Grafiek/prints 1956-1998
Biographical sketch Back


Author:Annelette Hamming


Painter-writer Jan Cremer (Enschede 1940) has specialized in graphic art, as well as in painting and sculpture, ever since he started his training at various art acad- emies. His first experiences with graphic art came as a student of Johan Haanstra, at the AKI in Enschede where he made his first linocuts in 1955. At the academy 'Kunstoefening' in Arnhem, he was taught the basic principles of lithography by Hendrik Valk. He later studied at the academies in The Hague and Paris with Paul Citroen and Ossip Zadkine, and further specialized in lithography.


In 1957 he paints the first of a series of canvasses that became known as Peinture Barbarisme. In 1958 he has his first solo exhibition at art gallery De Posthoorn in The Hague, joins the Posthoorn-group (with Bouthoorn, Nanninga and Hussem) and, among other things, works as an assistant to Willem Hussem. His contribution that same year to the Haagse Salon (The Hague Art Salon) creates a scandal. A year later he has an exhibition at the Haags Gemeentemuseum (The Hague Municipal Museum), and in 1960 another at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam (Amsterdam Museum of Modern Art). Numerous Dutch and international exhibitions follow.


Jan Cremer


Jan cremerIn 1959 he leaves for Paris on a French government grant, and in the Rue Santeuil, with its famous tannery warehouses and the studios of Bogart, Appel, Corneille and others, he becomes an assistant of Bram Bogart. In 1955 the young Cremer had already assisted Karel Appel with his murals at E55 in Rotterdam. Between 1961 and 1963 he lives and works on the Spanish island of Ibiza, where he is a member of the Grupo Ibiza, together with K.F. Dahmen, Edwin Bechtold and others. In Paris in the early sixties, Jan Cremer works at the graphic art studio of Jean Pons. From 1961 he has also worked with the Amsterdam master printer Piet Clement, and in Paris since 1967 with Peter Bramsen of the renowned lithography studio of Clot, Bramsen & Georges. Not everyone remembers that Cremer, as conceptual artist and painter-rebel, regularly made the front pages of Dutch and international newspapers and magazines, many years before 'Ik Jan Cremer' was published. In 1960 he gets worldwide press coverage with his million-dollar painting 'La Guerre japonaise', and causes a moral outrage with his notorious comment on Dutch television: rembrandt, who's that?

After the publication of his irrepressible bestseller in 1964, which later became an international bestseller, the writer Cremer overshadowed the painter Cremer. He emigrated to America in 1965, which temporarily took his visual art out of the limelight in the Netherlands.


In his New York studio he starts painting Dutch landscapes. This extremely colorful and tightly composed 'Dutch Realism', with its cows, farmers' wives and tulip fields, marks a clear departure from the abstract-expressionist work of previous years. Dutch landscapes were to remain a recurring theme in Cremer's work, just as the steppes, deserts and mountain ranges of Siberia and Mongolia where his travels often take him, form an enduring source of inspiration. Likewise, the landscapes of Southern France and Italy remain the classical themes he sometimes explores in detail for several months at a time. Since 1958 Cremer's graphic oeuvre over 250 works has featured at over 200 exhibitions at international art galleries and museums. His work is found in all the important graphic art collections in Western and Eastern Europe and North and South America. Cremer's prints earned him many prestigious awards: he was presented with the frans masereel award by the Belgian Minister of Culture (1974) and the special award of the World Print Council in the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (1980), and he was awarded the title of Pro Cultura Hungarica by the Minister of Culture in Budapest, Hungary (1987). In 1974 Cremer conducted master classes at the Canadian art academies of Halifax, Banff and Vancouver. When he is not traveling or seeking the seclusion of Tuscany or the Provence, Cremer lives and works alternately in New York, Amsterdam and Paris.


Pierre Restany & Freddy De Vree authors The French art critic PIERRE RESTANY became known as the spokesman for the Nouveaux Réalistes who manifested themselves in Paris, Milan and New York. In 1960 he published the 'First Manifesto of the New Realism'. He also wrote several monographs on leading members of this group, such as Yves Klein, Arman, Christo and Tinguely. Restany lives and works in Paris, and in Milan where he is an editor for Domus magazine. In 1988 he opened the Cremer retrospective exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in Ostende. For this book he has written an introspective essay on Cremer's graphic oeuvre. Several essays on Cremer's visual and graphic oeuvre have been published by established authorities such as Willem Sandberg, Dr. Hans Jaffé, Dr. W.A.L. Beeren en Dr. R.W.D. Oxenaar. For this publication, Belgian writer and art critic FREDDY DE VREE (author of 'Beleggen en Beliegen' and monographs on Alechinsky, Zao-Wou-Ki, Constant and Karel Appel) has prepared a profile of Cremer as a graphic artist. De Vree, who has been following Cremer's work since 1960, contributed several publications on Jan Cremer's career as a painter.


Frank O'Hara


FRANK O'HARA, born in 1926 in Baltimore, Maryland, made his name as a poet and art critic. Served in the South Pacific and Japan with the U.S. Navy between 1944 and 1946. Has lived in New York since 1951, where he works as a curator at the Museum of Modern Art. As a poet, is known for his collections 'A City Winter', 'Meditations in an Emergency' and 'Second Avenue' and as an art critic for various monographs of artists including Jackson Pollock and Jasper Johns. Collaborated on 'Kulchur' and 'Evergreen Review'. Whilst travelling through Europe in 1963, where he was assisting with an exhibition about Franz Kline, he meets Jan Cremer. This meeting results in a mutual friend- ship which culminates in 'THE NEW YORK-AMSTERDAM SET or THE END OF THE FAR WEST', for which he writes ten poems. In 1964, he invites Jan Cremer to come and live in New York and acts as his sponsor. Frank O'Hara dies in 1966 as the result of a car accident on Fire Island.