Manpowered Fanjet Aircraft
The Van Abbemuseum Collection consists of over 2800 artworks. We publish texts and images on an ongoing basis, but this record is currently in the process of being documented.
The multicoloured screen print 'Manpowered Fanjet Aircraft' by the Belgian artist Panamarenko shows the sketches of a single-seater aircraft from various perspectives. Notes and calculations are shown around the sketches. In addition, this work contains a subtitle in English, in which Panamarenko indicates the span, speed and weight of the aircraft, and includes a description of the parts.
The pseudonym “Panamarenko” is an abbreviation of Pan American Airlines and Company. The artist behind this name has been concerned above all with the development of fragile aircraft since 1967. Panamarenko elaborates his ideas in such a way that they should be able to operate in reality. However, most of his aircraft have never flown. Either they did not work during the trial flight or they were never tested. From the technical and scientific point of view Panamarenko’s experiments therefore have little point. Rather than serving as an enrichment for contemporary aviation, they refer to ideas of inventors from earlier times such as Leonardo da Vinci. However, as objects of art they do have some significance. They offer the viewer a dream. They are concerned with man’s desire to fly, to raise himself up into the air under his own power.
Panamarenko’s designs, models and prototypes can be viewed as metaphors for exploring unknown territory, for expanding one’s own possibilities and crossing boundaries. Stimulating the imagination and encouraging a belief in dreams is more important than the literal take-off. Most of Panamarenko’s designs refer to solo aircraft which are powered by the pilot using his own power. In a number of cases the flying mechanism is based on the way in which insects move. The “Meganeudons” look like eponymous prehistoric dragonflies of huge dimensions. They flew by flapping their wings. Panamarenko’s planes are very different from a regular airplane in which the pilot only has to find his seat. His aircraft require a strong physical effort on the part of the pilot.
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