Horizontals, verticals, and some disciplined curves, squares and angles offset by relentless electrical streetlights. The wall with forty vintage photographs marking the start of The Rush and Calm, Moments in the City looks like an architect’s drawing table. Karl Hugo Schmölz’s 1950s documentation of German cinemas, orchestra houses, car dealerships, and shopping malls clearly illustrates the strong focus on hardware during the post-war Reconstruction period. They show the city as... [more]
Bringing Private Passions into the Public Realm
Visiting Focus Beijing at Rotterdam's Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Edo Dijksterhuis considers the trend of Dutch museums forging exhibitions from private collections.
For the better part of their lives Henk de Heus and his wife Victoria de Heus-Zomer have worked to build up their business. The De Heus animal feed company has a hundred year history but it wasn’t until the last couple of decades that the family business f... [more]
For the better part of their lives Henk de Heus and his wife Victoria de Heus-Zomer have worked to build up their business. The De Heus animal feed company has a hundred year history but it wasn’t until the last couple of decades that the family business from rural Barneveld boomed, becoming a world leader in animal nutrition, a multinational active in fifty countries. The de Heus-Zomer couple has invested a sizeable part of the resulting fortune in art. Since the late eighties they have col... [more]
Being a bit too breezy about the sky by Edo Dijksterhuis Constant, Anne de Vries, Leo Gestel, John Körmeling, Hendrik W. Mesdag, Jan Sluijters, Guido van der Werve, JCJ Vanderheyden, J.H. Weissenbruch, Carel Willink at De Hallen Haarlem
June 21st - September 7th
Compiling an attractive and wholesome summer exhibition: it’s an art form in itself. During the cultural low season, when the regular audience has migrated to southern European beaches, museums hoping to maintain healthy visitor statistics choose to cater to tourists, staycationists, and day-trippers. And that requires a special type of show. Of course, the fun factor is to be reckoned with; the subject should not be too highbrow and instead have a broad, preferably universal appeal. Some couleur locale... [more]
One of the most remarkable images in the Jeff Wall exhibition currently at the Stedelijk Museum is the constructed photograph After "Invisible Man" by Ralph Ellison, The Prologue (1999-2000). Ellison’s nameless protagonist sits in his underground hideaway, surrounded by 1,369 light bulbs illuminated by currents rerouted from Monopolated Light & Power. To counter his invisibility he surrounds himself in light. And if the world doesn’t want to see him, he’ll exploit that, thumbing... [more]
When Kids came out in 1995 it kicked up quite a storm. Larry Clark’s debut feature film depicts a group of teenage skate punks smoking dope, drinking excessively, shoplifting, talking nonsense, basically wasting their lives away. The main character, a world class egomaniac named Telly, has unprotected sex with every eleven year old girl he can talk out of her pants, since according to him virginity is the best protection against venereal diseases. At the end of the movie it turns out he himsel... [more]
The Keukenhof is under siege. Across the road from the world famous flower park, both tourist magnet and symbol of bourgeois dowdiness, two men are loading a howitzer. There’s no mistaking the trajectory of this Big Bertha—the nearby sea of tulips is going to get blown to smithereens. The men are faceless and featureless, like anonymous puppets blindly following orders, ready to become cannon fodder themselves. They are very basic archetypes, just like the hut sitting on the lawn a f... [more]
Marcel van Eeden’s work is all about time, but it always starts with a location. In his series of drawings van Eeden tells stories taking place roughly between World War I and 1965, the year of his own birth. Drawing from photographs, advertisements, and, less frequently, short texts, he creates the building blocks of a partially true and partially fictional history. With every new episode, which doesn’t necessarily follow chronology but always connects with the others and often features... [more]
“The coming twenty years we’ll be okay, with all the baby boomers retiring. But after that we’ll have to come up with a different way of doing things otherwise museums will soon be obsolete.” It was Arnoud Odding, director of Rijksmuseum Twenthe, who said this when I asked him about the most pressing priorities in the Dutch art sector. Odding has given the subject a lot of thought. In 2004 he published Het Gedroomde Museum (The Dream Museum), about the museum as a place for... [more]
“I think Bigfoot is blurry, that's the problem. It's not the photographer's fault. Bigfoot is blurry, and that's extra scary to me. There's a large, out-of-focus monster roaming the countryside. Run, he's fuzzy, get out of here.” – Mitch Hedberg
Mitch Hedberg’s enduring Bigfoot joke is predicated on a misunderstanding that conflates image-making technology and distribution with real world appearances. It’s the same one that Berlin-based writer and filmmaker Hito Stey... [more]
“Are you an artist or a journalist?”
Marcel Feil, the Deputy Director of artistic affairs at Foam, wasted no time getting to the big questions. The recipient was Richard Mosse, who had arrived in Amsterdam that morning for the installation and opening of his exhibition The Enclave.
Once the jokes about typical Dutch candor died down the Irish photographer swiftly dismissed the idea that he might be a journalist: “I’m an artist, though I’ve got documentarian blood.&rdq... [more]
Corporate Collections: On the threshold of a new type of patronage
Edo Dijksterhuis profiles the important role corporate collections play in the Netherlands art world.
Some 45,000 works of art. That’s the number of artworks owned by the twenty member companies and institutions upon the 2005 launch of the Vereniging Bedrijfscollecties Nederland (VBCN – Netherlands Association of Corporate Collections). That’s half as many as the Stedelijk Museum has on displa... [more]
Some 45,000 works of art. That’s the number of artworks owned by the twenty member companies and institutions upon the 2005 launch of the Vereniging Bedrijfscollecties Nederland (VBCN – Netherlands Association of Corporate Collections). That’s half as many as the Stedelijk Museum has on display and in storage. Less than nine years later the number stands at roughly 100,000 works of art and the ranks of the VBCN have swollen to forty-six. Suffice it to say, corporate collections in... [more]
“Shadow is built like a cattle rustler’s dream girl: long-legged, long-armed, long-framed,” writes Moses Isegawa in a story in Flamboya, Viviane Sassen’s 2008 photobook. It’s not hard to recognize the photographer herself in this fictitious character – Sassen is tall, with a model’s figure. Moreover, Isegawa, author of the Abyssinian Chronicles (1998), describes Shadow as “a nomad,” qualifies the photographs she shows him as “abnormal,&rd... [more]
The Jeff Wall show at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam contains fewer works than the large retrospective held at Tate Modern in 2005-2006 – the score is thirty-seven against more than fifty. Also, it covers a shorter period than the London presentation of two and a half decades of work. And there is some serious overlap with the older show. Still, the Amsterdam exhibition is probably the better.
Jeff Wall 1978-2004 at Tate Modern followed a largely chronological path. It led visitors through the art... [more]
Like a great pop song or a poem, Nina Yuen’s work enchants, making you feel like she’s speaking to you alone. Her performative films, which are currently on view at de Appel arts centre, bind the universal with the ultrapersonal. They fill the second floor of the Prins Hendrikkade space in an exhibition consisting mainly of these short, fantastical films of approximately six or seven minutes each, plus some prints titled as studies for her films Andoe and Lea.
Although it is nice to see Yuen’s work in other m... [more]