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The Transformative Journey of Florentijn Hofman's Public Art

2023.03.16
ART NEWS

Florentijn Hofman《Rubber Duck》

Florentijn Hofman is a Dutch artist known for his large-scale public art installations that have captivated audiences around the world. His playful works instantly transport people from familiar, everyday places into the world of art. From a giant rubber duck floating on water to a massive bear quietly watching over a city, Hofman's creations have been created over many years. In this article, we will introduce some of Hofman's most iconic works.

Hofman’s Artworks »

Florentijn Hofman

Florentijn Hofman's Signature "Traveling Rubber Duck"

Hofman's public art pieces stirs the imagination with joy. Among them, the most famous work that has become an icon of public art is the "Rubber Duck". The "Rubber Duck" is a gigantic inflatable membrane standing at 26 meters high. It is an inflatable art piece based on the standard model of the toy that is loved and known worldwide as a bath or pool toy.

The Rubber Duck was first created in 2007 and has since toured cities around the world, including Hong Kong, Sydney, Beijing, Pittsburgh, Auckland, São Paulo, and Osaka.

Florentijn Hofman《Rubber Duck》Kaoshiung

Public art created from everyday objects

《Flat Monkey》2010, Sao Paulo(Brazil)

Many of Hofman's works are created from everyday objects. An excellent example is the "Fat Monkey" (São Paulo, 2010), a huge sculpture made by connecting 10,000 brightly colored beach sandals, which are representative of Brazil. The monkey lying down in the park is 15 meters long. The appearance of the giant monkey suddenly stopping passersby in their tracks. After the project, the beach sandals were given to the public.

《Flat Monkey》2010, Sao Paulo(Brazil)

In addition, the skin of "Big Yellow Rabbit" (Örebro, 2011) is made up of thousands of wooden roof shingles. And "Moon Rabbit" (Taoyuan, 2014), a giant rabbit looking up at the sky was created from light waterproof paper. Using this material, the rabbit’s “fur” moves in the wind as it reacts to the windy environment of Taoyuan.

《Moon Rabbit》2014, Taoyuan(Taiwan)

Hofman’s Artworks »

Florentijn Hofman's Public Art: Site-specific Installations

《Hippopothames》2014, London(UK)

One of the major features of Hofman's art is that it is "site-specific," meaning that the work was created to have an interrelationship with its surrounding location. His installations are not only visually appealing, but also designed to blend in with the community and landscape of the region.

For example, in London (United Kingdom), Hofman created the installation "HippopoThames" in 2014. This artwork featured a giant hippopotamus floating on the River Thames, drawing attention to the river's ecosystem and history.

《Steelman》2011, Amsterdam(Netherlands)

In Amsterdam, Hofman created "Steelman" in 2011. After conversing with local young residents of the once rough district of Staalmanplein, he envisioned an 11-meter-high bear holding a pillow.

According to Hofman, "The bear is tough and is standing straddle-legged. Those who live in this neighborhood have to stand their ground. At the same time the bear is a symbol of fraternization. People socialize at the foot of the sculpture.’foot of the sculpture." For Hofman, the audience is an integral part of the artwork.

《Kobe Frog》2011, Kobe(Japan) *Permanent collection of Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art in Kobe

In Kobe, Hofman created a permanent installation called "Kobe Frog" for the rooftop of the Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art. The work is inspired by frogs and their versatile personalities, which Hofman thought resembled the strong people of Kobe who had recovered from the Great Hanshin earthquake of 1995. To celebrate the people who had lived through that momentous occasion, the frog is adorned with a colorful party hat.

《Bubblecoat Elephant》2017, Shenzhen(China)

Hofman's works are both captivating and influential, especially for children. "Bubblecoat Elephant," for instance, is a work installed on the roof of a shopping mall. A water fountain sits at the end of the long elephant's nose, creating a water playground beckoning adults and children to enjoy the outdoors. It’s an endearing installation with an underlying critique towards consumption society as it sits on top of a massive mall that is a cathedral devoted to our shopping salvation.

Florentijn Hofman's Vision for the Next Generation

《Lookout Rabbit》 2011, Nijmegen(Netherlands)

Hofman's works use everyday materials and motifs, such as paper boats, industrial district pictograms, and mass-produced small toy figurines. Despite being mundane, the artist finds different beauty in each of them and turns them into clear and symbolic images.

By enlarging reality like fiction and utilizing the size and materials, Hofman expands the accessibility of art, while also providing suggestions to modern-day issues such as alienation and anxiety.

Florentijn Hofman

In recent years, Hofman has broadened his activities beyond traditional public art installations. In 2021, he installed a giant inflatable "Citycocoon" at the Schiedam Municipal Museum in the Netherlands. This work, created after the confinement of the COVID-19 pandemic, appeared in the nave of a historic church and provided a deep green space of non-everyday life, as well as a song composed by Hofman and a composer, inviting viewers into deep meditation.

Creating works that strike a chord with people reflects Hofman's desire for new artistic expression and his desire to expand the boundaries of public art. It's exciting to see what Hofman will create next and how he will continue to shape the world of public art by exploring new media and technologies.

Florentijn Hofman《Rubber Duck》Pittsburgh

Hofman’s Artworks »

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