In memory of Ootje Oxenaar (1929-2017)
On 13 June 2017, Ootje Oxenaar died at the age of 87 years.
Robert Deodaat Emile (Ootje) Oxenaar (The Hague, 1929) followed from 1947 onwards a training at the Department of Drawing and Painting of The Hague Academy for Visual Arts. In 1953 he graduated with honors.
As the designer of the award-winning Alkestis (Boucher, The Hague, 1954) Oxenaar soon started providing books for several publishing houses among which publishing house Van Goor’s children’s fund. At the World Exhibition in Brussels, Expo ‘58, he and Jan Kuiper were commissioned by Gerrit Rietveld to put together four exhibitions for the promotion of Dutch art.
In the mid-1960s Oxenaar’s design practice got a big boost with two important public clients: the PTT and the Dutch Central Bank (DNB). In 1963 he designed his first series of stamps for the PTT, followed by other stamp commissions in 1964, 1968 and 1970. After this, his position with the PTT became permanent: from 1970 to 1976 as Deputy Head of the Department of Aesthetic Design, and then until 1994 as Head of this Department. All in all, he designed 33 stamps.
Requested by DNB (De Nederlandse Bank) he designed in 1964 the 5 guilder banknote, in 1966 followed by a series of five banknotes: 10, 25, 100, 1000 guilders, plus a new 5 guilder banknote. Between 1977 and 1987, he designed a second series of banknotes: ‘the snipe’ (100 guilders), ‘the sunflower’ (50 guilders) and ‘the lighthouse’ (250 guilders).
Between 1984 and 1988 he worked as the aesthetic advisor to DNB. In addition, Oxenaar was a lecturer at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in The Hague between 1958 and 1970 and a professor of visual communication at the Faculty of Industrial Design at Delft University of Technology between 1978 and 1992. He frequently gave guest lectures at art academies and colleges in the Netherlands and beyond.
He moved to the United States of America where he taught graphic design at the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence. Oxenaar received several awards, including the Werkman Prize in 1987 for his banknotes; his work is also included in several museum collections (Gemeentemuseum The Hague, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, Centre Pompidou Paris and MoMA New York). Since 1964 Oxenaar was a member of the AGI.
Text: Els Kuijpers