W.F. Hermans in fine form
This year House of the book is celebrating the 100th birthday of W.F. Hermans (1921–1995), one of the most important Dutch authors, with an exhibition devoted to the design of his books. The exhibition ‘W.F. Hermans in fine form’ joins the celebration ‘Hermans 100 years’.
The published poems, novellas, novels and essays by W.F. Hermans appear in many different guises. In the 1940s his first four novels were written under a pseudonym. These look like cheap little novels. Later, at publishers such as Van Oorschot and De Bezige Bij, his books were worked on by prominent designers including Helmut Salden, Karel Beunis, Leendert Stofbergen, Gerrit Noordzij and Nicolaas Wijnberg. The exhibition also gives attention to the production of the recent series of his Collected Works, the deluxe edition of which is based on the prestigious French Pléiade series.
In addition to book covers and typography, there are many letters, sketches and designs on display. Correspondence with his publishers shows that Hermans was emphatically involved with the design of his books: ‘The dust-jacket is attractive, no blurbs thank heavens, the binding is acceptable, the paper white and fortunately not thick’. Designs that did not please him could expect unvarnished criticism. In a number of titles it is explicitly stated that the design was made in accordance with the instructions of the author.
Hermans as publisher and designer
Hermans himself also developed into a publisher and designer with works from the so-called Mandarijnenpers, including the renowned Mandarijnen op zwavelzuur. As a photographer, Hermans supplied a number of cover photographs for his books. Also, a number of bibliophile editions of his texts were published with his permission.
Exhibition ‘W.F. Hermans in fine form’
House of the book | Museum Meermanno
Prinsessegracht 30, The Hague
2 September 2021 to 9 January 2022
Portrait photos: ‘Willem Frederik Hermans in his study, Groningen 1955’; ©Ed van der Elsken/Nederlands Fotomuseum
Exhibition design: Anke Broeren
Photos exhibition: Frank Jansen