Thursday, June 30, 2016

The Jan van Haasteren Exhibit in Groningen

Believe it or not, the main "goal" of our overnight trip to Zuidlaren a couple weeks ago was to visit the newly opened Jan van Haasteren exhibition at the Nederlands Stripmuseum in nearby Groningen, dedicated to comic strips.

The museum was opened in 2004 on the second floor of a huge shopping complex.
And while it has displays from many Dutch cartoonists, we were there primarily to see one:
the exhibition celebrating the 80th birthday of Jan van Haasteren.

Here's my "photo of a photo" of Jan in the exhibition.
He was actually there in person the day before, but, sadly, we weren't there then.

The exhibition was held in a large room of the museum, partitioned off to showcase his work
from different periods in his life.

For one thing, he started off as a Dutch comic strip artist in 1962,
and continued in the next years creating several comic strips.
In 1975 he became the founder of a satirical magazine and later worked in advertising
where his "crowded" posters became well-known.

He was then asked by JUMBO to produce jigsaw puzzles, earning him international fame.
In 2013, Jumbo opened Studio Jan van Haasteren to continue his legendary puzzles.

Here, below, are examples of his "crowed" puzzles (all photos of photos!).

"The Storm" in 1000 pieces.

"Wild Water Rafting" in 1500 and 3000 pieces.

"New Year's Dip" in 1000 and 2000 pieces.

It was fun to see the display of "The Lawn Mower Race," showing the beginning-to-end process
of his pencil and ink drawings before the color was added.

But to get the full impact of what "crowded" means, you really have to look in carefully.
His signature self-portrait, Sinterklaas, shark's fin, periscope...are somewhere to be found.
It's like a jungle that has meaning with every stick/branch/tree/piece.

And did I mention H U M O R?!
Remember, he used to be a cartoonist or comic strip maker.

Here's a short YouTube that zooms in and out to show what I mean.

Astrid and I have collected 59 of his puzzles thus far, some even rare editions at the flea market.
Why would anyone get rid of them...for they are indeed collector's items!

And because it was Jan's 80th birthday this year, we got this special silver edition
on sale at the museum for €9.99 instead of the normal €16.99.

How often have I said it...but it doesn't take much to make us happy.
Lucky for us, we both love jigsaw puzzles!

Happy Birthday, Jan van Haasteren!


  1. Wow, that's a big collection! Really fun. His pictures remind me of Richard Scarry's children's books. I love looking at seeing something new each time!

    1. Oh, yes, Ruth. Richard Scarry. I LOVED getting his books for the kids when they were young! Thanks for the reminder. :)

  2. Such a great artist and so worth a visit to see his work. Thank you for sharing.

    1. He always makes us laugh, Marie. And the thing is, it's so easy to miss something. You find something new every time you go back to look! :)

  3. This is the kind of artwork I want to decorate my walls with - illustrations, thanks. I cannot find the words to describe them.

    1. I know what you mean. Maria. This kind of creativity blows my mind. That's why we keep "collecting" his puzzles.

  4. I did not realize that Jan has been my 'hero' for many many years with other cartoons I read from him.... His creativity and imagination has NO end and that is what I like about him. 80 years old and still doing what he loves to do... drawing and creating the most incredible, unthinkable scenes there are. A joy, over and over and I love our collection and it was a joy to go to the museum. what a gift that man has. IHJV.

    1. The added joy is that we BOTH love what he does!!! Truly a remarkable man and creative genius.

  5. Replies
    1. HA! Well, for us...because we REALLY REALLY REALLY like JVH really was. :) Thanks, Robin.

  6. Cartoon art is one of those areas sadly under-appreciated. Glad to learn of a museum devoted to it. Nothing on Dutch political cartooning?

    1. I have a feeling you'd be thrilled to see the intricacies of JvH's artwork, Ted. And yes, I assume he did a lot of political jibing in his satirical magazine days. The rest of the museum was chock FULL of comic/cartoon art. Surely a lot of it was political (if only I could read Dutch better).