Amsterdam 1923, Amsterdam 2014
Gerrit Kouwenaar was born in Amsterdam on the 9th of August, 1923. He was active as a poet, writer and artist. Kouwenaar published in 1941 his first poems, through Constant (1920-2005), whom he knew from his student days. Together with the young poets Jan Elburg (1919-1992) and Lucebert (1924-1994) he came in contact with the Dutch Experimental Group in Holland in 1948, which later merged into CoBrA. Kouwenaar worked several times with constant, as was the case with the CoBrA magazine edition ‘Goede morgen Haan’ (Good Morning Rooster) from 1949 in which text and drawings are mixed with one another. For a short period Kouwenaar was the editor of the CoBrA magazine and contributed with his long poem ‘Verdediging der Vijftigers’ (Defence of the Fiftiers) to no. 4. His text ‘Poetry is Reality’, which appeared in the second issue of Reflex, may be regarded as the counterpart of the Constant’s “Manifesto” in the first issue. According to Kouwenaar the poets felt they were “a kind of ornamental fringe of CoBrA” because organizationally they had no say in anything. During the exhibition at the Stedelijk Museum in 1949 he left the movement. After CoBrA Kouwenaar wrote some books and catalogs in collaboration with visual artists. From 1950 to 1951 he worked on the magazine ‘Braak’. His work was included in the collection ‘Atonaal’ (Atonal) in 1951 and in 1952 he cooperated with the literary magazine Podium. In 1955 he published the collection “Vijf 5tigers’ (referring to the 1950’s). Kouwenaar wrote several volumes of poetry.