Tom Claassen (b. Heerlen, 1964, lives in Breda) is widely loved for his adorable and oversized animal figures made of plaster, concrete, sand, aluminium, rubber, wood and bronze, which can be found in many locations in the public space in the Netherlands. The five elephants beside the motorway at the intersection of the A6 and A27 near Almere are probably the most famous. Although people usually rush past them at speeds of at least 100 km an hour, the huge size of the sculptures makes them impossible to miss.
In his sculptures, Claassen searches for the essence of the creatures he depicts, for the most archetypal form. He simplifies, removes, stylises and abstracts but always provides viewers with just enough information to recognise the shapes instantly, and yet it is perfectly clear that no attempt has been made to imitate reality. He uses enlargement to emphasise the most characteristic aspects of his figures, which nearly always gives them a mischievous, clumsy or cartoonish touch.
Claassen took part in the first edition of Lustwarande in 2000, with four hooting owls that could be seen in one of the central avenues, in the form of logs sitting on the branches of four lime trees. The owls’ bronze descendants are now part of the Kröller–Müller Museum’s collection.
For STATIONS, Claassen has made a new work, Beanship (2021), and he is also presenting an existing sculpture, Jo, untitled (standing rabbit) (2019), one of the iconic animals he has often depicted, in many materials and poses. This particular specimen seems curious to explore its surroundings. This lovable sculpture became the favorite of the audience.
Beanship is, for Claassen, a very abstract, mirror-smooth sculpture, and is made of hammered brass. It is based on an upper leg and a pelvis, which lends the work an erotic connotation. With its organic and natural shape, reminiscent of the natural contours of a woman’s body without being figurative, it is also a tribute to the world-renowned sculptor Henry Moore.
Jo, zonder titel (standing rabbit) was purchased by Museum Voorlinden.