Amsterdam period

After some years of training in Meerssen Koolen moved at the age of sixteen (1920) to Amsterdam, together with his friend Charles Eyck, who is seven years older. The latter is admitted to the National Art Academy, but Koolen is too young and had to wait for two years. In 1922 he studies at the Art Academiy. In the twenties he rented a room in Amsterdam (East, Betondorp-Jeruzalem, Tuindorp Watergraafsmeer) where he met Ali Smit. In 1928 he marries Ali, who already had a daughter from a former marriage. They have three children. They lived at various addresses (among others, Sarphatipark, Herengracht *) and after some successes in his work he could move into a house at the Prinsengracht (nr. 579).
* He was friends with a city architect Van Heerde who lived on the Herengracht.

 

Amsterdam, Prinsengracht 579 (red arrow), early twentieth century, view to the north 
Source: Amsterdam City Archives (Collectie Stadsarchief Amsterdam)

                    

Source: Amsterdam City Archives (Collectie Stadsarchief Amsterdam) 

If he had sold works the family could hire a nanny and purchase a car (one of the few on the Prinsengracht). In uncertain times, the nanny was fired and the car was sold. He had a hupmobile and often an overnight drifter slept in the car, which had to be send away in the morning ("thank you, Mr. Koolen, I hope you will be back today, I sleep here so well").

 

In the thirties, with Ali and stepdaughter Rita 

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