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Lotti van der Gaag

'Winged hound', 1954

Location: Hal van het Hoofdgebouw. [Hall of the Hoofdgebouw]

"Livinus van der Bundt said: 'Donít be embarrassed, even though you make sculptures with three noses or five hands'. If that is permitted, I thought, then Iím going to give him all Iíve got. I made a sculpture with two noses and one pair of eyes and a woman with breasts and a dick" says Lotti van der Gaag in 1987 in Vrij Nederland.

That is how Van der Gaag (1923-1999) begins her production of fantastic, fairy-like sculptures. 'Laughing nightmares' a critic once calls them. Van der Gaag makes dancing devils, men in the moon, shrews and demons and gives them names like 'Spralbollen', 'Rifdriften', 'Optoprots', 'Balghol', 'Kreetwee' or this 'Vlerkhond' (Winged hound).

Before going to Paris in 1950, Van der Gaag visits the Free Academy in The Hague. Director Van der Bundt gives her the attic as a studio and she has to make as many sculptures as possible. They become fantasy figures at once. In Paris she gets (free) lessons from Zadkine and she lives with the leaders of Cobra, Appel and Corneille, in an old warehouse.

Success comes fast. In 1952 she exhibits in the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, in 1954 in the Musťe d'Art Moderne in Paris, among great names like Picasso and Giacometti. Yet she has never reached the fame of Corneille and Appel. Corneille in particular is of the opinion that she does not belong to Cobra, even though she always works in that style, in her paintings as well. The sculptress of Cobra, as she is nicknamed, is more or less forgotten.

Until the Stedelijk Museum organizes a solo exhibition in 1962 and the Hague Gemeentemuseum in 1965 devotes an exhibition to her paintings and sculptures. Van der Gaag paints a lot, especially after 1974, when she can no longer afford expensive bronzes to be cast of her work. Cobra specialist Willemijn Stokvis acknowledges the importance of Van der Gaag in 1984: she still includes her in her standard work on Cobra.

See also:
Vubis database

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