As a child I dug in the garden of my parents. I found pottery shards decorated with nail and fingerprints. I was fascinated by the ‘contact’, which I had with people of ± 2000 years ago through this pottery. After they had touched it for the last time, I was the first human being again . . . . This “contact”, through matter, has always been there.  Or better it came back in the course of the years. Whether it’s a ‘coach-house‘ from the mid 19th century, or parts or objects of my parents’ house, or ‘filled-in’ holes in the roads, or floor-rubbings of ‘working-class-houses‘. Always there are the traces of the original builders, users or creators. I strengthen these traces, which act as ‘guides’, through frottage technique. By doing this I want to show images, stories and emotions that I think are beautiful, intriguing or important.

Ton Martens [Velsen, 1946] was trained as a graphic designer at the St. Joost Academie in Breda. As such, he worked in London at Negus & Negus, in The Hague at Tel Design and as a freelancer until 1980, at for example the Haags Gemeentemuseum. He then followed further education at the Rijkskacademie van Beeldende Kunsten in Amsterdam [Printmaking Department], which he finished after three years, in 1983. Since then he has worked as an autonomous visual artist. From 1985 to 2005 he was a lecturer at the AKI in Enschede. Martens regularly uses the technique of frottage in a variety of projects, often in combination with photography.

Examples of his projects are:

  • A series of floor frottages of working-class houses from the 4th quarter of the 19th century in Amsterdam, The Hague and Rotterdam. The floor rubbings [on a scale of 1-to-1] clearly show what the thoughts of the time were regarding building for the working class, but also show traces of life that have been engrained into the wooden floors over the last 100 years.
  • In 1995 Martens made a working journey to the great Hansin Earthquake area in and around Kobe, Japan. There, he recorded how nature intervened in our everyday, “human existence”.
  • During his second journey to Kobe in 1997 he worked on The Paper Monument of The Wall, a frottage of a concrete wall at a market from 1927. This wall survived both American bombing in 1945 and the great earthquake in 1995. As the city council decided to take down the wall in favor of a new housing project, Martens suggested to first record the entire wall on paper.
  • In 1999 he and his son Michiel, then 14 years old, re-travelled what is called the “Court Journey”, and recorded this journey in 82 frottages and photographs.
  • In 2006 and 2007, Martens helped with “documenting” the original function of the water tower at Wantij in Dordrecht, which is now a hotel, restaurant and garden named Villa Augustus.
  • In the spring of 2008, at the excavations of Forum Hadriani in Voorburg, he recorded onto paper a large number of Roman wooden poles that support the pier there. Poles made out of oak wood with nicely cut pointed ends that, after 1800 years in the ground, are suddenly revealed again. These poles, as it where, have functioned as “antennas” that have silently followed the rise of our [overground] culture throughout the centuries.

Allard Pierson Museumkrant 2010
Ha, daar gaat er een van mij!, Jan Middendorp, Uitgeverij 010, April 2002
Message World by MSSOHKAN, VOL.47
HEARTH-NET News vol.26
Tubantia, Herman Haverkate, 23 May 2002
SICAmag 6, Maria Tuerlings, June 2000
M-Magazine NRC Handelsblad, Juliette Berkhout, 1 July 2000
REVERSIBLE 1, Masami Suzuki & Hideyoshi Ido, Okazaki January 2000
NRC Handelsblad, Max van Rooy, 5 November 1999
KAMERSCHATTEN, Anne van Driel, KW14 ’s-Hertogenbosch, November 1999
Sunday Nikkei, March 9, 1997
Asahi Evening News, Susumu Maejima, January 5, 1997
Jaarverslag Amsterdams Historisch Museum 1996
Uit-Magazine, Jan Goossensen, October 1996
Ons Amsterdam, Annemarie de Wildt, September 1996
De Volkskrant, Nicolaas Matsier, 30 August 1996
Haagsche Courant, Floor de Booys, 8 June 1996
ASAHI Shimbun, 7 April 1996
ASAHI Shimbun, 16 December 1995
Haagsche Courant, Mieke Peperkamp, 18 August 1993


2017  Over, over & over, Atrium in the Cork City Hall, Ireland
2016  Presentation of a booklet of 8 pages, Museum Meermanno, The Hague
2016  Carriage House Zwarteweg 81 [photograph’s], Central Informationdesk of THE DAY OF ARCHITECTURE, The Hague
2015  OVER DEN HAAG, in de Affiche Galerij, Spuistation, Den Haag
2013  Mijn Huis, reizende tentoonstelling voor basisscholen Provincie Zuid Holland
In opdracht van Kunstgebouw, Rijswijk
2013  TV West uitzending 12/12, documentaire van 12 minuten van Jan van Stokkom
2010  Romeinse steigerpalen, Stadsmuseum Leidschendam Voorburg, Voorburg
2009  Van daar tot Tokyo, SieboldHuis, Leiden
2005  De Hofreis bij Boekhandel Broekhuis, Enschede
2004  Praktijk in listige zaken, presentation of artists’ books, AKI, Enschede
2002  Ton Martens, frottages en foto’s, Kunstvereniging Diepenheim
2000  Hofreis van Deshima naar Edo, TENT., Rotterdam
Court journey, Century Plaza, Canon Europa, Amstelveen
1999  Het oude Noorden. . ., Historisch Museum Rotterdam
1997  Gallery Mssohkan, Kobe, Japan
1995  Shizuka Hall, Tsuna, Japan
Tour d’Art, Atelier Clingendael, Den Haag
1996  Great Hanshin Earthquake, Ministerie van VROM, Den Haag
Great Hanshin Earthquake, Artoteek, Den Haag
Mensen over de vloer, Amsterdams Museum, Amsterdam
De papieren vloeren van de Jacobastraat, Haags Historisch Museum


2019  Grafiek 2019 in Pulchri Studio, Den Haag
2019  Zomerboekwinkel, Roofprint Pers, Middelburg

2019  ‘No Todo ~ Niet Alles’, Johan Deumens Archive, Amsterdam

2016  Ladenkastproject AppendiX Grafiek, Dordrechts Museum, Dordrecht
2016  WANDERLUST, De Hallen, Haarlem
2016  BLAUWDRUK, Art The Hague, The Hague
2016  Indrukken, IJsselsalon, Zutphen
2015  SNAP International Printmaking Symposium, Kloster Bentlage, Rheine
2014 Grafiek Biënnale in Pulchri Studio, Den Haag
2013  Riso-Results, Grafische Werkplaats, Den Haag
2013  12/12 tentoonstelling in Pulchri, Den Haag
2013  12/12 tentoonstelling bij PBLQ, Den Haag
2012 Graphics and Beyond, Galerie De Pieter, Leiden
2012  Wij drukken bij de Grafische Werkplaats, Haagse Kunstkring, Den Haag
2012  Summer exhibition, Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art, Kobe
2011  Sequences Johan Deumens Gallery, Amsterdam
Kunst6daagse, Heiloo
2010  Sail Rome!, Allard Pierson Museum, Amsterdam
Bzztoh-posters, De Affiche Galerij, Den Haag
ProofDRUK, Haagse Kunstkring, Den Haag
The Secret Library of Solihull, Solihull, UK
2009  Presentatie Kunstenaarsboeken, Synergie, Amsterdam
Kamerschermen, Kunstcentrum Haagweg 4, Leiden
The Curtain Call, De Affiche Galerij, Den Haag
Een Haags drukkersleven, HEDEN, Den Haag
2008  Archief, deel 1,  Johan Deumens Gallery, Haarlem
2007  Presentatie, Johan Deumens Gallery, Haarlem
Johan Deumens Editions and Artists’ Books, Art Amsterdam
on memory, Galerie Tanya Rumpff, Haarlem
Ingekomen Stukken, Stroom Den Haag
2006  Aan weerzijde van de weg, Bewaerschole, Burgh-Haamstede
Changing Horizons,  De Vishal, Haarlem
Haagse middenstand en Haagse zaken, De Affiche Gallerij, Den Haag
2005  Schloss Steinfurt, Duitsland
Gepresenteerd door Editions &  Artist’ Books Johan Deumens in KunstRAI en in de Wetering Galerie, Amsterdam
2004 Haagse boekvormgeving na 1945, Meermanno Westreenianum
Een boek is een boek is een boek, CODA Apeldoorn
Ingekomen stukken, Stroom/SKOR, Den Haag
Gepresenteerd door ‘Editions &  Artist’ Books Johan Deumens’ in KunstRAI,
Amsterdam and ART, Frankfurt
DRUK, Haagse Kunstkring
2002-03  Gepresenteerd door ‘Editions &  Artist’ Books Johan Deumens’ in NY
KunstRAI & Wetering Galerie, Amsterdam; Frankfurt and Bremen
Art in Harbor, Kobe, Japan
2002  Hofvijver in Poëzie en Beeld, Den Haag
2001   M. Mulder, beelden en keramiek + T. Martens, lino’s,Terra Cotta, Den Haag
Ingekomen stukken / 333, Stroom HCBK/SKOR, Den Haag
Art after the Earthquake Disaster, Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Modern Art, Kobe, Japan
De AKI fotografeert, Enschede
1999  Ongevraagd drukwerk, CBK, Amersfoort;
Het wilde weten, Rotterdam; Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam Kamerschatten, ‘s Hertogenbosch
1998  De Aki tekent,  Rijksmuseum Twente, Enschede
Ongevraagd drukwerk, Sandberg Instituut, Hoorn
Wat voor weer zou het zijn in Den Haag?, Stroom HCBK, Den Haag
1997  AKI, mupi-project in de stad Enschede
1996  Legenda, Galerie Jans en Kooy, Amsterdam

In the collection of

– Kunst- und Museumsbibliothek der Stad Köln

– Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam
– Universiteit van Amsterdam, AAC, Amsterdam
– University of the West of England, dept. Art & Design, Bristol
– Universiteits Bibliotheek Leiden
– Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam
– Villa Augustus [Hotel, restaurant en tuinen], Dordrecht
– Rijksbouwmeester, VROM, Den Haag
– Rijksmuseum Meermanno-Westreenianum, Den Haag
– Gemeentearchief van Amsterdam
– Gemeentearchief van Den Haag
– Koninklijke Bibliotheek, Den Haag
– Historisch Museum Rotterdam
– Haags Historisch Museum
– Heden, Den Haag
– Columbia University, NY
– School of the Art Institute of Chicago
– New York Public Library, NY
– MoMa, New York
– Particulieren

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© Copyright 2017 by Ton Martens
All rights reserved. Unless otherwise indicated, all materials on these pages are copyrighted. No part of these pages, either images, video, text or audio may be used for any purpose other than personal use, unless explicit authorization by Ton Martens.

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Last updated on 26 October 2019

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