The artist Willy Vandendorpe – also known under the pseudonym W.J.P. Levi – experiments with the possibilities of meaning in signs. The play with symbols, which always consist of the unity of the perceptible sign and its underlying meaning, takes centre stage in his artistic oeuvre. Vandendorpe adapts known symbols and adds his own. In this way he strips them of their original message and allows new meanings to arise.
This principle also lies at the heart of the iconic sculpture Thinker in all States, which acts as the symbol of VUB. The addition of the weather vane to this reproduction of Auguste Rodin’s bronze The Thinker criticises possible manipulations of rational thought. Manipulations that can be avoided by taking a critical look at the facts. With this message, Thinker in all States symbolises the key value of the university as a research and teaching institution: free inquiry. This principle states that science must always be practised without interference from dogma, prejudice, politics or faith.
The sculpture not only fits in well with the values taught at VUB, it also establishes a link with the university through the material it is made of. The chemical compound of vubonite, a ceramic polyester, was developed right here in the 1980s. In 2006 Vandendorpe used the material to make The Thinker in all States, which he finished with a glossy, red layer of varnish.
The sculpture was installed on campus in 2007, to mark 150 years of Flemish students in Brussels. The initiative was supported by the Oudstudentenbond, the Brussels Student Association GTGV , the non-profit organisation UPV and the Culture Department of VUB. The sculpture reminds us that long before VUB was founded as an autonomous Dutch-speaking university, there were already Flemish students in the capital.
Plan your visit
The Humanist Sculpture Park is open 24/7 and can be visited free of charge.
Parking is available and the area is wheelchair-accessible.
VUB Main Campus
Information about the sculptures
Each sculpture is accompanied by a QR code that gives access to an audio fragment. You can play it on your smartphone to discover the stories behind the sculptures. We recommend that you bring headphones for a more comfortable audio experience.