A picturesque summer's day set the scene for our trip to Arnhem, a city in the hear of the Netherlands. From thick forest with towering trees to shrub lined streets. An air of mystery was felt as we drove alongside the Hoge Veluwe National Park, in the province of Gelderland. The sun brought out a fresh mist from the trees and the crisp morning was all but gloom.
The destination of this journey was a historic antiquated primary school set in the center of the city of Arnhem. Now, the home to Van Hulsteijn bike factory. Although, this was not an easy feet according to the owner, Herman Peene. The 6 class and 1 gym school building was founded in 1922. It had been left by the local government to deteriorate. " most of these building end up being destroyed or squatted in", he explained.
When Van Hulsteijn were looking for a new workshop for their bike factory. They focused on the idea of updating the old rather than building the new. Which is an adjacent theology to that of the van Gogh Editions. The school building was bought in 2014 and given the title of Rijks monument (protected by the state). The conversion from school to Bike workshop was an arduous process. The local council seemed quite resistant but they were pleased with the final outcome.
Our interviewee today is a man of speed; race cars, vehicle lubricants and designer bikes are the drive to this man's life. However, it seems, not much of an art collector. "I would never have expected to buy a Van Gogh". In fact his disinterest in art was outlined by an anecdote about a trip to the Hermitage in St. Petersburg. Which alas did not open our subject's mind to the world of the arts.
The workshop was open plan and merged a historic Dutch esthetic with Japanese finesse. In fact, Herman outlined this concept, as the bike company uses this Japanese ideology in all of their creations. Simple and made for purpose, while breaking through the boundaries of convention. This way of thinking is again in line with that of the Van Gogh Museum Editions.
It is also interesting to note the obvious link between Van Gogh and Japan. His passion for Japanese art and culture has been forever imprinted and prevalent through his work. His rich color pallet and detailed natural workflow shines a light on this influence.
When trying to understand Van Hulsteijn’s interest in the Museum Editions, the link becomes clear. The old school building, with it’s Japanese garden and rich yellow walls, truly encompass that certain “Esprit” of Van Gogh. Pairing this building with one of his most renowned oeuvres makes complete sense.
Mr. Peene explained that although the art world remains somewhat of a mystery. The relaxing feeling that can be felt when looking at the Almond Blossom on a deep red wall is almost priceless.
The Harvest towers high in the corner of his head office. It’s intricate dimensions and bright interchanging colors, hint to the paintings elements. This painting is perfectly adapted to the factory. It’s colors and constructions are inherently aligned with the company's vision.
We can see that Van Gogh has deep meaning to many, while creating genuine emotion through his work. The Museum Editions continue to allow a more concrete appreciation of this paint master’s work.
As we left Arnhem , and the village fell back into the distance. I felt that the man we had met today was a true representation of how these paintings can impact people in such a way. It is their true esthetic value that is being taken into account. Their eventual worth becomes almost meaningless. It is the personal relationship that can be formed between the owner and the work of art that has true value.