In Memoriam | Gerard Verhoogt
Yesterday the sad news reached us that our former colleague Gerard Verhoogt passed away on March 10th, at the age of sixty-seven. Gerard arrived at TU/e in around 1992, joining the team working on the paper edition – as it then was – of the university publication Cursor. He later moved on to work as art conservator and FNV representative, remaining active at TU/e until 2020.
In September 1992 the name Gerard Verhoogt first appeared in Cursor, among the names of those involved in producing the publication. By then he had already contributed articles to Cursor, usually related to cultural events taking place at the university or in the city of Eindhoven.
This was clearly where his passion lay and where he felt a keen sense of engagement. In 1994 he joined the Cursor editorial desk, and he broadened his writing to include topics beyond art and culture. Members of Cursor’s small team were required to be versatile, and Gerard fitted right in. The team worked hard to put out a new edition every week. The atmosphere in the editorial office, which in those days relied heavily on student assistants, was friendly and fun-loving and there was plenty of laughter and discussion. Here, Gerard met his future partner Esther Valk, responsible for the page layout every week.
At the end of the 1990s, new life was breathed into TU/e’s art and culture policy. With his broad interest in art, Gerard was the ideal person to become the first part-time conservator of the university’s art collection. His first task was to document and look after an extensive and diverse assortment of artworks, which over the years had become a unique collection. The Studium Generale (SG) office became his physical workplace and his work as secretary and conservator was directly related to the Art Committee.
Within SG, Gerard had his own work area, with an imposing row of artbooks. Despite not being an SG member as such, he was warmly accepted. He felt strongly about the art and treated artists and their work with the greatest respect. Gerrit van Bakel’s ‘Tarim Machine’ and his ‘Rainbow Machine’, which for years graced the lobby of the Main Building, could count on his careful handling during their regular moves. The same applied to the work of Ad Dekkers, the four floor reliefs that can now be found between Vertigo and the Matrix building, and the work of many other artists, with whom he often maintained personal ties and whose work he studied comprehensively. As a journalist, he loved the extended interview and the big background story. The arrival of the internet and with it a much more ephemeral form of journalism really wasn’t for him. Nor was Gerard a fan of grandstanding. He could be relied upon to appear in a printed T-shirt, paired with pants clipped at the ankle to prevent his pant leg getting caught in the chain of his racing bike.
After twenty years spent working as a conservator, Gerard had a great deal to show for his efforts. He was responsible for books on the collection, as well as publications and videos devoted to the work of renowned artists such as Tajiri and Panamarenko. Gerard also produced the first website on TU/e’s art collection and together with colleagues organized on a number of occasions the art days event Dagen van de Kunst on the campus. In everything he did, he paid great attention to detail. Where necessary, he kept a watchful eye on the meticulous restoration of valuable pieces of art.
In his capacity as a trade union officer for the FNV (the Federation of Dutch Trade Unions), Gerard was active from 2014 until 2020 on behalf of the joint trade unions at TU/e. Here too, his work was characterized by his meticulous approach and incisive grasp of matters. With the employees who came to him for help, he was someone to bat ideas around with and who could be relied upon to take steps on their behalf, bringing a spirit of openness. Gerard’s heart was in the right place and his ideas often helped strengthen the union’s work.
At his farewell party, postponed due to corona until July 2021, every one of his SG colleagues gave him a personally designed T-shirt as a gift; he saw the funny side of this gesture and was also visible pleased. This marked the start for him of a wonderful period of freedom and doing just what he wanted. Regrettably, this period was all too brief.
Our thoughts are with Esther and Gerard’s family and friends.
Han Konings, Lucas Asselbergs, Joep Huiskamp and Anneroos Dijkhuis