In memoriam Robert Jasper Grootveld 1932-2009: Catalyst and Urban Shaman Print
Written by R.D. [combined from different sources]   
Sunday, 01 March 2009 22:09

 Grootveld preparing his craft for the odyssey to Sweden in 1972.

Grootveld preparing his craft for the odyssey to Sweden in 1972.

"First," he prudently noted, "I must learn to sail." 




Robert Jasper Grootveld, one of the most emblematic figures of the 60s PROVO  movement, has died in a nursing home at the age of 76 on the February 26. 2009 in Amsterdam. Grootveld was famous for the ‘happenings’ he organised on the Spui, then Amsterdam’s ‘magic centre’. The anti-smoking guru would dance around in a cloud of his own cigarette smoke chanting ugh, ugh, ugh - which became one of his mantras. 

Grootveld started out as a window cleaner, then turned to journalism and finally found his feet as an artist in the creative atmosphere of the 1960s. He came up with the famous white bicycle plan which has since been adopted by many cities around the world.


His lifelong devotion to the figure of Sinterklaas may go some way towards explaining his childlike pleasure in inventing such institutions as the Exotic Kitch Museum and the Expertological Laboratory, with fellow-artists and poets. In 2000, he made a present of the floating gardens he created to the city of Amsterdam. 

‘He totally changed the Amsterdam street scene,’ - friend and filmmaker Herbert Curiel. 

“He had a vision of "the addicted consumer of tomorrow", now almost half a century ago. He heard about the book ‘Hidden Persuaders’ by the American author Vance Packard on consumers that foolhardy let themselves be tricked (its Dutch title was ‘Verborgen Verleiders , meaning ‘hidden tempters’). He corrupted the American title into the analogue sounding name ‘Hipperzweter’ (the Hip one who is sweating) and used that as the name for his primitively duplicated magazine with the subtitle: organ of applied and hidden temptation. The magazine carried calls for solemn wreath ceremonials and ritual burning of international newspapers, each Saturday night right in the centre of Amsterdam. He was a catalyst of a social fire in the Netherlands that would last ten years. From the seventies onward Grootveld floated through a more tranquil life building his refute plastic rafts and floating islands ... My guess is that he will be sailed to his last resting place on one of his own floating artworks.” – Tjebbe van Tijen