Dutch artist Marcel van Eeden ( was born in 1965 in The Hague. His magnum opus is to make a drawing a day based on any source that precedes the year he was born. Using imagery culled from an array of historical material—illustrations from old books, topographical atlases, newspapers, photo archives, magazines like Life or Paris Match—van Eeden draws a world he never knew. 140 new drawings by van Eeden, devoted to K.M. Wiegand, will debut at the Fourth Berlin Biennale of Contemporary Art. Van Eeden is represented in North America by the Clint Roenisch gallery.

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TMN: How do you feel about the images that inspire your drawings—an everyday newspaper reader, an archivist, a conspirator? Is there a consistent trigger in the images that inspires you?

MVE: For me it works as a diary; whatever interests me on a certain day is the image I choose.

The first and most important thing that fascinates me is that I wasn’t alive at the moment the picture was taken. Then I can see the moment, I can see the light that fell, and even though I didn’t exist at the time, I can recreate that moment. It should be a frightening thought, but it’s not.

TMN: Have you had much encouragement as an artist?

MVE: I was encouraged at art school, but I was already 24 when I finally went. Before that I studied several other subjects (art history, Dutch language, social work). At home my parents were not artistic at all. We did not have many books, so maybe that’s good for an artist.

Of course my galleries are important to me. The relationship between an artist and a gallery owner is a very important one.

TMN: Do you consider your drawings “yours”? As in, do you see yourself in them?

MVE: Well, yes. Although they are drawn from existing pictures, I make them my own.

Sometimes I find an old book at the secondhand book market in which I see photographs I’ve used before for a drawing. For a very short moment I have the impression that my work is actually in the book, until I realize that it’s the original.

TMN: Given the mood of many of your drawings, I’d like to believe you’re some Le Carré spy with a side job in drawing. I assume I’m wrong?

MVE: No, maybe not. I am spying a lot. The situations I see, the pictures I use of the period when I wasn’t alive—somehow they’re not meant to be seen by me.


Rosecrans Baldwin co-founded TMN with publisher Andrew Womack in 1999. His latest book is Everything Now: Lessons From the City-State of Los Angeles. More information can be found at More by Rosecrans Baldwin