Winner of the Van Looy Prize
The cartoonist Peter van Straaten (b. Arnhem, 1935) was the winner of the Van Looy Prize 2010 – and with it came an exhibition in De Hallen Haarlem. This prize is awarded every five years by the Jacobus van Looy Foundation to a ‘double talent’: someone who combines the visual arts and writing in an exceptional manner. At Van Straaten’s request, his exhibition began not with choices from his own work, but from work by Jacobus van Looy (Haarlem, 1855-1930).
As a guest curator for the Van Looy presentation, Peter van Straaten has made a selection from the collection of drawings and paintings in the holdings of the Frans Hals Museum | De Hallen Haarlem. For the painter and writer Van Looy, nature and travel were great sources of inspiration. Among the places he visited were Morocco, Spain and London. In the exhibition one can see an assortment of his travel sketches, as well as painted landscapes, still-lifes and portraits.
At the back of the Vleeshal hung the work of Peter van Straaten himself: a small selection from his extensive oeuvre. Van Straaten is a very productive artist, who prefers to work in thematic series. In addition to cartoons for newspapers and magazines he also does autonomous work, such as erotic drawings. His drawings and prints are characterised by a somewhat scratchy style in which hatching plays an important role.
Among his frequently recurring subjects are the conflicts between generations and between married couples, situations at work and excessive alcohol consumption. He takes aim at everyday life in today’s society in an usually witty, ironic, but at the same time also light-hearted manner. With his sober cartoonist’s draughtsmanship and an aptly formulated caption, he is able to unerringly touch the sore spots of life.
After graduating from grammar school Peter van Straaten studied at the Kunstnijverheidsschool at Amsterdam. In 1958 he started at Het Parool, doing drawings to accompany news stories; later he did illustrations and political cartoons for this paper. High points in Van Straaten’s oeuvre included the series Father & Son and Daily life, both published in Het Parool. Another familiar series is Agnes, a serial about an easy-going welfare mother which appeared in Vrij Nederland for many years. The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam recently purchased fifty of his erotic drawings.