Three Figures

If you take a walk from the tram stop on the Van Limburg Stirumstraat in the Westerpark borough of Amsterdam, and head towards the park entrance on the Haarlemmerweg, you’ll find yourself accompanied by three rather unusual figures.

Cast in bronze, these life-size statues seem to be taking a leisurely walk towards the gates of the nearby Westerpark.

Created by sculptor Peter Erftemeijer, the idea behind the “Three Figures” was to create a visual link between the Van Limburg Stirumstraat and the park entrance.

The work clearly achieves its aim. It’s not unusual, for example, to find passers-by, unfamiliar with the neighbourhood, doing a double-take as they catch a glimpse of these fluid, relaxed “pedestrians” and realise they are actually statues.

It’s only recently that I have discovered that the statues have no story to them. No meaning beyond their physical presence.

When I first encountered them, I concocted a story for them almost instinctively.

I think I was encouraged to do so due to the way the three figures seem so aware of one another.

The first man, who is emerging from the tram stop, seems to be watching the woman just up ahead. It appears as though he is following her, as though he is curious to discover where she is going or what she is doing.

From the tilt of the woman’s head, she appears to be aware of the man behind her and in doubt as to whether or not she should turn around to meet his stare.

Meanwhile up ahead, on the Haarlemmerweg, a third man turns to watch the two approaching figures. He seems to have stopped dead in his tracks, as though he is surprised at what he sees.

I always like to imagine that he is the woman’s lover. That they have arranged some tryst in the park which now looks to have been foiled by the curious, mistrustful husband.

Frozen in their poses as they are, their story seems caught in a moment, the resolution of the tale, uncertain.

A story to take with you to the park perhaps, where you can lie in the grass and construct a multitude of endings for this intriguing little trio….?

One thought on “Three Figures

  1. Keren says:

    Thanks for telling me a bit about these statues. I have seen them often and really love them – I have always wondered why they are there and who made them.

    For me they represent the lost citizens of Amsterdam who were murdered during the second world war.

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