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A Century of Modern Dutch Sculpture in an International Perspective


Admission requirements

Similar to the admission requirements for the MA Arts and Culture.


Retour à l’ ordre. The autonomous and narrative image returned pontifically in the late 20th century as a reaction to the abstractionism of the 1960s and the conceptualism of the 1970s, and still dominates Dutch and international sculpture. Art critic Anne Berk was the first to describe this movement with the term ‘New Figuration’ in order to highlight the clear break from academic figuration. The origin of the modern, autonomous image in the Netherlands lies in the middle of the 19th century when the young kingdom wanted to give its heroes of yesteryear a higher level of public awareness, and in the first place Flemish and German sculptors were happy to fulfil this wish. Community art, with its applied ornamental and subsidiary role for sculpture, temporarily upset this particular applecart until in 1922, in his monument to Christiaan de Wet, Joseph Mendes da Costa introduces the new principles that is to become available as the pedestal for new types of heroes such as Domela Nieuwenhuis and Wibaut. A generation of young sculptors subsequently leaves for Paris where, during the interbellum, they are to experience the blessings of the international retour à l’ordre.
Their return to the Netherlands ensures the hegemony of sculpture as an autonomous object and the emancipation of sculpture from a craft to a discipline of the visual arts. This development which, thanks to the great demand for war memorials in the late1940s and 1950s, results in an enormous growth, which in turn is translated into the wave of exhibitions that places Dutch sculptural art firmly on the international scene. Ultimately and from the same source comes non-figurative sculpture that will force figuration to the atelier, the gallery and the regional commissioning panels. A surprising aspect of today’s New Figuration is the commercialization of sculpture inspired by international phenomena such as Damien Hirst and the Chapman Brothers (for example Klibanski and Les Deux Garçons), which can project itself widely via the media, the art trade and new platforms.

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 development of conceptual art in a broad sense, in relation to modern sculpture (20-21st centuries)

  • 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 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 timetables are available through My Timetable.

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.

Assessment method


  • Two presentations (20%) (short presentation during walk 10%, Pecha Kucha 10%)

  • Literature exam (30%)

  • 2 papers 50% (1 paper 1500 words, 2nd paper 2500 words)


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.

Inspection and feedback

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.

Reading list

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

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

  • Teeuwisse, Sculpture, An Apology (handed out)


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory. Since the course is taught on-site a maximum of 8 students is allowed to follow the course, so measures to prevent further spread of the coronavirus can be adhered to.

General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable


  • Prof. dr. Jan Teeuwisse

  • drs. Dick (B.J.M.) van Broekhuizen (PhD Candidate 19th century sculpture, Head of Collections and Publications Sculptuur Instituut / museum Beelden aan Zee)

  • For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: Arsenaal


Official course information is communicated in Brightspace.