I write about the many joys of Kunstuitleen Rotterdam all the time and so you probably know by now they have an extremely big and varied collection of art for you to rent. But where do they keep everything? I decide to go looking for the answer with Frans Tuink and Paul Post, the two depot workers of Kunstuitleen. They do everything to make sure that all those thousands of artworks remain in tiptop shape and can be found in a New York second. What a job!
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So, who are the men of the depot?
Frans: I’ve been working here since October 1990, exactly 25 years this month! Before this, I worked for the Creative Therapy department of a psychiatric institution – a job I landed during my study at the Rotterdam Art Academy in 1975. I guess that explains my love for the arts!
Paul: I also studied at the Art Academy – except I didn’t graduate. In fact, I didn’t graduate twice! I spent some time painting and then found my job here at the depot. Like Frans, I’ve been working here for quite a few years now.
What does an average day look like at the depot?
Frans: That depends! Our main task o course is to preserve the collection. We keep it on the top floors of our building on Nieuwe Binnenweg. If a customer requests an artwork from the depot, we find it and bring it down in a matter of minutes. We used to have an alphabetic storage system, which meant that I regularly had to plough through 25 storage racks to find a particular work. Back then, it could happen that we couldn’t find it and the customer had to leave empty-handed. Now every artwork has a location code. I’m very grateful that we rarely lose anything nowadays.
Paul: Sometimes a work can get damaged when it’s on loan with a customer. Which means we also do repair work and replace the frame if needed. We do everything to make the collection look as good as possible.
What’s it like to work together so closely for so many years?
Paul: We laugh a lot together. But we also know exactly what the other guy wants without even saying a word. That mutual understanding not only works perfectly in the depot. It also comes in handy when we go on the road together to install art in a client’s office. Our opinion counts in the selection process for a corporate customer. Our colleague Ellis van den Berg visits new corporate customers and makes a pre-selection of suitable works. She shows us pictures of the location and asks for our advice.
Frans: We like the fact that we get to do a lot of different things nowadays. Because Kunstuitleen Rotterdam has to make do with fewer people, the scope of our job has broadened. We’re now part of the entire operation and we like it just fine.
Of course it helps that you know the collection through and through!
Frans: Each and every work has gone through my hands these past decades – for instance when the depot moved from its old location on Het Weena. After that, I assisted during several return rounds and sales drives. We regularly give back works to the artists or sell them in our store because they haven’t been lent for a while. That can happen because they’re no longer of interest or because they’re too difficult to hang. Paul and I have gone through many cleanups, which is why we know our collection so well.
What are your favorite works?
Frans: I like the paintings we have of Frans de Groot. He paints in thick layers of paint, I find that fascinatiing. You can trace how he has applied the paint to the canvas. The colors of his paintings have also remained really clear throughout the years.
Paul: To be honest, I don’t have a particular favorite. What I like about my job is that I get surprised again and again by a work I re-discover from time to time. I have that feeling at the moment with a metal art work by Ru de Gier from 1969 – its layers make it look different from every angle.
What advice do you have for people who have never rented art before?
Paul: People often go for the artworks they instantly like. But did you know they also get boring really quickly? The fun about Kunstuitleen Rotterdam is that you can challenge yourself a bit by choosing a work that may or may not do something for you, a work that gives you some doubt. An artwork like that tends to grow at home, you learn to appreciate it more as time goes by. And the great thing about rneting is that you don’t run any risks. One last piece of advice: never hang your paintings too high. You have to be able to look at them comfortably from your sofa.
How do you see the future of Kunstuitleen Rotterdam?
Paul: We notice that more and more people find out what we do. The need to have something special in your interior is growing, I think.
So, no more framed IKEA posters then?
Paul: No, certainly not! More than at any other Dutch ‘Kunstuitleen’ you can find amazing works of art. Our collection really has something for everyone – from accesible works that you can use to start up all the way up to big, museum-quality pieces. And Frans and I make sure that each and every piece is in mint condition so that you can hang it at your home with pride.
Do you feel like renting art at Kunstuitleen Rotterdam? Sure you do! Go to www.kunstuitleenrotterdam.nu and reserve your art online!