Artwork Data




Henk Oostenbrink






h. 300 cm

Artwork Location


Pachtersdreef, Den Haag

City district


GPS data

52.034151700114, 4.2635873162163 View on map

Artwork Description


On the schoolyard in front of the primary school on Pachtersdreef there is a large totem pole. It is three metres high and weighs about 700 kilos. Sculptor Henk Oostenbrink made it from solid American pine.

Oostenbrink was originally a carpenter. It was only at the Royal Academy of Art (KABK) in The Hague that he found the peace he was looking for. Even after he had completed this course, it remained difficult for him to make a living from his work. This changed somewhat when, in 1961, he was commissioned to make a sculpture for the school on the Pachterdreef.

I am not an Indian and I have not incorporated any Indian motifs into it," says Oostenbrink in an interview in De Tijd/De Maasbode (9 August 1962) about his Totem Pole. With the playing children in mind, the sculptor here stacked four monkeys on top of each other. Figurative, recognisable representations that cannot be found in his free work. What is recognisable is the design.

After his studies at the KABK, Oostenbrink sawed complex mathematical figures in wood. A spatial spiral was a basic form that inspired him again and again. In the mid-seventies, Oostenbrink abandoned the art of sawing. From that time on, he turned his attention to the so-called Golden Ratio, the ideal dimensional ratio in the arts. He regularly modelled all kinds of variations within a wooden shell, thus creating optical effects.

In his Totem Pole, too, he has applied forms within a shell that have a certain dynamic. In this case, a playful one. Just like the children playing in the square.