Jaco Kranendonk

Jaco Kranendonk (1951)

Leafing through Jaco Kranendonk’s photo album, his brother Evert talks about earlier days. “When we went on holiday we rented canoes and went onto the water, I was fully occupied with the oars, but Jaco sat quietly staring ahead: it wasn’t a canoe, but a bus or tram, maybe it was a ship sailing out of the port with Jaco as captain.”

Jaco was born in 1951. As a child he grew up in amongst the ships of the Heijplaat harbour, where his father was head of the forge at the RDM (Rotterdamse Droogdok Maatschappij, Rotterdam dry dock company). If a ship glided down the slipway, the whole village came to a standstill and the children were free from school.

Jaco was very ill as a child, and was not spared a single childhood illness. Until he was 13, his bed was frequently placed in the living room. Between bouts of illness Jaco attended the village primary school which he completed after repeating one year.
Subsequently, a three year secondary education course in Pernis was selected, specialising in administration. Despite considerable support from his parents, this was not very successful. Jaco did obtain his typing diploma in this period. It was at this school that his fascination for bus, tram and train originated. Together with two friends he made countless trips by public transport. Jaco played with the hand-outs provided by the RET (Rotterdamse Electrische Tram, Rotterdam Electric Tram, Rotterdam’s public transport company), in which every tram and bus crash and the damage was described, and he is still fully acquainted with the ups and down of the RET. Jaco’s mother was happy that her son had a “normal” hobby. As it happens, there are apparently quite a lot of people who are under the spell of public transport.

The family moved to Rhoon and Jaco got a job as office junior in a shipping company where he carried out simple tidying jobs and typing work. After about a year Jaco became quiet and distant. He came home from work far too early, was difficult to approach and very emotional. He was apparently too much of an “outsider” in the company and after two and half years of working there he was made redundant. A difficult time commenced for the family. His father tried to arrange a job for him at the RET, but it was in vain. Finally Jaco ended up at the social work creation scheme, but there were also problems there. Finally, admission to a psychiatric hospital was inevitable. Jaco stayed there from 1973 for three years, where he was treated with behavioural therapy and medication.

His brother Evert still remembers this time very well. He says: “When we went to the seaside at Rockanje during the holidays, Jaco barely dared to walk on the beach. He was so scared of all the people that he met”.

The medication that Jaco was treated with, started to be effective, but he will have to take them for the rest of his life. For Jaco, this was the beginning of a life in care institutions. Jaco delivered the internal post for the Pameijer Foundation in various locations in Rotterdam. To do this, he used public transport. The whole day he travelled by tram, metro and bus through the city: finally he had a job which he enjoyed. Rotterdam is a city in development, high buildings were appearing everywhere, new bridges over the River Maas and metro lines were expanding under the ground. At the Pameijer Foundation’s day centre Jaco enjoyed drawing and when in 1991 the Atelier Herenplaats opened, Jaco was one of the first participants. Since then, he draws and paints continuously from the morning till the afternoon, five days a week. Now Jaco is at the Atelier everyday, he is never ill.

His paintings are populated with a continual stream of cars, buses, trams and metros which worm their way under and above the city’s buildings. The metropolis of Rotterdam offers a gigantic wealth of images which Jaco has stored in his memory. The city in the past and the present merge with each other. You come across the Maas bridge, the Willems bridge and the Erasmus bridge in the same painting. Lumps of paint are ships sailing through the harbour. Every work of art is an area in or around Rotterdam, and the titles indicate the place in question. The dynamics in his work are vast. In a series of etchings, Jaco demonstrates that he can express himself well in this technique too. In the etching ‘the Stena line’ you feel this artist’s desire to sail into the harbour of Rotterdam as captain.

Jaco Kranendonk works no longer at Herenplaats since 2009.



1993  Order Parkeerbedrijf Rotterdam

1993  Insita, Bratislava, Slovakia

1995  Work of Jaco is permanently exposed in Museum De Stadshof, Zwolle

1996  Gallery Hamer, Amsterdam

1996  Work of Jaco is admitted in the collection Neuve Invention of Collection de l’ Art Brut, Lausanne, Switserland

1999  Presentation CD-rom in co-operation with Avantage, Rotterdam

1999  Admitted in the collection of Museum Charlotte Zander, Bönnigheim, Germany (catalogue)

2001  Universal Printshow, Glasgow, Scotland

2002  Exhibition City Hall, Copenhagen, Denmark

2003  Outsider Art Fair, New York, USA

2003  “Who am I”, Venice, Italy

2003  Galerie Atelier Kempro, Sterksel

2004  Outsider Art Stockholm, Gallery INUTI, Stockholm, Sweden

2004  Art Institute, Chicago, USA

2005  Outsider Art, INUTI, Luna Kulturhus, Södertälje, Sweden

2005  “Places”, KCAT, Callan, Ireland

2005  The return of The Universal Print Show, Project Ability, Glasgow, Scotland

2005  “Visions et Créations dissidentes”, Musée de la Création France, France

2005  “Group Du Jour”, Van der Plas Gallery, New York, USA

2006  “Who am I II”, Gallery Herenplaats, Rotterdam

2006  INUTI, Stockholm, Sweden

2007  Soloexhibition “Van Heyplaat tot 110Morgen”, Gallery Herenplaats, Rotterdam

2007  “No Name”, Galerie Alte Turnhalle, Bad Durkheim, Germany

2007  Exhibition “Buildings”, Rotterdam

2008  “Transport”, Kunstwerk Spangen, Rotterdam

2008  Exhibition in Niki Kurabu, Tokyo, Japan

2009  Exhibition transport “On wheels and stuff”, Gallery Herenplaats, Rotterdam

2009  “Outsider Art”, Gallery De Compagnie, Dordrecht

2009  “Going Dutch”, Van der Plas Gallery, New York, USA

2010  Exhibition in Slovak National Gallery in Bratislava, Slowakije,  INSITA – Triennial of Self taught Art

2010  “Outsider Art der Niederlande”, Kunsthaus Kannen Munster, Germany

2010  Villa Zebra – Theme: architecture, Rotterdam

2010  Outsider Kunst Dagen, Haarlem

2010  “Outsider Art Salon”, Gallary Herenplaats, Rotterdam

2011  Outsider Art Exhibition, Wijk bij Duurstede

2011  Novo, Groningen

2011  The 6th annual outsider art in the Hamptons, Gallery BelAge, New York, USA

2011  WTC-Schiphol, Amsterdam

2012  Art Brut Biënnale, Hengelo

2012  Weltensammler, Kunsthalle Erfurt, Erfurt, Germany

2013  Art Kaarisilta, Helsinki, Finland

2013  Aafje Zorghotel, Sint Fransiscus Gasthuis, Rotterdam

2018 “Zomergasten” – Dr. Guislain Museum, Gent (Belgium)

2019  ‘After Van Genk’, Outsider Art Galerie, The Hermitage, Amsterdam




1995  Museum de Stadshof, Zwolle (till 2001)

1996  Museé d’Art Différencié, Liège, Belgium

1996  Neuve Invention Collection de L’Art Brut, Lausanne, Switzerland

1999  Charlotte Zander, Bönnigheim, Germany

Max E. Ammann Collection, Switzerland



1992  “Project 12”, Liège, Belgium

1995  “Van zwart wit naar binnen buiten”, book with art work of Jaco Kranendonk,published by Gallery Atelier Herenplaats, Rotterdam

1997  Het formaat, Museum de Stadshof, Zwolle

1998  “Zonder Omweg 2”, Singer Museum, Laren

1998  “Aubes’98”, Galerie des Beaux Arts, Bordeaux, France

1999  Charlotte Zander, Bönnigheim, Germany

1999  “Meesters uit de marge”, Museum de Stadshof, Zwolle

1999  “Connexion Particulière”, Liège, Belgium

1999  K4 Award, Amsterdam

1999  Salon d’Art Signulier, Granoble, France

2000  “Boats”, Stockholm, Sweden

2002  “Folly Drawings”, History about the in-en outsiders in de art by Frits Gronert

2009  Magazine Out of Art thema “Transport”, article Jaco Kranendonk