Arie Van Selm

(The Netherlands) *1950 in Utrecht

The crow is a recurring theme in the painted works of the Dutch artist Arie Van Selm – and it was the first of his motifs to be translated into a sculptural form. Working in bronze, and in a variety of sizes and colours, Van Selm produces two stylized variants of the crow – one of each can be seen in “Blickachsen 10”, in Bad Homburg and Darmstadt respectively. Jet black and over two metres high, “The Crow (striding)” reaches out in space, dominating its location in the Bad Homburg Kurpark. The clear lines and geometric form of the bird’s body are as characteristic of Van Selm’s bird sculptures as its smooth surface design, which gives no visible hint of plumage. The curved contour lines of this figure and the position of the wings re-inforce the impression of forward movement given by the bird’s stance. Van Selm is primarily interested in capturing artistically the crow’s striking form and bearing – yet his sculpture also references the historico-cultural significance of the black bird. To this day, the stories and myths which have grown up around the highly intelligent crow family all over the world still find their way into the fine arts, literature and film.

In the forecourt of the Kunsthalle in Darmstadt, the Dutch artist Arie Van Selm presents his large-format bronze “The Crow (sitting)” – the companion piece to his striding crow on display in Bad Homburg. As a supplement to “Blickachsen 10”, the Kunsthalle is also showing a number of drawings and paintings by the artist, where the motif of the crow is often present. Like its counterpart in Bad Homburg, the stylized figure presented here is also patinated black. It has settled on a base and seems – even without eyes – to be observing its surroundings. Despite its static posture, the bird’s form conveys a sense of movement with which it seems to be seeking to hold its balance on the slightly slanting surface of the base. The striding crow in the Bad Homburg Kurpark, and the sitting crow in the Darmstadt city centre – only a variation in posture separates the two bronze birds, and yet in their different surroundings the effect they have is entirely different. Arie Van Selm himself comments on his sculptural design for the figure of the crow: “In nature it can astonish with its artificiality. In the city it soothes with its naturalness.”