About Willem Massa

(1934 – 2008) , sculptor, his legacy.


Willem Massa was not a ‘mass-man’ . As long as he could continue to work on his huge sculptures it was no problem for him that only e few  people  saw his art. But it is admirable – and of course also romantic – that he  followed  his inner drive so fanatically.

Working in the barn







“There is no usefulness,
I have to be busy with the process,
not with the result of it.”








In spite of this  Willem Massa had a message. It is a message about the world in the past ánd the world of the present  tó the world of the present . He told the significant big stories the way he understood them. He translated these stories in often very high wooden sculptures referring to mythologies, the tradition of Judaism and Christianity . Together with the big, undeniable stigmas in our history like the Holocaust they form a source  of inspiration in his work. He also got inspired by the Japanese Aikido of which he was a fervent practitioner. (see photograph)

Willem Massa made the stories about these subjects into stories of his own. As an artist he knew – in a unique way and with the skills of a craftsman who knows how to work with a living material like wood – how to give a new life to the big stories of the world.

Willen in the Dojo








“The main things in life like relations, love and the world we live in are the subjects of the sculptures I make.”









Although I already live for a long time in the city of Nijmegen I never saw the work of Willem Massa in Lent only until I was invited in the granary in Nieuw Beerta after his death. There I couldn’t believe my eyes. Was it too much, too big, too imposing?  No, it was something different.  From a certain distance the sky high sculpture may look frightening. But if you dare to take a step towards the work, into the whole work, it lifts you up and you become part of it. Then you are in the world of Willem Massa.

I invite you to come into that world.

Han Rouwenhorst,
neerlandicus en kunsthandelaar