A wall shelf by Cobra artist Constant Nieuwenhuis (1920 – 2005)


This shelf called ‘Utrecht’ was designed by Constant Nieuwenhuys. It was made in a few different colors. A rare and important piece of Dutch design. Constant Nieuwenhuys is highly influential in the Dutch artworld as one of the founders of CoBrA, together with Karel appel and Asper Jorn. In 1951 the group disolved and Constant’s work became more abstract. Back in Amsterdam in the summer of 1952 he developed an interest in spatial architecture and three-dimensional works. With Aldo van Eyck, whom he met during his CoBrA time, he created a space for the exhibition ‘Man and House’ at the Urban Museum Amsterdam from 1952-1953. In 1954 he worked on a project with Gerrit Rietveld. Together they created a model house for warehouses de Bijenkorf. Later he combined his ideas about a new future in the concept of New Babylon: “a world wide city for the future” where land is owned collectively, work is fully automated and the need to work replaced with a nomadic life of creative play. New Babylon is inhabited by homo ludens, who, freed from labor, will not have to make art, for he can be creative in the daily practice of his life.
In Nieuwenhuys’ own words:
The project of New Babylon only intends to give the minimum conditions for a behaviour that must remain as free as possible. Any restriction of the freedom of movement, any limitation with regard to the creation of mood and atmosphere, has to be avoided. Everything has to remain possible, all is to happen, the environment has to be created by the activity of life, and not inversely. This playful shelf fits within these ideas.

Additional information

Artist name

1920 – NL


ca. 1953


Private collector The Netherlands


Industrial design