Who: Wouter van Herwaarden (1990)
Studied: Bachelor's in Art History, Master's in Museum Studies.
First job: delivering magazines.
Favourite place at the UvA: Art History was previously housed in the Art Historical Institute at Herengracht 286, a striking, dark building abundant in natural stone. Inside, there was an archive filled with all sorts of pictures of art works. No one ever went there and it positively reeked; it was an area that was basically rendered obsolete with the advent of the Internet. Very cool.
Essential: art and literature
'My grandfather worked in a porcelain shop and his dream was for all of his children to go to college. It came true. All of my aunts and uncles studied medicine. I did not immediately continue my studies after secondary school; instead, I spent two years working and travelling. During that time, I went to dozens of museums. My mother is an artist, so going to museums was part of my upbringing. Although I did not take any art or drawing courses in secondary school, I realised that I would become completely relaxed during my visits to museums. For me, museums are the best places to be. When I moved to Amsterdam, I decided to study art history.'
'It was clear to me early on that I wanted to live in Amsterdam. I am from Eindhoven, but Amsterdam is the most beautiful city in the Netherlands to me. I love the grandeur and glory of the city. At the same time, it is quite small and personal. Plus, you have the best museums in the Netherlands here.
Art offers you a different perspective on the world and teaches you to understand other people
'The Master's programme in Museum Studies focuses on the sociological approach of museums. You study the role of museums in society. Museums can uplift people. They not only brighten neighbourhoods, but also serve as a marketing tool for a country. A country with a lot of museums is a country that is doing well. Art and museums are inherently connected, which means the programme is also an investigation into the significance of art. That significance definitely exists. Art offers you a different perspective on the world; it teaches you to understand other people. And by looking at a work of art, I myself sometimes feel understood, too. It is special to see something as very beautiful or to be affected by something without being able to describe exactly why.'
I graduated about two years ago. I have a good friend, Fleur, who was friends with Anton Martineau, who was 78 at the time, and his muse, the artist Eleonora Stol. Martineau was best friends with the poet and painter Lucebert when the two were young. They travelled extensively to Paris and were involved in the Cobra movement. Although Anton was not really a member, he moved in the same circles. Anton and Eleonora had never jointly exhibited; he had outlived many gallery owners and consequently had fallen by the wayside somewhat. They asked Fleur to stage an exhibition about them and she asked me to help. We took this on together and it was a success. We enjoyed it so much that we subsequently decided to open a gallery.
I want to use my gallery to introduce young people to art.
'During my studies, I came up with the exhibition Lachen met Wouter, ['Laughing with Wouter'] on art and humour for one of my courses. I arranged the works of art based on the type of humour. The goal was to attract young people to museums by making them laugh with art. Our goal with the gallery is likewise to introduce young people to art and to get them to want to buy art. We do this by keeping works affordable and organising exhibitions around themes that appeal to young people. Previously, we put on exhibitions about the longing for paradise and about why young artists still choose painting. We also staged an exhibition in conjunction with a wine tasting, and an art auction in which 20 artists participated. Everyone submitted an artwork and people were allowed to bid with everything except money. You could get a work of art in exchange for doing something in return. Next, we want to do something on the topic of feminism.'
'Galerie Fleur & Wouter is a pop-up gallery; we organise exhibitions at a variety of locations. Depending on how busy we are with other things, we might not have anything for two months or we might have three exhibitions in a single month. The exhibitions can run from one day to a month. I also work at another gallery – OD Gallery – that sells street art, and I occasionally write about art for Vice Magazine. During the past few months, I have been working on an essay about Jugendstil silver for a museum in Wiesbaden in Germany. A 90-year-old man named Ferdinand Wolfgang Neess donated his extensive collection of Jugendstil works to the museum. Together with Edwin Becker from the Van Gogh Museum, where I did my work placement, I am writing about the silver in the collection for the catalogue. It is quite a prestigious assignment; I would like to do more of this sort of thing. Everything I am doing at the moment is different and so much fun; I enjoy the variation.'
My dream is to teach at the Rietveld Academy to help young artists establish a career
'In January, I will start teaching at the Akademie Vogue, a programme for people interested in becoming a stylist. I will be teaching the "Art Actuality" course, where I will take groups of students around the city and go to exhibitions to see what is happening in the art world. My dream is to teach at the Rietveld Academy to help young artists establish a career, by explaining to them how the art world works and how to deal with it. It is not easy in the art world, but many of my fellow students have managed to find really interesting jobs.'
'It was clear to me early on that I wanted to live in Amsterdam. I am from Eindhoven, but Amsterdam is the most beautiful city in the Netherlands to me. I love the grandeur and glory of the city. At the same time, it is quite small and personal. Plus, you have the best museums in the Netherlands here. The UvA is a huge, somewhat lumbering organisation, but one with lots of character. The old buildings are now often being renovated, but that old age is what made them so attractive. I had good lecturers during my studies, the kind that you picture having before you go to university, from an elderly professor who hobbled to the stage with a hunched back to an extremely flamboyant man. This one professor had an amazing voice and taught Italian sculpture. When he lectured, he recited every quote in the original language. Italian, French; no translation. His pronunciation was perfect, of course. To me, that is one of the best parts of going to university: all of the different types of people you meet. I often think about the things that lecturers said. I still keep in touch with many of the Museum Studies lecturers, too.'