Mandelstam project (Eng)

Click here for a video  recording. 

A monument for the great Russian poet Osip Mandelstam and his wife Nadezjda.

The project includes the erection of two memorial statues, one in Saint Petersburg and one in The Netherlands, by which the cultural ties between East and West are enhanced.
In May 2010 the statue in Saint Petersburg will be unveiled in the inner court of the university, SPBGU.

Photo location

Videoreport unveiling monument

In 2003 Sietse H. Bakker exhibited his graphical works ‘the Armenia Cycle’, inspired by the poetry of the same name by Osip Mandelstam. Because of the moving reactions from the visitors and since a monument for Osip Mandelstam in the city was lacking, the initiative to make a memorial statue came about and gradually involved more people. Many are inspired by the poems and essays of Osip Mandelstam and the books of Nadezjda Mandelstam. The poet was born in 1891 and died in 1938. He was associated with the artists of the Russian Avant-Garde. He always has dedicated himself to the living, free word.

Motivation into realizing a memorial statue for Mandelstam both in The Netherlands and in Saint Petersburg:

The values Mandelstam and his wife have always believed in, and the form by which they expressed this in their way of life and work, are of great significance and of universal consequence.
Having their origins in Europe, these values take us back to ancient Asia and form part of the modern world as well. 
They are the values of humanism that from the beginning of our culture have been fostered and passed on in many civilizations. The love of humans for each other and for our world, and the free and independent spirit are the strongest cornerstones of this. Mandelstam has found this love and freedom in manifestations of the early Christians of Armenia. He also felt supported by people like Ovid, Dante Alighieri, François Villon and Henri Bergson.
In his poetry he has connected past and present while he was focussed on the future. He looked for the living word. He saw wine as a transformation process; grapes that in the future become wine, from roots in the present that can be traced back to Antiquity.
In Saint Petersburg he played a role in the first developments in modern art which for Europe still are of great importance. He tried to retrace the essence of matter, word and shape. He became acquainted with modern science. And he intensively experienced everyday life.
Considering their history, the relationship of Osip and Nadezjda Mandelstam as a human couple assumes monumental forms. They supported each other under the most difficult circumstances. He had the power to not deny the existence of the living, creative word in his poems and essays, but develop it to great height and in this way to show the richness of life in the worst conditions of poverty and suppression. For years Mrs Mandelstam has preserved her husband’s works in her memory. It was too dangerous to put it in writing. Eventually, when the political climate started to loosen up a little and Mandelstam had long passed away, she has written down the poems. They were smuggled out of the country and published in America. Thus the power of Nadezjda’s love for Osip and his work has defied the brute force of Stalinism and has actually triumphed over it.
By erecting a statue in The Netherlands and at the same time in Saint Petersburg, we wish to visualize the solidarity between Eastern and Western Europe and provide love with two new anchors in our modern world.
To this we will devote ourselves, and with your support we’ll realize this two-legged project.
The members of the recommending committee of the Mandelstam Project endorse the importance of a memorial statue of international character for the great Russian poet Osip Mandelstam and his wife Nadezjda, who preserved his work for the future.
The members also support the objective of the Mandelstam Project, viz. to enhance the cultural ties between the two countries with two memorial statues, one in Saint Petersburg and one in The Netherlands.

The members of the recommending committee are:

  • Ernst W. Veen, (managing) director of the Nieuwe Kerk (church) and the Hermitage Amsterdam,
  • Willem G. Weststeijn, (a) professor emeritus of Slavonic languages,
  • Mila Chevalier, director of the Nederlands Instituut St. Petersburg, NIP,
  • Sjeng Scheijen, cultural attaché of the Netherlands Embassy in Moscow,
  • Nina I. Popova, director of the Anna Achmatova Museum, Saint Petersburg,
  • Tatiana Yurieva, professor of history of art and director of the Diaghilev Art Centre and the Museum of Modern Art of the University Saint Petersburg, SPBGU,
  • Tatiana Ponomareva, director of the Nabokov Museum, Saint Petersburg,
  • Anne Stoffel, translator of Russian literature,
  • Alexander Grigoriev, editor of the art magazine ‘D.I.’,
  • Wim Bosch of Boekhandel Pegasus (book store), Amsterdam
  • Pavel Nerler, president of the Mandelstam Association Moscow.


The artists and initiators of the Mandelstam Project are the married couple: Hanneke de Munck, sculptor - education at the Koninklijke Academie, The Hague and at the Rijks Akademie, Amsterdam; she made the design for the statue as a final result of her series ‘Monuments for Love’ - and Sietse H. Bakker - graphic visual artist, working through combinations of word and image with poetry of the Russian Avant-Garde, especially of Osip Mandelstam.

Khachatur Bely is an artist of Saint Petersburg and the designer of the for the statue’s pedestal with one of Mandelstam’s poems.