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The Durrer Committee commissioned Lucien den Arend to make a proposal for a sculpture commemorate Professor D. Durrer (1918-1984), the reputable Dutch cardiologist.

Durrer monument - Amsterdam - sculptures (site specific and public sculpture) in cities in Europe and America by Lucien den Arend

1985-1986 - height 4m - stainless steel memorial to Professor D. Durrer, Minervaplein, Amsterdam, commissioned by the Durrer Comité Foundation and the city of Amsterdam NL


This is a monument for the cardiologist Prof. Dr. Durrer from Amsterdam. He is regarded as the founder of cardiology in the Netherlands. Two years after his death the park was renamed Durrerplantsoen and an artwork by Lucien den Arend was commissioned in commemoration.

Primum movens ultimum moriens: that which moves first, dies last. It is the title of Dirk Durrer’s inaugural lecture, delivered at his appointment as professor of cardiology (the first in Amsterdam) in 1957. These days, the text is carved in stone on Durrerplantsoen, a part of Minervaplein dedicated to the cardiologist. Durrer is regarded as the founder of cardiology in the Netherlands. Two years after his death the small park was renamed after him and a monument by Lucien den Arend was erected in commemoration. The monument was officially unveiled by Princess Juliana in 1986.

The monument bears the same title as Durrer’s inaugural lecture and represents the aortic arch. Two parallel silver tubes are bent into a graceful curve, vertically as well as horizontally. Walking around it, the work unfolds into a dynamic interplay of lines. The work may appear abstract at first sight, but being based on the representation of a blood vessel it is actually realist.

The erection of a monument always indicates something about the zeitgeist. Apart from an object of remembrance, monuments also promote prevalent issues from a specific period. As such, its form says a lot about the way the community to which it belongs sees itself. What values do they uphold? Primum movens is a monument honoring a man who was a doctor and a scientist, not a political power or a king. This fact may well reflect the values that constitute the community’s identity.

Because the audience of art in public space is hard to identify, many public artworks tend to address the masses rather than the individual. Yet Primum movens rewards the persistent (individual) spectator. It is a homage to Durrer but at the same time it functions as an autonomous artwork. It is an effective public work of art, as it opens up on multiple levels and addresses a broad audience.

Dirk Durrer (1918-1984) Dirk Durrer was appointed professor of cardiology and clinical physiology at the University of Amsterdam,The Netherlands, from 1957 until his death in 1984.  In the early 60's he introduced the famous multiterminal intramural needle electrode - now called the Durrer Needle. This might be considered as the beginning of clinical electro-physiology setting the stage for programmed electrical stimulation and registration in the human heart. Durrer's experimental and clinical research gave the electrophysiological community important new insights in the reentry (circus movement) concept as explanation of certain types of tachycardia, particularly in the Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome. Furthermore, Durrer initiated clinical and scientific approaches to pharmacological treatment of life-threatening tachyarrhythmia. In honor of his outstanding work, a monument was erected for Dirk Durrer in 1986 at the Minervaplein in Amsterdam near to his house in the Rubensstraat 27. The monument for Prof. Durrer (probably) shows a model with two parallel atrioventricular connections: The specialized conduction pathway and the accessory pathway, and in so far supports the 'reentry theory.'

Her Royal Highness Princess Juliana, the former Queen of the Netherlands, unveiled this monument on May 28, 1986 which has been erected in memory of the Amsterdam cardiology Professor, Prof. Dr. Durrer (1918-1 984). The text on the flagstone primum moriens, ultimum moriens is the title of the inaugural lecture of Prof. Durrer in 1957. It means: 'What moves first, dies last: and has reference to functioning of the heart.

Durrer D. Schoo L, Schuilenburg RM, Wellens HJJ. The role of premature beats in the initiation and the termination of supraventricular tachyeardia in the Wolff-Porkiruon-White syndrome. Circulation 1967;XXXVI: 644-662.
Durrer D, von Dam R Th, Freud GE, Jonse MJ, Meijler FL, Arzbaecher RC. Total excitation of the isolated human heart. Circulation 1970:XL/:899-912.
Naumann d'Ainoncourt C, Cardinal R, Janse MJ, Lüderitz B. Durrer D. Effects of tocainide on ectopic impulse formation in isolated cardiac tissue. Klin Wochenschr 1980;58:227-231.

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