Rookmaaker entered the world on February 27, 1922 in The Hague, Netherlands. Born the third child to non-Christian parents Theodora and Henderik, Rookmaaker lived also in Sumatra, Indonesia for several years. When his father retired from the position as Dutch resident governor, the family settled back in Den Haag, Netherlands. Rookmaaker finished high school and attended Den Helder Marine Officer's School to build leadership skills and study ship construction. However, when the Germans invaded the Netherlands and bombed the country, Rookmaaker joined the Underground Press to pass out anti-Nazi information.
Arrested and jailed, Rookmaaker read the Bible during his incarceration. After his father secured his release, Rookmaaker enjoyed his brief freedom. Shortly thereafter, the Nazis tricked thousands of Dutch reservists into believing they were signing up for service for their country. However, in reality, the men were loaded up and shipped to concentration camps. As a prisoner Rookmaaker encountered another Christian who further changed his life. By the time the Russians freed those in the camp, Rookmaaker had decided to serve the Lord. He followed through with his plans by becoming a high school teacher and an art critic for a national paper while working to earn a doctorate in art history. Later he founded the art history department at the Free University in Amsterdam and held the chair position until his death.
This Dutch art historian and professor also authored numerous books and lectured to students throughout the United Kingdom and the United States. Rookmaaker encouraged people to accept the beauty in art and allow the fact that religion and art can work together for the greater good. His book Modern Art and the Death of a Culture explores how the 1960s generation and its turmoil was portrayed in art. Two more books were published after his death on March 13, 1977, and his daughter edited The Complete Works of Hans Rookmaaker which saw publication in 2003.
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