The mystery of the sculptures

by Tanja
Saw man

Since 1989, mysterious statues have appeared in Amsterdam. No one knows the maker, no one knows when they were placed there, they just seem to appear out of nowhere. Who can be its maker?

1. Running man with a violin case

mystery of the sculptures Amsterdam
Running man with violin case, a sculpture of unknown origin on Marnixstraat.

The statue of a running man holding a violin case was the first statue by a mysterious artist that appeared in Amsterdam. It was placed in 1982 at Tweede Marnixplantsoen (Marnixstraat).

People named the statue: Man attempting to catch tram 10. The coated man seems to be in a rush. Though he lacks a head, he does find the time to pleasantly take his hat off to greet someone. Another funny element is the banana peel in front of this foot.

No name was left, no one seemed to know anything. The city council pretended not to know who made the statue.

And then, suddenly, the statue disappeared, only to reappear years later. Remarkably enough, the statue had now been painted blue…

2. Little man with saw

UPDATE: In October 2019, the little man lost his log and disappeared.

The statue of a man attempting to sow down a branch of one of the large trees at Leidsebosje was the second mysterious sculpture to appear. The little iron fellow was placed near Leidseplein in 1989, January 30. That is the day before Queen Beatrix’s birthday. Again, no one knew who made the sculpture. No one claimed the artwork.

sculpture Amsterdam
A little guy with a saw near Amsterdam Leidseplein.

3. The fiddler

The fiddler (de Violist)took in quite a lot of attention when it was moved to the entrance of the Stopera in 1991. Though the Stopera at Waterlooplein is also home to the Amsterdam city hall, the city council still pretended to know nothing about the maker.

The Fiddler, by an anonymous artist from Amsterdam
The Fiddler (Violist) by an anonymous artist from Amsterdam

The statue was named the Fiddler. It is made of bronze. The musician seems to burst out of the floor, while playing his instrument. 

According to a little book published in 2004, this statue was first placed ‘in the sea’, in Velsen. Also, there is a poem that accompanies the statue.

4. The bronze breast

The bronze breast appeared very appropriately in the heart of Amsterdam’s red light district, just outside of Amsterdam oldest church, the Oude Kerk.

The breast at Oude Kerk was the fourth work of what many considered to be the same anonymous maker. A hand groping at one breast, all in bronze is laid subtly among the cobbled stones.

Bronze breast at Oudekerksplein, Amsterdam
Bronze sculpture of a breast at the Red Light District in Amsterdam, by an anonymous artist.

Neighbours however started to complain. The statue was considered sexist and would make loud noises at night when someone stepped on it. Taking the breasts away, was not a job to take on lightly, as the bronze piece was weighed with a meter large block of cement. Placing these breasts in the first place was obviously not a one man’s job…

The city council eventually brought the breast back to the square, soundproof this time and invited the maker to city hall. The city council announced the maker wanted to remain anonymous. All they said that the maker was man, a medical doctor, who in his free time made sculptures.

5. Harmonica man

Harmonica man appeared on the façade of a house in the Amsterdam Jordaan in 1994. Again, the maker was not known, but it was said this was made by the same maker. Harmonica man appeared on the façade of the house on Anjeliersstraat 175 in the Amsterdam Jordaan Quarter.

Harmonica man
Sculpture of a man holding a harmonica, by an unknown artist at Amsterdam Jordaan.

6. Three men in conversation

A year later, a group of three men, sitting high up on red stools, chatting away appeared in the area of Amsterdam Oud-West. The statue (“Drie heertjes in gesprek“) was made in bronze and iron, obviously our anonymous artist favourite material.

You’ll find it at the market of Ten Kate Markt, in Amsterdam Oud West, Kinkerstraat.

Three men in conversation, at Ten Katestraat, Amsterdam
Three men in conversation, at Ten Katestraat, Amsterdam.

More sculptures appeared outside Amsterdam. One appeared in Velsen: met de neus in de boeken in 1990. One appeared in Amersfoort in 1999. The violin player had already appeared in Velsen as well.

Who made the anonymous sculptures of Amsterdam?

Conducting my own research, I found Andre Havas, a medical doctor, psychotherapist and sculptress in his free time the most likely artist. His work resembles the autonomous sculptures. 

Is it a coincidence that mr. Havas lives in the Anjelierstraat, just a few houses from the Harmonica man? Moreover, Anjelierstraat seems to be a street where more of the anonymous works appear. In 2008, the work ‘His master’s skeelers’ appeared in the Anjelierstraat, at Madelievenstraat.

Unfortunately, the sculpture in bronze and iron, depicting a little girl on skeelers and her dog was lost when a truck hit it. Others have named American artist Gene Holt as the master at work, though his work doesn’t resemble the work at all.

Or, is it the former Queen?

But some are convinced the maker must be someone with great influence, to be able to have his/her statues placed without much hassle in such important spots, like Ouderkerksplein and Stopera.

They say the secret is in the sculptures. The colors of three of the statues are red, white and blue. The fiddler in the Stopera looks remarkably like Claus, the husband of former Queen Beatrix…. And so some say, the anonymous maker of the mysterious statues in Amsterdam is Beatrix herself, known to be a talented sculptress…

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