Marten Jongema 1951 – 2011

Last friday, graphic designer and curator at the Stedelijk Museum Marten Jongema (1951) passed away due to a severe illness.

In the eigthies and ninetees, Jongema made beautiful posters for mainly cultural clients like the Carrousel theatre group, and the festivals Boulevard of Broken Dreams, De Parade and Springdance. With a background in both painting and art history, Jongema’s handwriting and approach as a designer clearly distinguished him from his peers.

In 2004 he became graphic design curator, and later curator at the presentation department of the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. In their obituary (in Dutch), the museum remembers Jongema as “an inspiring, lightly anarchistic en much loved collegue.”

Items 1/1994 published an interview (in Dutch): ‘The everyday poetry of Marten Jongema’.

As a young design student at the Hogeschool voor de Kunsten Utrecht (HKU), I became aware of Marten Jongema’s work through his posters for Springdance, that were all over the city. The 1992 issue with the lamb was adorning my apartment’s wall for a long time.

Later, at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam, Jongema was one of my teachers. Apart from the inevitable student – teacher squabbles, I fondly remember a duo presentation by him and Max Kisman (who wrote a moving In Memoriam (in Dutch) for his friend Jongema) at De Balie in Amsterdam.

Marten Jongema (left) and Max Kisman showing their stuff at De Balie

That evening in 1995, Jongema and Kisman were showing the posters they had made individually for poptemple Paradiso during the second half of the eighties and early nineties. The vast amount of work, presented at high pace with unbelievable nonchalance, plus the jokes they were making about each others designs, caused much hilarity, and proved to be super inspiring.

Page from Max Kisman’s visual diary about that night.

Two years later, Jongema initiated a project that connected our group of students with Kees Maas. Maas, who had just gotten in charge of the academy’s screenprinting shop, turned out to be the guy who had screenprinted most of those Paradiso posters… I may have found out about all that on my own at some point in time, but that particular class-project with Jongema really got me involved in the print- and design related things I’m still enthousiastic about. I’m thankful for that.

Jongema’s design for the 1991 Europa stamps, imagining the Europe in space-theme, in his typical poetic way: a man showing his respect to the univers by taking off his hat. The 55 ct. version shows two planets connected by ladders, symbolising the desire to access the universe…

The sketches shown are from ‘Marten Jongema’, published by Drukkerij SSP, 1994, on the occasion of their 25 year anniversary (only available second-hand).

Jongema’s Paradiso posters can be found in ‘Paradiso Posters 1968 – 2008’, Uitgeverij De Buitenkant, 2008.

See also Max Kisman about Marten Jongema

April 13th, 2011
, Posted in Other texts