Frans Verhaak 1918 - 1998  

From: ' Sculpture in Brabant - Developments in Sculpture since 1945 ' - NBKS 1990

Frans Verhaak, while waiting for a call to military duty, attends drawing and modelling classes at the National Higher Institute [of the Academy of Fine Arts] in Antwerp (1936). Military service lasts long as a result of unforeseen pre-mobilization and mobilization. After the war breaks out Verhaak goes into hiding, resulting in the loss of eight years all together.
    Shortly after the Liberation Frans Verhaak works for a brief period at the studio of Flemish sculptor Albert Termote in Voorburg and he attends the academy of arts in Rotterdam for several months. In spite of this Verhaak mainly regards himself as an autodidact.
    He settles in Breda, where he works as an independent artist since 1950. In the early period of his development his work is dominated by religious assignments. 'You'd be influenced by all these clerical assignments. The ways of expression are brushed by the stylistic ideals you'd want to approach, study and explore'. The style is sober and inspired by romanesque and archaic art. An early example is the meanwhile well-known St.Anna Threefold (1953), made in assignment by a private customer. The spiritual character of the small statue gets emphasized in reviews: the little statue is '(...) of a great spiritual beauty. (...), sober in it's form, fine in it's line' and 'It's only a small statue, but of enormous monumentality, tension and balanced proportions' or, the statue shows a 'devout simplicity of conception'.¹
   A Piëta by Verhaak, exhibited at the Artists from Brabant show of 1954, is memorized for it's concise depiction of human figuration, represented by austere lines and executed in a sober handwriting.
   The Apostle (1958) is represented in an Italian style that is so characteristic for artists like Marini or Giacometti. This sculpture makes part of a  series bronze sculptures of apostles which was exhibited at the World Expo '58 in Bruxelles. There was a special section appointed to religious art, the 'Civitas Dei'.
   Frans Verhaak will be appointed in 1957 at the Academy for Visual Education in Tilburg to help build up the section Three-dimensional Design. He makes works of various character in that period: female figures, casted in bronze, and abstract metal constructions. Nearly all sculptures are executed in small scale because Verhaak only has a modest studio at his disposal.
   Round 1965 Verhaak is commissioned to design a sculpture for the comprehensive school 'Leyendaal' in Tilburg (1965). It will become one of the scarce monumental constructivist works by Verhaak, with for him unusually large dimensions: a metal sculpture of 14.5 meter height, in which the vertical direction and movement of triangled planes in space, attuned to the environment, represent the core of the abstract object.
   As from 1960 he experiments among other things with open spacial, metal structures. Characteristic for these abstract sculptures are a vertically directed construction of elements, in such a way that a balanced composition is achieved and a suggestion of movement arises. It's his goal abstracting reality in such a way that the shape gets an autonomous meaning.
   He tells how he finds himself only recently being in the stadium in which he would have wanted to start, in a process of researching the essential fundamentals of shapes in the spatial environment. Verhaak attempts to return to the core. He's appealed by Brancusi's notions. Verhaak also speaks highly of the quality of the works by Alicia Perez Penalba (vegetative forms), Fritz Wotruba and Eduardo Chillida. The angular, analytical structures by Wotruba, derived from the human figure, are recognizable in the little statue Double Figure (1982). Zonder titel (1987) has a more open structure and a more abstract design.
   Frans Verhaak also experiments with geometrical shapes in paintings of recent date. His reliefs could be regarded as intermediar between the paintings and sculptures. Together they form part of an abstract formal research.

¹. Quotes from press cuttings out of own archive Verhaak. Names and dates of papers unknown.

Text: Ad Kraan

Source: "Beelden in Brabant", NBKS 1990, ISBN 90-71092-46-1

St Anna Threefold, 1954


Frans Verhaak

1918 Dordrecht   † 1998 Breda


Koninklijke Academie voor Schone Kunsten, Antwerpen (B.)
Academie voor Beeldende Kunsten, Rotterdam


Belangrijkste solotentoonstellingen:
Galerie Schoots, Eindhoven
Galerie Hüsstege, 's Hertogenbosch
Galerie Van de Loo, Waalwijk
Cherng Piin Gallery, Taipei (R.O.C.)








Belangrijkste groepstentoonstellingen:
'Sonsbeek', Arnhem (c) (also in 1958)
Kasteel Nijenrode
Tate Gallery, London (U.K.)
'Contour', Stedelijk Museum Het Prinsenhof, Delft (c)
'Brabantse schilders, beeldhouwers, grafici', Stedelijk Van Abbe Museum, Eindhoven (c)
'Biënnale Christlicher Kunst der Gegenwart', Salzburg (A) (c) (also in 1964)
'l'Art Sacré Moderne', Stedelijk Museum Het Prinsenhof, Delft (c)
De Beyerd, Breda
'l'Art religieuze contemporaine', Musée d'Art Moderne, Paris (F)
'Religieuze kunst na 1952 in Noord Brabant', Museum for Religious Art, Uden (c)
'Beelden in Noord-Brabant na 1945', Kasteel Heeswijk, Heeswijk-Dinther (c)


Belangrijkste opdrachten:
'Expo', Vaticaans Paviljoen, Brussel (B)
'Orpheus', Gemeente Tilburg
Lambertus Ziekenhuis, Helmond Brouwer gedenkteken, Hilvarenbeek
LTS 'Leyendaal', Tilburg

Belangrijkste publicaties:
Katholiek Bouwblad, nr.13
Katholiek Bouwblad, nr. 8
F.H.Kerle Verlag, Heidelberg (art. dr. Anton Heuze)