Galerie Krikhaar 1963-1988

In May of 1963, Herman opened Gallery Krikhaar in Amsterdam. Not aligned with the ideals of a traditional gallery, Herman’s approach was completely different and appealed to the changing (art) world. His goal was to present young international talented artists. As Paris was still the center of the art world, Herman would go there every month to catch up with the latest developments and visit his gallerist friends, such as: Heinz Berggruen, Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler, Rodolphe Stadler, or Jean Pollak. Through these visits, he was introduced to Takis, Antonio Saura, and Alex Sadkovsky in Amsterdam, long before they became famous. Meanwhile, he tried to exhibit – with varying success – great names, such as Dalí, Chagall, de Kooning, and Picasso. 

Marc Chagall and Herman
Takis in Gallery Krikhaar

Willem de Kooning and Herman

In 1964, Herman brought Karel Appel (who was already an established name in New York) to Amsterdam for the first time to exhibit his work. Herman was good friends with most artists of the CoBrA Group and would regularly display their contemporary works. CoBrA and its aftermath formed the backbone of Herman’s gallery and throughout its twenty-five years, he worked with Appel, Corneille, Constant, Tajiri, Theo Wolvekamp, Anton Rooskens, and the Danish C.H. Pedersen.

Karel Appel in the gallery

Herman with a portrait of Machteld, Appels’ wife

Being revolutionary was his way of attracting attention. In 1965, the famous English model, nicknamed “The Shrimp,” opened Paul de Lussanet’s exhibition; a year later, Rudolf Nurejev did the same for his colleague and double-talent, Tour van Schayk. Herman found it important that art was accessible for everyone to enjoy.

Opening of exhibition of Tour van Schayk’s work by Rudolf Nurejev

The gallery was famous from the start, and was frequented by those who were always in the spotlight. It was also perfectly in tune with the spirit of its time and situated exactly in the right place: at the Spui, the center of Amsterdam, where the tumultuous student protests and Provo happenings took place.

After the turbulent sixties, the seventies entered with a different kind of spirit. Art became more self-centered and abstract. Herman was less connected to this type of art and continued on his path in search of figurative and emotionally-directed works. He always came up with different and inspiring ideas, such as: organizing cultural travels for his clients; showing Pre-Colombian and Mexican art, ‘El Pueblo del Sol’; as well as exhibiting works by the contemporary artist, José Clemente Orosco. Additionally, he organized a tour of his own impressive art collection in various Dutch cities.

During that period, Herman also discovered the importance of painting his own works and took a year’s leave, twice. In 1976, the Singer Museum offered to exhibit his art, which not only drew a lot of attention, but also criticism. ‘A gallery keeper, who paints: that should not be mixed!’ He was very conscious of the taboos at that time, and never showed his own work in his gallery, but it did not stop him from painting, actually, far from it. He found a studio in the South of France where he worked non-stop during the long summer months. This allowed him to establish a personal and creative balance, as well as find inspiration for his gallery.

With a renewed energy he exhibited both lesser and well-known artists, like Richard Lindner, André Cottavoz, Bengt Lindstrøm, Melle, the sculptors’ Nick Jonk and Arthur Spronken, the English painter John Cotter, and also Anton Heyboer – just to name a few.

exhibition Anton Heyboer’s work

At the end of the seventies, Herman coincidentally met Picasso’s nephew, which enabled him to show and sell late paintings by the most important artist of the century (and his idol). At the time, the latest period of Picasso’s work was not widely appreciated, but, here again, Herman proved his keen eye.                                                                         

Gallery Krikhaar also attracted a lot of attention at FIAC, an important art fair in Paris. Herman worked with top galleries in New York and Paris, which brought another dimension to his gallery. 

He also began to concentrate on older artists who he thought needed more recognition (Kees Verwey, Gerard Schäperkötter). In addition, he came across several artists’ legacies, like the important oeuvre of Anton Korteweg (1880-1917), which was praised by Wassily Kandinsky and Frans Marc. 

Never abandoning his zest for young, promising artists – like Richard Smeets, who he brought to the USA – Herman was one of the first gallerists in Amsterdam to introduce the young, French artist movement Figuration Libre (Robert Combas, François Boisrond, and etc.), as well as the French artist, Louis Cane.

At the end of the eighties, the art market was booming. Herman presented works by CoBrA, whose value continued to rise higher and higher. At that point, he decided to change his life again: after exactly twenty-five years, on May 17th, 1988 Herman closed the gallery to focus solely on his own art.

Opening of the last exhibition, 17 Mai 1988. (Daughter) Caroline and Herman Krikhaar with the Amsterdam burgomaster Ed van Thijn.