Johnny Rolf

1936 - Born in the Hague, the Netherlands
1956 - I meet Jan de Rooden. We decide to start a pottery together in one year's time.
1957 - In October first study-tour. We hitch-hike to Denmark. Visit to the island of Bornholm with its many potteries. In Copenhagen where
we visit ceramic artists. Especially the visit to Gertrud Vasegaard leaves a deep impression.
Since then I have often been able to visit artists in their studio. These visits, I quickly realised, have been an important element in my education.
Once back in Amsterdam we work in our tiny studio. I learn myself to throw on a potter's wheel and make series of glaze tests.
1959 - First exhibition together with Jan de Rooden in Galerie van Meurs, Amsterdam, a gallery specialised in early oriental art.
We move to Kloveniersburgwal 133, former studio of ceramic artist Bert Nienhuis. The high rooms with their beautiful light are a relief.
Our work flourishes.
1962 - Exhibition "Six Amsterdam Potters", Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam.
Exhibition "Silver, Ceramics and Tapestries of modern artists from the Netherlands", Städtisches Museum, Osnabrück, Germany.
Journey to Scandinavia. We visit a.o. the factories of Gustavsberg in Sweden and Arabia in Finland. To our surprise, we find the concept
and the atmosphere in Gustavsberg more attractive.
1963 - Exhibition "Dutch Potters Now", Gemeentemuseum, the Hague.
1964 - Exhibition "Contour", Prinsenhof, Delft
Together with Jan de Rooden I receive the "Contour Prize Porceleyne Fles".
1965 - International Ceramics Exhibition, National Museum, Tokyo; Ishibashi Art Gallery, Kyushu; the National Museum of Modern Art,
Kyoto and Aichi Art Gallery, Nagoya, Japan.
International Ceramics Exhibition, Musée Cantini, Marseille, France.
Exhibition "Ceramics in the Garden, Tapestries on the Wall", Gemeentemuseum, Arnhem.
Participant Exhibition "New Forms of Ceramics" , Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam.
Journey to England. We visit a.o. Bernard and Janet Leach and help Australian potter Gwyn Hansen fire the huge Cardew wood kiln in
Bodmin, Cornwall.
1966 - Exhibition "Johnny Rolf / Jan de Rooden ceramics and Herman Scholten / Desirée Scholten v.d. Rivière tapestries",
Groninger Museum, Groningen.
Exhibition "XXIV Conconcorso Internazionale della Ceramica d'Arte", Faenza, Italy.
Prize: "Premio del Ministerio della Pubblica Instruzione" e.a.
Studio guest Gustavsberg Fabriker AB, Gustavsberg, Sweden.
Travelgrant Svenska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.

Stig Lindberg, art director of Gustavsberg, invites us for a work period in one of their studio's. To live in the dark wintermonths in Sweden
is quite an experience. We make work for an exhibition and we design objects for the Studio-line production.
We visit artists, potteries, museums and glass- and ceramics factories. In Småland, the glass district, ceramic artists work with clay in their own
studio and at the same time they design glass for a factory. An enviable combination!
1967 - Exhibition "Holländskt Gästspel", Gustavsberg Galerie, Stockholm, together with Jan de Rooden.
Exhibition "New Ceramic Forms from the Netherlands", Hessisches Landesmuseum, Darmstadt; Handwerksform, Hannover, Germany.
Invited to the 2nd International Symposium Bechyne, Czechoslovakia. The workshop is the potter's craft school, we sleep in an old monastery.
The Czech colleagues take good care of us. It is a pleasure to work in Bechyne. The clay is so different, coarse and loose. Oxides are scarce
but the limited means stimulate the imagination.
Bechyne is a beautiful small town situated in the hills of Bohemia. I enjoy the pastoral beauty and the old farmhouses.
Exhibition "2nd International Bechyne Symposium Exhibition", Bechyne and National Museum, Prague, Czechoslovakia.
1968 and 1970/1973) - Exhibition Galerie Moderne, Silkeborg, Denmark.
1969 - Exhibition "Ceramic Highlights", Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam.
Travelgrant Dutch Ministery of Culture.
Lecture- and workshop tour through America and Canada.
We visit a.o. Frans Wildenhain in Rochester, NY and Marguerite Wildenhain in Muir Woods, California. In the forties both left for
the States after having worked many years in the Netherlands. We know their Dutch pots and now admire their American work.
In the summer months I work on the campus of Davis University, California, to prepare an exhibition. On this same campus,
in a far-away corner, Robert Arneson makes his "funky pieces" and teaches his students in unorthodox ways.
Exhibition "The Davis Enterprise", Davis Art Centre, Davis, California.
Journey to Mexico. My first introduction to a non-European culture deeply impresses me.
1970 - Exhibition "Dutch Ceramics 1945-1970", Centraal Museum, Utrecht.
1971 - Exhibition "Twelve Dutch Potters" touring America.
Lectures and workshops in England.
Start graphic work at Graphic Studio "de Vaart", Hilversum.
At Kloveniersburgwal Jan moves to the basement. The beautiful high rooms on the first floor now become my studio.
I paint the woodwork the warm deepred colour I so often saw in Morocco.
1972 - Group exhibition "Changing Ceramics", Museum Bellerive, Zürich, Switzerland.
1973 - Exhibition, together with Jan de Rooden, at Kunstkammer Ludger Köster, Mönchengladbach, Germany.
1974 - Exhibition , together with Jan de Rooden "Two Amsterdam Potters", Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam.
Participant "2nd Chunichi International Exhibition of Ceramic Arts", Nagoya, Japan.
Journey to the Far East.
Dutch Ministery of Culture. Travelgrant Japan Foundation.
Guest Teacher in Indonesia
at the Seni Rupa Art Academy, Bandung and ASRI Art Institute, Yogyakarta.
From the time in my early years that I admired Chinese and Japanese ceramics in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, I dreamt of a journey
to the Far East. Now this dream will be realised. In Korea, together with Ron duBois, American friend and colleage, we visit the enormous
kilns in which kimchi pots are still fired. The different techniques of making these pots are fascinating.
Returned home, I install in the attick an etching press.
1975 - Exhibition "Ceramic Contrasts" together with Jan de Rooden, Hetjens Museum, Düsseldorf, Germany.
Lectures- and workshops at universities and artschools in America.
Artist-in-residence Sangre de Cristo Arts Center, Pueblo, Colorado.
Exhibition Sangre de Cristo Arts Center, with Carl Jensen and Jan de Rooden.
As in 1969 American colleagues receive us hospitably. Enthusiastically they share their homes, work and experiences.
1976 - Studio exhibition. From now on we will organize an exhibition in our studio's every two or three years.
It has become a tradition appreciated by many visitors.
Participant Graphics Exhibition Cultureel Centrum "de Vaart", Hilversum.
Exhibition "Contemporary Ceramics", Musée des Arts Décoratifs de la ville de Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland.
Second studio with salt- and reduction kilns in Morra, a small village in the north of the Netherlands.
It is a challenge and an adventure to build and fire one's own kilns.
I discover that the saltglaze technique suits me. When used soberly it is a technique that sharply and faultlessly registers every line.
1977 - Exhibition "Ceramics Johnny Rolf / Jan de Rooden and Woven Tapestries by Margot Rolf", Singer Museum, Laren

What pleasure the piece of land around the studio in Morra gives!
We plant trees, sow vegetables and lots of flowers and enjoy the spaciousness of the land.
1978 - Studio exhibition Morra.
Exhibition "Contemporary European and Japanese Ceramics"
, Museum Bellerive, Zürich, Switzerland
First journey to Turkey, a beautiful country. In Avanos, already famous in Antiquity for its fine red earth, and still a pottery centre,
we find a statue of a potter.
1979 - Exhibition "7th Chunichi International Exhibition of Ceramic Arts", Nagoya, Japan.
Exhibition "European Ceramics since 1950", Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe, Hamburg and Hetjens Museum, Germany.
Workshop Keramisch Werkcentrum, Heusden.
1980 - Exhibition "European Ceramics since 1950", Hetjens Museum, Düsseldorf, Germany.
Exhibition "Johnny Rolf Recent work from three kilns", Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam.
1981 - Exhibition "Contemporary German and Dutch crafts", Museum für Kunsthandwerk, Frankfurt, Germany and
Gemeentemuseum, Arnhem.
First journey to India. Once more an old longing becomes a reality. India, such a complex country, so full of extremes.
So many beautiful people, too. Notably the serene Buddhist sanctuary Sanchi impresses deeply.
Visit to Deborah Smith's and Ray Meeker's Golden Bridge Pottery in Pondicherry. In the future we will return there several times to work.
Once back in, Amsterdam I make a series of Monotypes inspired by India. I really like this exciting, indirect technique.
I exhibit them with my ceramics.
1982 - Exhibition "Ceramics Johnny Rolf", Emslandmuseum Schloss Clemenswerth, Sögel, Germany.
Exhibition Oxford Gallery, Oxford, Engeland.
Workshop Edinburgh College of Art, Edniburgh, Scotland.
1983 - Farewell to studio in Morra. Maintaining two workshops becomes too hard. I will miss most the saltkiln.
Journey to India and Nepal and in the autumn to Turkey. The beautiful turquoise and seagreen colours of the tiled walls in palaces
and mosques are an inspiration for new colours for my pieces.
1984 - Exhibition "Johnny Rolf Ceramics", Gemeentemuseum, Arnhem.
Research mudbrick architecture in the Netherlands, Egypt and India.
Lectures in India at the University of Baroda and Lalit Kala Academy, New Dehli, India.
First journey to Egypt to find and study Nubian mudbrick villages.
The knowledge gathered is needed for the building project: the Fired Mudbrick House in South India.
1985 - Exhibition "Johnny Rolf / Jan de Rooden Ceramics", Singer Museum, Laren.
Research mudbrick architecture in Egypt.
Lectures and workshops in India.
Artist in residence Golden Bridge Pottery, Pondicherry. It is arduous but at the same time wonderful to work in South India.
I enjoy working alongside the students studying there.
Stipend Ministery of Culture.
Exhibition "Keramos - Johnny Rolf and Ray Meeker", The Gallery, Madras, India.
In Pondicherry I make my first ceramic masks. They are inspired by the beautiful wild dogs I see. They remind me of Anubis,
the jackal god of old Egypt.
1986 - Exhibition "In the Wake of De Liefde", Museum voor Volkenkunde, Rotterdam.
Commission of "Friends of the Earth" for a sculpture for the International Maritime Organisation, London, England.
Artist in residence Golden Bridge Pottery, Pondicherry, India. Once again a busy workperiod. Pondicherry is a fascinating
city to live in. After last year's first pilot-house Ray Meeker and Jan de Rooden build and fire their second mudbrick house.
In Pondycherry I make my first gouaches.
1987 - Exhibition "Johnny Rolf's Ceramics", Hetjens Museum, Düsseldorf, Germany.
Lecture Stichting Cultureel Centrum, Enschede.
Move to coachhouse, Linnaeusparkweg 18a, Amsterdam.
After twenty-seven years we say farewell to the Kloveniersburgwal. The city changes, we too, but in a different direction.
The coachhouse has a small garden that will become a source of pleasure in all seasons.
1988 - Studio exhibition. The new house lends itself well to an exhibition in the new studio's. We are glad to be able to invite people
after a long time, happy too that they come.
1989 - Exhibition "Modern ceramic Figures, Objects and Tiles", Collection Thiemann, Schloss Reinbeck, Hamburg, Germany.
Journey to India, this time with my sister Margot Rolf, weaver. Textiles is the special subject now. There is much to discover.
On my return home, the hard work on the coachhouse revenges itself belatedly; my back gives up.
For a long year I occupy myself only with resting and drawing.
1991 - Exhibition "Ceramics as Passion", (coll. C. Ouwehand), Museum Bellerive, Zürich, Switzerland.
Exhibition "Imitation and Inspiration, Japanbese Influence on Dutch Art", Suntory Museum of Art, Tokyo, Japan.
Exhibition "Jan de Rooden, a ceramic artist and Johnny Rolf, gouaches", Singer Museum, Laren. A large retrospective of Jan's works.
It is wonderful to see which roads he has travelled in the course of the years. My gouaches in the background augment his world.
This was also the year of making Jan's monograph "Jan de Rooden keramisch kunstenaar / ceramic artist".
Many of the pieces portrayed in this book are exhibited.
1992 - Exhibition "Imitation and Inspiration, Japanese Influence on Dutch Art", Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.
Exhibition "British and Dutch Ceramics", Rufford Craft Centre, Nottinghamshire, England.
Exhibition "Au-delà de la Tradition", Institut Néerlandais, Paris, France.
Guest teacher Ceramics Seminar Lucky Lambo, Huizen, together with Patric Piccarelle, Beate Reinheimer and Jan de Rooden.
Journey to Bali and Lombok After a long interval. Jan and I make a far journey together again. It feels good to travel together again.
We find old and more recent pottery villages. Eagerly too we absorb the fascinating Hindu culture.
1993 - Exhibition "Facets of the Same Nature", The National Museum of Ceramic Art, Baltimore USA.
For the first time since 1960 we visit Brittany in France. Visiting churches and holy sites there I am often reminded of India.
There, just like here, water has been worshipped as the source of life.
1994 - Exhibition "Facets of the Same Nature", Everson Museum of Art, Syracuse NY; Massachusetts College of Arts, Boston USA.
Journey to Sumatra together with Jan. The Far East calls again. A beautiful journey around this fascinating island.
The Batak-houses will prove to be inspiring!
1995 - Exhibition "Facets of the Same Nature", Canadian Clay & Glass Gallery, Waterloo, Canada; Karsh-Masson Gallery,
Ottawa, Canada, and American Craft Museum, New York City.
Exhibition "Ceramics from Holland" with Noor Camstra and Jan de Rooden, Galerie Charlotte Hennig, Darmstadt, Germany.

We decide to make a monograph on me, too, on the occasion of my sixtieth birthday next year.
Digging in my own history does not come easyly to me. It is difficult to make a choice of pieces out of so many years of working.

Journey to Madagascar. A beautiful but poverty-stricken land. The very special flora and fauna are under pressure of too many and
too poor people. I enjoy with sadness in my heart.
Like so many journeys Madagascar inspires my work, this time especially my gouaches.
1996 - Exhibition "Facets of the Same Nature", Gemeentemuseum Commanderie van Sint Jan, Nijmegen.
Retrospective exhibition "Johnny Rolf her ceramics her gouaches", Singer Museum, Laren.
Presentation of the monograph "Johnny Rolf haar keramiek haar gouaches, her ceramics her gouaches"
beautifully designed by Harry Veltman. After a festive vernissage a party in the studio with mediaeval music. A wonderful day!
1997 - Exhibition "Ceramics of the 20th Century", Galerie Welle, Paderborn, Germany.
Journey to Australia. Jan and I make a tour over this huge continent with its fascinating plant- and animal world.
1998 - Journey to Yemen. Nearly all journeys I made leave their mark in my work, sometimes more, sometimes less.
Yemen with its fantasticmud architecture inspires me again and again.
1999 - Exhibition "Ceramics from Kösters Kunstkammer", Städtisches Museum Schloss Rheydt, Mönchengladbach, Germany.
Journey to South China in particular to the non-Chinese minorities that live there in the isolated mountains. After my return I paint
gouaches inspired by the beautiful embroideries I saw there.
2000 - Exhibition "Johnny Rolf ceramics and gouaches and Jan de Rooden ceramics and drawings", Singer Museum, Laren.
Exhibition "The Six Amsterdam Potters together once more", Galerie Amphora, Oosterbeek.
In the fall Jan and I make a journey to Burma.
East Asia keeps calling. Each country there is quite different and still there are so many similarities.
2001 - Exhibition "Diphthong in Clay, Johnny Rolf and Jan de Rooden", Museum Schloss Rheydt, Mönchengladbach, Germany.
The historical location and the close cooperation with the museum make for a unique experience.
For once it may be said: I can really enjoy the work we made in the moments just before the opening of an exhibition.
Exhibition "Dutch Ceramics from Art Nouveau untill 2000", (Coll. Spijker), Singer Museum, Laren.
Journey to Laos. A special country where the simplicity of daily life impressed me.
2003 - Exhibition "Mosaic", Galerie Carla Koch, Amsterdam.
The last two years I had been working on the theme "Mosaic" inspired by a.o. the patterns of old marble floors that I saw in Italy
many years ago.
Journey to Greece: Athens and the Peloponnesus. The austere, almost severe landscapes of the Mani impressed me greatly. Bare, naked hills
with now and then a small village with old square stone tower houses. We were glad to see that quite a few were being restored.
2004 - Journey to South Africa. Via the internet we have befriended Dineke den Bakker, ceramic artist of Dutch descent who lives and
works in Vanderbijlpark. She and her husband invited us for a visit, an offer we gladly accepted. They took us on long journeys to National Parks
and the Cape. I have seen a lot but I know at the same time that I could just absorb a fraction of this large and fascinating country. It is a land
where the history of its creation can still clearly be read from hills, valleys, rockformations, and the uplifted layers of the earth.
The animals' world in the National Parks is very special. To observe animals and birds in their natural habitat was more than exciting.
Jan de Rooden and I each gave a lecture on our work for the members of the Association of Potters of Southern Africa  APSA,
Gauteng Region,
at Centurion College in Pretoria on the occasion of their annual meeting which was well received.
It was a pleasure to meet so many new colleagues.

Studio exhibition in the Coachhouse. We were happy to receive so many visitors, maybe too because, as we wrote in the invitation,
that it would probably be the last time, that we would organize an exhibition in our house.
But...people asked us to please let it not be the last time, so, who knows...
2005 - Journey to India. After many years Jan and I travel together again in India.
First of all we are hospitably received by Dushyant and Rachna Parasher in Noida, a new satelite city of New Dehli.
Dushyant is designer of beautiful books, Rachna, former student, has her studio at home where she makes her own work and where
attractive functional wares are produced. Also she thoroughly trains future potters. Rachna invited young ceramic artists for us to meet.
No doubt, ceramic art is blooming in India!
Later, in Calcutta, we meandered through the old, friendly potter's village of Kumartari, where at that moment statues, small to quite large,
were being made of the goddess Sarisvathi for the upcoming festival.
We continue on to Orissa with its beautiful people, temples and wonderful textiles. Bhubaneshwar, Cuttack, Puri, Konark, Chitla Lake...
We are in luck, it is the season of music and dance festivals, which we thoroughly enjoy. Nothing more beautiful than a temple stage under
the full moon.
Back in New Dehli we visit Uttam Nagar where terracotta waterpots, so important in the hot summer, are being made, often with fine
decorations of fish or garlands.
In the streets women knead and build pots by hand, inside man throw pots on the wheel. A bit further a smoking kiln is fired with saw dust.
Children all around. A wonderful place!
2006 - Journey to Mexico and Guatemala.
This journey's objective was to understand more of the culture of the Maya who still populate the peninsula of Yucatan and Guatemala in great
It was exciting to be back in Mexico where Jan and I travelled before, in 1969, starting from California.
Mexico City, so spread out, but still so friendly in atmosphere, celebrated Constitution Day. Not often have I moved about in such large and tight
masses of people and felt so secure! The Antropological Museum was free that day and besides the impressive collections, so beautifully arranged,
we enjoyed the families, father, mother, kids, grandparents, who circulated so attentively, often making notes and sketches in their notebooks.
After visiting Oaxaca and close by Monte Alban, led about by our Zapotec guide who brought to life the extensive stone buildings, we continued
to San Christóbal de las Casas, a town surrounded by Indian villages. A complex town with a great variety of inhabitants. The Indians, I should say
the Maya, are not rich, but very beautiful, reserved, often shy, but a smile or small gesture creates wonders. This reserve is understandable in view
of their cruel history.
Then Guatemala with its imposing vulcanic landscapes, lakes, and cities. We visited the Sunday market in Chichicastenango, very touristy,
but yet so fascinating if one takes the time to observe people. The churches were a wonder. Inside flagstones covered with fragrant pine branches.
Many small groups of Maya who communicated in a very private way with their god or saint. On the floor abstract compositions of coloured,
burning candles and offerings that supported their talks.
In the Yucatan we visited famous Maya ruin cities, often situated in dense jungle where howling monkeys and tucans called to us.
The city ruins are imposing but for me they only came to life after having seen the sculptures in stone and clay and other utensils exhibited in
adjoining museums. Seldom have I seen such beautiful statuettes made of clay, often very simple but so sensitive and pure.

Once returned I start a series of gouaches with Guatemala the subject. They work out very well.
We ponder the ending of our ceramic careers and decide to work towards a last studio exhibition in the fall.

Studio exhibition in the Coachhouse. We are happy with it but also sad because it will be the last one.
Luckily I can be content with the works both of us have made in the past months.
It is the right moment to stop working with clay, but oh, we will miss it!
2007 - Exhibition "Die Sammlung Welle", Museum für Angewandte Kunst, "MAK", Gera, Germany
2012 / 13  - Exhibition "Johnny Rolf and Jan de Rooden - A Live Story in Ceramics 1957 - 2006", Gemeentemuseum den Haag, the Hague.
2013 - Exhibition "Partners in klei", Keramiekcentrum Tiendschuur, Tegelen: januari 19 - may 26
2013 / 14 - Exhibition "Gefäss / Skulptur 2";  Deutsche und internationale Keramik seit 1946; GRASSI Museum, Leipzig, D.;
                  17. November 2013 - 23 March 2014;
2015 Exhibition "An anthology", Keramisch Museum Goedewaagen - Nieuw Buinen

Work in numerous private collections in the Netherlands and abroad and in the following museums:

the Netherlands:
Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam;
Centraal Museum, Utrecht;
Dordrechts Museum
, Dordrecht;
Frans Hals Museum, Haarlem;
Gemeentemuseum, The Hague;
Groninger Museum, Groningen;
Museum Het Kruithuis, 's-Hertogenbosch;
Museum voor Moderne Kunst, Arnhem;
Museum Het Princessehof, Leeuwarden;
Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam.
Auckland Art Gallery, Auckland, New Zealand;
, Schloss Clemenswerth, Sögel, Germany;
Gustavsberg Museum
, Gustavsberg, Sweden;
, Leipzig, Geremany;
Hessisches Landesmuseum
, Darmstadt, Germany;
Hetjens Museum, Düsseldorf, Germany;
Museum Bellerive, Zürich, Switzerland;
Museum für Angewandte Kunst "MAK", Gera, Germany;
National Museum, Prague, Czechoslovakia;
National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo;
Würtembergisches Landesmuseum, Stuttgart, Germany.

Other exhibitions

It would be a bit much to mention all exhibitions that I held since 1960, each year figured one at least.
The same applies to group-exhibitions in which I participated. In this summary I mention only those exhibitions that to me meant "footsteps"
in my career or that were especially memorable.