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29 Oct 2012

Rotterdam's international public art continuously in motion

It's Never Too Late to Say Sorry. Elmgreen & Dragset with 'town crier' in Rotterdam, the Netherlands
© Jannes Linders

Sculpture International Rotterdam (SIR) acquires Elmgreen & Dragset's sculpture/performance for the city

Masterpiece by Henry Moore put in storage for a period of four years

Sculpture International Rotterdam


Henry Moore, Elmgreen & Dragset, Ossip Zadkine, Willem De Kooning, Jeff Wall, Franz West, Giuseppe Penone, and many many more
Free and open 24 hrs a day
50 Sculptures in Rotterdams' public space Sculpture International Rotterdam

Xandra Nibbeling
+31 10 22 50 854
+31 10 22 51 272

Sculpture International Rotterdam
Westersingel 19II
3014 GP Rotterdam
The Netherlands

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Sculpture International Rotterdam manages the unique international art collection displayed in Rotterdam's public space, including creations by Naum Gabo, August Rodin, Willem de Kooning, Paul McCarthy, Giuseppe Penone, Cosima von Bonin and Franz West.

The city changes and its art keeps pace: Elmgreen & Dragset's temporary artwork has recently been added to the SIR's permanent collection, whereas in October Henry Moore's 1955 masterpiece Wall Relief No. 1 – one of the three pieces on which the entire collection was based – will disappear from the city scene for a period of four years.

Elmgreen & Dragset's It's Never Too Late to Say Sorry: latest permanent work in Rotterdam's international collection of public art

The sculpture/performance It's Never Too Late to Say Sorry by renowned artists Elmgreen & Dragset is now a permanent work of art in the public arena in Rotterdam's city centre. Commissioned by SIR, the artists – also known for last year's successful exhibition in the Submarine Wharf of Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam and the Prada store located in the Texas desert in the USA – created this artwork specifically for the Coolsingel axis as part of a long-term development programme for the boulevard.

Performance as a permanent work of art in a public space

It's Never Too Late to Say Sorry is both a sculpture and a performance: every day at the stroke of noon, a man appears. He walks up to the sculpture – a glass display case on a pedestal containing a shiny megaphone – opens the display case, takes out the megaphone and shouts over the Coolsingel:
'It is never too late to say sorry!'
A meaningful gesture certainly at this location, next to the city hall and the old post office building, in the middle of the most important but also neglected city boulevard.

Local and international success
Elmgreen & Dragset's sculpture/performance is a huge success, which is evident not only from its continuation in Rotterdam. It is also gaining a place in other cities around the world. In New York City it was recently placed City Hall Park, where it will remain until November 30, 2012 as part of the 'Common Ground' project by New York's Public Art Fund. Later this year it will be presented in Germany.

Sorry blog
During his first year as the 'town crier', the performer in Rotterdam kept a diary in which he meticulously described his observations and experiences. Parts of this diary are posted on the Sorry Blog (in Dutch and in English). See

Henry Moore 's unique Wall Relief no. 1 (1955) in Rotterdam

Henry Moore's Wall Relief No. 1 is shortly to be put in storage for a four-year period. The building that carries this relief in the centre of Rotterdam will be demolished.
Crimson architectural historians recently researched the building complex by architect J. Boks and the relief by Henry Moore: 'The Bouwcentrum along Weena by architect J. Boks is one of the most important symbols and nerve centres of not just the post-war reconstruction of Rotterdam but of The Netherlands as well. It represents an experimental abundance that is rare in such an important institutional building, carrying a huge and extremely unique work of art by one of Europe's main post-war sculptors.' (From: 'Het Bouwcentrum en Wall Relief No. 1', Crimson, 2011).

Demolishing the building that carries this work of art raises a number of complex questions: is it possible to look at the Moore as an autonomous work of art and is it therefore possible to place it somewhere else in the city? Or is its relationship to the erstwhile Bouwcentrum essential to such an extent that the Moore needs to be put back in the same place in the new building?
It was decided that the Henry Moore will be incorporated into the new building, giving the artwork a new lease on life commemorating both the Bouwcentrum and the post-war reconstruction of Rotterdam. In four years' time, the Henry Moore will return onto the new building as part of Rotterdam's entirely renovated Central District.