The Gerrit Rietveld Academie: Post-War Ceramists – part 3

Posted on 20 November 2018

The Gerrit Rietveld Academie was an important cultural centre in the second half of the twentieth century. Many leading ceramists were active at the ceramics department. They have had a great influence on the development of Dutch ceramics. In our sales exhibition ‘Post-War Ceramists: Ceramics as an art form’ many different works of ceramists who have studied or taught at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy are on display.


Applied arts education

The first specialized education for ceramists was established in 1917 at the Quellinusschool in Amsterdam. In 1924 this school merged with the Rijksschool voor Kunstnijverheid and the Rijksnormaalschool voor Tekenonderwijzers into the Instituut voor Kunstnijverheidsonderwijs, an institute for applied arts. The head teacher of ceramics was Bert Nienhuis. Under his guidance the foundation for the development of ceramics as an art form was laid. Around the 1930s there was a growing demand for better teachers and educational facilities for ceramic artists, instead of traditional potters. However, the financial crisis and the Second World War caused a delay in this development, which could not continue until the 1950s. In the 1960s a new building was constructed for the Instituut voor Kunstnijverheidsonderwijs, designed by architect and furniture designer Gerrit Rietveld. Rietveld passed away in 1964, three years before the move to the new building. In 1968 the Instituut voor Kunstnijverheidsonderwijs was renamed ‘Gerrit Rietveld Academie’ as a tribute.



Jan van der Vaart as ceramics teacher

In the year of the renaming of the school, the talented ceramist Jan van der Vaart (1931 – 2000) was appointed as head teacher of the ceramics department at the academy. Van der Vaart was educated at the Vrije Academie in The Hague by ceramist Theo Dobbelman, founder of the Experimental Department of De Porceleyne Fles in Delft. For over 20 years, Van der Vaart has influenced his students as a teacher. He assisted his students individually and stimulated personal development. Amongst the students of Van der Vaart were Barbara NanningPauline Wiertz, Geert Lap and Babs HaenenHaenen also taught at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie from 1992 until 2003. Many works by Van der Vaart and his students can be found in the collections of great collectors of ceramics, like J.W.N. Achterbergh


Cultural centre

When Van der Vaart came to the Gerrit Rietveld Academie, it was known as the place to be educated as ceramic artist. This was partly because Amsterdam had become the cultural centre of The Netherlands. Here ceramic education blossomed between 1968 and 1988. The development of ceramics as an autonomous art was stimulated within the visual arts education. The Gerrit Rietveld Academie has educated many artists who have been characteristic for the Dutch ceramics in the second half of the twentieth century. Many artists whose works are on display in our sales exhibition are connected to the Gerrit Rietveld Academie. For example, Hans de JongAdriana BaarspulLies CosijnHarriet de Maar-Sielcken (also known as Jet de Maar-Sielcken), Kees van Renssen and Suzanne Taub have studied here. Johan van Loon has taken lessons at the textile department, which would later influence his ceramic works. 



International attraction

Due to the favourable educational climate for ceramics, many international students were attracted to the Gerrit Rietveld Academie. For example, the German ceramic artist Beate Reinheimer studied here from 1969 until 1972. In 1980 she returned to the academy to teach.


More information

A large number of works by artists that studied or taught at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie are on show until the 30th of December 2018 at the sales exhibition ‘Post-War Ceramists: Ceramics as an art form at Kunstconsult in Amstelveen. Take a look at our collection page for a preview of the exhibition. In a series of blogs, we highlight themes from the exhibition. This is part 3: The Gerrit Rietveld Academie.



Text: Demi Falkmann

Photos: Noortje Remmerswaal


© Kunstconsult – 20th century art | objects

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