Harry Starren

Collector’s item | “A professional can take some liberties”

Harry Starren (55), Director of De Baak, feels an affinity with the primitive power and childlike expression of Karel Appel.

“I make a lot of purchases, but am not very attached to things. In my student days, I made a game out of furnishing my apartment only with materials I had found — except for my books and stereo installation. I bought this apartment in Amsterdam as is, furnishings and all, including cutlery, from a man who moved to the Dominican Republic.”
“One of my lesser qualities is that I do not throw things away. By throwing away, you make a decision; with neglect, you ignore it and focus your attention on other things. I know that it is not a good quality. It is haughty, but it can also be fear of termination because I still want to keep a little bit of something.”
“I shudder in the presence of people who think they have everything within their grasp; they are often a threat to happiness, and can be totalitarian in character. Every now and then you have to lose your way. People who get lost see more on the way than those who go straight for their goal. The management guru Henry Mintzberg says: “Most strategies are not invented but discovered.” The emphasis on focus in the present-day business community leads to missed opportunities, and not finding meaning. It is a fallacy to think that those who go straight for the goal are the fastest. No one who has lived an interesting life has gone straight for their goal.”
“Of course there must be a pattern. There is no melody without a rhythm section, but that rhythm section must offer a basis for the melody. Actually, you should write a business plan only after you have started. Paint first and then look. Large companies cannot do this, and are forced to take over companies that can. We say that with processes of change, two out of three fail, but that is a misconception. We have to perform a hundred procedures for thirty to succeed. It is trial and error. That is what our entire life is like.”
“Truly vital companies resist the temptation to categorize everything. These companies are disciplined, productive and provide space. In everything you do, you have to dare to decide where you are halfway. That sets you going and your surroundings become enthusiastic; you learn the other half later.”
“I understand Karel Appel’s statement, ‘I just mess around a bit’ quite well. When I was a student, I once bought a litho from a neighbor who had a junk shop. I saw it out of the corner of my eye and immediately recognized the wild style. A good professional can permit himself to mess around. The pattern follows by itself. Appel’s basic power has a childlike expression, is unrestrained, so that you come to achieve things that you will not find in restraint. That also made him disciplined and productive. I feel an affinity with that basic power and childlike expression.”
“At de Baak we once had a test that showed that I had more power than anyone in the group. The power is athletic, but my condition suggested nothing of the kind. It’s that sort of power that I use to take action.”

“Out of the corner of my eye, I immediately recognized the wild style of Karel Appel”

Koos de Wilt

fdpersoonlijk | Saturday, 9 October 2010 129

This entry was posted in Interviews.

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