HORTISCULPTUREN / 1966-1969
"I started a new life with the creation of these objects, I have become renewed.”- Ferdi 1968
In 1965 Ferdi travelled with her childeren, Shinkichi and his two assistants through the United States and Mexico. The trip abroad had enormous impact on her art practice. The modest scale of her jewelry made way for enormously long or towering sculptures that literally took over the space. Ferdi began creating vast fabric flowers when she returned to the Netherlands. Fabrics with different patterns and clashing colors were stretched over metal frames. The foliage and the flower were filled with foam rubber: This technique became the basis for all her subsequent objects. The flowers acquired fingers, winding tentacles and pistils like phalluses. Like the spiders, they were a ‘symbol of rapacious life.’
The work of Ferdi became more monumental and bold in shape and character, and more explicit in its erotic eloquence. It lustily challenged the visitor, the viewer, to experience the work up close and not from a distance. Ferdi used nature as a sexual metaphor. With the titles the sexual symbolism of the sculptures was underlined. The titles who were also derived from the titles of pop songs and mind expanding drugs, the artist expressed the era’s yearning for change and renewal. Her work was an ode to the female body; to eroticism and sexuality.
Ferdi spent three years working on the series of works that have occupied a unique place in Dutch art history.
The most revelatory and much-reviewed sculpture is the Wombtomb, of which there are two versions. It consists of a two-metre-long, colorful chest with lid, covered in long-haired artificial fur that could offer a warm, cosy, hiding place for one person. You can glide into it through a vulva shaped opening in the lid.
photo above: Ferdi in her studio 1968, © Stefan Odry
text: M. Westen, Ferdi Hortisculpture, TASHA BV, 2008.
iron, gauze, foam rubber, 'Borg fabrics', fake fur, h. 120 cm Collection Museum Het Valkhof, Nijmegen, NL photo © Egon Notermans
The lid of the Wombtomb foam rubber, 'Borg fabrics', fake fur, l. 225 cm photo © Egon Notermans Collection Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, NL
iron, foam, rubber, 'Borg fabrics', fake fur, h. 168 cm, w. 96 cm Private Collection photo © Egon Notermans
iron, gauze, foam rubber, silk, diameter 180 cm Private Collection photo © Egon Notermans
foam rubber, 'Borg fabrics', fake fur, h. 128 cm, l. 255 cm Private Collection photo © Egon Notemans
wood, foam, rubber, 'Borg fabrics', fake fur, h. 220 cm, l. 170 cm Collection Museum Het Valkhof, Nijmegen, NL photo © Egon Notermans
iron, gauze, foam rubber, silk, wingspan 105 cm Private Collection photo © Egon Notermans
iron, foam, rubber, silk, plexiglass box h. 35 cm x w. 35 cm x l. 35 cm Private Collection photo © Egon Notermans
foam rubber, 'Borg fabrics', fake fur, l. 170 cm Private Collection photo © Egon Notermans
In the garden in Baarlo l. 500 cm Collection Bonnefantenmuseum, Maastricht, NL photo © Egon Notermans