Why the overview exhibition of Tom Claassen can only be found online

Why the overview exhibition of Tom Claassen can only be found online
Tom Claassen, Kuiken (chick), 2016, bronze - Galerie Fons Welters, Amsterdam. Photo: GJ v Rooij.

The bronze men at Schiphol Airport, the elephants along the A6 or the hippo in the lock at Amsterdam IJburg - everyone is familiar with Tom Claassen’s work. Fons Welters stages a retrospective exhibition of his animal sculptures, which was easier to do online than in the gallery.

Tom Claassen (NL, 1964) made a name for himself with sculptures of bronze and cement that look realistic. Claassen only needs a few minimal interventions to produce a credible human or animal sculpture. Because of their volume, the sculptures have something humorous about them. Recognisability and volume make Claassen's work accessible to a wide audience, but the weight and production costs also make it difficult to bring all the sculptures together. You can do that online, explains Nick Terra of Galerie Fons Welters.

Tom Claassen, Untitled (Dog), 2015, Galerie Fons Welters.

Terra toyed with the idea to create an online exhibition for some time, but he was unsure what it should be about, until he was asked to participate in an exhibition about animals in the Garage in Rotterdam. Terra had to inventory the animal sculptures Claassen had made over the years. Suddenly the penny dropped.

Terra: “In an online exhibition you can highlight a theme from an artist's oeuvre. We have been working with Tom for 25 years and for every show he has made a number of animal sculptures, but he had never devoted a show entirely to animal sculptures. Also, Tom often works in commission. For example, he made the Kuiken sculpture (Chicken) that we showed at Art Rotterdam last year on behalf of a primary school. Online you can bring all these works together in a fairly simple way and give them the attention they deserve. ”

Although the sculptures in Animals are more modest in size than the group of elephants along the A6, it is more difficult to show such an overview in the gallery than online, according to Terra. “Much of Tom's work is in an edition of 7. In some cases, four have been sold, and we have the fifth in our store. In other cases, the work must be made again, which is a costly affair for bronze sculptures.”

Tom Claassen, Untitled (Rabbit), 2003, Galerie Fons Welters.

Animals, the animal sculptures of Tom Claassen, can still be seen on through 31 December 2019

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