1997, 7th of Jan: Founding of the FlU Art Collection, a Social Sculpture Study Collection.
NOTE: This was the result of a discussion among FlU Amsterdam members, about the need for a world wide and multicultural art collection which should be owned by the entire world population, and which should overcome the barriers we have created through specialisation, and open up an understanding of what is common to our humanity as brotherhood, sisterhood, our human kindness and capacity to create.
All agreed on the need for such a collection, but as is so often the case, there was no finance to help realise the conception. Someone then suggested that the way to get this going was to ask artists for credit for this idea and to request donations. Something unexpected happened. Two of Bien's children were playing on the ground, not far from where the discussion was taking place. It didn't occur to them that they were listening to the conversation, when suddenly they called out "can we give something?" All where surprised and charmed at the same time. Such an offer would dissolve the problem of the founding stone in the collection, in the sense of significance and symbolic value. We were being offered the future generation, not a name from the famous past, and to our astonishment, the children began to make a sculpture from things lying around the studio, which consisted of tree elements. This was followed by donations from our other members, and in a matter of minutes, you might say, the collection had been formed. The artworks were signed in and put aside for later further development of the collection. Other things needed urgent attention.
1998, l0th of Sept: Triodos Bank’s General Director Peter Blom and Thomas Steiner visit F.I.U. Amsterdam, the atelier of Waldo Bien, Lauriergracht 123. The visit takes place on suggestion of geomorphologist Michiel Damen. Damen, Bien and Kloppenburg have been friends ever since their first acquaintance in 1980 and co-operate in F.I.U.Amsterdam study-groups. Ever since their student days, Michiel Damen has also been friends with Peter Blom. They also shared mutual interests and collaborated intensively in study-groups, especially the Social Triune meetings that were annually held in Achberg, BRD; a spiritual think-tank, where socio-economical alternatives were sought and where Joseph Beuys introduced his ideas for a 'humane' and environmentally friendly economy and Social Sculpture (publications: F.I.U. Verlag: www.fiu-verlag.com). The meeting in Amsterdam has to do with the upcoming opening of the new Triodos Bank headquarters in Zeist. The bankers are in search of a new and creative idea with spiritual value. Bien gives an overview of the F.I.U. Amsterdam activities of the past years and the international networks, the people who participate and their common ideals. Then the "F.I.U. study collection" founded on January the 7th 1997 pops into his mind, This F.I.U. Study Collection, a Social Sculpture Model, is patiently waiting for further development in the corner of the studio. He introduces the idea of this art collection: collective property of the world’s population. Especially the idea of an art collection of "collective property", away from traditional property, evokes sympathy and interest. Moreover, the fundaments have already been laid. Triodos requests that the idea be elaborated in writing. Internal conversations and consultations with artists and other kindred spirits follow, with Senior Counsel Frank Callanan in Dublin, with F.I.U. counsellor Dolf Rueb, Amsterdam, and with the F.l.U lawyer Jürgen Binder in Essen, who worked for Beuys in the past and co-founded 'Unternemen F.I.U.' with him. Conversations with Babeth Mondini VanLoo and Louwrien Wijers, who both worked with Beuys in F.I.U. context; and of course with Walter Hopps, Founding Director of The Menil in Houston (TX), because of his great experience and exceptional heart for the Arts, and with Deborah Grotfeldt co-director with Rick Lowe of Project Row Houses, Houston. (www.projectrowhouses.org) All these ideas and suggestions result in a series of drafted concepts, the "letters from the founding fathers" (F.I.U.archive). The 'F.l.U. study collection' is adapted by Kloppenburg to fit the new global scale and renamed into: FREE INTERNATIONAL UNIVERSITY 'WORLD ART COLLECTION', FIUWAC.
1999, 1st of April 14.00h: Planned visit from Peter Blom, General Director of Triodos Bank and Thomas Steiner to Bien's exhibition "A HUNGER TO BE LESS SERIOUS", Paviljoens, Almere NL. First personal acquaintance of the Triodos bankers with Jacobus Kloppenburg. NOTE: Bien and Kloppenburg give a tour through the exhibition and during a consecutive elaborate meeting, for which director Lia Gieling cordially offers her desk, the idea of a FREE INTERNATIONAL UNIVERSITY WORLD ART COLLECTION, FIUWAC, is further discussed. Standing together in front of the artwork “Dutch Masters at work at the end of the 20th Century”, a double portrait of Bien and Kloppenburg. While explaining Bien made a gesture with his hands as if he was touching an invisible sculpture. He explains:
Both, Bien and Kloppenburg, are looking straight into the camera. The portraits are installed onto the wall at a slight angle to each other. On the spot where the focusing eyes of the two Dutch Masters now cross, an invisible sculpture is located: the idea for a social sculpture model, the first real “MODERN” art COLLECTION in the world, declared property of the world population: The Free International University World Art Collection, FIUWAC. Bien invited the Triodos Bank to become HOST and PARTNER so together we could make this idea visible to the world (MAKING THE INVISIBLE VISIBLE).
Bien and Kloppenburg are invited to visit the new Triodos head office to form an impression of the spatial possibilities and are requested to elaborate the FIUWAC concept. The opening of the new head office is scheduled for October the 1st.
Bien estimated that the realisation of this idea within the three months left before the opening date would require an estimated budget of $100.000. In the following weeks all this was taken into consideration and then, in a meeting at studio Lauriergracht 123, June 7th, in the presence of Waldo Bien, Patrick Healy, Jacobus Kloppenburg and Marietta de Bruïne, Triodos Bank’s Public Relations Manager Thomas Steiner, delivered a written note with the happy news that TRIODOS was accepting the proposed idea and offered its assistance to realise it: The walls in their new building would be available to host artworks, costs for the photographic recording, framing and installation of the artworks would be paid and web presentations created. The construction of a legal framework would be worked out along the road. TRIODOS also offered to open up their network for further support and help to find funding. But, the required budget to get this FIUWAC plane in the air, could not be supplied. Bien requested TRIODOS to give the F.l.U. Amsterdam a $100.000 loan and so supply the embraced initiative with the needed "take off' economy. But this request could not be fulfilled because the demanded guarantees for a regular bank loan were not available. Bien then, in return, changed (in order to find a possible opening for the financial dilemma) the roles and said that, if the bank wasn't able to give a loan to create the needed start-up budget, he would offer TRIODOS an F.l.U. loan for the needed sum of $100.000. This F.l.U. loan to TRIODOS BANK would be running over a period of 25 years against 10% annual interest, and connect TRIODOS with the FIUWAC network and let this most inspiring and spiritual river of artworks flow through their building. The interest of such a loan would deliver a bottom line annual economy of $10.000, far less than what would be needed, but it would create at least the needed spark to start the FIUWAC motor and get up in the air. From this new position as "Artist-Banker", Bien applied common banking demands to the proposed F.l.U. loan to TRIODOS, like; What guarantee could be given that TRIODOS would be able to pay back this loan in 25 years? A question like this from an artist to a bank might raise laughter, but the reality is, that banks sometimes go bankrupt and art never does. Bien suggested that the artists would be willing to also supply the demanded guarantee for this F.I.U. loan to TRIODOS, as a social gesture, by creating a "savings account" but then in the form of artworks, photographs, documents etc, that would all be closely related to the ongoing FIUWAC collection, and would be named Triodos-"F.I.U.tures". These F.l.U.tures would then be handled as official value representing documents; stamped, numbered, registered, then framed and hung on the TRIODOS walls. If, in twenty-five years, the purpose of the F.I.U.tures as guarantee against the original $100.000 F.l.U. loan to TRIODOS would be fulfilled and the loan paid back, the F.I.U.tures could be sold on the market and so generate new economy for future projects. All these proposals were taken back to Zeist to be discussed and ultimately to be accepted by TRIODOS with great enthusiasm; On June 10th, 3.46 p.m. followed the confirmation: The first $10.000 interest was paid. From that very moment on it was constantly rush hour for all those involved.
In Amsterdam Jacobus Kloppenburg, Patrick Healy and Hilarius Hofstede work on the FlU Project. Babeth Mondini vanLoo is invited to become a Boardmember. Kloppenburg makes the visual and conceptual designs, layout and logo, including the usual puns: FUTURES becomes F.l.U.tures, and, because they serve as a guarantee for an F.l.U. loan to the Triodos Bank:, they are named: Triodos F.l.U.tures. A part of Kloppenburg's first designs and drafts of ideas are part of this F.l.U.tures collection and they give a good insight into how the FIUWAC and F.l.U.tures concept originated and relate to one another: 'interlocked', or, to speak with Kloppenburg's own concept: "the connection of different categories". Bien travels to Houston to consult WaIter Hopps and the Grotfeldt's, and to invite other American colleagues to the FIUWAC project. Together with Grotfeldt he first visits Charles Stagg in Vidor, TX: "he'll give us some artworks". That appears to be true and others follow this gesture. (F.I.U.archive) WaIter Hopps offers to sit in on the FIUWAC Advisory Board and on the 25th of June 1999 dictates a 'letter of recommendation' for the FIUWAC: Click here for a dynamic version of this letter.
1999, 1st of Oct: Festive opening of the new Triodos Bank headquarters in Zeist, NL, and the first public presentation of the FIUWAC, the 'Free International University World Art Collection'. The opening was announced to be performed by HRH Prins Claus. On the day of the opening HRH Prince Claus unfortunately happened to be ill and so the opening was performed by Prof. dr. Pieter van Vollenhoven, the husband of Princess Margriet of the Netherlands.
Walter Hopps, Director of the FIUWAC advisory board unfortunately couldn’t come; he is working on the Rauschenberg retrospective show. Charles Stagg and Deborah and Virgil Grotfeldt have come from Houston. Due to the enormous interest among bank officials it proves to be impossible to invite all participating artists. The FIUWAC is represented by 7 persons. The artworks have been installed with great care by Kloppenburg and Bien, for witch they received compliments.
But for Kloppenburg and Bien there is also another important success:
In a letter to Triodos Gen. Director Peter Blom of 27 October 1998, Bien has proposed to visualise, by way of "public commitment", the policy towards positive world development and environmental awareness of companies such as Triodos, by giving a permanent voice to Flora and Fauna at conference tables, and indeed to consult animal, plant and earth, in spirit, when making decisions. A spiritual self education for members of the board. Triodos has responded positively to this proposal and requests to have the Flora and Fauna chairs installed in the new conference room. The next step is an artistic problem: how, and in what shape? The following anthropological interdisciplinary research results in the:
F.I.U. BOARD AND CONFERENCE TABLE TOOL KIT,
For all FUTURE oriented Board and Conference Rooms in the WORLD.
(If interested, contact F.I.U. Amsterdam).
TRIODOS BANK, WHERE FLORA AND FAUNA ARE BOARDMEMBERS.
To this Hilarius Hofstede subsequently adds his predicate:
SPONSORED BY NATURE.
NOTE: Special Publication: FIUWAC manifesto, published by Triodos, with the 'Letter of Recommendation' by Walter Hopps, Advisory Board Director, and an F.I.U. statement by Waldo Bien, FIUWAC Founding Director. Boardmembers: Jacobus Kloppenburg, Hilarius Hofstede, Patrick Healy, Babeth Mondini vanLoo, Marietta de Bruïne, and Deborah Grotfeldt.
On show: the first 150 FIUWAC artworks and 100 F.I.U.tures. The F.I.U.tures have been installed in the archive room of Triodos. A group of Kloppenburg artworks from the W.B. archive, initially meant for the collection of Museum Schloss Moyland, Germany, are donated to the FIUWAC.
Following an initial meeting in Brussels, May 3rd 2001, and following correspondence between Waldo Bien, F.I.U. Amsterdam, and Triodos Brussels Director Pierre Aeby, a second F.I.U. loan to Triodos, Brussels, was established at Oct. 11th of 2001, for the sum of $50.000 over a period of 25 years, and, on request of Triodos, the first year with six percent interest, the second year eight percent and from the third year on ten percent. It was agreed that the loan would be covered with hundred-twenty-five Triodos Belgium F.I.U.tures.
Now a block of FIUWAC works has to be put together and composed for Triodos Bank Brussels. An important donation from Harry Hoogstraten forms the first step. The works have been selected by Kloppenburg and Hofstede, during a visit to Hoogstraten's atelier, that took place on suggestion Ira Cohen, N.Y. Kloppenburg and Bien both donate a substantial amount of works. Also donations from Virgil and Andy Grotfeldt, Wei Hong, Nam June Paik , Dale Richard, Federico Fellini, U We Claus, Richard Stout, Patrick Healy, Armelle de Sainte Marie, Serge Kantorowitz, Ernesto Levy, Luk Darras, Lothar Baumgarten, Giuseppe Caccavale (a beautiful Golden Bird), Laurent Dejente, Alfons Alt, Hilarius Hofstede, Jean Lebideau, Kaleb de Groot. Almost all of the Kloppenburg works, sculptures and objects, drawings and pastels, come from the Artchive for the Future.
The Triodos Bank in Brussels would also like to have a F.I.U. Board and Conference Room TOOLKIT installed, but, alas there was no budget available. As a Social Sculpture Gesture, the F.I.U. Board and Conference Room TOOLKIT was then given to the Triodos Bank in Brussels as a present from the F.I.U. Amsterdam.
The conference room of the Triodos Bank Brussels is decorated with a continuous series of 10 Kloppenburg drawings, pencil and candle smoke 1989/90, and with an ARTVOCADO manuscript. Placed on and at the conference tables: FLORA (green) and FAUNA (red) chairs and marrow-bone glasses (DVD, Deep Vision Division), etc… all 'sieben Sachen' of the F.l.U. BOARD AND CONFERENCE TABLE TOOLKIT. Lothar Baumgarten has provided the keystone, completing the spiritual arch: BRUTO TARA NETTO. As an ocular for exact perception, Kloppenburg's marrow-bone glasses are appreciated so much by Director Pierre Aeby that he requests another pair for his work office. A pair of marrow-bone glasses from the very first generation is now doing its job there.
In April 2004 Thomas Steiner, Triodos Bank, invited the F.I.U. Amsterdam to come to Zeist and sign the prepared FIUWAC Foundation papers. Unfortunately, the changes in the document that F.I.U. lawyer Dolf Rueb and Waldo Bien had requested and that were announced to have been made, failed. The Foundation document was a most unlucky and impossible construction that made Triodos Bank de facto indisputable ‘owner’ of the collection, in the traditional sense, against the commitments made at the initial basis of FIUWAC, as published by Triodos and F.I.U.Amsterdam, as FIUWAC manifest, 1 October 1999.
The open framework idea (read; collective property) seems to be more difficult for the Triodos bankers to except than they had expected.
As FIU we proved that its nevertheless possible. Ingredients; No fear, confidence, keep trying and don’t give (yourself) up.
The Bien Grotfeldt series, developed in open, FIU social sculpture framework, are on loan to the Triodos Bank Zeist and decorating boardrooms and offices, awaiting replacement by FIUWAC works.
2005 march 20: Walter Hopps, FIUWAC co Founder and advisory board director died in Los Angeles. Walter Hopps’ last advise to the FIUWAC board was concerning the eventual creation of a FIUWAC foundation: “Hold on to the FIUWAC manifest” (from Oct. the first, 1999).
Note: In 2001, the Menil Foundation established the Walter Hopps Award for Curatorial Achievement to recognize and encourage a continuation of Mr. Hopps' "spirited tradition of innovation and excellence." The first to receive the Walter Hopps Award was Mr. Roger M. Buergel, Director of Documenta 12, Kassel, 2007.
The photo shows Walter Hopps surrounded by his artists/friends at Nancy Kienholz studio, Houston, 2001, the night before the inauguration of the Walter Hopps Award: Walter Hopps, Caroline Huber, Robert Rauschenberg, Ed Ruscha,Virgil Grotfeldt, James Rosenquist, Dennis Hopper, Jim Love, Sharon Kopriva, Ed Moses, James Surls, Pixi Herms, Jim Nutt, Lukas Johnson, William Stern, Tray Allen and others.
November 2006 Triodos Bank President Peter Blom states in a letter to F.I.U. Amsterdam: “A collective world ownership is a nice thought but we also live in a world in which things have an owner”.
In the FIUWAC Manifest, published by F.I.U. and Triodos in October 1999, Walter Hopps writes: “In this regard it is especially propitious that the Dutch Triodos Bank, known for its ethical approach towards banking and investments, is lending their auspices and assistance that together, we might set a new trend for the future. The fact that this collection will be the declared property of the world population as the only benefactor probably makes it the first real “modern” art collection in the world”
More than a thousand works of art have in the meantime been donated by artist from around the world, placed in confidence onto this c o l l e c t i v e o w n e r s h i p commitment.
What is needed is a FIUWAC Foundation that fits the manifested social sculpture principles: authorised to take care/ promote and protect the FIUWAC artworks in the name of its shareholders (the world population).
Authorised Guardianship/transparent Management, under public supervision.
A new and suitable Foundation Document has not been delivered yet. This is at the moment, Summer 2007, subject of discussion between FIU Amsterdam and Triodos, as part of the social sculpture process.
Note: At this point a significant statement by Joseph Beuys comes to mind: The statement was given during the exhibition Mit, Neben, Gegen, Joseph Beuys und seine Schüler (with, next, and against, J.B. and his students) held in 1976 in the Frankfurter Kunstverein; Beuys and his students from the Düsseldorf Academy, exhibiting together. A mammoth gathering of individual spirits that turned into an exiting, several days and nights long dialogue about principles. In the basement of the Kunstverein, at the entrance, Beuys’ sculpture Doppelfond was installed. A journalist wanted to know why Beuys had decided to make this work (a cast in solid iron and several ton weight) so extremely heavy. Beuys’ answer: “Damit ich mich nicht leichtfertig davon machen kann” To avoid that I could thoughtlessly walk away from it.
At this point we stop for the moment, to prevent time (history) from getting ahead of us.
Waldo Bien, June 2007