Venetian Blinds

  • 1987
  • Fortuyn/O'Brien
  • painted wood, plexiglass, silk
  • (6x) 225 x 95 x 4 cm
  • Location not on view.
  • Acquired in 1998
  • Inventory number 2353
  • met steun van / with support of Mondriaan Fonds

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.

If you need specific information on this work or artist, remember that the Van Abbemuseum Library is at your disposal, or feel free to write to the library.


In this work by Fortuyn/O’Brien six rectangular shapes the size of a door are placed side by side, leaning against a wall. They consist of two layers of perspex with a wooden frame and pieces of thin silk between the perspex. The frame and part of the glass are painted one colour. A curved piece in the middle remains transparent and there is a matt elliptical shape visible in this in some of the “doors”. Two of the “doors” are painted bright pink, two pale yellow and two dark brown.

The artists, Irene Drooglever Fortuyn and Robert O’Brien, have been working together under the name Fortuyn/O’Brien since 1983 and Fortuyn has continued to use this name as an artist since O’Brien’s death in 1988. The sculptures of Fortuyn/O’Brien inspire associations with interiors, homes and architecture. They refer to mirrors, doors, balustrades and bowers, but do not usually function as such. They are like accessories and say: ”We want to make objects which compete with the chairs and tables that surround everyone.” Because of the form of their work and the use of reflecting and transparent materials, there is a strong interaction with the surrounding area: the work influences the experiences of the space, and the space influences that of the work. The sculptures mark points in a space, but at the same time contribute to the denial of the limitations and material quality of that space and of themselves.

In 'Venetian Blinds' the “doors” stand against the wall. They are not real passageways. The title reveals that they are actually not doors but shutters, but their position is not logical for shutters. They are not hanging on the wall and they are not next to a window; rather they are windows, but the size of a door. However, they do not function as windows either: the transparent material is largely cancelled out by being painted, by placing fabric between it or by making it matt. Therefore they work more as blinds. The sculpture evokes associations with recognizable objects, but is not clear. The theme of a door or gateway regularly occurs in Fortuyn/O’Brien’s work. It is the point where two spaces, two worlds are interconnected and where new views, literally and metaphorically, open up. It is a place for mirroring and reflection, metaphorically, but also literally in 'Venetian Blinds'.

Does this page contain inaccurate information or language that you feel we should improve or change? We would like to hear from you.