Circles and Waves XX

Hans van de Bovenkamp

Circles and Waves XX,1987
Cor-Ten Steel and Paint
Collection of the Lowe Art Museum
Location: Lowe Art Museum

Lowe Art Museum Collection

Abstract art is basically a doorway to wonderment. — Hans Van de Bovenkamp

Born in the Netherlands in 1938, Hans Van de Bovenkamp immigrated to Canada with his family when he was seventeen. After trying a number of different vocations (reportedly ten within one year), Van de Bovenkamp realized that he was a natural maker. The artist enjoyed early commercial success, selling his sculptures at street fairs and marketplaces. He used the proceeds from these sales to pay his tuition at the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor), where he studied architecture. After completing his degree, Van de Bovenkamp moved to New York, where he designed window displays and kinetic fountains before deciding to pursue sculpture for sculpture’s sake.

Inspired by mythology, dreams, and the natural world, Van de Bovenkamp is best known for his elegantly sinuous large-scale public sculptures. One such commission, Mariner’s Gateway (1986), directly inspired Circles and Waves XX, which the sculptor created the following year. Both works allude to the concentric rings that result from a pebble or stone being thrown into water, with Circles and Waves XX being a particularly energetic take on this theme. The sculpture’s repeating circular motifs, which are unified by undulating waves, fan out at different angles to create a variety of planar dimensions. The result is an exuberant, abstracted homage to water and Nature.

Student Works Inspired By Circles and Waves XX

David Caldera

My sonic realization, or 'sculpture', of Circles and Waves XX by Hans van de Bovenkamp, was inspired primarily by the physical structure of the sculpture. As I purveyed the sculpture, I noticed two primary motifs—a circle and a wavy line—interacting and blending with each other and forming uniquely angular arrays of shapes. In my piece, I decided to emulate the waves collide with the circles by using similar musical motifs to reflect the ones in the sculpture. The piece begins with two waves murmuring next to each other, meant to represent the base wave of the structure. Then, as a circle (the melody played by the piano and later the cello) glides over it, splashing up and around, the piece grows in intensity, rising up through the statue to the more intertwined, intense parts. Throughout the piece, the round, open purity of the circle is emulated by harmonics in the cello, while the rushing ripples of 'water' in the piano drive the piece forward. The constant shifts in meter and the use of the whole-tone scale also add to the feeling of bubbling, shifting waters. Finally, we arrive at the very height of the work, where—in the center of the sculpture—the three waves move in unison as a single circle hovers within them. The piano plays block chords, static and together for the first time in the piece, as the cello slowly reprises the original melody in the high harmonic register. The entire piece rises and falls naturally, fading in and out, a macrocosm of the gesture of a wave rising and falling. It's just like the circles and waves which appear in nature - those that Bovenkamp hoped to emulate in the original sculpture.

Circles and Waves XX