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Pronkjewails - Design from Past and Present, John Veldkamp/Groninger Museum
Pronkjewails - Design from Past and Present, John Veldkamp/Groninger Museum © Photograph Arjan Verschoor

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David Linares, Untitled, 1989
Untitled (1989)
David Linares
This creature is made of papier-mâché by the Mexican artist David Linares. Linares is from a family that has been making sculptures for generations on the occasion of the celebration of All Saints’ Day on 1 November. These are meant to be displayed high above the spectators, as part of a large parade. They are traditional objects, celebrating both the fear and the feast of death. However, with its ibex horns, lizard legs, scorpion tail, and butterfly wings, this monster is not a traditional piece of pageantry. This type of sculpture was invented by grandfather Pedro Linares, who during a feverish night saw a vision of a hybrid being with lizard, insect and bird characteristics. From that moment onwards, the whole family has been creating these visionary creatures.
Mask, 600-400 BC, Middelstum
Mask, 600-400 B.C.
Found in the mound of Middelstum Boerdamsterweg
This half, earthenware mask was found in the settlement Middelstum-Boerdamsterweg and dates from around 500 before Christ. Its back is hollow and its edge has a small perforation, probably a hole for a string. It is not known what the mask was used for. It was found near a cattle pen and could have been hanging from a pole to chase away evil spirits, or maybe it was a sacrifice to the gods. For the settlement’s residents, the well-being of their cattle was a matter of life and death. Images of faces, clay dolls for example, dating from this period were found occasionally in the coastal areas in the north of the Netherlands, but this mask is unique.
Michele de Lucchi (Ferrara 1951), Oceanic lamp, 1982
Oceanic, 1982
Michele de Lucchi (Ferrara 1951)
This is a lamp, even though it looks like an abstract sculpture at first sight. Although, is it abstract? Somehow it reminds of an animal. Perhaps it is some sort of sea snake, considering it is entitled Oceanic. Or do we see the chimneys of an ocean steamer? The design is simple, yet it renders numerous associations. The lamp is designed by Michele de Lucchi, a prominent member of the Italian design collective Memphis (1981-1988), without a doubt one of the most playful groups in the history of design. They favoured the ‘sculptural’ and associative qualities of a design over its functionality. Pieces of Memphis furniture are not just objects of everyday use, but rather beings that you live in your house with.
3 kruizen M
Unholy McTrinity (2003)
Jake & Dinos Chapman
The brothers Jake en Dinos Chapman are fascinated by McDonalds. They hint at the hamburger giant in all sorts of ways in their work, for example in this small group of sculptures entitled Unholy McTrinity, referring to the biblical Golgotha. Instead of Jesus, Ronald McDonald is crucified here, flanked by the personifications of two chief products of the fast-food restaurant, Hamburglar en McCheesus, mainly known for being served regularly as part of the happy meals. The Chapmans like to confuse their audience. Is the sculpture of Ronald McDonald as a crucified Jesus a social analysis, the McDonalds figurines representing the inspiring depiction of what binds together our society today: a continuous growth of production and consumption? Or does it symbolise the collapse of capitalism too, which, despite assuming almost religious forms, ultimately is merely accompanied by spiritual emptiness?
Michael Sweerts (Brussel 1618 - 1664 Goa), Boy, ca. 1655-61
Head of a Boy, ca. 1655-61
Michaël Sweerts (Brussels 1618 - 1664 Goa)
A boy is looking at a soap bubble floating right past his face. In seventeenth-century painting, the bubble was considered a symbol of transience, yet that meaning does not seem to apply to this charming scene. The sober, intimate painting is made by Michael Sweerts, of whom approximately twelve such stilled paintings of young people have been preserved. Some propose an affinity with Vermeer’s famous 'Girl with a Pearl Earring', but whether the two artists knew each other cannot be established. The Brussels-born Sweerts was a devoted catholic who worked in Rome for a long time, where he had many Dutch clients and received a knighthood from the Pope. He left for Asia to become a missionary in 1662. This, however, turned out to be unsuccessful. He died in India two years later.
Hare, Japan
Hare
Japan
The Groninger Museum’s collection of Asian ceramics is one of the biggest in the Netherlands. Many of these porcelain pieces were imported in the time of the Dutch East India Company (1602-1799). Figurines of people and animals of Japanese porcelain were mainly created to be exported to the West. In the European interior they constituted a much-appreciated exotic curiosity from Japan, a country then considered highly mysterious. Both in Japan and China the hare, or rabbit, is one of the twelve zodiac signs and symbolises immortality, magic, and secrecy. According to some myths he lives on the moon, preparing the elixir of life for the Immortals. He can reach a very old age himself too and is entirely white after five centuries, another allusion to the moon. Such an ancient, white hare is probably depicted here.
Belt-fitting, gold filigrain, 590-640 AC
Belt-fitting, 590-640 A.D.
Found in the mound of Ezinge
This rare piece of men’s jewellery is in the top ten of archaeological finds in Groningen and is the most important object from the Merovingian period known so far. In the sixth and seventh century the local rulers of the Frisian lands, to which the Groningen coastal area belonged, were identifiable by their golden and silver jewellery. One of those rulers lived on the Ezinge mound, where this peg was found. It was part of a belt-fitting to which a scabbard could be attached. The peg consists of a hollow silver pyramid, coated with gold by a cloisonné technique, set with almandine (iron aluminium silicate), which has been partly preserved. Between the partitions the peg is ornamented with filigree. On every side a stylised bullhead can be discerned.
Groninger Museum by Night
Groninger Museum

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