Fortuna’s Fountain Stephan Balkenhol

Sneek
‘The man with the Horn of Plenty refers to an image of Fortuna, the goddess of good luck and the patroness of cities, families and population groups. The overflowing horn, symbol of fortune and power, brings material well-being to everyone who comes in contact with it. But the man holding the Horn of Plenty in Sneek is standing on a golden globe that is continually rotating on its axis. The globe is driven by the force of the water pouring out of the horn. Thus the flow of fortune amounts to unpredictable, blind power.
New cultural heritage
in eleven Dutch cities
New cultural heritage
in eleven Dutch cities

Who will profit from it, and how long it will last, remains an open question. Luck and fate are the decisive factors; the abundance that flows over us for no apparent reason can just as quickly be taken away. ‘The changeable nature of the Horn of Plenty is reflected in the man’s ambivalent facial expression and neutral clothing. There’s nothing personal about him that we can detect, no obvious emotional state. Because of the man’s vagueness, we experience “The Fountain of Fortuna” as an antithesis that confronts us with ourselves. It makes us wonder what it is that we’re actually observing, and what life is all about. ‘At the same time we realise that no answer can be definitive.’

Stephan Balkenhol (Germany, 1957) lives and works in Germany and France. Balkenhol made his international breakthrough in the eighties with figurative wood sculptures, something that for a long time was ‘not done’ in the art world. Virtually all his work consists of human figures that have obviously been hacked out of large tree trunks by means of hammer and chisel. They often poke fun at us in subtle, humorous ways. Balkenhol has built up a sizeable repertoire of public commissions, many of which deliver an unexpected ‘commentary’ on their location. One much-discussed work was the sculpture of a man in the River Thames, which many thought was actually a person drowning. In the Hamburg zoo, a little man has wrapped himself around the neck of a giraffe. Balkenhol exhibits his work worldwide in major museums and galleries, and his wooden and bronze sculptures have made their way into prominent international collections. He is considered one of the most important contemporary sculptors of our time and has numerous prizes to his name.

Fountains