The sexy sixties of Marja de Boer Lichtveld

Posted on 12 December 2018

We dive into the turbulent 1960s of the young, just graduated artist Marja de Boer Lichtveld. Freedom, love and the female body are central to her work. She makes cheerful and colourful art without shying away from showing breasts and genitalia. A number of these early works – which are all on show at the gallery of Kunstconsult – are rediscovered after 50 years and form a true period piece of the sexual revolution of the late 1960s.


Sexy happenings

In the early 1960s the artist moves into a condemned building in Kattenburg. Also called ‘The Montmartre of Mokum’, the settlement of dozens of young artists forms a breeding ground for ideas about free love, emancipation and provocation of authorities. The anarchist ‘provo’ movement stimulates the sexual revolution in Amsterdam. Marja and her husband Frans are no strangers to the infamous happenings of the provo’s around ‘Het Lieverdje’, a statue on the Spui. These happenings are often photographed by Cor Jaring, whose mission is to document the turbulent 1960s. The Amsterdam photographer also attends the sexy happenings in the workshop of Marja and Frans. In the old but characteristic school building along the Amstel, the artist duo regularly paints on nude, female models.


Feminine work

In her early work on paper and textile, Marja celebrates femininity in a playful manner by using cheerful colours and materials such as candy wrappers and magazine cutouts. Marja’s gouaches, collages and textile works are exhibited for the first time at Galerie Swart in Amsterdam. About two years later, these works, together with the iron sculptures of her husband, are on show at the Danish Galerie Moderne in Silkenborg. The exhibition is a great success and the couple gets a lot of publicity.



Modern sculptures

However, both artists decide to go in a different direction after this exhibition. From now on, Marja focuses on making sculptural works, just like Frans. The introduction of modern materials such as plastic, polyester and chromed steel offer the artists new ways to express themselves. Frans rigorously throws his unsold, ‘outdated’ works in the Keizersgracht, while Marja’s remaining works on paper of safely disappear to the attic.


Inseparable duo

After their Danish adventure Marja and Frans initially work on their own, whether or not in the same studio, but in 1969 a close collaboration begins. In about 45 years the duo creates an impressive oeuvre, including a great number of works in public space. Earlier this year an overview exhibition in the Jan van der Togt Museum in Amstelveen shows independent but also joint projects of the two artists.



Treasure from the attic

It is during the preparations for this exhibition that Marja rediscovers her early works on paper. This treasure from the attic provides a unique insight into the sexy 1960s of Marja de Boer Lichtveld. Straight from the museum wall the works are for sale for the first time since 1967.



Visit the sales exhibition Sexy Sixties in the gallery of Kunstconsult until the 30th of December.


Text: Zaida Bouwmeester


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