Monument voor Thorbecke
It is a wonderful history. In 1872 Johan Rudolph Thorbecke died, the founder of our parliamentary democracy and architect of our constitution. Shortly afterwards the initiative arose to erect a statue to him in his home town The Hague. Conservative politicians, however, preferred not to honour this free-thinking politician. After all, with his constitution he gave the people more power and the king less. To save the situation, it was finally decided to place the statue in Amsterdam. There the statue by sculptor Ferdinand Leenhof (1841-1914) was unveiled in 1876.
To rectify this historical 'mistake', the Hague city council issued a commission in 2008 for a monument to Thorbecke in The Hague. It had to be a recognisable image. From four sketch designs, that of Thom Puckey was chosen. Puckey did not design an ordinary statue of Thorbecke alone, but two scenes. One in classical marble of Thorbecke as a thinker in a 19th century study. And one in contemporary stainless steel with three people in consultation. It does not get any more democratic than this.
Puckey has placed both scenes on a large, traditional plinth. Furniture and walls, however, protrude over the edge. Because the pedestals are separate, as a viewer you can both look back at the past and forward to the future. This is also what Thorbecke did with his constitution. Nobody seems to be aware of the other room. Thorbecke himself looks towards 'the little tower' at the Binnenhof. As if he is watching us and democracy.
The thread running through Puckey's oeuvre is looking itself. Many of his sculptures from the 1980s feature lenses. The figurative sculptures that emerged after that, through their sensual and sometimes controversial presentation, force you to look closely and think for yourself time and time again.