Travelling through Slovakia in 2003, Hanneke de Munck was very much impressed by the 15th century altar pieces she saw – a combination of wooden sculptures, relief and paintings.
The sculptures are practically freestanding and have draperies and colour, and are combined with relief and painted panels. The complete altar piece is shaped like a wooden piece of furniture which stands alone or near a pillar or in front of a wall. The central part is a shallow cabinet with leaves that may serve to close the cabinet and with an upper part which in its simplest form is a triangle, and the lower part is a so-called predella, a cabinet of smaller height which may hold sculptures as well or has a painted panel in front. The edges look like frames which sometimes are also decorated with wood carvings. The entire piece is placed on an altar or a large pedestal.
The altar pieces offer a wonderful opportunity for artists with different disciplines to work together. It is a three-dimensional object which as a carrier of works of art by sculptor and painter is at the same time socle, panel as well as frame.
This art form may create a place for religious contemplation and devotion, a sacred place.
The use of symbolism and forms from different religions – without emphasizing a specific religion – and a combination of these with ‘modern’ forms, can result in fascinating sculptures.
Hanneke de Munck invites every time another artist to work together with her on an altar piece, and the procedure is never the same. At the moment five altar pieces are in different stages of progress.