Make to order. 1900-1960 advertising studios in RotterdamEssay for the Rotterdams Jaarboekje 2017, 20.11.2017
Until well into the twentieth century, the boundaries between free art and applied art were very porous. Not without reason reporters preferred the concept of 'artist' when they wrote about a visual artist in the newspapers. In that name the artisan (craftsman) and the artist (artist) after all packed together. An exemplary representative was the decorator and painter Jan Gidding, founder of the famous Firma Gidding. Since the end of the nineteenth century, the studio has been carrying out decorative programs for theaters, churches and villas. After Gidding's death in 1914, the family business was continued by his sons Jaap and Marinus. Willem de Kooning also worked from 1916 to 1921 in the studio of the Gidding brothers, where he was hired at the age of twelve. Ateliers were not always small-scale private companies. Many large companies also had their own decoration workshops. The Rotterdam artist Nico Benschop found work as a painter at the Holland America Line in 1919 at the age of twelve. 'I learned the trade in that painting workshop. I have done everything there: lacquerware, marble, piping, putting letters. You worked thirteen hours a day. Then I went to Atelier Engelman, which, among other things, painted cinema advertisements. I was heavily underpaid, but learned a lot again '.
Double professional practice
Combinations of both professional practices were very common and a commercial approach did not have to stand in the way of a successful career as a free artist. For example, during the interbellum period Herman Bieling was a decorator at the Grote Schouwburg. Only a handful of artists could live from pure free practice of art. Until around 1960, this dual professional practice was necessary, because the performance and other social arrangements barely made any sense. During the Rotterdam Ahoy 1950 and Energie 1955 (E55) city events, artists and advertising studios worked frantically alongside and with each other. Many independent artists turned out not to be too bad to earn some money alongside their free work with the decoration of pavilions and eateries. Almost without exception, artists did their jobs in advertising companies, shopping centers, (burial) stonemasons, glass companies or printers. The management of the Academy of Visual Arts also encouraged students in 1950 to make a choice for the decoration industry. In those days, the vast majority of the two hundred Rotterdam visual artists were dependent on side jobs and income from spouses. But their income never approached the salary of a skilled worker. 'If you write about us', a Rotterdam artist told 1950 to a reporter, 'don't forget our women in particular - they have it even harder than us'. And so the domain of the visual arts extended deep into the dark and dusty advertising and decoration studios. The studio functioned as a safety net and springboard: distressed artists were able to use their talents to make artisan craftsmanship to order and young talents could climb up to independent visual artists.
Moreover, the studios also contributed to the beautification of the city of Rotterdam. Not only works of art and ornamentation increased the visual appeal of the city, but also advertising. The production of street advertising was an honorable profession, because 'in a city where there is nothing to read, you can no longer find your way. Without advertising, the city is cheerless and boring, 'says a master painter from a Rotterdam advertising studio. In the Maasstad, many artists found employment in three successful advertising companies: Atelier Engelman (founded in 1900), Atelier Leo Mineur (founded in 1924) and Atelier Schrijver (founded in 1943). These studios offered artists work and stimulated a love for art - also among young people, amateurs and self-taught artists. The creative entrepreneur Albert 'Ab' Wayers, partner of Leo Mineur, took this educational promise very seriously: 'The ability to perceive intuitively is not limited to the creative artist. Anyone who really experiences art sees more in a painting than shape and color. But that experience takes practice, otherwise this ability is gradually lost, just as a person loses his sight, he would spend his entire life in a dark dungeon. Even someone without an artistic talent can cultivate that judgment in himself, by often and concentrated immersion in art '. And couldn't that deepening pre-eminently take place in the advertising studio, where masters, journeymen and pupils worked together and passed on their knowledge, but also knew their place in the hierarchy?
At the top of the hierarchy was the studio's namesake; often a charismatic father figure with idiosyncratic views on visual art and equipped with great confidence in the possibilities of commercial applications of art. Just below it were the artists, often recognizable by their plastron and characteristic clothing. They were usually art school trained craftsmen with an excellent reputation, who passed on their technical knowledge and artistic insights to young helpers. At the bottom of the hierarchy were the volontaires and apprentices, who swept the workshop, mixed paint, painted plates, colored backgrounds and were allowed to do the lugging work. If a student had sufficient talent, he was often sent to the evening course of the academy. A studio took on students at a very young age. “From the age of eight I really wanted to be a painter,” Wayers recalled. 'But my father told me that painting would lead to living in poverty until death. When I left school at the age of eleven, I had managed to get my father to become an apprentice to an artist who had just started a studio in a side street of the Goudsesingel '. Young students worked long hours and often found a second home in the studio. 'The boss was the most important man in my life', John Maurits van Emden recalled in his life memories. He started in 1951 at the age of fourteen in Atelier Schrijver on Bloklandstraat in the Oude Noorden. "I looked very much to my boss, became a loyal employee and believed in the man unconditionally." Van Emden eventually graduated 'cum laude' from the evening academy. Thanks to the arts, he managed to escape from 'the oppressive and oppressive petty bourgeoisie' of post-war Rotterdam. 'I went a lot to museums, exhibitions […] I knew far too little, also from a social point of view and wanted to break free from my dire background'. The studio also promoted social and cultural mobility in post-war Rotterdam.
In the context of urban embellishment in Rotterdam, it makes sense to pay some attention to the advertising studios. Because their founders and employees were also part of the artist's life and enjoyed a certain reputation in the city. To this day, the name of Leo Mineur is mainly attached to that circuit of workshops: self-taught and entrepreneur. The life and work of this entrepreneur offers more insight into the intimate relationships between the world of visual art and that of the business world. Mineur was a real advertising man, but also a painter, whose free works even penetrated into the homes of Rotterdammers. For example, the family of artist and radio maker Wim de Boek acquired a somewhat sentimental, exotic painting by his hand more than sixty years ago. After years of loyal service as a cleaner, his mother, Dora de Boek-Jankowski, had received the canvas as a gift from Louis Holvoet, a Rotterdam operator of barrel organs and who lives on the Molenwaterweg. The work shows a desert landscape, the Sahara, in which a pyramid adorns and a veiled Tuareg on a camel passes by. A kneeling figure stands in front of his camel. Is it a devout Muslim in prayer? Or an enslaved prisoner? Painted in oils, romantic, dark and oriental, the painting resembles a cover of Karl May's old boys' books. Its classics From Baghdad to Istanbul (1892) in Kara ben Nemsi: Hero of the desert (1892) had adventurous wraps, incorporating the Middle East in place, atmosphere and otherness was brought closer. Before you had saved the first page you were already in the grip of the story. The painted desert landscape also echoes the exotic, American and Parisian jazz of the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s. Radio hits like The Rose of Bombay, The Sheik of Araby, Abdullah, Casbah en Egyptian Fantasy not only witnessed a fascination for the strange and the exciting, but also brought the distant world of the east to the dance floor and the living room. At the bottom right of the painting is the name of the maker: Leo Mineur.
Leo Mineur was a Rotterdam celebrity, a household name, a brand. A van is still driving in Rotterdam with a company name printed in the paint in large letters: Atelier Leo Mineur. The company logo was designed by artist Dolf Henkes, a personal friend of Mineur. The brand name is illustrated with the portrait of Multatuli, after a wall painting by Mathieu Ficheroux in the Van Oldenbarneveltstraat. Since the XNUMXs, this advertising company has executed the lion's share of the Rotterdam murals on behalf of artists. Also the portrait of Multatuli (Seen from the moon, we are all the same size) was carried out in 1975 by artisans of the workshop. Initially the painting hung in the Mauritsstraat, opposite the bookstore Woutertje Pieterse, which specializes in poetry.
Atelier Leo Mineur is running at full speed, but Leo Mineur has long since died. He may be tacitly regarded as a legend in Rotterdam, no book or article has been devoted to him to date. The most beautiful portrait of Mineur can be found on the website of one of his students, the Rotterdam artist Theodorus Huson. The photo shows a stylish 'state portrait', in which an elderly Minor looks tiredly into the camera. Stylishly dressed and adorned with a bow tie, his trademark, he hangs in an armchair. In front of him on the floor is a vase in which a number of brushes have been placed. In atmosphere, seriousness and pose, the photo evokes the portraits of the photographer, adventurer and balloonist Félix Nadar (Félix Tournachon), who were writers, artists, actors and revolutionaries in front of his camera in Paris in the second half of the nineteenth century. placed. This comparison with the world of Nadar is not even that far-fetched, because Leonidas Cornelis Johannes Mineur, born in Katendrecht in 1892, was not only known for his chic clothing, but also for his thorough knowledge of the artist's life in Paris and life and work. of the Impressionists. When he talked about Paris and Montmartre, his students hung on every word. According to them, there was always 'an artistic haze' around him, like 'a pastor is shrouded in a cloud of incense'. His friendship with the great artist and self-taught artist Dolf Henkes, who was also born in Katendrecht, gave a certain status to his artistry. Henkes acted as an advisor to the studio, introduced his doctrine of colors here and 'never seemed to shy to provide constructive criticism'. In 1943 Henkes also painted a beautiful portrait of Mineur's wife, Lena Wolff. In addition, Mineur was friends with Staluse Pera, dancer, choreographer and owner of a Rotterdam dance school. Herman Bieling was also part of his circle of friends, who immortalized him in a beautiful drawing. In short, Leo Mineur was regarded in Rotterdam as 'a great artist'.
At a young age, Mineur had gained some fame as a 'tableau painter' for De Gruyter's grocery stores. The Grutters concern, which made a tremendous advance in the 1920s and XNUMXs, had the illustrated ceramic tiles manufactured at pottery bakeries such as Plateelbakkerij Zuid-Holland in Gouda. The introduction of the tile in the grocery store turned out to be a great step forward: the tiles were practical and hygienic, they uniformed the store and could be used as a billboard. Initially, Brabant scenes were popular, but later De Gruyter shifted the attention to exotic scenes. Colorful tile pictures served to depict the countries from which the company's products were sourced. The grocer was particularly successful in Rotterdam: this is where the largest turnover was achieved in the Netherlands. For their designs, the bakeries depended on 'pottery painters' - artists, usually employed by the bakery, who made watercolors. The artists were known for their wanderlust, somewhat anarchist mentality. Loyalty to the company played only a modest role - they just wanted to learn to paint. A number of leading pottery masters were responsible for De Gruyter's typical style. Artist Herman Oostveen, for example, was known in the studios as 'the little Rembrandt' and he borrowed his Brabant scenes from the agricultural realism of Jean Francois Millet (who was also immortalized by Nadar). Daniël Harkink and Jan van Ham, employed by Plateelbakkerij Zuid-Holland, skilfully mixed the peasant landscape with themes from the work of seventeenth-century Dutch masters. Johannes Vermeer was especially popular. The work of the pottery painters was appreciated, because around XNUMX, De Gruyter and Plateelbakkerij Zuid-Holland decided to form a partnership that would last for XNUMX years. A private painting studio was set up especially for the grutter, which would decorate many dozens of branches over the years. Also in Rotterdam. The studio specialized in 'Eastern scenes', including Javanese, Chinese and Japanese tableaux, but also in depictions of the Middle East, in which the entertainment casbah or traveling with a caravanserai were represented by a desert.
Leo Mineur started as an apprentice in the workshop of Plateelbakkerij Zuid-Holland. Here he became proficient in the techniques of the Dutch and French masters, and he also painted the first oriental scenes. Wim de Boek's painted desert landscape must be understood against this background. In Gouda, Mineur had developed a new painting technique. Because the painters were paid per tile, he looked for ways to work faster: 'He managed to achieve more quantity in fewer hours. By drawing with pastel (colored chalk) in the wet oil paint, the oil paint dried quickly and the colorful pastel was stuck in the paint. For example, he put two to three canvases in oil at the same time, and then worked them with pastel. He would later perfect that technique in the advertising workshops'. In the studio of Plateelbakkerij Zuid-Holland, Mineur also gained insight into commercial management in a rudimentary way, where students, journeymen and masters maintained an organic hierarchy. That knowledge served him well.
In 1919 Mineur offered his services to Hendrik Engelman. Atelier Engelman has belonged to the top of the Dutch advertising world since 1900. In its heyday, the company was located between Pompenburgsingel and Noordmolenwerf, close to the Grand Theater, Abraham Tuschinski's imposing cinema. Advertising plan? Engelman! ”Was the company's slogan. Engelman was the first Rotterdam entrepreneur to prove that a well-organized advertising company could indeed be combined with craftsmanship. To this end he hired idiosyncratic artists, such as Martinus Korpershoek. This artist was known as `` a party the boss could never count on and you never knew if he would come back after the break, but when he was there, he did incredibly beautiful paintwork, '' said Albert Wayers, who is also an employee. found in Engelman's studio. Engelman had completed art school education and passed on his knowledge to young students, who were often sent to evening academy. His son Jo, also trained as an artist, has given the company a modern look.
Engelman's works were displayed all over the Netherlands. There were advertising assignments for shop windows and facades of De Bijenkorf, Vroom and Dreesmann and C&A, for numerous smaller entrepreneurs in the city and for mobile handcarts. Engelman found a real market in the painted cinema advertisements, which were usually placed above the entrance or in the corridors of the cinema. In the twenties and thirties the studio painted about thirty works a week. 'Everything is possible with God and with Engelman', it sounded in Rotterdam. The business operations were efficient, but also unconventional: "We worked at a terribly fast pace," recalled Jo Engelman. 'We had specially designed our company to avoid the labor inspection. Black curtains hung in front of all windows. Upstairs there was an alarm system and mirrors. When the police came to have a look, we folded up the stairs. The people then had enough time to walk over the roofs from the third floor and lower themselves two buildings further. '
The drawn film fragments were much more than mere advertising. The cinema painting appealed to the need for entertainment and imagination, for eroticism and adventure, for metropolitanism and the longing for the big world outside Rotterdam. The painting became more realistic and some painters looked for the edge of decency. Seductive women, violence and exotic scenes were popular themes. Leo Mineur also took such an explicit approach, although his boss felt that he exceeded the limits of decency too often. His pastel technique also started to turn against him. Minor still had a high work rate, but his revolutionary method turned out to be a disadvantage when he had to produce cinema paintings: 'Sometimes the paint was already dry before the pastel was applied. The consequences were then appalling. If visitors to cinemas leaned against his paintings, they would walk around with a vague image of a movie star on their coats, while the picture on the board had almost disappeared. ' Abraham Tuschinksi, Atelier Engelman's largest customer, felt cheated. Engelman then forbade the pastel technique to be used any longer. Minor, unappreciated for his 'artistic qualities' and 'the necessary special effects of today', felt hurt and immediately resigned.
Minor was now on his own. For several years he worked as a freelancer in the evenings and decided to start his own company. He took over an old artist, Jan Noorda, from the pottery factory in Gouda. He then opened Atelier Leo Mineur in the Hang, next to the Mosselhuis. He also tried to loosen Albert Wayers at Atelier Engelman. Initially, Wayers had little appetite for the company, as Engelman had hired him on a permanent basis and also paid for his evening studies at the Academy of Visual Arts. And there he learned a lot. Especially from artist Johannes Heijberg. His teacher was a specialist in military depictions and portraits; a genre that Wayers later translated into cinema paintings. After his departure from Engelman and a foray into the world of set construction, he eventually opted for Atelier Leo Mineur. That was around 1924. Cinema attendance increased rapidly and the studio now decided to focus on painting cinema advertisements. Minor became a 'head painter' and Wayers specialized as an 'entourage painter'.
But Mineur was not a great businessman. The fledgling company also had to break into the Engelman market. He also suffered from nervous attacks: the bigger the customer, the more nervous he became. To overcome his nerves, Minur swallowed many tubes of aspirins, but they numbed him so strongly that he could hardly remember later which order the client had made. Nevertheless, the studio proved successful, because in the coverage of the Rotterdamsch Nieuwsblad the company popped up frequently. In addition to cinema paintings, the studio designed numerous sets, facade decorations and shop fittings in the XNUMXs. 'The beautiful play of colors' was praised in two gigantic paintings of the cartoon figures Betty Boop and Mickey Mouse at the entrance of Diergaarde Blijdorp; 'highly artistic decorations' in the renewed Corso Cinema on the Coolsingel; a 'beautiful, long roof molding at De Doelen', designed in collaboration with the Philips studio, which was considered special because of the 'modern' use of 'many mercury lamps'; the 'artistic façade' at the entrance of the 'Fair for the women's chronicle' in De Doelen; and 'the artistically cared for interior' of Magazijn Rio on Statenweg. Reporters often used the terms 'artistic' and 'artistic' - Atelier Leo Mineur apparently stood for quality. The company motto was therefore: 'Tasteful and efficient'.
After the Second World War, the fame of the studio grew. In the blazing sea of the bombing, most Rotterdam theaters were destroyed, including Thalia, City, Asta, the Oostertheater, Tivoli, Lumière, Cineac, Olympia, Centraal, the Grand Theater and Scala. With the arrival of new post-war cinemas, not only did employment in the advertising industry increase substantially, so did competition. Atelier Engelman and Atelier Leo Mineur twisted Atelier Schrijver, who did creditable work for numerous theaters in the city, including Arena, Luxor, Lustusca, Cineac AD, Victoria, Colosseum, the Princess Theater, Harmony and Corso. Albert Jan 'Ab' Schrijver had worked his way up to become a 'signature artist' through evening studies. He learned the advertising profession in Atelier Engelman and started his own studio in 1943. Applied art was different from free art, Schrijver thought. Every student had to take note of a manifesto that he had prepared himself:
'The merits of a designer, regardless of whether he designs buildings, utensils or posters, do not lie in finding one solution. After all, there are many for the taking. The designer will look for a solution that is as logical as possible; is adapted to the requirements of the object; and does not cost more than is necessary […] He will recognize that a forging of simple rebar - of fine shape - is preferable to a workpiece in bronze - of inferior stature. He is aware that a simple letter executed in paint, but good in proportion and shape, far exceeds an inanimate letter made from expensive raw materials […] He will always try to give direction to the wishes of his clients. He will first of all keep an eye on the interests of his principals, knowing that his own interests are served solely by satisfied clients ”.
Schrijver was seen as a warm, interested person who was of great support to his students. The young Maurits van Emden had lost his Jewish father in the war and he would continue to be grateful to his employer for the emotional support he offered. When Van Emden joined the studio in 1951, he found a team of twelve employees. The team was led by 'three handsome painters' who painted portraits of movie stars:' I had a sacred respect for them and I learned from them to develop certainty in my actions with paint. They set a very high quality standard. I was able to compare that level myself, because I sometimes looked around in Brussels - they didn't do it bad there, but certainly not better than in Rotterdam. ' The studio introduced new techniques, such as the American light box with loose letters clicked into a rail. Moreover, the company had earned a lot of money by decorating pavilions and stand construction during Rotterdam Ahoy 1950. Ab Schrijver also expected a boom in orders for E55. He was preparing to expand his business and had borrowed a considerable amount from his wife's family to do so. But his dream turned into a drama. After the assignments evaporated one by one, Van Emden wrote, 'my boss must have panicked. At his fishing spot he stepped in front of a train. He was dragged under the wheels. Only minced meat was left in his coffin, I was told by whoever identified him. Difficult to understand. There I was. Alone again. Everything empty and bare again '. After the loss of his father, Van Emden now also lost his patron saint: 'For me the event was an out of nowhere nauseating and melancholic thump below the belt. I went down at his funeral '.
Erotic and censorship
The fiercely competing studios liked to look down on the competition. In Atelier Leo Mineur, Schrijver's work was disqualified as 'soapy cleaning' and 'at Engelman they couldn't paint a banana yet'. In the 55s, Mineur painted for Arena, Passage, Thalia, Rex, the Princess Theater, Cineac AD, Cineac NRC and the Colosseum. Major city events, such as the E1953, also provided a lot of work for Mineur's studio. There the decorators of Mineur worked alongside artists such as Karel Appel, his assistant Jan Cremer, Louis van Roode, Lex Horn and Dick Elffers. Perhaps the most important contribution of the studios to public space was the undisguised representation of eroticism. The naked female figure unveiled at the Blaak in XNUMX, Welfare, made by artist Piet Starreveld, 'Nakie van het Blakie' exerted a great attraction for young men. A wave of erotic cinema paintings reinforced that image in the city center. The fear of morality, which had kept the war years and the reconstruction in a stranglehold so long, gradually dissolved. More and more challenging and seductive women colored the walls in the city. Journalist Koos Postema wrote about this: 'They were always visible. Your eyes could not ignore it. All those women's faces! Elizabeth Taylor or those terrifying Bette Davis! Ava Gardner. Was there ever a better movie star? Sometimes I thought of the man who had to climb the ladder to paint a portrait of Ava Gardner. Would he fall in love with her during that job? Like so many men fell in love with her, even though they did not have to take a ladder in front of it '.
The young students in the studios enjoyed painting beautiful women, although the management constantly warned against too bold scribbles: "Boys, shirts not too wide open, skirts not too short." A reporter saw sketches of "an overly nourished young lady wearing a Dior blouse, but to which the fashion house has not left a button too much." To prevent excesses, the municipality introduced controls. Once a week, the studios were required to present their sketches at the town hall to 'Mr. Visser civil servant in room 26'. Usually the youngest students were sent out with sketchbooks. Kees Sparrreboom, an apprentice to Atelier Leo Mineur, made that trip every week. "Your pictures even turn an old man when I am wide awake again," grumbled the official. With a pencil he changed lengths of skirts or edited necklines, "to please his Puritan superiors." But the guidelines of the town hall were often ignored in the studio - after all, the erotic effect of a painting was the most important commercial asset of the studios. Paul Wayers, company director and son of Albert Wayers, recalled: “You sometimes got angry cinema directors on the phone. What are you making me! There are all kinds of men standing here in the hallway looking at your plate. And they really don't pass up for a ticket, because what they get to see is a lot less than what they see here! '
Jo Engelman always took a pencil with him to the inspection: 'If a lady with a low neckline was drawn, they asked:' Hey, can't you paint a little net curtains for it? '' He sulkily left the décolleté on the spot with blur his pencil. Maurits van Emden also fulfilled the role of mediator between the censor and the studio paintings. He was not sent to the town hall, but to a judge in Kralingen. Van Emden also experienced this weekly course on behalf of Atelier Schrijver as a deep humiliation.
'As long as I worked at the studio, it was my Thursday job to go to a review committee with all the designs of painted film star photos. That was a group of notables; often municipal officials, but also lawyers and prosecutors. They looked at whether the film billboards could go through the moral bracket. They were strict, completely laughable. A new member was added: a judge. He lived on Essenlaan in Kralingen, in a very beautiful, somewhat older villa. I had to hand the photos and drawings there to a servant and then stayed in the vestibule, on the mat, in front of the draft door, awaiting the answer. All in all, that was not so pleasant, because it was after all our work; a week of hard work of fourteen men, a deadly serious affair and not a case that you just hand over to a maid. After a while, the man came to me with an ironed sail, as it is called. He began to question me sharply, very suspiciously and condescendingly about whether one of the photos would actually be painted in such a way. That was absolutely impossible in his eyes. Shame, he thought it was. It was a photo of Romy Schneider, the innocence in person, depicted in a Tyrolean dirndl dress for her first Sissimovie. But ... the impulse to her bosom could be seen, and he was not allowed to. I already participated from Betty Grable - a real pin-up. And we had already painted Ava Gardner, Esther Williams, Rita Hayworth and Marilyn Monroe in provocatively tight blouses and beautiful bathing suits! I had never experienced such a creepy, scary jellyfish before. That judge later became president of a court, and that made me think. That profession is also relative, I learned then.
Traditional guild structure
Before the Second World War, the workshops were mainly able to attract young, uneducated students with an interest in drawing, later the workshops increasingly drew on the arsenal of students or graduates of the Academy of Visual Arts. During the 1961s, dozens of students from the academy worked in Mineur's studio. In XNUMX, all twenty employees at Atelier Schrijver were academically trained or followed a course at the academy. Atelier Engelman also made grateful use of the academy's student database. Wages were woefully low: 'But yes, you didn't paint for the money, you did it out of love - for free expression, for spontaneous design,' wrote Kees Sparreboom. His eccentric master painter in particular exerted a tremendous influence in this respect. 'Leo Mineur was really obsessed with art. There was great admiration and deep respect for him. His knowledge of the arts and his craftsmanship were considered phenomenal. Minor instilled pride and discipline in his students and excelled in 'correct manners with his employees'. Such life lessons were also taken home by the students. Working in the studio, Sparreboom concluded, was not work, but 'an extremely important LEARNING SCHOOL'.
However, working conditions were downright bad. The housing of Atelier Leo Mineur should even be considered miserable: the atelier was too cold or too hot, people were constantly moving to other locations, petroleum stoves exploded, coffee was out of the question and the students had to work standing up to stay awake. Then the studio was located high in a warehouse, then again it moved to the former stables of the mounted police (where the hayloft was used to make paint) or the studio was hit by skew and subsidence. The management of Atelier Schrijver also sometimes had nasty features. Maurits van Emden's work consisted of scraping old cinema billboards on the banks of the Rotte with a putty knife. 'We sometimes stood for days at a time along the quay on the river for coloring. Stupid work, in which you also had to be careful not to make any cracks in the jute fabric with which the plates were stretched '. Van Emden called the work in the studio 'a tough solo'.
In modern post-war Rotterdam, the studios seemed like a relic of days gone by. The traditional organizational structure of the workshops, based on the principle of reciprocal relationships between masters, journeymen and students, had hardly changed here over time. Paul Wayers commented on this: 'Well, the way it looks here in our studio, that's what a studio looked like in Rembrandt's time. The craft that is practiced here is in fact a kind of medieval profession […] The skill and creativity with pencil and brush are infinitely more important here than the 'time is money' doctrine. Unfortunately, I must confess that I witnessed not only the flourishing, but also the downfall of one of the last medieval painting studios with apprentices, companions and masters.
That structure certainly contributed to the downfall of the studios. Around 1960 the end of the golden age of the painting studio was approaching. A plummeting demand for cinema paintings accelerated that end. "There is no bread in it at all," said Jo Engelman. 'What you still see in advertising in Rotterdam all comes from Amsterdam'. And with that, the link between the studios and the art academy came to an end. A new type of studio appeared: the studios of reconstruction artists such as Louis van Roode, who were looking for employees at the art academy to produce large monumental wall artworks. The time when the profession of cinema painter could function as a springboard to an existence as an independent visual artist was over. National schemes for visual artists were expanded in 1956 and the Rotterdam percentage scheme was also a fact four years later. Artists were given more and more opportunities to make free work and still provide for themselves.
Leo Mineur left the company in 1960. He died in 1976. In the decoration workshops less and less painting was done. Stand construction and typography were important now. Paul Wayers sold Atelier Leo Mineur in 1995 to Chris Jansen, a former manager of the British Petrol (BP) oil company. Jansen tried to revitalize the ailing company, but in 2003 the bankruptcy of one of the most characteristic advertising studios followed. However, the 'Leo Mineur' brand turned out to be strong. A former apprentice at the studio, Willem Kerssemeijer, bought the rights with his wife Michelle Geurts and restarted the company; first from a garage in Schiedam and later on a company site in Berkel en Rodenrijs. Painting was also placed at the top of the agenda again. Rotterdam's last medieval studio had resilience and endurance.
Honor repair for craftsmanship
Seen from the perspective of the current creative class - underpinned by technological innovations, highly trained VDU workers and often very expensive marketing campaigns - the classic guild model of the advertising studios looks dated. But in his stimulating study The Craftsman (2008) sociologist and cellist Richard Sennett placed the craft in a context of social interaction, societal change and new citizenship. He does not understand the history of the Enlightenment as an abstract history of ideas, but as a history of the way in which knowledge transfer took place among craftsmen. Making is thinking: by learning a craft, the student gets to know himself and is given the opportunity to shape his worldview and citizenship. The structure of the studio contributes to respect for tools, the ritualization of knowledge transfer and the shaping of social relations and citizenship. According to Sennett, a new approach to craftsmanship and craftsmanship could well provide solutions for many contemporary social problems.
The Rotterdam philosopher Henk Oosteling developed a similar line of thought Words like deeds (2009). This theoretical foundation of the 'Craftsman City' program, intended to give a new impulse to the education of underprivileged children in South Rotterdam, seems to be a lance for the forgotten organic structures of the old studio. Oosterling advocates rehabilitation for ritualized forms of knowledge transfer, in which masters, companions and students play a crucial role. His program centers around the insertion of judo, cooking (urban agriculture) and philosophy in the curriculum of primary schools. In addition, he advocates 'professional yards' - workshops run by companies and city districts, where young unemployed people are offered technical training in their own neighborhood or district. According to Oosterling, the importance of craftsmanship lies in the relationships between people and the things they make, regardless of their cultural background, income or social position. Concepts such as quality, pride, integrity, responsibility and citizenship are stripped of their abstract meaning in the practice of the studio and subsequently interpreted as reciprocal relationships. 'What interests me in craftsmanship', Oosterling writes, 'is a new relationship with the world'. He takes this relationship as egalitarian: the organic structure of the studio is not only suitable for young unemployed people, academically trained professionals also derive their professional competence from these structures: 'What many have lost sight of is that even university courses are still founded. on an almost medieval guild model. After all, the aspirant functions within a master-companion structure. It is not without reason that we call the starting student a 'bachelor': a journeyman. Then they have to take a master's test. As a 'master' they can further train themselves, so that after the ultimate master's thesis - the dissertation - they can start working independently. '
The above insights certainly contributed to the creation of the Bouwkeet on the Schiedamseweg. This became 17 on September 2016 makerspace opened for local residents of Bospolder-Tussendijken by Mayor Aboutaleb. The initiative comes from the Verre Bergen Foundation - a philanthropic organization that attaches great importance to social return. The Construction Cabin's motto is: 'Make with your hands what came to mind. Learning from others, learning with others'. Central to the philosophy is the principle of reciprocity: in exchange for the use of the workplace, the students return their knowledge and designs, as well as workshops. Another tradition was also restored: the connection between the studio and the professional art domain - Daniel White was appointed as director, formerly associated with the Willem de Kooning Academy as a teacher. In the Construction Cabin, teachers and students work with wood, metal, ceramics and textiles, but also with 3D printers and ultramodern laser cutters.
From this perspective, the old creative class, to which the workshops of Engelman, Mineur and Schrijver must be counted, makes a much less dated impression. The advertising studios were more than just commercial workshops - the companies guided young people on their way to social careers and instilled their love for art and culture, regardless of their background, education or social position in society. Is there perhaps not a model in the old studio that could still be used today in the solution of problems associated with the large number of early school leavers and the increasing youth unemployment? Sennett, Oosterling and the founders of the Bouwkeet are inclined to answer that question in the affirmative. The characteristics they attribute to craftsmanship are precisely the merits of the old creative industry, previously enumerated by Kees Sparreboom: love for tools and the craft, transfer of knowledge and skills, promotion of correct manners, respect for colleagues and their work, and love for art and culture. Indeed, the studio as a 'LEERSCHOOL', suitable for shaping a valuable existence in the post-industrial city.