SEINEN josé johann

1934 . the netherlands

2012 . bogota . colombia

Even as a child, Johann Seinen was already cutting out miniature illustrations from books and organizing them into thematic groups: Mesopotamian gods, ancient buildings, armies, extraterrestrials, etc. After the war, his parents were imprisoned as collaborators and so he was taken in by his grandparents. He became a bank clerk, married, and had a daughter. In the late 1960s, he divorced, opened a travel agency, and married a woman from Colombia. The couple settled in Bogota, and after his mother died he sent for everything from his old home, including the wooden flooring. José Johann Seinen never returned to Europe. He was a well-read man who owned an enormous library and spent his free time in a cramped room where he organized his collections. He spent the whole year wearing the same ill-fitting suit and smoking cheap cigars. After his death, his widow discovered 22 boxes of envelopes containing thousands of meticulously categorized clippings and threw them out. His work was literally saved from the street by an antiques dealer who just happened to be passing by.