Pieter Starreveld (1911-1989)
His name is not on the lips of every Dutch man or woman, but many will unconsciously imbibe Starreveld’s visual language in war memorials and statues across Dutch cities, daily. From Prosperity in Rotterdam to The Bather in Amersfoort, his love of the female figure, portraits and animals may be seen anywhere from the AVRO lobby, to museums, national parks or even the interiors of luxury liners.
At 14 years’ old this standard bearer for classical and figurative sculpture embarked on his career making stone-cut portraits and over his lifetime was engaged in a continuous endeavour to produce hundreds of works of art in a variety of media.
Guided by a visible reality and the everyday, he was unique in mastering the art of sculpture in wood, stone, glass, clay or bronze and experimenting with linocuts and enamelling. Unusually, he would often cut directly into stone without having modelled his subject in clay.
As a traditionalist who was suspicious of experimentation and the avant-garde in contemporary sculpture, Starreveld prided himself in a clarity of vision and his belief that with his work “what you see is what you get”. His voluble rejection of much 20th century sculpture which he saw as a neglect of craftsmanship, characterizes Starreveld’s stubbornness and loyalty to the human figure.
While consciously unfashionable, his conformist pieces were as familiar to the public as the coin in their pocket: his talent thus lay in creating objects which met the expectations of a popular view of sculpture. Consequently, this consummate networker and self-promoter was commissioned extensively to leave his mark on the landscape in Zweeloo, Horn, Laren, Hilversum, Amsterdam, Leiden and Schiedam.
The Starreveld Foundation is working on a catalogue, which is already taking shape. Texts by Jaap Bremer, Henk van der Lee and Sjoerd Hekking.
(text: Alex Nevill)