For well-known reasons, the TU/e Art Lending Library (Kunstuitleen in Dutch) has not been very busy in recent years. But with the advice to work from home now relaxed, Jeanneke Grimbergen expects to see a rise in the number of employees keen to take an artwork out on loan. An appealing workplace is something she is keen for everyone to enjoy and she knows that this can be achieved with art. She herself produces blueprints and etchings, having completed her training at art school in 1981.
For the past six years she has combined deskwork for Studium Generale with four hours a week spent working as the curator of the TU/e Art Lending Library. During this time, the collection of graphic works and photographs has been taken rigorously in hand. The loan system has been modernized and the collection has been pared down.
“Virtually all of the one thousand works have been photographed and descriptions of them added to our records. Critically assessing the collection was another demanding job. We made a distinction between valuable artworks and those that time has made unsuitable for lending. Issues like discoloration, minor damage and stains mean some can no longer be put on display. I'd say we set aside about one-sixth of the collection.”
But don't worry that anything has been put out for the garbage collectors. Grimbergen has removed 190 works from their frames and laid them in drawers. It isn't for the curator to decide what can be let go, that is the job of the conservator Britte Sloothaak and external advisor Leonie van Santvoort of the art committee.
TU/e has been collecting visual art for more than half a century. Almost all the important artists are represented in the collection, from the older generation - names such as Karel Appel and Armando - to young artists like Marjoke Schulten and Rob Voerman. Every year new pieces are purchased. All the visual art can be taken out on loan - free of charge- for a whole year (via firstname.lastname@example.org) by any employee or doctoral candidate, provided they have a hook on the wall of their workspace. “If you don't have one, you can ask the building supervisor for a picture hanging system.”
The location of the art lending library could be better, thinks Grimbergen. In the basement of the Auditorium building, blue arrows on the ground are needed to point the way. The racks holding the artworks hang in room -1.36, which can be reached with the elevator under the pedestrian bridge joining Auditorium and Atlas. You just have to know.
On two occasions panic has broken out when the sewer system has overflowed into the basement of Auditorium. “Luckily we got there in time, no artwork was damaged by the dirty water. We've now put down rubber mats on the floor.”
Despite the rise of hot-desking and open-plan offices, new lenders are joining all the time, Grimbergen knows. She has seen tastes change over the past six years. “These days people mainly ask for colorful works, and wooden frames are more highly rated than the interchangeable aluminum frames.” The art committee also uses the artworks in exhibitions, like those now on display in Flux, in the walkway gallery on floor 1 of Auditorium, and in the hallway running between Luna and MetaForum.
Grimbergen is retiring this spring and at the start of March she will hand over the art lending library to Alice van Litsenburg.
Alice van Litsenburg has already been warned by her predecessor to be careful with her time - especially during the viewings. As well as taking on the curatorship of the art lending library, she will continue to work five days a week as a secretary at Mechanical Engineering and Biomedical Engineering. “Lenders make an appointment to visit (via email@example.com) and it is tempting to pass the time with them, looking at all the wonderful art we have, I get that. That's why we work with time slots.”
Van Litsenburg actually finds the basement location quite appealing. “For me it's a bubble of peace and quiet. I spend the whole week working in Gemini, in an environment filled with hustle and bustle. It's very noisy with everybody talking. So I find this place makes a nice change. And being among works of art! That's always a pleasure.”
She herself is also an artist and just like Grimbergen she has exhibited with Artistic Heroes. This proved to be the gateway to the job with the art lending library, since all the participants were sent the vacancy. “Yes, that's definitely something for me,” she thought at once.
“The art lending library is rather under the radar. I hope I can raise its profile.” The more lenders the better, she thinks. “You can really enjoy having art on the wall and it adds a new dimension to your workplace if you have something nice to look at. What's not to like about taking a moment to look at a different view, instead of your screen?”
What motivates four of the current 112 lenders?
Please unfold the portraits below.
Pim van der Hoorn is assistant professor in the Probability group at Mathematics and Computer Science. He can't say for certain which artist and which titles he has hanging on the wall, but he does know the numbers. “They are pieces 635 and 636 and they are by the same artist. What particularly attracted me to these two artworks is their high degree of abstraction and the depth they offer despite the limited palette of colors. This combination of abstraction and depth based on a small set of parameters is also fundamental to my own field of research. Perhaps that's why I find them visually appealing.”
He hung them in his office in MetaForum because he feels it makes a nice change from the focus on all the math he does here. “Actually, I think of math as a form of art, so it goes well with an abstract artwork.”
Reactions from visitors and colleagues have been few and far between as yet on account of the lockdowns, but he has heard from a few students that they find them interesting, if a little colorless. “Yes, the tints are indeed fairly dark.”
Pieter van Wesemael is Full Professor of Urbanism and Urban Architecture at Built Environment and an enthusiastic art lender. “I always have two artworks hanging on the two walls of my room on the seventh floor of Vertigo. They are always by different artists, but I always look for pieces that seem to be in a dialogue of sorts with one another.”
The professor gives three reasons why he borrows art from the library. “It's one way I can support TU/e's art policy and with it the expansion of a fantastic collection of visual art accumulated over decades, and I hope that this encourages them to keep it going for a long time to come. Secondly, of course, we're also helping the artists who generally speaking need a helping hand to keep their livelihoods going. Finally, I am ‘selfish’. We know that having a view of nature brings mental health benefits, I experience the same effect when I look up from my work and see these paintings. The ensuing moment of reflection also has a positive effect on the quality of my work. A moment's reflection might be just the thing to trigger a new idea or bring more wisdom to the decisions I'm faced with.”
At the moment Van Wesemael has an artwork by Rob Voerman entitled Annex #2 from 2005 on one wall. On the other hangs a work by Gertje Roosen, entitled Hallucinatie from 1998.
Georgios Skantzaris is a lecturer at Mathematics and Computer Science in the Applied Analysis group and the Education Innovation group. He doesn't know the names of the two artworks he has out on loan; he chose them mainly for their esthetic value.
“I like to have art on the walls of MetaForum, because I love art and I want to be in an environment that is esthetically pleasing, if not esthetically exciting. These pieces here which I chose, I admire for their beauty and playfulness, and how they are also paying homage to the human body.”
Skantzaris took out the art on loan before his workplace was ready for it. “I'm still waiting for the people from Facilities to hang the artworks in my office...”
Elias Salzer is a doctoral candidate at the Orthopaedic Biomechanics group. He works in Gemini Zuid, where he shares office space with other PhD candidates. He finds the artworks create a sense of peace and says it's a real joy going along to choose them.
“I get motivated by having this art around me, and it makes me more creative. If you think about it, it is good to have something to look at. And if you can look at a painting instead of a blank wall so much the better.”
“We always have three paintings from the art lending library hanging in our office and we replace them every year. We even make an office outing of it. We all get very enthusiastic when our next selection of art arrives.”
This year's choice was left to Salzer to make. “I chose three modern/abstract paintings because it's a style I personally like, and one I think suits our office well. One time when I was wearing a face mask with a Piet Mondriaan design, I was told that it looked like the paintings hanging in our office. Isn't that great?”