Jurriaan Schrofer exhibition review
Currently running at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam is an exhibition of one of my design heroes, Jurriaan Schrofer (1926–1990). Schrofer was a pioneer of postwar Dutch graphic design, along with Total Design colleagues Ben Bos and Wim Crouwel.
I found this exhibition bitterly disappointing. The recent long-awaited book on Schrofer’s work by Frederike Huygen has been years in the making and is superbly written, illustrated and designed. It is published in two editions, Dutch and English. The book is one of those gems, almost on a par with Wim Crouwel’s Mode en Module and shares the same book designers, Karel Martens and Jaap van Treist.
The subsequent exhibition currently running at the Stedelijk is a disaster. Lust, who were chosen because of their ‘innovative approach’ to exhibition design, have relegated Schrofer’s work to mere decoration, treating it as incidental to their own egos. Is cramming Schrofer’s work into a few cheap, wooden glass-fronted boxes really innovative? Lust’s visual wallpaper overwhelms the gallery and further diminishes the importance of Schrofer's inspirational work. In my view this approach shows total disrespect to the master himself, whose work should be the focus of the exhibition.
Schrofer’s professional practice spanned all genres – from publicity material to house styles and from magazines to advertising and typography. His photography books are particularly noteworthy. Shown here is some of Schrofer’s work for museum catalogues taken from my own collection – in my opinion they are classics, but unfortunately they were not included in the Stedelijk’s exhibition.
Schrofer’s name might not be as well known as that of Crouwel or Bos, but his work deserves to be seen in context and treated with the same respect. Thank goodness that Frederike Huygen’s book has been published, let’s hope it will help to inspire a new generation of designers.