture and its historiography, viewed as a cultural product anchored in society and closely related to other forms of visual art. Teaching and research will focus on placing the historiography of modern and contemporary sculpture in the Netherlands in an international perspective.

This seminar is the second in an interdisciplinary research project of 5 years that will result in an exhibition in the Beelden aan Zee Museum and a publication. The main goal is to write the history of a century of modern Dutch sculpture in an international perspective. The second window focusses on our colonial past.

The colonial empire. The Dutch merchant fleet brought exotic spoils back to the mother country, where they ended up in museum collections studied by students of academies and schools of arts and crafts. Established artists also pored over this booty and were re-energized at the sight of so much authentic, expressive power and marvellous handiwork. This heralded the downfall of academic instruction and emancipated the applied arts into fully fledged media of visual art. The assumption that this apparently ‘non-Western’ art formed the basis of almost all ‘-isms’ - from the modernism that flourished in the years preceding the First World War and revived again after 1945 in movements like CoBrA, has been argued frequently. But there is no coherent study into the truth of this statement in connection with modern sculpture in the Netherlands. Nowadays, colonial monuments have become the focus of political correct movements who want to get rid of the glorification of our colonial past. At the same time, artists from our former colonies in East (Dutch Indies) and West (Dutch Antilles and Suriname) (i.e. Tirzo Martha, Remy Jungerman) are a part of the international world of modern art and the former mother country seems to be of little concern to them. In these new breeding grounds of world art, artists disagree with each other on how to deal with the colonial past: deal with it once and for all, or disregard it.

In this course, all students develop case studies, addressing these kinds of questions.
Literature study is combined with lectures by invited sculptors; students should expect to present their case in class (e.q. in a Pecha Kucha presentation); to prepare a lecture discussion in connection with visiting artists; to write some text and to discuss each other’s work. A prepared visit to an exhibition or an artist’s studio is included in the course. A lot of discussion is encouraged. The focus is on modern sculpture, with occasional older examples.

Course objectives


  • to know developments, in contemporary examples as well as historical examples, in the use of materials connected with the meaning of a sculpture;

  • to know the political history of (Dutch) colonialism;

  • to know the sculptor’s role as an autonomous artist;

  • to know the sculptor’s role as an artist working on a commissioned monumental / public work;

  • to know the tension between authenticity, concept, material, technique, which translates in a sculpture and its form;

  • to know the recent, international discussion concerning debatable public monuments.


  • to present your case, or part of your case in a pecha kucha presentation;

  • to present your case in a traditional presentation, or discussion, in class;

  • to prepare questions and a discussion in class, and to do the actual discussion itself with a visiting sculptor;

  • to write decent critical or historical texts;


The timetable is available on the Master Arts and Culture website

The seminar meetings will take place at Locatie museum Beelden aan Zee, Harteveltstraat 1, Scheveningen. More information will be made available through blackboard.

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar

  • Research

  • Excursion

Attendance is compulsory. Students are allowed to miss a maximum of two seminars, provided they present a valid reason beforehand. Students who have missed more than two seminars will have to aply to the Examination Board of the Ma Arts and Culture in order to obtain permission to further follow and complete the course.

Course Load

  • Lectures / classes (26 hours)

  • Study of compulsory literature (70 hours)

  • Assignment(s): 1 paper (124 hours)

  • Other components: 1 Pecha Kucha introductory presentation (6,40 min.); 1 concluding presentation (30 min.) (60 hours)

Assessment method


  • Two presentations (20%)

  • Literature exam (40%)

  • Paper of 5000 words (50%)


The final grade is the average of the three grades (20%, 40%, 50%). A student passes the class if the weighted average is a 6.0 or higher (marks under 5.0 are not allowed) and the paper is a 6.0 or higher.

The final mark for the course is established by determining the weighted average.


There is a re-sit for every assessment.

Exam Review

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.


Blackboard is used for this course.

  • communication

  • assignments

  • more information

Reading list

  • P. Curtis, Sculpture 1900-1940, Oxford 1999;

  • A. Causey, Sculpture since 1945, Oxford 1998;

  • P. Curtis, Groundbreaker, London 2011. [selected chapters]


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.

General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable



Official course information is communicated in Blackboard.