Hendrik Kerstens

Netherlands 1956


Hendrik Kerstens
Hendrik Kerstens
February 11, 2015
Music, Gestalt, .

Hendrik Kerstens is a Dutch photographer who is known for his photographs of his daughter, Paula. Initially Kerstens’ photographs were created out of the artist’s desire to capture something of the fleeting moments that fade of childhood.

Hendrik Kerstens was born in 1956, in Hague. In 2001 he won the PANL Award and in 2008 he won second prize in the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize.

His famous pictures recorded everyday events – his daughter’s sunburn, the child’s bath. However, one day there was a moment of revelation when Kerstens not only saw her in relation to the events of her own life, but also projected on her his interest in the Dutch painters of the seventeenth century.
 As Kerstens recalls, “One day Paula came back from horseback riding. She took off her cap and I was struck by the image of her hair held together by a hair-net. It reminded me of the portraits by the Dutch masters and I portrayed her in that fashion. After that I started to do more portraits in which I refer to the paintings of that era.”

A number of the portraits of Paula are clearly reminiscent of Johannes Vermeer. The austerity of the photograph, its clarity, the serene expression on the young girl’s face, and not least, the characteristic “Dutch” light, all combine to create this impression.
 However, Kerstens was not just imitating painting. As the series progressed, he became increasingly interested in the game of creating a conceptual and humorous dialog between past and present. The titles give the game away. “Napkin” looks like a maid’s bonnet. In “Bag”, a plastic grocery bag is shaped to look like a lace hood. In other pictures no pretense is made to imitate 17th century clothing but Paula’s face and Kerstens’ light turn a thoroughly modern hoodie into a classic and timeless garment.

Conceptually, Kerstens’ photographs play with the dialog between the mediums of painting and photography, with seriality, and time. On a more emotional level, they address everyday reality while expressing his love for his child, and the knowledge and development of his craft.
His photographs have been collected by museums around the world and have inspired taste-makers as diverse as Elton John and Alexander McQueen. (McQueen, in fact based his Fall 2009 collection on Kerstens’ image of Paula with a plastic bag as a head-dress, using the image as his invitation for the show.)

Kerstens continues to live and work in Amsterdam.

Year Exhibition TitleGallery/MuseumSolo/Group
2014UntitledNunc Contemporary, Antwerp, BelgiumGroup
2014UntitledKansas City Art Institute, Kansas City, USAGroup
2014Material Self: Performing the Other Within Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art, Toronto, CanadaGroup
2013UntitledDanziger Gallery, New York, USA Solo
2013UntitledGalerie Photo 12, Paris, FranceGroup
2013UntitledArt Moscow Art Fair, Moscow, RussiaGroup
2013UntitledErarta Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia Solo
2012UntitledArmory Show, New York, USAGroup
2012UntitledSanta Barbara Museum of Art, Santa Barbara, USAGroup
2012UntitledAmsterdam Museum, Amsterdam, The NetherlandsGroup
2011UntitledStephanie Hoppen Gallery, London, EnglandSolo
2010UntitledWallraf Richarts Museum, Cologne, GermanyGroup
2010Leadarwards Hamburg, GermanyGroup
2010UntitledStephanie Hoppen Gallery, London, United KingdomGroup
2010Zona Maco Mexico City, MexicoGroup
2010Dutch Art Now National Arts Club, New York, United States of AmericaGroup
2010Scope New York United States of AmericaGroup
2010IFAE Miami International Art Fair, United States of AmericaGroup
2010UntitledArt Rotterdam, The NetherlandsGroup
2010UntitledArt Palm Beach, United States of America Group
2009Pulse Miami United States of AmericaGroup
2009UntitledPAN Amsterdam, The NetherlandsGroup
2009UntitledMuseum of the City of New York, New York, United States of America Group
2009UntitledF,Stop Internationales Fotografie Festival, Leipzig, GermanyGroup
2009UntitledLondon International Fine Art Fair at Olympia, United KingdomGroup
2009Pulse New York United States of AmericaGroup
2009UntitledLondon Art Fair, United Kingdom Group
2009UntitledPhoto Los Angeles, United States of AmericaGroup
2009UntitledArt Rotterdam,The NetherlandsGroup
2008Photo MiamiNational Portrait Gallery, London, United Kingdom Group
2008UntitledPAN Amsterdam, The NetherlandsGroup
2008UntitledWitzenhausen Gallery, New York, United States of AmericaGroup
2008UntitledByron Cohen Gallery, Kansas City, United States of AmericaGroup
2008Art Amsterdam The Netherlands Group
2008UntitledLeids Universitair Medisch Centrum (LUMC), Leiden, The Netherlands Art Rotterdam, The NetherlandsGroup
2008Circa San Juan, Puerto RicoGroup
2008Scope Basel, SwitserlandGroup
2008ArteBa Buenos Aires, ArgentinaGroup
200821c Museum Louisville, Kentucky, United States of AmericaGroup
2008UntitledPhotofolies en Touraine, FranceGroup
2007UntitledPAN Amsterdam, The NetherlandsGroup
2007UntitledContemporary Istanbul, TurkeyGroup
2007UntitledWitzenhausen Gallery, Amsterdam, The NetherlandsGroup
2007UntitledPhoto Los Angeles, United States of AmericaGroup
2007UntitledArt Rotterdam,The NetherlandsGroup
2007Diva, New York United States of AmericaGroup
2007Scope New York United States of AmericaGroup
2007Scope Basel SwitserlandGroup
2007Art Brussels BelgiumGroup
2007Expo 07 Arte Brescia, ItalyGroup
2007Circa San Juan, Puerto RicoGroup
2007Artbo Bogota, ColumbiaGroup
2007Scope Miami United States of AmericaGroup
2006UntitledArt Rotterdam, The NetherlandsGroup
2006Scope New York United States of AmericaGroup
2006UntitledBerliner Liste, Berlin, GermanyGroup
2006UntitledMichael Hoppen Gallery, London, United KingdomGroup
2006UntitledArt Amsterdam, The NetherlandsGroup
2006UntitledParis Photo FranceGroup
2006PAN Amsterdam The NetherlandsGroup
2006Scope Miami United States of AmericaGroup
2005Palm Beach 3 United States of AmericaGroup
2005UntitledArt Rotterdam, The NetherlandsGroup
2005UntitledPhoto London, United KingdomGroup
2005Aeroplastics Boost in the Shell, Bruges, BelgiumGroup
2005UntitledSotheby’s, London, United KingdomGroup
2005UntitledPAN Amsterdam, The NetherlandsGroup
2005UntitledGEM Museum, The Hague, The NetherlandsGroup
2005UntitledArt Rotterdam, The NetherlandsGroup
2005UntitledPhoto London, United KingdomGroup
2005UntitledAeroplastics Contemporary, Brussels, BelgiumGroup
2003UntitledPhotofestival Naarden, The NetherlandsGroup
2003UntitledWitzenhausen Gallery, Amsterdam, The NetherlandsGroup
2003UntitledFOAM in the Vondelpark, Amsterdam, The NetherlandsGroup