Peter van Straaten: ‘Gras in the picture‘

9th of October – 3rd of December 2022 in Café Bern

As a neighborhood resident, Peter van Straaten (Arnhem, 1935 – Amsterdam, 2016) was a regular visitor of Café Bern. What we had noticed for a long time was that a returning character in his prints bore a great resemblance to another well-known guest of our café: Gras Heyen (1917 – 1988). And indeed: Gras and Peter were more or less from the same generation and they were both regular visitors of the artist’s association ‘De Kring‘. Sometimes Peter used Gras as a source of inspiration. Grass was a very striking personality with a definite opinion and with a lot of humor.

Peter agreed to exhibit a number of drawings featuring Gras in Café Bern. Now, after all these years, we thought it was nice to hang them up again, as a tribute to two legendary residents of the Nieuwmarkt neighborhood. From 9 October to 3 December 2202 these drawings, as well as a few works by Gras Heyen, can be admired in Café Bern.


Gosh, such an ugly child

Peter van Straaten

42 x 30 cm

Privat collection Café Bern

Exhibited at Café Bern
from October 9 to December 3, 2022

Peter van Straaten

Arnhem, 1938 – Amsterdam, 2016
illustrator, cartoonist, writer

Gras Heyen

1917 – 1988

His work is popular and comprehensive: From political prints, cartoons and comics, plays, erotic drawings to many prose bundles.

Peter van Straaten’s career spans more than half a century, in which he made thousands of drawings for national and regional newspapers, weekly magazines and books, as well as theater and film-graffiti. His work has appeared many times in book form and every year, since 1994 to the present, his drawings are bundled in Peter’s Zeurkalender.

The work of Peter van Straaten was frequently awarded. He received the Golden Goose in 2006 and in 2010 he was awarded the Jacobus van Looy Prize, a prize for double talents. In 2011 Van Straaten received an honorary doctorate at the University of Leiden. Peter won the Inkspot prize five times, the last time in 2016.


As far as his work is concerned, Grass Heyen was not easily accommodated in specific genres. He was probably too individualistic to focus on painting movements and probably too critical to ever fall under the same denominator. On the other hand, at certain times he also missed the connection with the spirit of time.

He often used views that had little to do with current movements. Even in the League New Images of which he was a member for a few years, he did not play a prominent role. It is also the question of what Heyen did amongst these experimental artists. He was first and foremost a graphic artist, a technique that involves a thoughtful and therefore somewhat aloof approach.

A small monograph by Marijke Dinnissen, with many pictures of the work of Gras Heyen appeared posthumous, under the title ‘If you are dead, I’ll be back‘, published by Bas Lubberhuizen.


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