outside the rooms    

claudy jongstra

The Fries Museum’s foyer is decorated with an artwork 21 metres wide and 6 metres high by the internationally renowned artist Claudy Jongstra. In 2009, the Fries Museum commissioned her to design a work of art for the foyer. Jongstra worked on the wall hanging for four years with a team of twelve. It was inspired by the air, light and earth of Friesland. ‘When I think of Friesland, I think of the hardy clay soil, the impressive skies and the famous light’, says Jongstra. The wall hanging is made of wool and silk dyed with natural dyes: cochineal (purple), indigo (blue) and weld (yellow). The horizon is defined with a richly decorated 18th-century knotting technique known as guipure.

michiel kluiters

How little does it take to create an illusion? For his contribution to the exhibition Phantom Limb: Art beyond Escher in the Fries Museum in Leeuwarden, Michiel Kluiters bravely proposed a complete system of spaces with seemingly minimal visual means. He takes control of the architecture with the photographic works Rooms I, II, III and the photographic installation Tower. This is due to the fact that these trompe-l’oeils are wall filling and therefore merge seamlessly with the actual architecture. Because of the scale, the images in the photograph are very convincing and create the illusion of being copies of elements that are in the actual spaces. It makes them more than just informal suggestions: they disrupt your orientation in the museum and fuse with the existing architecture to form a single sculpture. Kluiters: ‘I make openings that are not there and allow walls to continue where they normally stop. I deconstruct the existing architecture.’

The work Tower, on the elevator shaft, is a contemporary reference to Escher’s famous towers. The elevator shaft is a separate architectural element in the museum’s open glass foyer and is only connected to the rest of the building via the stairs and galleries. The first surprise is encountered in the foyer on the way to the elevator. The elevator doors are surrounded by a light, ochre-coloured space that you could easily enter. And on every floor it feels as if you could disappear into that ochre-coloured space: Kluiters turned the elevator shaft inside out, allowing visitors to experience the interior of the tower rather than its safe exterior.


Zaal II, Michiel Kluiters

cheers, let’s raise a glass ...

Drinking and toasting belong together and are of all times. Years ago, people used to drink from the same glass, which was passed around so everyone could take a sip. A presentation of special glassware and silver will be on display from 24 January 2018. Thanks to the engravings, we know the places where people raised a glass and who or what they toasted. Toasts were made to the Stadtholder, to the Seven Provinces, to one’s own home province, to the States General and the city and even to the city officials, as well as to friendship, marriage and birth, prosperity in trade, agriculture and sea voyages. In addition, you can see the rare 16th-century beaker known from the Dutch television programme Tussen Kunst en Kitsch (Between Art and Kitsch). The beaker dates from 1599 and is engraved with the names of 22 Frisian aristocrats. It was made in Antwerp and is painted with gold leaf and decorated with mascarons and rosettes with a turquoise pearl. No other Dutch museum has a comparable example in its collection.