Latest acquisition: Theo Gootjes


The Atlas Van Stolk has acquired over four thousand cartoons by Theo Gootjes, who used to work mainly for Het Vrije Volk and Rotterdams Dagblad newspapers.

Theo Gootjes was born in Rotterdam in 1942. He inherited his talent from his father Leo, who was a gifted art painter and draughtsman. The Atlas Van Stolk possesses some of Leo's work as well. Theo took several trainings in graphic art after which he came to work in advertising, which he did not like at all; it even gave him a nervous breakdown. He saw no other options to earn a living until an advertisement of Het Vrije Volk newspaper caught his eye in 1970: "Who dares to work for Het Vrije Volk?". Theo Gootjes did. He applied for a job and was given the position of editorial draughtsman. This was not exactly to his liking, but after cartoonist Frits Müller left the newspaper, Gootjes was given the opportunity to take his place. He soon developed his own distinctive style.

Gootjes is best-known for his cartoons in which he criticises society and exposes injustice.  He has a deep-rooted sense of justice, and he fights small and large iniquities alike. Pollution, poverty, war, racism and the virtual abyss between rich and poor are his favourite subjects. Fear for the unknown and the eternal struggle between good and evil are very well captured by Gootjes. The cartoons below show a foreign labourer, badly needed and very welcome in 1961, who has become a minority thirty years later. The cartoon of Peace, in the shape of a dove holding an olive branch, speaks for itself.

Theo Gootjes, Vredesweek 1984, 1984, AVS 132010

Some of his cartoons are foreshadows of what was to come and make you believe that Gootjes has the gift of prevision. The first cartoon shows Europe disintegrating because of the Euro, the second one shows the fear of Muslim fundamentalism in France. Both cartoons date from 1996 but are topical even today. It comes as no surprise that Gootjes calls himself a "political prophet".

Theo Gootjes, Euro Europa, 30 March 1996, AVS 132585

Theo Gootjes, In de greep van het Moslim-fundamentalisme, 12 September 1995, AVS 132459

The four thousand cartoons will be digitised soon and be displayed on our website.