Anthon Beeke

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Graphic | Heritage

In Memoriam Anthon Beeke  (1940 – 2018)

On Tuesday September 25 graphic designer Anthon Beeke died of a cerebral infarction in his hometown Amsterdam.

His contribution to graphic design can be called unique in all respects. Because of his raw talent, his rebellious views and his powerful personality. Together with Jan van Toorn, Gert Dumbar, Swip Stolk and others he saved in the 1970s the visual landscape of the Netherlands from the hands of what was in those days called the ‘Nieuwe Lelijkheid’ (The New Ugliness): i.e. commercial, institutional design that was applied whether relevant or not.

Anthon Beeke was a Dutch street boy who without any formal training became one of the most admired designers of his generation. He owed this to a large extent to his widely discussed poster designs, which quite appropriate embellished the streets of Amsterdam. His approach was more the approach of an artist than of the classic ‘subservient’ designer. On all his work for any client or purpose, he put his own unambiguous stamp.

Even after his reputation was established, he remained tirelessly searching for renewal. He saw himself as a free spirit and an adventurer, who not only wanted to leave his marks but to leave indelible scars ‘.

Sybrand Zijlstra


The other day I was given a prize for a theatre poster, and a radio reporter asked me: “Mr. Beeke, don’t you think this prize should be given to a young designer?” So I tell him: “I am a young designer.”
Carel Kuitenbrouwer, ‘Reputations: Anthon Beeke’, Eye no. 13 vol. 4, 1994

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