November 23, 2008

Bertus Jonkers, De Ideale Stad/The Ideal City


(this picture and the next two by Inky van Swelm)

Bertus Jonkers (1920-2001) in the Netherlands in general is seen as an outsider artist. His artistic legacy is being cared for by the dutch outsider art foundation de Stadshof.

Life and works 

Born in the city of Utrecht, as a young man Jonkers was a house-painter. Forced to work in Germany during the war, after the war he returned to Utrecht and -following his vocation- took lessons in art-painting.

Jonkers was a very creative person, who made paintings and etches and produced poems and prose..

From 1974 to 1994, in his sixties and seventies, he lived alone in a house in Utrecht, that was scheduled to be demolished (what never happened however, currently the house still exists).

Creating an installation

In this house, between 1989 and 1992, Bertus Jonkers constructed a miniature metropolis. From sand, gypsum, glue and all kinds of small materials, he made miniature buildings and other elements of a city, all together modelling an urban environment. This creative construction has become known as the Ideale Stad (Ideal City), but it is also known as City of Devotion

The environment grew and grew, and ultimately it occupied the floor, the walls, the ceiling, the stairs of the house and after some time it also stretched out into the garden.


In 1990 part of this art environment has been shown in an exposition of the Centraal Museum in Utrecht and in 1992 this museum bought part of the construction (surface 4.15 x 5.35 m., high 0.9 m).

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In 1994 Bertus Jonkers had to move to a home for the elderly. The part of the Ideal City which was still in the house where he had lived, was added to the Stadshof Collection.

In his small apartment Jonkers continued his creative activities. From 1995-2000 he made another, more compact miniature metropolis, this one named City.

He died in 2001.

His artistic legacy is being cared for

Jonkers artistic legacy has been donated to and currently is cared for by the dutch collection of outsider art "De Stadshof". The legacy includes the City and  items of the Ideal City. 

The City as exposed in the Halle Saint Pierre, Paris , 
(exhibition "Sous le vent de l'art brut 2" 2014)  
picture courtesy of Sophie Lepetit

Exhibition in Paris

In 2014 Jonkers' miniature city was exposed in the Halle Saint Pierre in Paris (Sous le vent de l'art brut 2), where his work attracted a lot of  interest.

Some documentation
* Daan van Beek, website dedicated to life and works of Bertus Jonkers (in dutch)
* website Stadshof, dutch outsider art collection
* article on Hyperallergic website (dec 2014)

first published nov 2008, revised jul 2010, dec 2010, march oct 2014, jul oct 2015

Bertus Jonkers
Ideale Stad
Utrecht Netherlands

originally located in a house in Utrecht from where it has been removed,
part of the Ideal City added to the collection of the Centraal Museum Utrecht
his creation the City is in the Stadshof collection in the dr Guislain museum, Gent

1 comment:

  1. Thank you, Henk, for finding my post on the Dr. Guislan Museum which included the work of Bertus Jonkers. Thank you for identifying his work for me- You provide an invaluable resource to all of us passionate about outsider art! And I appreciate your taking the time to read others' blogs even when yours is the most complete of all!!!

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