Artwork Data


Per Adriano


Igor Mitoraj





Artwork Location


Muzenplein, Den Haag

City district


GPS data

52.0788696971, 4.319434571793 View on map

To be found on route

City Center Stroll

Artwork Description


In the middle of the horseshoe-shaped Muzenplein there has been a large bronze mask since 2001. A sturdy pedestal keeps it upright. It is a sculpture by the Polish sculptor Igor Mitoraj. What is this classical-looking sculpture doing amidst the recent brick architecture in the city design by the famous urban planner and architect Rob Krier? Yet on closer inspection, it does not seem so strange that a sculpture by this very sculptor has been placed in the central square of the new De Resident building. Both Mitoraj and Krier hark back to the past. That is, the past before modernism. They want nothing to do with steel, glass and a geometric language of form. Their ideal world lies in the past.

For Mitoraj, the culture and art of the ancient Greeks is the ultimate. Having grown up near Auschwitz and studied at the art academy in Krakow, this sculptor moved to Paris in 1968 to continue his studies at the Académie des Beaux Arts. He then took classes in Pietrasanta in Italy, near the marble quarries of Carrara. Since then he has lived and worked partly in Paris and partly in Italy. Against all fashions and innovative tendencies, he makes bronze and marble sculptures in the traditional manner, which are grafted onto sculptures from Greek antiquity. A similar sculpture stands prominently in front of the British Museum in London.

Nevertheless, the sculptures of this internationally active sculptor are modern. For instance, none of his sculptures is complete. Mitoraj presents us only fragments. He does so in a large format. It is as if they are fragments of a lost civilisation. Sometimes he saves small square holes in his sculptures. In these he then places miniature sculptures. Regularly, the fragments are also wrapped in characteristic bandages. All these interventions emphasise our own transience: they are always about broken ideals. Because therein lies beauty, according to Mitoraj.

Interestingly, this sculpture was purchased by the partners in this public-private building project: the municipality, the state and the project developer. This marked the beginning of a shift from art projects that were purely initiated and supervised by the Government Buildings Agency and other public authorities to the participation of the paying business community. This is a development that has subsequently been increasingly stimulated by the government.