03/06/2016 — 04/09/2016

Rotterdam Cultural Histories #8: Hard Work

On the first floor in the building where both TENT and Witte de With are located, both art institutions put together an exhibition that in turn shows a part of the cultural history of Rotterdam. Hard Werken is shown by TENT in the eighth edition.

Rotterdam Cultural Histories # 8 shows all editions, photos and other archive material of the illustrious magazine Hard Werken. Although only ten issues of this cultural magazine were published in the period 1979 - 1982, it has had a major influence on a whole generation of graphic designers in the Netherlands and abroad. The presentation is curated by Reyn van der Lugt and Marjolein van de Ven.

Hard work
The striking A3 format, the anarchist design averse to all the typographic rules applicable at the time, the major role for photography and a group of employees from mainly the visual arts and literature changing by number, immediately characterized this new initiative as a stubborn, elusive but above all Rotterdam phenomenon.

The magazine gave a lot of space to Rotterdam writers and poets: the pre-publication of Jules Deelder's book about the Rotterdam boxer Bep van Klaveren is well known. In addition, comments were also given on Rotterdam urban and architectural developments, particularly against the 'new frumpiness'. The magazine became the mouthpiece of a dynamic metropolitan, international culture. But even more than by its content, the magazine was characterized by its specific design. The interior was black and white, the covers in exuberant colors. Skewed texts and photos, drawings and collages, dozens of fonts in one issue; everything was used interchangeably in a unique design that developed into a new 'style'. There was also a lot of attention for photography. Many participating artists developed into what was called the Rotterdam School for (staged) Photography in the mid-XNUMXs. The advertisements in the magazine were also designed according to the same unorthodox principles.

The permanent core consisted of Gerard Hadders, Rick Vermeulen, Tom van den Haspel, Henk Elenga, Kees de Gruiter and Willem Kars. At the time, the latter was also responsible for the Graphic Workplace of the Rotterdam Art Foundation, where the magazine was printed. The initiators of the magazine also founded the design agency Hard Werken in 1980. Initially they worked mainly for Rotterdam cultural institutions, later also for clients in the rest of the country and abroad. Their series of posters for the International Film Festival Rotterdam from 1984 to 1994 became famous.

Hard Working was of great significance for the cultural self-esteem of Rotterdam. The many artists associated with the magazine penetrated nationally and internationally. The magazine seemed to be the harbinger of a new cultural impulse that finally freed Rotterdam in the 1980s and 1990s from the image of the dull, culturally poor port city.

In the spring of 2017 appears at Valiz an extensive publication about the history of design agency Hard Werken.