Paul Citroen (Berlin, 15 December 1896 – Wassenaar, 13 March 1983) collected art like an artist: curious, unprejudiced, without regard for style or school, as he tried to be in so many ways in his own work. He was a ‘privileged observer’, always on the lookout for the unique, irreplaceable expression, and he continued to develop, even in old age. Paul Citroen was also a genuine art educator. He was one of the founders of the Nieuwe Kunstschool, which is still a source of inspiration for Dutch education in art and design, not least for the AKI academy in Enschede. It is gratifying and appropriate that a large part of the Citroen collection is looked after by the University of Twente, which, since its foundation has put a lot into art and culture as essential components of human existence. The works in the Citroen collection are used and enjoyed by the university community. This publication is intended to open the collection up to a wider audience and to demonstrate how grateful we are to be able to share in Paul Citroen’s love of and dedication to art.

(Sipke Huismans, former Chairman of the Advisory Committee for Visual Arts University of Twente, 2005) 

The Paul Citroen collection at the UT 

The Paul Citroen collection consists of work by Paul Citroen himself and works by artists such as Appel, Corneille, Alechinsky and Hundertwasser that he was given or bought. 

Archival research by historian Hiska Bakker showed that the collection was acquired by the UT in a roundabout fashion and in three parts. When the new Overijssel provincial government building was completed in Zwolle in the early seventies, there were not enough works of art available to ‘decorate’ the official areas. The provincial government got in touch with Paul Citroen, who loaned them over 150 works from his own collection. The remaining 28 works were then offered to Twente University of Technology, the forerunner of the University of Twente. Twente made a selection from the works that were rejected by the provincial government. At the end of 1972, 20 works, primarily paintings (Bouthoorn, Citroen, Bleijenberg) were transported to Enschede, the other 8 were returned to Citroen. 

In 1973 Twente University of Technology borrowed another 53 works from the Paul Citroen collection, mainly prints by Appel, Bissière and Corneille, as well as no fewer than eight etchings and lithographs by Hans van Efferen. In early March, another five works that had previously been rejected were added. This resulted in a total of 78 works. 

From the beginning, the collection has been on display in the university library in the Vrijhof building. Oral tradition has it that the collection is to stay together on display in a public area. It was laid down in the loan agreement between the Province of Overijssel and Citroen. 

In 1978, the Province of Overijssel bought all the works on loan. Twente University of Technology asked its own Advisory Committee for the Purchase of Individual Works to make a selection of work that was eligible for purchase. It was not until after Paul Citroen’s death in 1983 that Twente University of Technology actually purchased all 78 works in 1986. 

More info: H.A. Bakker, Universiteit Twente Collectie Citroen. Enschede, 2005. Book, 80 p.


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