Herman Krikhaar

A life out of the ordinary.

Painter, collector, and gallery owner, Herman Krikhaar made it clear from the start that nothing would stop him from following his own path in the arts.

A Timeline of his Life

Herman was born on the 18th of April, 1930 in Almelo, a small town in the East of the Netherlands. He grew up among his seven brothers and sisters and spent his childhood hanging around his parents’ bakery and grocery stores.

The Krikhaar family

He started studying at the Art Academy in Arnhem, where he struck up a lifelong friendship with Theo Wolvecamp, one of the future CoBrA group painters.

When he turned eighteen, Herman had to fulfill his military duty for eighteen months. Upon its completion, he helped his father in the bakery before deciding to go to Paris.

He spent one year in the City of Art, where he earned his living working in restaurant kitchens and as an “aide caviste” (cellar help). He made his first art discoveries while roaming the Parisian flea markets, among which was a drawing by Rodin.

purser at the KLM

He worked for KLM as a steward and purser for eight years, which allowed him to explore the world. He started collecting antiquities from the Near and Far East, as well as contemporary art (CoBrA). He also continued to paint.

He got married and moved to Ibiza to pursue his painting. Here, he found his own style. With their first child on the way in 1962, the couple decided to move back to the Netherlands. Herman started making preparations to open a gallery in Amsterdam.

Gallery Krikhaar first opened its doors at its location on the Weteringschans (a street in Amsterdam), featuring etchings by Marc Chagall. Not long after, Karel Appel, who lived in New York at the time, entered the gallery and asked for his work to be exhibited. The gallery soon became Amsterdam’s main center for exhibitions dedicated to CoBrA-artists.

The gallery moved to the Spui in the heart of Amsterdam, which at that time was considered the center of the swinging sixties in Holland, replete with “happenings” and flower power demonstrations. Krikhaar’s series of spectacular openings headlined by Rudolf Nurejev, Jean Shrimpton (“The Shrimp”), and other famous figures pierced the elite art barrier and made the art scene accessible to a much wider public. He also liked to put on exhibitions promoting young and international artists, including shows featuring Antonio Saura, Takis, Alex Sadkowksy, Paul de Lussanet, and Richard Smeets.

Herman longed to resume painting. In the South of France, he found a studio where he worked during the long summer holidays.
In the late seventies, through a friendship with one of Picasso’s nephews, Herman was able to organize three impressive exhibitions of Picasso paintings from his later years.

Herman closed the gallery in order to paint. His works were featured in exhibitions at the TEFAF in Maastricht (1989) and he participated in the Art Junction in Cannes (prix de publique). He also made a series of bronzes.

Herman moved to his new house and studio in the South of France, which was designed by his son Alexander. His focus was on painting and drawing; consequently, many exhibitions were to follow.

Foundation Herman Krikhaar was established.

Herman died in Draguignan on the 19th of January.

photo @ André Villers in his studio in Salernes.

See also

Altijd een zonnetje erbij (artikel Trouw)

De kunstschilder Herman Krikhaar (dailymotion)