New Babylon

Constant Nieuwenhuys (1920-2005) was a member of the Dutch branch of the world-famous COBRA movement, which also included Karel Appel and Corneille. In 1956, however, his work took a completely different direction. Abandoning painting, he threw himself into a vast architectural and town planning project called New Babylon, expressing his ideas for a progressive, modern society via maquettes, drawings, films, graphics and manifestos. Thanks to acquisitions in the 1970s and major donations by the artist, the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag now possesses the greatest collection of New Babylon-related works anywhere in the world.


Utopia

The 1950s were a time of major social change. Automated manufacturing processes were being introduced and the standard of living was rising. The growth in road and air transport was making it easier for people to travel ever further and faster. Moreover, a new balance between work and leisure was offering people greater scope for personal development. Constant felt that these developments called for a new way of organizing the physical environment.

 

New Babylon

His utopian New Babylon project proposes an ideal worldwide city of the future in which rapid change is a key assumption and life is to be lived ‘vertically’. Designed to be flexible, its buildings will form a network of structures supported on pillars and extending all over Europe. The fabric of the city is to be divided into various multi-storey sectors, within which residents will move around on foot or take lifts between the different floors. Climate, light and air are all artificially controlled. Cars, buses and freight vehicles pass underneath the buildings and the roof provides space for pedestrian areas, landscaped walkways and airport runways.  

Homo Ludens

Constant’s designs for New Babylon are based on the idea of an alternative, fully automated society in which human labour has become unnecessary. This means that people are free to devote themselves entirely to the development of creative ideas. Residents of New Babylon will be a new race of ‘Homo Ludens’ (man at play) with unlimited freedom to decide the ever-changing appearance of their own surroundings. Because of this endless scope for creativity in daily life, there is no longer any need for art as such. The distinct artistic disciplines of the past – painting and sculpture, dance and theatre – will be absorbed into the playful creativity of everyday life.

Objecten

[72 stukken]
  • Image of New Babylon Nord
    Image of New Babylon Nord

    New Babylon Nord

    Constant [1920-2005]

    1958
    hoogte 105,8 cm breedte 112,5 cm
    waterverf op papier
    Gemeentemuseum Den Haag: 0320207
  • Image of Gezicht op enkele New-babylonische sectoren
    Image of Gezicht op enkele New-babylonische sectoren

    Gezicht op enkele New-babylonische sectoren

    Constant [1920-2005]

    1971
    hoogte 135,0 cm breedte 223,0 cm
    waterverf en potlood op fotomontage
    Gemeentemuseum Den Haag: 0320206
  • Image of La salle de réception
    Image of La salle de réception

    La salle de réception

    Constant

    voorjaar 1963
    hoogte 14,9 cm breedte 20,5 cm
    inkt op papier
    Gemeentemuseum Den Haag: 1046385
  • Image of New Babylon - Amsterdam
    Image of New Babylon - Amsterdam

    New Babylon - Amsterdam

    Constant [1920-2005]

    1963
    hoogte 53,0 cm breedte 62,0 cm
    inkt op stadsplattegrond
    Gemeentemuseum Den Haag: 0122463
  • Image of Sector XXVII
    Image of Sector XXVII

    Sector XXVII

    Constant [1920-2005]

    1961
    hoogte 44,0 cm breedte 64,0 cm
    Oostindische inkt op papier
    Gemeentemuseum Den Haag: 0122481
  • Image of Interieur met trappen en deuren
    Image of Interieur met trappen en deuren

    Interieur met trappen en deuren

    Constant [1920-2005]

    1962
    hoogte 27,4 cm breedte 45,6 cm
    Oostindische inkt op papier
    Gemeentemuseum Den Haag: 0182519
  • Image of Constructie in oranje
    Image of Constructie in oranje

    Constructie in oranje

    Constant [1920-2005]

    Amsterdam
    1958
    hoogte 23 cm breedte 110 cm diepte 100 cm
    metaal, plexiglas en hout
    Gemeentemuseum Den Haag: 0330972
  • Image of Plattegrond van de gele sector
    Image of Plattegrond van de gele sector

    Plattegrond van de gele sector

    Constant [1920-2005]

    1959
    hoogte 40,0 cm breedte 51,0 cm
    Oostindische inkt en potlood op papier
    Gemeentemuseum Den Haag: 1000014

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