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Jacob Ydema – Life and work

Author: Onno Ydema
Preface: Prof. dr. Sible de Blaauw
Text in English
400 pages, 330 x 265 mm, hardcover
ISBN: 978-90-9037674-5
450 illustrations in full colour
Price: €49.50 (excl shipment costs)

Jacob Ydema (1901–1990) was a versatile artist. His oeuvre consists of murals and stained glass in more than thirty churches and other buildings, over 200 paintings and drawings, as well as works in textiles and on metal. Ydema is considered one of the most important representatives of the Dutch so-called Expressionist Baroque style of the period between the two world wars. His artistic program, however, soon departed from the naturalistic rendering of his subjects. Over the years he developed a unique expressive style, in which his creative power exposed the world of the abstract mind. The images of people, animals and landscapes reduced to their essence radiate a direct emotion, in which the viewer is struck by the monumental silence in an unknown but intriguingly familiar imaginary world. 

Ydema was fascinated by “primitive” art, and stopped painting in the late 1950s to focus on cultural anthropology. As of 1978 he wielded the brush again and painted mainly self-portraits. These are striking for their deeply contemplative appearance, and their reflection of the most personal emotions of the artist.  

This volume provides the first overview of his life and work. It contains a vivid description of the personal life of the artist, and testifies to his powers of endurance in difficult situations during the economic crisis of the great depression in the 1930s and during the occupation of the Netherlands during the Second World War. His monumental works, which are all described in this book, have attracted the most attention in existing publications of his work. The other works, however, have remained largely unknown—mainly because they are in private collections, or they remained in the painter’s studio until his death. This book illustrates and describes more than fifty drawings and a selection of about 120 paintings. Also, his textile works and some of his works on metal are included.

The works are placed in their historical context, supplemented with information from personal letters that offer a striking insight to the artist’s creative struggles and choices. This book not only reveals the rich variety of experience within a single artistic life, it also represents an important contribution to the history of art in general, and of 20th-century Dutch art in particular.