During the spring of 1965, the Vondelpark in Amsterdam was the venue of an international sculpture exhibition. The event was curated by Willem Sandberg, three years after his retirement as director of the Stedelijk Museum (Amsterdam’s modern and contemporary art museum).
My secondary school mentor held a talk in the classroom about the exhibition, but I was interrupting him constantly. I happened to be an extreme know-it-all during my teenage years and according to me the mentor just didn’t get it.
At some point he said to me, ‘hey Ruhé, if you think you know best why don’t you step forward so you can address the class.’ And that is just what happened. I don’t think my story amounted to much, but I had really paid a lot of attention to the sculptures in the park and I had also taken lots of pictures.
High point of the exhibition, also literally, was a five and a halve metre purple armchair by Wim T. Schippers. Close by was a painted tree trunk by Karel Appel, but I wasn’t too keen on it.
Also nearby, a steel contraption by the German artist Hans Uhlmann: this object was a favourite with children. Every now and then they would climb on it and no one seemed to mind this. I took a picture and wrote on the back: ‘Hans Uhlmann’s Amsterdammer Plastik mit Kinder’ (Hans Uhlmann’s Amsterdam sculpture with children). Then I sent it to the artist.
About a year later I received a letter from Uhlmann which also included some pictures. Uhlmann had written, ‘Die Plastik heisst jetzt offiziell die ‘Amsterdammer-Plastik’. (The sculpture is now officially known as the ‘Amsterdam-Sculpture’.)