light art in
sculptures paintings
Joost van Santen contact start page


ando bali chart corbu ijsland kahn    
Start Ando Java Chartres Corbusier Iceland Kahn    
kalkar ladakh rembrandt spits turrell vermeer wadden
Kalkar Ladakh Rembrandt Svalbard Turrell Vermeer Wadden    

In 1970 I created my first coloured glass windows in a church in the city of Hoogvliet. The moment the sun appeared, colours were projected into the room. These images of light, moving through space, fascinated me. From that time light determined my work. In an experiment in my studio I blackened the windows leaving on a pane only a small slit through which sunlight could enter. The beam of light I saw reminded me of experiences in my youth when I saw light entering my room through a small hole in the curtains. And when I entered the attic an old farmhouse when a small bundle of light entered through the tiles. It also reminded me at the beam of light I saw in San Miniato al Monte, a church on the Piazzale Michelangelo in Florence, where a friend had taken me. When the Sun was low in the western sky, sunlight entered through a small window to be reflected in the mosaic with golden tiles at the back of the apse, and, although it was many years ago, the scene was imprinted indelibly in my memory. Svalbard near the North Pole has beautiful light, a source of inspiration.

My remembrance of light stem particularly from manifestations of it when it enters buildings through small rather than large openings. I was impressed by the light that enters the interior of the Chapel of Notre Dame designed by Le Corbusier at Ronchamps, Haute Saône, France, through splay-jambed and slot windows. I recall also the play of a ray of light in the Pennz Oil Building in Houston, Texas designed by Philip Johnson; the light entering through a slit in the roof of the Kimbell Art Museum at Fort Worth, Texas designed by
Louis Kahn; the rosette windows in the cathedrals in France especially the Cathedral of Chartres that admit light through many small areas of colored glass. The buildings designed by Tadao Ando and other architects and the glass roof designed by Bruno Taut.

In the experiment 'Images from Light Space' (Studio, 1996), I installed colour filters and reflectors in the three window frames of my studio. Daylight casts images of these filters and reflectors on to translucent screens, hung inside the windows. The projected images change continuously, depending on the season and the time of day. This experiment shows the essence of my work:' experiencing light as part of the universe'. See for more information 'Images from Light Space'

The appearance of special light phenomena at certain dates is another theme of my work. I am inspired by such important buildings of mankind, so as the temples of Abu Simbal in Egypt, the Complex of Stonehenge in England and the Pyramid of Chitzen Itza in Mexico.

The installations of James Turrell have influenced my work, especially his exposition in the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, Holland April 9 to June 23, 1978 and his Roden Crater Project in Arizona. There are several visual artists working with light who inspired me.

The beautiful Dutch light influences the way many Dutch artists work. Painters as Rembrandt, Vermeer, Jongkind, Dibbets etc. are famous for their use of light.



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