Focus Paris

Preface: Henk Klasema, Bergen op Zoom, 2001
During the course of my industrial life I have collected many works of art. After completing my studies in business administration at Nijenrode University in Breukelen (the Netherlands) at the age of 20, I became interested in art and antiques. It was an older friend, Paul Muysson, an artist by profession, who introduced me to this world.

He taught me the right way to look at paintings, pastels and watercolours, with their interesting varieties of shade, darkness, brightness and light in composition and colour. Initially, I collected romantic and post-impressionist works of the lesser-known artists. The reason being that I could not afford expensive paintings.

As a fledgling assistant manager of the company for which I was working at the time, I was destined to work hard and intensively. Fortunately, there was also the possibility of looking around in the artistic world from time to time. Moreover, I learnt that the possession of figurative works of art gave me, as a developing businessman, the opportunity of becoming a dealer. The process of buying and selling was interesting because of the possibilities for making a profit. Initially, this process took place at flea markets and later on at the auction houses of Sotheby’s and Christie’s. I had no objections to selling although collecting still remained a key interest.

In 1982 I decided to adopt a more commercial approach and I therefore set up Klasema ART. As do many artists, I myself gradually progressed from figurative to other forms of art. At a certain moment one realizes that there is more to the world of art than creating good likenesses. Expressionism, Cubism, Constructivism, Geometric-Abstract, Non-Objective and Abstract Expressionism are also art forms, for example, that can give satisfaction to both artist and viewer.

Over the last 20 years my interest developed from figurative to abstract forms of art. Abstract art is very personal and touching. For me, the feeling of equilibrium and beauty is important. Exaggeration of colour and composition must be avoided. In my opinion an artist should always focus on the heart of the matter and should try to keep things as simple as possible.

This progression has finally brought me to the art of the nineteen forties, fifties and sixties. It is the art of this period that /forms/has become/ the major part of my collection. Its peak was reached in works that were created between 1945 and1970, with the Dutch “Vrij Beelden” and “Creatie” groups playing a particularly dominant role. Many artists from these groups – such as Willy Boers, Piet Ouborg, Willem Hussem, Jan Roëde, Wim Sinemus, Ger Gerrits, Hans Ittmann and André van der Vossen – absorbed the international atmosphere during their visits to and studies in Paris in the period from 1945 to1955.

In Paris they drew inspiration from the followers of the great French, Italian, German, Spanish, and also Russian artists (who had fled during the Russian revolution).

In the thirties, American artists like A. Calder, S. Davis, G.L.K. Morris, R. Scarlett and C. Shaw also visited and studied in Paris and produced important works. Other nationalities have also produced significant art works in Paris, which is still the Mecca of art in the world.

In the period between the two world wars, as well as towards the end of and following the Second World War and in the beginning of the nineteen fifties, the Nouvelle École de Paris developed. In the Netherlands the expression “post-war art” is called “de Doorbraak” (The Breakthrough) and in France “La Reconstruction”. Both movements embodied an artistic response to the horrors of the Second World War. Thousands of artists eagerly threw themselves into the adventure of abstraction and were enormously inspired by the atmosphere in Paris.During the last decades of the twentieth century my wife Anneke and I, as collectors and dealers, also found our inspiration there. Museums, art dealers, auctions in Drouot, and flea markets became our domain. In Paris we realised what is important in the field of art. There, we continued to develop our taste and finally touched on the core: equilibrium and beauty.

Férenc Gögös and Shlomo Koren, two artists who are still living and who used to be teachers, the former at the Academy of art in Arnhem and the latter in Amsterdam’s “Rietveld Academie”, are to be seen in our collection also. Their work is bright and sensitive.

The art works pictured in this book can be viewed in the Netherlands at our premises in Bergen op Zoom and in Wouwse Plantage by appointment only, or in the “Cobra Museum voor moderne kunst” in Amstelveen, where some of these works are on permanent loan.

With FOCUS PARIS I have tried to give a balanced and fully representative image of my collection. These works speak for themselves and I sincerely hope that you, like us, will derive constant enjoyment from them. Without the artists, however, these works would never have seen the light of day. I should therefore like to consider this book as an expression of homage to them.

Focus Paris - Henk Klasema, 2001

Focus Paris – Henk Klasema, 2001