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Vilma Henkelman - The Very Moment

Vilma Henkelman, Surrender, 1994. Gedraaid, gevormd aardewerk, Kunstmuseum Den Haag.
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‘I am clay’ - This is a statement by ceramicist Vilma Henkelman (1944-2023), from which it is immediately clear that she fully identifies with this material. With a clearly feminist slant, Henkelman frees clay from connotations such as ‘feminine’ or ‘applied’. In her oeuvre, Henkelman continuously seeks the boundaries between applied art, sculpture and performance art. Her oeuvre was far ahead of its time and, in addition to her craftsmanship, nevertheless bears witness to a driven content agenda. With The very moment, the Kunstmuseum pays tribute to this important Dutch artist.

Experimental and physical

After a classical beginning with forms such as vases, plates and saucers, she embarks on bold experiments such as a ‘pot shape with 6 pieces of bone constricted with string’, or a ‘bowl pierced with a bar of rebar’. Her large organically shaped objects feature her body as a signature, small as the imprint of her thumb or life-size equal to her own dimensions. Her tactile works arise as a result of the act of turning, kneading and touching, as a reflection and witness of the production process. Titles like ‘Torso/breast sculpture’ or ‘The great mother’ demonstrate the female bodily dimension. 

The very moment

A highlight of the exhibition is the group of works The very moment, where meditation is central to the making process. In a meditative state, Henkelman crafts her life-size turned vases. Before the clay goes into the kiln, Hinkelman grabs a sword, dips it in paint and with tremendous force strikes a crack in the vase. The glaze paint splashes over the object, leaving a unique pattern. Henkelman's body shape, the strength of her arms and the authenticity of the moment come together, always resulting in a unique object. She manages to portray this spiritual creative process as a performance. 

‘I am clay’
Vilma Henkelman (1944-2023)

Dates and Times

27 April 3 November
10:00 – 17:00
10:00 – 17:00
10:00 – 17:00
10:00 – 17:00
10:00 – 17:00
10:00 – 17:00
€ 0,00 - 19,00
Adults € 19,00
Youth 19 - 25 years € 8,00
Youth 0 - 18 years Free
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