Joost Swarte everywhere


Exhibition | Graphic | Heritage | Illustration

 This year, Joost Swarte will be celebrating his fiftieth anniversary as an illustrator, designer and architect with an exhibition at the Kunsthal Rotterdam. The exhibition ‘Joost Swarte everywhere’ pays homage to fifty years of drawing by presenting a cross section of Swarte’s body of work – from his first cartoons, original drawings, sketches, designs and objects to his most recent work. Swarte’s search for the most surprising and iconic illustrations is also shown on the basis of sketches that have never been exhibited before. The exhibition will be realised in collaboration with guest curator Gert Jan Pos.Joost Swarte everywhere

At the beginning of the 1970s, Swarte started his career as an underground cartoonist for ‘Modern Papier’ and ‘Tante Leny presenteert!’. His breakthrough came in 1974 when he made his debut in the French comics magazine Charlie Mensuel. With his cartoons for children in the magazines Okki and Jippo, he became better known among a wider audience. His cartoons have been published in the pioneering American Raw Magazine since 1980. He also works for Belgian, French and Spanish publications, as well as for other American magazines, including the influential The New Yorker. Joost Swarte has never restricted himself to the cartoon genre; among other things he has also illustrated novels by the writer Nescio and designed stamps, posters and album covers. His work is everywhere, sometimes in the physical shape of a building, a pair of glasses or a stamp, and sometimes in the shape of an illustration or as signposting on a wall. Just about everyone is probably familiar with it, without having consciously seen it. This is because Joost Swarte’s work has a self-evident quality – it is clear, legible, slightly ironic and always recognisable. 

Fifty years of work
The exhibition presents a selection from all the works Joost Swarte has produced over the past fifty years: from his first comic strip pages ‘The True Story of Mr. P.’ from 1969, to ‘The Organised Life’ from 2015. And from his world-famous 1980 illustration ‘The Mirror’, and the 1984 stamps he designed for the Foundation for Children’s Welfare, to his celebrated covers for The New Yorker. His work is shown in all stages of the creative process, from preliminary sketches to completed books, covers and silk-screen prints. By using a small number of spot colours and a lot of humour, Swarte provides his drawings with clarity and makes them appealing. Other highlights include sketches and designs for 34 stained-glass windows for a new housing project in the Marnixstraat in Amsterdam (1999), and a design for a window (measuring ca. 100 m2) for the Palace of Justice in Arnhem (2004). 

On the occasion of the exhibition, Scratch Books Publishers will release the special large-format, soft-cover publication ‘Joost Swarte everywhere’ that includes 32 frameable prints.

Exhibition ‘Joost Swarte everywhere’
Kunsthal, Rotterdam
14 September 2019 – 19 January 2020

Love Stories – Cover for The New Yorker, 2014
Summer Reading – Cover for The New Yorker, 20 August 2007
Books on holiday – Cover of the summer issue of Walrus magazine, 2009
Rietveld Bow – Gerrit Rietveld presents the construction of his Beugel (bow) Chair to his family members. A print on the occasion of the launch of the Beugel (Bow) Chair at Cassina, Milan 2018
Sketch J.J.P. Oud – Sketch fort he illustration of J.J.P Oud, En toen De Stijl, 2017
Sowing for Apocalyse – Illustration for The New Yorker, 17 August 2007
Think Again – Portret of philosopher Rene Descartes, an illustration for The New Yorker, 20 November 2006
Book cover of An Independent Organ – From a Collection of short stories ‘Men Without Women’ by Haruki Murakami, 2015
Little red riding hood – Illustration for the waiting rooms in the Eye Hospital in Rotterdam, 2005
Piet Mondriaan – Piet Mondriaan in his New York Studio, En toen De Stijl, 2017
Mene Tekel van Nescio – Illustration for the chapter Vae Victis, 2015
Joost Swarte Haarlem, 2014 – Photo Gert Jan Pos

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