Pierre Janssen. In the grip of art

A documentary about art expert Pierre Janssen from Lex Reitsma

“Didn't you want to be an actor?” Mies Bouwman asks Pierre Janssen in Mies-en-scene (1967)

Those who remember Pierre Janssen know him from the renowned, equally popular and idiosyncratic television program Kunstvangen, which was broadcast on TV between 1958 and 1975. But Pierre Janssen was also a journalist and writer, museum director, teacher, tour guide and much sought-after speaker. . In all these capacities, he had one clear mission that he carried out with full dedication, almost like a madman: to help a wide audience look at art, to enrich their lives with it, to broaden their view, to make them think more freely, and in doing so to be more tolerant of people and things that were not immediately understood by everyone. Developing an understanding of the misunderstood.

The way he did that was absolutely unique and his approach and style were ahead of its time. Although colleagues from the art and museum world were still skeptical for the time being, he only received recognition from the same quarter as a presenter and museum man years later. The time has come to shed light on the phenomenon of Pierre Janssen in this documentary. In addition to motives of nostalgia for a large group of over-55s, who have seen the Art Grips program as television viewers, also because as a museum craftsman and as an art storyteller on TV he has been inspiring for the current generation. Current are the big questions
of modern museology how to attract the current audience? The question of how you can build bridges to target groups if they do not feel represented in the museum? And the question of the museum's accessibility and approachability. Janssen was intensively involved with these themes, even at the time when they were not considered relevant. He succeeded and in that sense he was an innovator.

Director and camera: Lex Reitsma
Editing: Erik Disselhof
Sound: Rutger Zuydervelt
Producers: René Mendel and Mira Mendel