Stefan Glerum is a Dutch artist known for his playful and eye-popping illustrations. He spent four years studying illustration at Academy St. Joost and also worked as an assistant to Joost Swarte, a celebrated comic book artist. His work is characterized by clownish figures engaged in various dynamic acts. Described as “a melting pot of illustration heritage,” Glerum’s style draws on the Art Deco, Russian Constructivist, Italian Futurist, and Bauhaus movements, infusing this creative mash-up with popular themes (Source).
Recently, on the wall of a housing complex in Amsterdam, Glerum designed a massive and unique work of site-based art: two stained glass windows installed on a housing complex that depict a cartoonish collage of the location’s history. Located on the front and back of the building, each window is 60 feet high. Heren 5 Architects built the complex, and Atelier Schmit fabricated the stained glass. The AFK supported the completion of this project.
The longer you look at this stunning work, the more you’ll unravel about the surrounding location. First and foremost, the windows are aligned like a chimneystack, referring to a Oostergasfabriek (a nineteenth-century gas factory) that once stood out in that area of Amsterdam. Following the abandonment of the factory at the beginning of the twentieth century, the area hosted other industrial and public spaces. The front window shows a swimming pool, an animal shelter, and the Don Bosco School; the back depicts a public bathing room for factory workers, the laboratory of Professor Ernst Laqueur, and musicians of the Red Fanfare who formerly rehearsed there. You can read a more thorough description of each window on Glerum’s website, and there is a video about the construction here.
What makes the windows so spectacular is the artist’s seamless combination of historical periods and human environments. From military maneuvers to the coal industry to animal care, his loony figures crash together in a time-transcending and spirited symphony. Glerum’s art is not unknown to B/D; he is included in our Book 7: Class Clowns, and even designed the cover art. If you enjoy Glerum’s work—and, furthermore, are curious about artists who use similar styles of humor to engage and challenge us—you can purchase a copy of Book 7 on our shop page. Limited copies are still available.
Client: Ymere, Amsterdam
Artist: Stefan Glerum
Architects: Heren 5
Stained glass studio: Atelier Schmit
Photography: Luuk Kramer & Niels Gerson Lohman