Resumé of Jan de Rooden's work

In 1958 Jan de Rooden and I started our own ceramic workshop.
In a few years time Jan developed from a mere potter into a ceramist and then a ceramic artist.
Clay was the medium in which he could express himself best.

His work covers more than fifty years and throughout that period he has shown exceptional ability
in giving shape to his countless ideas and designs.
His work can be viewed in themes or phases.

Johnny Rolf, Amsterdam, december 2010



  Phase 1

At the beginning of the sixties Jan de Rooden began to broaden his pottery activities.

First he started to make rectangular pots from slabs of clay using slips and glazes on them to produce a pictorial effect.
Next he decided to turn these on their side. This resulted in closed sculptural blocks on a foot.
The clay was gouged out and lines incised to create landscape-like impressions.

The potter's wheel was used less rigidly and the resulting pots have greater freedom of expression.


  "Rectangular pot" 1964, H. x B. 20.9 x 20.9 cm. D. 8.2 cm.
Reduction in electric kiln. 1260 Cº.
(€ 850.-)


"Block on foot" 1964, H. 14 cm. B. x D. 20.7 cm. (Private Coll.)
Reduction in electric kiln. 1260 Cº.


"Water pot" 1963, H. 14.5 cm. Diam. 19.5 cm.
(Coll. Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam)



  Phase 2

During his stay in 1966 at the Gustavsberg workshops in Sweden, de Rooden was struck by the bleakness of the new
style of architecture. In reaction thereto he produced his first socially-motivated pieces.

Once back in his Amsterdam workshop he produced rather menacing "Black and White Compositions" which were
a reaction to the sputniks of the time with their ever-present eyes spying from space.

The race riots of 1967 in New Jersey and elsewhere in the United States also resulted in dramatic "Black and White"

1968 saw the production of more socially-motivated works.
Perfect flowerlike and architectural shapes are contained within and contrast with ripped open bowl or dish forms.

Black and white spheres bursting open illustrate the tension and pressure which he observed between the planet and
its inhabitants and among the inhabitants themselves.

De Rooden' s white round and square compositions on a foot with black tracks, as if in a landscape, seem like breathing
spaces in a continuing series of highly charged works.


"City" 1966, H. 47 cm. W. 53 cm.
(Made in Gustavsberg Studios, Gustavsberg, Sweden) 


  "Composition in Black and White" 1967, H. 40.5 cm. Diam. 21 cm.
(Coll. Centraal Museum, Utrecht)



"Composition in Black and White" 1968, H. ± 46 cm. from the theme "Black and White"

  Collection of the late Prof. Dr. Hubert A. Arnold, UC Davis
Hubert Arnold donated his collection to the "Crocker Art Museum" in Sacramento, California.


"Composition of Two Forms" 1968, Diam. 29 cm..(Coll. Gemeentemuseum, the Hague )



"Sphere Composition" 1968, H. 26.5 cm. Diam. 29 cm. (Private coll.)


"Tracks" 1967, H. 14 cm. W. x D. 23 cm. (Coll. Frans Hals Museum, Haarlem)



Phase 3

 At the beginning of the seventies de Rooden' s theme, "Hard and Soft" was once again social comment on the times.

Works from this period have names such as "Pressure" or "Tension".

The "Soft Box" works are an expression of alienation. He presented folded slabs of clay in a clay box. Some folded slabs
of fired clay he hung horizontally from the ceiling. Others, hung vertically on the wall, carried a cube or other ceramic object.



"Pressure" 1970, W. 21.5 cm. from the theme "Hard and Soft"
(Coll. Gemeentemuseum, the Hague )


  "Soft Box" 1970, H. 29.9 cm. W. 22.7 cm. D. 5.8 cm. from the theme "Hard and Soft"
(Private coll.)


"Soft with Cup" 1971, H. approx. 40 cm. from the theme "Hard and Soft"
(Private coll.)



Phase 4


In 1973 Jan de Rooden started making stonelike spheres with growths and magma forced to the surface.
Once again, these works express the tensions within and on planet earth.

Contrasting shapes, colliding with / forcing their way into each other, were used to illustrate the theme,
"Vulnerable Planet" (1974).

These compositions have titles such as "Sphere/Beam" and "Sphere/Cube".

At the same time he was working on the theme, "Phase". Seemingly perfect absolutely straight columns crack
as if they have been damaged.
Here again de Rooden is questioning our feeling of security and produces a feeling of alienation.

To have some breathing spaces in these years Jan de Rooden created his round and square pots.



"Eruption" 1973, H. 33 cm. Diam. 28 cm.
(Private coll.)


  Composition "Sphere/Beam" 1974, Br. 45 cm. from the theme "Vulnerable Planet".
(Coll. Gemeentemuseum, the Hague )



  Composition "Sphere - Cube" 1974, H. 41.8 cm. W. 43.6 cm. D. 36 cm. from the theme "Vulnerable Planet"
(Private coll.)


Pot "Phase III" 1973, H. 48.5 cm. W. 12 cm. D. 12.4 cm. from the theme "Phase".
(Coll. Gemeentemuseum, the Hague )


Pot "Phase XI" 1973, H. 30.2 cm, W. 20.3 cm, D. 16.4 cm. from the theme "Phase".
(€ 1200.-)


"Square-round pot" 1973, H. 29.5 cm. W. x  D. 25.3 x 25.3 cm.
(Private coll.)



Phase 5

Building and firing combustion kilns in Friesland (Morra 1976-1983).

Pure classical potter's work - bowls, pots, plates.

Learning to perfection the art of salt glazing taking Rhineland "Bellarmine" jugs as inspiration.
Once this goal is reached his interest flags.

Lack of response to his beloved potter's bowls led de Rooden to the production of the series
"Monuments for a Bowl".


"Monument for a lonely bowl" 1978, W. 27.5 cm.; from the theme: "Monuments for a bowl"
(€ 1400.-)


"Monument for a lonely bowl - in a landscape -" 1978, W. 32.2 cm. from the theme "Monuments for a bowl"
(€ 1400.-)


"Monument for a lonely bowl - near a clouded city - " 1978, W. 27.5 cm. from the theme "Monuments for a bowl"
(€ 1350.-)


"Platter" 1978, Diam. 30.2 cm. Salt glazed stoneware. (Coll. Gemeentemuseum den Haag)


"Salt glazed jug" 1979, H. 15.8 cm. Diam. 18.2 cm.
(€ 600.-)



  "Grey rectangular pot" 1979, H. 28.2 cm. W. x  D. 14.2 cm. reduced in gas kiln
(€. 800.-)


"Horizontal temmoku pot" 1979, H. 14 cm. W. 30.5 cm. D. 15 cm. reduced in gas kiln
(€ 1100.-)



Phase 6

From Morra back enthusiastically to Amsterdam and the electric kiln.

Clear, bright colours. A defined goal which must be precisely executed. (1980 / 1982)

'Idol' shapes and compositions are marked by colour accents.

De Rooden, by using new sculptural shapes, attempts to get shapes to move, as it were, within each other.

Alongside these he is once again producing works with a narrative or menacing content.


"Dancing idol" 1980, H. 28.4 cm. W. 28 cm. D. 17.8 cm.
(Coll. Gemeentemuseum, the Hague )


"Composition" 1980, W. 28.7 cm.
(€ 1700.-)



"Moving black IV" 1981, H. 21.2 cm. W. 25.6 cm. D. 25.8 cm..
(Coll. Gemeentemuseum, the Hague )


"Shadow of civilisation III" 1981, H. 16.7 cm. W. 37.8 cm. D. 31 cm.
(€ 1000.-)


"Homage to Sadat" 1981, H. 20 cm. W. 36.5 cm. D. 30 cm.
( Coll. Grassimuseum, Leipzig, G.)


  "Burst" 1981, H. 12 cm. W. 28.5 cm.
(€ 1250.-)


"Event" 1981, H. 13.5 cm. W. 39.7 cm. D. 31.2 cm.
(Coll. Gemeentemuseum, the Hague )



Phase 7

After a long trip through India (1982) de Rooden started work on the theme "Cyclus", his own - western - interpretation
of the Indian concept, Yoni / Lingam. Mating sculptures.

It should be noted that as from Phase 6 production of the works is extremely time-consuming and the hours involved
become irrelevant.



"Cyclus VII" 1982, H. 56.6 cm. from the theme "Cyclus".
(2 parts) (€ 3000.-)


  "Cycle IV" 1982, H. 43 cm. W. 67 cm. D. 60 cm. from the theme "Cycle" (2 parts)
(Coll. Gemeentemuseum, the Hague )



Phase 8

In the period 1982-85 de Rooden explored a number of different themes.

The "Past Future" (1983) objects look critically at the culture of the times.

In "Mind and Matter" (1984) he contrasts order and chaos.

In the "Road Ends" compositions, also from 1984, he looks with irony at the result of humans trying to shape planet earth
to their own ends.

The series of miniature sculptures, "Being", deals with the creation of life forms and the threats thereto.

In the series, "Fragment" and "Impression", he uses the imprint of his own hand colouring the surface of the inside
of the impression in the clay like cuts in natural stone.

His "Impression" sculptures are modeled over blocks of freestone.


"Past future" 1983, W. 34 cm. from the theme: "Being"
(Coll. Grassimuseum, Leipzig, G.)


"Movement II" 1983, W. 17 cm. from the theme "Being"
(€ 300.-)


"Balancing black" 1983, H. 6 cm. W. 10.6 cm. from the theme "Being"
(€ 400.-)


"Encounter" 1984, H. 32.5 cm. from the theme "Mind and matter".
(Coll. Gemeentemuseum, the Hague)



"Insight III" 1984, L. 22 cm. from the theme "Insight"
(€ 900.-)


"Mind and Matter" 1984, H. 8.7 cm. W. 12.3 cm. from the theme "Mind and Matter"


"Road ends" 1984, H. 11.4 cm. W. 53 cm. D. 24 cm.
(Coll. Gemeentemuseum, the Hague )


"Being" 1984, H. 7.3 cm. W. 11.3 cm. D. 13.3 cm.from the theme "Being"
(€ 400.-)



"Blue red tree" 1984, W. 11 cm. from the theme "Being"
(€ 350.-)


  "Balancing black" 1984, W. 16 cm. from the theme "Being"
(€ 400.-)



"Movement" 1984, W. 14.4 cm. from the theme "Being"
(€ 350.-)


"Formation IV" 1984, W.20.5 cm. from the theme "Formation".
(€ 975.-)


"Formation IV" 1984, reverse ceramic part


"Impression VII" 1984, H. ± 33 cm. rom the theme "Impression"
(€ 800.-)


"Impression VII" 1984, ceramic part inner side


"Turquoise gate" 1984, H. 14.9 cm. W. 16.4 cm. D. 21.3 cm.
(€ 950.-)


"Turquoise gate" 1984, other side


"Lingam yoni" 1985, H. 20 cm. Diam 28 cm. from the theme "Being"
from oil-wood kiln in Pondycherry, India
(€ 750.-)



Phase 9

In 1985 and 1986 Jan de Rooden participated in "The Postfired Mudbrick House Project" in Pondicherry, India.

During the 1985 monsoon season he was back in his Amsterdam workshop working on the theme, "Earth".

These pieces reflect the extreme need confronting the under classes in India in their earthly existence.


"Earth III" 1985, W. 49 cm. from the theme "Earth".
(€ 1350.-)


" Earth VII 1985, W. 67.2 cm. from the theme "Earth".
(Coll. Gemeentemuseum, the Hague)




 In 1987 there was a move within Amsterdam from the house on the Kloveniersburgwal to the coach house in the

Health problems, which had been troubling him since 1985, became more manageable once diabetes was diagnosed
and insulin prescribed.

In 1988, after a long break de Rooden once again started work in his favourite medium, clay, and as is the case with
many older artists, returned to familiar territory.

He embroidered further on his earlier geometric vase and pot forms, found inspiration again in early Chinese bronzes
and so gradually embraced new themes.


  "Rectangular pot composition" 1988, H. 24.6 cm. W. 36 cm. D. 12.6 cm.
(€ 1250.-)


"Gong Pot" 1988, H. 23.2 cm. W. 38 cm. D. 14.2 cm.
(€ 1250.-)


"Bronze coloured square pot" 1988, H. 21.8 cm. W. 25.5 cm. D. 25.5 cm.
(€ 1250.-)


"Tray composition" 1988, H. 22.2 cm. W. 44.7 cm. D. 24 cm.
(€ 1350.-)


"Rectangular pot" 1987, H. 27 cm. W. 21.4 cm. D. 11.2 cm.
(Coll. Johnny Rolf)


"Carried Pot" 1990, W. 33 cm. (Private coll.)


"Carried pot" 1991, H. 51 cm. W. 41.3 cm. D. 16.3 cm.
(Private coll.)


"Indigo pot" 1994, H. 74.2 cm. W. 44.5 cm. D. 16.5 cm.
(€ 2400.-)


"Indigo Pot" 1994, reverse


  Pot "Jade" 1996, H. 50.7 cm. W. 50 cm. D. 18.5 cm.
(Coll. Gemeentemuseum, the Hague )


Pot "Jade" 1996, revers



Phase 10

In 1993 de Rooden produced his series "Symbols".
These two part compositions were inspired by primitive characters and tools which had been used throughout the ages.
In 1994 he took an architectural approach to the construction of new dish and other forms.

"Symbol IV" 1993, H. 52.2 cm. W. 46 cm. D. 12 cm. from the theme "Symbol".
(Coll. Gemeentemuseum, the Hague )


"Symbol V" 1993, W. 40 cm. from the theme "Symbol"
(2 parts) (€ 1950.-)


  "Platter composition II" 1994, H. 16.3 cm. W. 51 cm. D. 41.3 cm. (Private coll.)



Phase 11

Between 1995 and 2000 landscape impressions reappear on trapezoid-shaped pots, tiles and screens.

Bronze glazes are alternated with a new technique of applying thin layers of coloured clay painted as in watercolour
over brushed on relief.


  "Landscape pot VII" 2000, H. 34.6 cm. W. 40 cm. D. 12 cm.
(€ 1750.-)


  "Blade pot" 1998, H. 45..4 cm. B. 32.8 cm. D. 14.2 cm..
(Coll. Gemeentemuseum, the Hague )



  Pot "Winterland" 1998, H. 23.7 cm. W. 35.8 cm. D. 12.3 cm.
(€ 1200.-)


Pot "Primeval land" 1998, H. 22.6 cm. W. 34.4 cm. D. 12.2 cm.
(€ 1250.-)


  Screen "the Marches" 1999, H. 23.7 cm. W. 46.7 cm. D. 15 cm.
(€ 1350.-)


Screen "Flaming Reeds" 1999, H. 25.3 cm. W. 35.3 cm. D. 7.6 cm.
(Coll. Gemeentemuseum, the Hague )


Screen "Dancing Reeds" 2000, H. 30.8 cm. W. 49.7 cm. D. 10.8 cm.
(€ 1500.-)



Phase 12

In 2001 Jan de Rooden was once again working with thin pliable slabs of clay.
These take the form of wall tiles on some of which landscapes as if seen from above are represented.



Wall tile "Reed lands I" 2001, H. 20.7 cm. W. 22.3 cm.
(€ 450.-)


Wall tile "Reed lands II" 2001, H. 28.2 cm. W. 34.3 cm.
(€ 750.-)


  Wall tile "Settlement II" 2001, H. 36 cm. W. 34.8 cm.
(€ 850.-)


Pot "Colour impression VII", 2001; H. 27.5 cm. W. 26.5 cm. D. 11.5 cm.
(€ 1350.-)


Pot "Evening water" 2001, H. 32 cm. W. 22.2 cm. D. 10.2 cm.
(€ 1350.-)



Phase 13

2002 saw the production of the series "Cosmos", a series which even for him was unexpected.

In these works de Rooden looks with some resentment and surprise at human activities in space.

What lies behind the almost unbridled human desire to explore and expand?


"Cosmos III" 2002, H. 35.3 cm. W. 44 cm. D. 14 cm. from the theme "Cosmos"
(€ 2250.-) 


"Cosmos A" 2002, H. 28.6 cm. B. 40 cm. D. 14.2 cm. from the theme "Cosmos"
(Coll. Gemeentemuseum, the Hague)


"Cosmos VI" 2002, H. 8.8 cm. W. 46.5 cm. D. 33.5 cm. from the theme "Cosmos"
(€ 2050.-)


Phase 14


In 2003 and 2004 rectangular pot and vase shapes were further explored.

He uses his glazes like action painting. By their composition they create on the untouched clay rust colours and a warm sienna.

In his next theme, "Phoenix", he used the same palette.


  "Pot composition VIII" 2004, H. 32.7 cm. W. 22 cm. D. 13 cm.
(Private coll.)


"Phoenix II" 2004, H. 35 cm. W. 41 cm. D. 13.5 cm. from the theme "Phoenix"
(Coll. Gemeentemuseum, the Hague )



  "Phoenix II" 2004, reverse



Final Phase

After fifty years of almost uninterrupted work in clay, Jan de Rooden needs to give his hands a rest.
but before bidding a final farewell to the clay he returned once more to his much-loved rectangular
vase form.

His work in clay concludes with a final series, "Courtship", which is a natural progression from the
"Phoenix" series.

And with this, his work in clay is finally at an end.


  "Decorated pot X" 2006, H. 42 cm. W. 27.7 cm. D. 13.6 cm.
(Private coll.)


"Rectangular vase" 2006, H. 28 cm. B. 13 cm.
(Private coll.)


"Rectangular decorated vase" 2006, H. 31.5 cm. W. 14 cm.
( Priv. coll.)


"Rectangular decorated vase VI" 2006, H. 41.7 cm. W. 15.2 cm.
(€ 1200.-)


"Courtship VIII" 2006, H. 31 cm, B. 38 cm, D. 11.5 cm. from the theme "Courtship"
(€ 1900.-)


"Courtship" 2006, H. 42.6 cm. W. 31 cm. D. 12 cm. from the theme "Courtship"
(€ 2200.-)

English version by Elizabeth de Brauw

Initiated and edited by Johnny Rolf