Anthon Beeke (11 march 1940 - 25 september 2018)

In 1976 Beeke joined Total Design in Amsterdam and worked on advertisements, magazines, books, postage stamps and packaging materials. In 1981 Beeke founded Studio Anthon Beeke in Amsterdam. He developed among others signaling systems, poster campaigns, exhibitions, books for various companies, institutions and museums. Beeke received various prestigious prizes and awards.

After a difficult childhood Anthon Beeke decided to become an artist and to look for life, for freedom. Furiously he threw open all windows. Kindly provoked existing traditions. Many confrontations followed, but it was Anthon's natural charm and quality that always saved him.
He was a pure and strongly connected to the emotions of his time. He could express it like no other. He knew how to touch visually his audience on the street. Simultaneously brutal and poetic. He was the master.

The most impressive aspect of Anthon was his ability to live in the now. That had always his attention, his creative mind. What has been is gone and tomorrow is still remote. He ‘d always let go of yesterday’s hassle. Old quarrels, disappointed women, missed appointments and deadlines. Often he was inconvenient and awkward, always too late, but everything was solved by his grotesque natural charm.

He was the core artist who was only interested in the moment of creation itself. And yet he still liked to be the birthday boy and the center of his own celebrity at openings, receptions and parties. But the next day he had already forgotten it and was that typical Amsterdam kid again.

Together with his friends, he travelled, wandered and messed around. Looked, felt, smelled, listened, got lost, found something somewhere or anything at all. Images, street scenes, tasty sausages, girls everywhere, dogs, shop windows, manhole covers, gliding and driving, everything ... there was no other with such a great intelligent sensory as Anthon.

He taught us to look very precisely, to organize visual information, to get to the essence of a graphic image. The hierarchy in an image and the impact of a design had to be clear within two seconds, otherwise the entire design was worth nothing. He could switch and change endlessly hundreds of slides, never quickly satisfied, with his tongue out of the mouth. Like a seven-year-old boy.

Last year he went to his last AGI congress in Paris with René Knip. The congress was too hectic and a little too much for him. They spent some time strolling through Paris and the Center Pompidou. At the retrospective of David Hockney, Anthon told René that he was not a fan of him, yet he spent hours looking at his work and was pretty impressed: ‘Jeeeesus, what great work that man has made!’

Anchoring in the now has helped him to cope with life in the 9 years after the stroke. He kept moving on, falling in love, being amazed and getting angry, he kept on looking and shooting photographs. living passionately. He went on journeys with Li Edelkoort, with Sacha Happée, with René, with others. Count your blessings – one of his most beautiful posters with his own mother as protagonist – was one of his very strong senses.

In the mid 70s the work of Anthon and his partner Swip Stolk was frivolous, uninhibited, colorful, attractive and daring. It opened the door to a free, playful way of design. They were the vanguard of the exuberance where the profession would end up in and gave the profession a different and broader perspective.
Anthon is wild, young and brash: the rebel without – and with – a cause of Dutch graphic design. He exerts a great attraction with his love, passion and an impulsive rash of civil disobedience. Punk avant la lettre.

All of his work later have this disobedience in an intelligent and subtle way. Sometimes it provokes quietly. Sometimes it shouts out loud.
He is the link between reasoning and impulsivity. These are two properties that can seriously interfere with each other.
Reasoning strengthens the content, but weakens the form. Impulsivity strengthens the intention, but weakens the thoughtfulness. Maneuvering between these two, creates space for improvisation and inventiveness in which you must play your own game. Always give the best and play your own game. At any time. Even if you feel bad, hung over or sick. It is the only way to distinguish.

In 2009 he had the stroke that changed his beautiful life. He would never be the same Anthon again. He recovered slowly with the help and care of his beloved Li and Sacha. Over the years that followed Anthon got again involved with his friends, social life and work. And his life became sort of beautiful again.

All of us have been touched by his presence, love, admiration or opinion. The memory of Anthon, as a friend, a lover, a father, a brother, as a good soul, will always make us smile.

René Knip and Max Kisman