Persona August, 25th 2022 by

World Fine Art Professionals and their Key-Pieces, 378 - Adri Boon

adrie boon – 1

World Fine Art Professionals and their Key-Pieces, 378 – Adri Boon
In the 1960s, Adri Boon gave an important impulse to cultural life in The Hague and far beyond. In 1965 Adrie Boon founded Theater / Studio Scarabee. From the visual arts, he wanted to create a total theater with means of expression such as music, gesture, word and film.
Adri Boon (1937) was critical of traditional theater forms. There was a lot of repetition and little innovation, let alone a brilliant spark, he thought. The atmosphere to start something new was there, with Robert-Jasper Grootveld, Provo and the Kabouters, who even conquered a place in the Hague and Amsterdam city councils. It was the magical sixties, when the youth put aside old forms and thoughts and started experimenting in all kinds of fields.

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Pop happenings
The core of the group is Adri Boon, Jan van As and Raf Thunnissen. The first major production to be released by Adri Boon is the metaphysically realistic triptych Spiral, which premiered in December 1965 in the Hague Art Circle (Haagse Kunstkring). Of essential importance for the development of the piece are the pop happenings that previously took place in the Hague Art Circle. Spiral is a variety show, full of tableaux vivants. It is the first of ten theater productions and two films adapted for television to be produced. Later that year, Adri Boon and Titus Cruls bring the “erotic alphabet”.

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The sequel will take place at the Huygens Lyceum in Voorburg. Together with Carolien and Jan van As, Adri Boon produces a school production that is inspired by the text Lamentation for Ignacio Sanchez Mejias by Garcia Lorca. They design a model for a declamatorium that includes theatrical light, projections of liquid slides, spoken texts, hissing, humming and guitar playing. The performance is performed by 45 students from the Lyceum, who are divided into soloists and choirs. Lorca’s text is translated by Boon himself. During the performance, Adri Boon improvises on guitar on themes from compositions by Villa Lobos and Fernando Sor.

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Visual tension
In an interview with NRC-Handelsblad, Adri Boon later (in 1977) says about it: “There is a certain tension in literary theater that is determined by the text, by the way it is presented. Our starting point is primarily a visual tension, comparable to what happens in a painting or a sculpture. We overturn the hierarchy of the artistic disciplines by treating music, images, text, set, movement and light and the actors equally.”
Adri Boon was a glazier, visual artist, theatermaker, guitarist and teacher. He went to study at the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague in 1953 and graduated in 1957. He then went to work as a pottery painter at De Porceleyne Fles in Delft. He then learned to paint stained glass at a glazier’s company in The Hague. In 1962 he settled at the picturesque Julianahofje on the Zwarteweg in The Hague. This courtyard was populated by a number of artists, such as the actress Georgette Hagendoorn, the painter Theo Wolters, actress Ingeborg Elsevier, visual artist Marijke de Wit, sculptor Auke de Vries and art historian Tito Cruls.

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Glass Burning Furnace
His studio was located on the ground floor of his house. After a few years a glass furnace was built next to the easel, with which he could make a commission for two wall panels. From 1965 his house became the center for meetings with artists who participated in the productions of Theater Scarabee. The sound recordings and montages were made on a number of large Revoxs. The monumental courtyard was demolished in 1985.

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The Hague Art Circle
Boon took part in group exhibitions in the Hague Art Circle, in Paris and in Copenhagen with a series of gouache and pen drawings. His great example was Leonardo da Vinci. In painting he was inspired by Piero della Francesca, Sandro Botticelli and Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres. He painted with tempera on panels. After a long retreat in the monastery of Montserrat, near Barcelona, he made a series of metaphysical paintings on panel.

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Bewogen beweging (Moving movement)
Influenced by the kinetic sculpture of Alexander Calder and George Rickey, a number of members of the Hague Art Circle put together an exhibition of their own work under the title Bewogen Beweging. Boon produced two works, a so-called mobile sculpture that slowly rotated and changed shape on a motor, and a mannequin with a yearning female head. He had built in a computer chip and the spectator could make the doll talk via a button. She then spoke a poem by Bert Schierbeek.

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Study trips
In 1964 he made a study trip with Christa van Santen to New York where he came into contact with the La Mama Theater in Greenwich Village, where Ellen Stewart experimented with actors, visual artists, musicians and writers. And also Julian Beck’s and Judith Malina’s Living Theater. He saw countless happenings. In 1966 he traveled with Raf Thunissen to Cairo, where the name of their theater arose: Theater Scarabee, later Studio Scarabee. The scarab is the symbol of becoming and growth with the ancient Egyptians.
In 1966 Boon was commissioned by the Hague architects Thunissen, Van Kranendonk and Becka for the retirement home Favente Deo on Loevesteinlaan. In the entrance hall of the main building on the back wall on either side of the central corridor, he made two panels of stained glass measuring three by six meters.

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Helene Weigel
More study trips followed after Egypt, such as a visit to the widow of Bertolt Brecht: Hélène Weigel in East Berlin at the Theater am Kurfürstendamm, to discuss the technique of the Brechtian theater triangle. Then Theater Laterna Magica in Prague, where the technique of the famous lighting technician Jozef Svoboda was studied. In London, in the Toy Museum they took note of the mechanical possibilities for a portable theatre.
The Arts Council was enthusiastic: “Theatre Scarabee undeniably represents a breakthrough to other new theater forms that are worth trying.”

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Own theatre
In 1969 Scarabee moved into his own theater in Willemstraat in The Hague with a municipal subsidy. The name was changed to Studio Scarabee. This was followed by seven productions, which were shown not only in the Netherlands, for example at the Mickery Theater, then still located in Loenersloot, but also at leading festivals and museums abroad.
When the productions became more and more expensive in the 1970s, while the audience – due to the small housing – remained relatively small, the difficult negotiations about a fixed subsidy came to a hopeless standstill. When the municipality also suspended the rent, Scarabee decided to dissolve itself.
Boon was now a teacher at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam, where he was a teacher at the Audiovisual department for many years until 1997. In the meantime he lived in Abcoude. He died there in 1997.
1)work from 1968, 2) Adri Boon in 1966, 3) gouache, 1965, 4) chalk drawing, 1963, 5) oil on tempera, panel, 1962, 6) stained glass. Two objects: the sun and the moon. After a poem by F. Garcia Lorca, ‘La luna y los gitanos’, 1966, 7) theater production Poppetgom, 8) Poppetgom, design Jan van den Toorn, 1970, collection Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, 9) Music script for Bruno Maderna, 10) drawing Adri Boon, The death of Poppetgom

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