Hans Rookmaaker

Hendrik Roelof “Hans” Rookmaaker was born today 89 years ago (1922).  He died on March 13, 1977. Transpositions hosted a symposium that lasted for six days and that took place between the dates of his birth and his death.  It was a celebration of his life.

The writings of Hans Rookmaaker have profoundly shaped the way that contemporary Christians engage with culture, and especially with the arts.  As an art historian, Rookmaaker’s influence is certainly felt within the academy, but it also reaches a much wider audience through popular books such as Modern Art and the Death of a Culture and The Creative Gift, and also through his relationship with L’Abri Fellowship.  You can purchase Rookmaaker’s complete works here.

We invited four scholars to write posts on the life and work of Hans Rookmaaker.  Here is the Symposium schedule:

Monday (2/28) & Tuesday (3/1): Dr. E. John Walford introduces us to Rookmaaker’s thought in a systematic and inspiring way with his posts “Hans Rookmaaker’s ‘Four Freedoms’ and Christian Art” (Part I and Part II).  John Walford is Professor of Art History at Wheaton College, Illinois, where he has taught since 1981.  He is author of Jacob van Ruisdael and the Perception of Landscape (Yale University Press, 1991), and Great Themes in Art (Prentice-Hall, 2002).

Wednesday (3/2): Dr. Taylor Worley, in his post “Hans Rookmaaker: Celebrating the Creational Grace of Art,” gives us a picture of the broader context of twentieth century Christian engagement with the arts by contrasting Rookmaaker’s approach to Paul Tillich’s.  Worley is Assistant Professor of Christian Thought and Tradition and Associate Dean for Spiritual Life at Union University.

Thursday (3/3): Dr. James Romaine reflects on the various ways that Rookmaaker’s vision has shaped his understanding of himself as a Christian and art historian in his post. “The Legacy of Hans Rookmaaker: ‘So What?’” James Romaine is a New York based art historian. He is the co-founder of the Association of Scholars of Christianity in the History of Art (ASCHA).  He is an Associate Professor of art history and chair of the department of art history at Nyack College.

Friday (3/4) & Saturday (3/5): Laurel Gasque will offer some reasons why Rookmaaker needs to be separated intellectually from his friend, Francis Schaeffer, in her post “Hans Rookmaaker and Francis Schaeffer.” Then, on Saturday, she will shed some light on “Hans Rookmaaker’s Relevance for Today.”Laurel is the Associate Editor of ArtWay and the author of Rookmaaker’s biography, Art and the Christian Mind: The Life and Work of H.R. Rookmaaker. She is also sessional lecturer in theology and the arts at Regent College, Vancouver, B.C. and adjunct professor of art history at Trinity Western University in Langley, B.C., Canada.



  • Jim Watkins is the assistant editor and a regular contributor at Transpositions. Originally, Jim is from southern California and southeastern Texas, but sometimes he feels most at home in the landscape and coffee shops of the Pacific Northwest. He met his wife Emily at Wheaton College in Illinois, where he studied Studio Art (concentration in painting). For his PhD research, he is examining the relationship between divine and human creativity from the perspective of divine kenosis.