FERDI Dutch, 1927-1969


(b. 1927 Arnhem - d. 1969 Baarlo, The Netherlands) Ferdi (Ferdina Jansen) left for Paris in 1950 to develop her interest in fine art attending sculpture workshops run by the sculptor Ossip Zadkine. There she met her partner Shinkichi Tajiri, the Japanese American sculptor, who taught her how to weld. Ferdi made striking jewellery and compositions from welded iron inspired by studying the symmetrical body of insects. 


Both her and her husband were members of CoBrA (1948 – 1951) formed in Paris by expat artists from Copenhagen, Brussels and Amsterdam including Karel Appel and Constant. Based on spontaneity and experiment, they drew their inspiration in particular from children’s drawings, primitive art forms and from the work of Paul Klee and Joan Miró. 


In 1956, they left Paris and moved to Amsterdam later moving to Castle Scheres in Baarlo, a small village in the Netherlands giving them both space to work and raise their family. During a trip to Mexico in 1964, Ferdi found inspiration that took her work in a new direction and began experimenting with sculptural forms. This was the beginning of her Hortisculptures series; large scale sculptures built around a wire mesh, which was covered with foam plastic and then finished with brightly coloured synthetic fur. The sexual symbolism of these tactile sculptures such as Wombtomb, 1968, are overt and playful. Ferdi did not like to label herself a feminist yet her work is associated with the struggle in the 1960s for sexual equality and freedom for women. 


Ferdi has been included in many CoBrA, Pop and sculpture exhibitions in Europe and is in the permanent collection of the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.