December 05, 2009

Herman Kip, Boerderij museum/Museum at the farm

pictures (Anton Dommerholt, 2012) courtesy of  
Erdee Media Groep 

Above picture shows what in former days was a farm, located in the de Hoven community, outside Zutphen, a historical dutch city along the river IJssel. The old town is on the right bank of the river. The de Hoven community, with the farm and (formerly) the grass lands, is on the left bank.

Life and works

Born in de Hoven, Herman Kip (1925-2006) has lived all his life on the farm, a typical construct since it lacks a rural appearance and looks more like an urban residential home. In dutch this is called a stadsboerderij, something like an urban farm.

As a young man, Herman Kip had artistic ambitions, but his parents would have none of this. He was needed on the cattle farm, so that's where he stayed. He never got married and if there was a love affair in his youth, it failed.

After his parents had died, from 1974 on Herman Kip lived quite alone. He would not know of modernisering the property and never installed an interior toilet or waterworks. Herman would sleep in what in dutch is called a bedstee, a bedstead, kind of an inbuilt wardrobe with a bed. The interior has remained as it was in 1860 when the farmhouse was constructed.

Herman Kip, painter

Around 1975, when he was in his early fifties, Herman Kip began expressing the passion he had since childhood. He began making paintings, working on canvas and cardboard, but he would also decorate the interior of the house and all objects around, such as wooden shoes, milk cans, cupboards, chairs, whatever.

Such a burst of creative energy one sees more often in people, who in their early years could not follow their passion. This blog has many examples, such as Enni Id (Finland) and Bonaria Manca (Italy)

Kip's paintings on camvas are done in a naive style. A lover of nature, Herman has depicted all kinds of animals and landscapes, evoking memories of his childhood.

Since he had no training at all in the use of material, he did not know much about technique, so the paint of his works can get lost. If necessary, volunteers will currently help to restore the artworks.

In the eighties the neighbourhood around the farm gradually became urbanized. The farm could not comply to the new EU rules and Herman Kip had to finish keeping cattle.

In the nineties he got his old age pension and lived a retired life. He never would talk about his activities as a painter and he would not show his work to the public. Although some neighbours knew about his creative activities, Herman would never talk with them about his motives and no one has ever seen him painting.

The site nowadays is a museum

Before he became ill and had to be hospitalized, Kip had arranged that after his death the farmhouse would be legated to the city of Zutphen.

The property, currently owned by the city, has become a small local museum, run by a foundation, with help of many volunteers. It can be visited on weekends in summer. The interior of the farmhouse has been left as it was when Herman Kip lived there.

A visitors centre

The local authorities have allocated a budget to establish a small visitors centre situated apart from the house. Visitors can watch an introductory video about Herman Kip and can buy two booklets with photograpgs of Kip's works, i.e. his landscapes and his paintings of flowers.

* Website of the Museum Boer Kip (in dutch)
* G.Bors, M. Kooijman & A. Sanders, Boer Kip. Schilder (Diepenmaat Uitgeverij, 2006, ISBN 978-90-78115-11-4). One can browse this book (a lot of pictures!).

first published dec 2009, revised june 2012, oct 2014

Herman Kip
Oude Touwbaan 24-26
de Hoven, Zutphen, NL
open on saturdays and sundays, 13-16 hrs, july-sept

Grotere kaart weergeven Naamloos weergeven op een grotere kaart


  1. Hi Henk, this guy is unbelievable... fascinating. It reminds me of a French artist named Seraphine, about whom a film was made recently. Looks like this gentleman had incredible talent...

    Very best wishes to you...

  2. Hi Owen, What happens often is that people who were not allowed to express their artistic needs (becauase of family or circumstances) once they feel free from these pressures, start painting like in a daze. Herman Kip as a youngster could not develop the talents he sure had, so at a later age he started painting without any knowledge of technique, but with a very strong commitment. It is good to see that the community where he lived, does respect his legacy. Have a nice sunday and all the best. Henk

  3. I'm glad to have stumbled onto your blog. There's nothing so freeing as knowing people out of the mainstream have proven creative, without confining themselves to the social mores of what an artist should be or create.