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Charles Vos as a teacher

In her biography of Charles Vos, Isabelle Paulussen writes the following about the Middelbare Kunstnijverheidsschool:

“Charles Vos was the first teacher of sculpture at the Middelbare Kunstnijverheidsschool, where generations of Limburg artists were taught. In its first year (1926–1927), the school only ran an evening course, with lessons on painting, drawing and modelling, both from plaster casts and from live models. Several sculpting techniques were explored, such as roughing out and carving in various materials. The basics of art history were also taught. On Saturday afternoons, the school ran a painting course that was attended by Henri Jonas and Jos Postmes and was open to both students of the evening course and outsiders. The ‘Saturday school’ had been set up specifically for workers who could only attend lessons on a Saturday afternoon. In the next academic year, modelling and sculpting lessons taught y Charles Vos were added to the Saturday afternoon programme, along with lessons in batik by Edmond Bellefroid and in ceramic art by Johan Lint. Lint, Vos, and Bellefroid were colleagues not just at the Middelbare Kunstnijverheidsschool, but also at De Sphinx, where Lint was the first permanent designer and head modeller, from 1917 to 1935. As a token of his appreciation, Vos drew an expressive portrait of him, when he was around 49 years old.’

In October 1927, a day course started running. Postmes went to tremendous lengths to obtain official status for the daytime programme, with the backing of the enthusiastic Alderman for Education and Culture, Jules Schaepkens van Riempst (1875–1946). He worked closely with Jos Postmes to establish a firm footing for professional art education in Maastricht. For many years, he was Chairman of the Board of the Kunstnijverheidsschool. Schaepkens van Riempst was also an important figure for Vos, not least as Chairman of the honorary committee set up to celebrate his fiftieth birthday. From 1 April 1937 – Postmes died too young in 1934 – the school officially became a fully-fledged, full-time school, on an equal footing with the other Middelbare Kunstnijverheidsschool establishments in the country. According to its then director, Jef Scheffers, who succeeded Jos Postmes, the dedication of the teaching staff was hugely motivating. The explosive growth in student numbers from the 1936-1937 academic year onwards certainly backs this up!

Vos was an inspiring teacher: he had a keen eye for modern art and brought books in from home to discuss works by contemporary sculptors such as Jacques Lipchitz (1891-1973) and Ossip Zadkine (1890-1967) with his students. With the aid of the sculptures depicted in those books, he explained to them the visual language of plastic in its pure form. He also introduced the students to traditional African art, which Western artists had ‘discovered’ in the early 20th century. Charles himself collected ‘primitive sculptures,’ as they were called. Tying in with their classroom-based education, Charles also set his students practical assignments. Under his guidance, they made the gravestone for Jos Postmes. The stone is in the shape of a stela, topped with the figure of the risen Christ in hardstone and, below it, the portrait of Postmes in sandstone. On each side of the gravestone, a number of figures depict the six students who worked on it. It can be found on Postmes’ grave in the General Cemetery on Tongerseweg in Maastricht.’
Maastricht Institute of Arts