Born in the Netherlands in 1948, Theo Jansen studied physics at the University of Delft but left in 1974 to pursue what became a lifelong career in art—especially art explored through technology. Among his early projects, he built a machine that could paint and staged a convincing UFO encounter over Delft.
In 1990, initially inspired by a desire to mechanically bolster Holland’s sinking shorelines, Jansen began building strandbeests, wind-driven, beach-walking kinetic sculptures. The beests took on a life of their own, proliferating and evolving in their sophistication, and ultimately demonstrating “brains”; that is, the ability to sense and respond to their environment.
Today, Jansen continues to create strandbeests at his workshop in Ypenburg, near Delft.
Explore the creative process behind Theo Jansen's extraordinary strandbeests.
Russian-American photographer Lena Herzog was born in 1970 in the Urals. She studied languages and literature at the University of Saint Petersburg before moving to the United States. After working at Stanford as a research consultant and completing her degree in philosophy at Mills College, she devoted herself to photography, studying traditional darkroom photographic printing techniques and combining them with modern techniques to achieve her unique effects.
Her work appears widely in major publications and in museum exhibitions around the world. She currently lives in Los Angeles with her husband, German filmmaker Werner Herzog.
Join curator Marina McDougall for a conversation with photographer Lena Herzog.
Strandbeest: The Dream Machines of Theo Jansen was organized by the Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA. Audemars Piguet provided generous support as the tour's National Sponsor. This exhibition was supported as part of the Dutch Culture USA program by the Consulate General of the Netherlands in New York. ABC7 was the exhibition’s local media sponsor with additional support from SFGATE and the San Francisco Chronicle.