Dutch Government Building Agency Announces COMMISSIONED. sixty years percentage for art programme at the Dutch Government Building Agency

This year marks the sixtieth anniversary of the percentage for art programme in government buildings in the Netherlands. Since the beginning of the programme, more than 2,500 works of art have been commissioned by the Government Building Agency and overseen under the responsibility of the Chief Government Architect. This art collection includes commissioned work by artists such as Marlene Dumas, Joseph Kosuth, Bik van der Pol, Jan Dibbits, Germaine Kruip, Monika Sosnowska, Simon Starling, and Spencer Finch.

On this special occasion the jubilee book COMMISSIONED: sixty years percentage for art programme (IN OPDRACHT: zestig jaar percentageregeling) has been published. It will be presented to the public on Wednesday, 23 November 2011 at the National Maritime Museum (Het Scheepvaartmuseum) in Amsterdam. COMMISSIONED provides a comprehensive and richly illustrated overview of the works of art produced between 1951–2011.

Government buildings encompass everything from courts of law, prisons, palaces, ministries and tax offices, to monuments. The art works commissioned under the percentage for art programme add value to their environment in different ways. They can contribute to the ambiance of a building, reflect on social issues related to these governmental organisations, depict a unifying theme that brings together a diverse range of users, or enhance utilitarian aspects of a space. These works of art transform the dry, abstract concept of “the State” into a tangible entity that conveys a deeper meaning.

COMMISSIONED contains a written contribution from Lloyd W. Benjamin III, whose essay reflects on the percentage for art programme from an international perspective. Wijnand Galema explores the (national) history of the art programme, and Roos van Put writes more specifically about art in Dutch embassies. The editors selected fifty-one highlights, arranged by decade and discussed by authors such as Bregje van Woensel, Dick Tuinder and Maria Barnas. COMMISSIONED provides a kaleidoscopic account of developments in contemporary art and in society, and shows how art can sometimes anticipate social changes.

To coincide with the presentation of this book, there will be a symposium on commissioned art. The symposium, moderated by Lex ter Braak (director of the Jan van Eyck Academie in Maastricht), consists of a number of short presentations about contemporary and historical examples of commissioned art works, as well as a series of talks by Scottish artist Nathan Coley, Barbara Goldstein (director of Public Art in San Jose), and Frits Scholten (senior curator of sculpture at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam). Furthermore, the symposium examines issues such as the differences between commissioned art and other visual art forms, the distinction between percentage for art programmes in the United States and the Netherlands, and the demands and expectations of both the client and the artist within a commissioning situation.

COMMISSIONED is available in Dutch and in English. The 504-page book can be ordered from www.sunarchitecture.nl. Free delivery within the Netherlands.

The symposium will take place at the National Maritime Museum (Het Scheepvaartmuseum) in Amsterdam on Wednesday, 23 November between 3.30 p.m. and 8.00 p.m. At 6 p.m. Frits van Dongen, Chief Government Architect, will present the first copy of COMMISSIONED.

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