Hendrik Kerstens

Bio

It’s easy to see why Hendrik Kerstens has made his daughter Paula the subject of a quarter-century’s worth of photographs. That is, it’s easy to see now. Looking through images of her arresting face over two decades-plus, you may wonder: in 1994, with the early portrait, “Chair,” could the artist possibly have glimpsed what that implacable gaze might turn into in adulthood?

If the early photographs flowed from a simple paternal desire to capture his daughter’s fleeting childhood, the leap in Kersten’s work began with a moment of seeing Paula on horseback, her classical Dutch features in a striking consonance with those of the women in Old Masters paintings from Jan Van Eyck to Vermeer and Rembrandt. His photographs began to reflect the composition, enigmatic intensity, and unmistakable “Dutch light” of Golden Age portraits, often with a sly, modern twist—embossed paper towels to suggest a lace head-scarf, a crown of ethernet cables or soda cans, a black veil revealed as a garbage bag. These images seamlessly merge the history of Western painting with contemporary concerns and digital photographic techniques.

In a 2020 essay, Kerstens cites Van Eyck’s “Man in Red Turban” as “the first modern portrait...where the history of the pictorial exchange between the human gaze and the viewer originates.” That exchange reflects the tensions Kerstens holds between photography and painting, conventional motifs and modern topics, the model’s serious expression and her quirky garb all contribute to the dynamism of his work. With Paula’s pale, somber face and hazel eyes lit to balance reflection and translucence, she seems to gaze back across half a millennium from our current moment with a knowing perspective on what it means to look at art while being looked at by it. Recent work refines this balance, the father-daughter, artist-model relationship now a partnership of equals as Paula has assumed a collaborative role in image-making and other aspects of the work.

Kerstens has influenced other tastemakers and artists including Elton John and Alexander McQueen. The latter’s Autumn/Winter 2009 collection paid homage to Kerstens’s “Bag,” using the image as the invitation to the fashion show. The New York Times Magazine has frequently commissioned him to make portraits illustrating their interviews, including film producer Michael Haneke, visual artist Marlene Dumas, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Alec Baldwin and others.

Kerstens has exhibited at acclaimed institutions around the world including: the National Portrait Gallery, London; the Museum of Photographic Arts (MOPA), San Diego, California; Santa Barbara Museum of Art, California; Erarta Museum, St. Petersburg; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Toronto; and the Whangarei Art Museum, New Zealand, among others. His work is in major public and private collections such as: the Santa Barbara Museum of Art; the Museum of Photography in The Hague; the Sir Elton John Photography Collection, London; the Caldic Collection, Rotterdam; and the Alexander McQueen Collection, London. Kerstens has won multiple awards, including: the Silver Portrait Photography of the Year Prize, Lead Awards, Germany, 2010; the Second Prize Winner of the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize, National Portrait Gallery, London, 2008; and the PANL Award, Netherlands, 2001.

 

EXHIBITIONS

2020

  • SAVANNAH – TELFAIR MUSEUMS – 'YOUTHFUL ADVENTURES: GROWING UP IN PHOTOGRAPHY' [SEP 18 – APR 18 '21]

 

2019

  • MIAMI – ART MIAMI [DEC 3 – 8]

  • AMSTERDAM – PAN AMSTERDAM [NOV 24 – DEC 1]

  • DARWIN – DARWIN ENTERTAINMENT CENTRE – 'KERSTENS AND OLAF EXHIBITION' [JUL 15 – AUG 16]

  • LONDON – PHOTO LONDON [MAY 16 – 19]

  • TILBURG – TEXTIELMUSEUM – 'BLACK & WHITE' [MAR 23 – MAR 1 '20]

  • LOS ANGELES – PHOTO LA [JAN 31 – FEB 3]

  • MIAMI – PALM BEACH MODERN + CONTEMPORARY [JAN 10 – 13]

 

2018

  • MIAMI – PULSE ART FAIR [DEC 6 – 9]

  • BALLARAT INTERNATIONAL FOTO BIENNALE – CRAIGS ROYAL HOTEL – 'OLAF/KERSTENS EXHIBITION' [NOV 10 – FEB 24]

  • SANKT GALLEN – TEXTILMUSEUM – 'LACE AND STATUS' [OCT 26 – FEB 10]

  • CAIRNS – CAIRNS ART GALLERY – 'KERSTENS + OLAF' [AUG 24 – OCT 7]

  • HAIFA – HAIFA MUSEUM OF ART – 'SHOP IT!' [JUL 22 – JAN 20]

  • FLENSBURG – MUSEUMSBERG FLENSBURG – 'AUS NEU MACHT ALT' [JUL 1 – OCT 21]

  • BASEL – PHOTO BASEL – FLATLAND GALLERY [JUN 12 – 17]

  • SAN FRANCISCO – JENKINS JOHNSON GALLERY – 'SPRING SELECTIONS' [MAR 22 – MAY 12]

  • BRISBANE – QUT ART MUSEUM – 'PORTRAY AND PLAY' [JAN 6 – FEB 4]

 

2017

  • KNOKKE – KUNSTGALERIJ DE MIJLPAAL – 'RETROSPECTIVE' [NOV 25 – FEB 25]

  • CANBERRA – ANU SCHOOL OF ARTS – 'DUTCH CONTEMPORARY PHOTOGRAPHY' [OCT 14 – 27]

  • ALKERSUM – MUSEUM KUNST DER WESTKÜSTE – 'RELOAD!' [SEP 17 – JAN 1]

  • AKRON OHIO – AKRON ART MUSEUM – 'SERIAL INTENT' / 'FAMILY' [JUN 3 – SEPT 10]

  • BASEL – PHOTO BASEL – FLATLAND GALLERY [JUN 13 – 18]

  • PERTH – CENTER OF PHOTOGRAPHY – 'A NARRATIVE OF LIGHT AND SHADOW' – WITH ERWIN OLAF [JUN 8 – JULY 9]

  • KUWAIT – SULTAN GALLERY – 'BLUE NIGHTS' [MAY 23 – JUN 8]

  • CAEN – MUSÉE DES BEAUX-ARTS DE CAEN – 'CE QUI EST LÀ' [MAY 19 – SEPT 10]

  • NEW YORK – AIPAD [MAR 30 - APR 2]

  • PARIS – ART PARIS [MAR 30 - APR 2]

  • ANN ARBOR – UMMA MUSEUM OF MICHIGAN – 'VICTORS OF ART' [FEB 18 – JUN 11]

  • ADELAIDE – FRINGE FESTIVAL [FEB 18 – MAR 18]

  • ADELAIDE – SASA GALLERY OF ART – 'A NARRATIVE OF LIGHT AND SHADOW' – WITH ERWIN OLAF [FEB 17 – MAR 17]

  • MANNHEIM – REISS-ENGELHORN MUSEUM WITH KUNSTHISTORISCHES MUSEUM WIEN – ‘BAROCK, NUR SCHÖNER SCHEIN’ [ – FEB 17]

  • LEIDEN – GALERIE LUMC – 'VELE GEZICHTEN' [ – JAN 22]

  • WEST PALM BEACH – BEACH MODERN & CONTEMPORARY FAIR [JAN 12 – JAN 15]

  • GENK – HASSELT – CULTUURCENTRUM – TM TRADEMARKS [ – JAN 8]

 

2016

  • MELBOURNE – MONASH GALLERY OF ART – 'A NARRATIVE OF LIGHT AND SHADOW' WITH ERWIN OLAF

  • MIAMI – ART MIAMI – SCOPE

  • CHICAGO – INTERNATIONAL EXPOSITION OF CONTEMPORARY AND MODERN ART

  • GENÈVE – MUSÉE DES PENTHES – 'REMBRANDT À GENÈVE, QUAND LES PAYS-BAS RENCONTRENT LA SUISSE'

  • SEATTLE – ART FAIR

  • SAN DIEGO – MOPA MUSEUM OF PHOTOGRAPHY – 'THE BEAUTY AND THE BEAST'

  • LONDON – PHOTO LONDON

  • SAN FRANCISCO – JENKINS JOHNSON – 'PORTRAITURE'

  • SYDNEY – 'HEAD ON' PHOTO FESTIVAL

  • BRUSSELS – ART BRUSSELS

  • NEW YORK – AIPAD

  • SYDNEY – CUSTOM HOUSE – 'A NARRATIVE OF LIGHT AND SHADOW' – WITH ERWIN OLAF

  • KARLSRUHE – ART KARLSRUHE

 

2015

  • SAN DIEGO – MOPA MUSEUM OF PHOTOGRAPHY – 'MODEL AND MUSE'

  • DUIVENVOORDE – CASTLE DUIVENVOORDE – NATIONAL PORTRAIT WEEKEND

  • BERGEN AAN ZEE – MUSEUM KRANENBORGH – 'SILENCE OUT LOUD' – CURATOR AUTHOR JOOST ZWAGERMAN

  • AMSTERDAM – RADEMAKERS GALLERY – SOLO

  • AUCKLAND – WHANGAREI ART MUSEUM – 'A NARRATIVE OF LIGHT AND SHADOW' – WITH ERWIN OLAF

  • LONDON – PHOTO LONDON

  • NEW YORK – DANZIGER GALLERY – WONDERFUL LIES

  • BOSTON – BARBARA KRAKOW GALLERY

  • AMSTERDAM – KUNSTRAI

  • MIAMI – PULSE

  • SAN FRANCISCO – FOG DESIGN & ART FAIR

  • AMSTERDAM – PAN

  • KUWAIT – SULTAN GALLERY – 'STILL' – WITH ROBERT POLIDORI

 

2014

  • TORONTO – MOCCO MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY CANADIAN ART – 'IDENTITY: MATERIAL SELF – PERFORMING THE OTHER WITHIN'

  • AMSTERDAM – CONTINENTAL AMSTEL HOTEL – 'SPECIAL PORTRAITS'

  • PARIS – PARIS PHOTO

  • IJSSELSTEIN – IJSSELSTEIN MUSEUM – 'ONGEKEND KANT'

  • MIAMI – PULSE

  • SAN JOSE – SAN JOSE MUSEUM OF ART – 'POST-PORTRAIT'

  • WELLINGTON – 30UPSTAIRS – 'DUTCHDAYZ'

 

2013

  • BEIJING – ART BEIJING

  • MIAMI – PULSE

  • MOSCOW – THE MOSCOW ART FAIR

  • THE HAGUE – GEMEENTEMUSEUM – 'PHOTO AS FIGURE'

  • PARIS – PARIS PHOTO LA

  • AMSTERDAM – AMSTERDAM MUSEUM – 'THE AMSTERDAM ART STATION'

  • NIJMEGEN – MUSEUM HET VALKHOF – 'EXTENDED PHOTOGRAPHY

  • NEW YORK – DANZIGER GALLERY – SUMMER SELECTIONS

  • NIZHNY NOVGOROD – NATIONAL CENTRE FOR CONTEMPORARY ARTS – 'PAULA'

  • MOSCOW – CENTRAL HOUSE OF ARTISTS – 'PAULA'

  • BOSTON – BARBARA KRAKOW GALLERY

  • AMSTERDAM – PAN

  • NEW YORK – AIPAD

  • LOS ANGELES – PARIS PHOTO AT THE PARAMOUNT PICTURE STUDIOS

  • ST PETERSBURG – ERRATA MUSEUM – 'PAULA'

  • KANSAS CITY – KANSAS CITY ART INSTITUTE

  • NEW YORK – DANZIGER GALLERY – SOLO

  • OBERHAUSEN – LUDWIG GALERIE SCHLOSS OBERHAUSEN – 'HAIR! DAS HAAR IN DER KUNST'

 

2012

  • NEW YORK – MUSEUM OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK – 'DUTCH ART NOW'

  • MIAMI – PULSE

  • SAN FRANCISCO – PIER 24 – 'ABOUT FACE'

  • PARIS – PARIS PHOTO

  • AMSTERDAM – AMSTERDAM MUSEUM – 'GOLDEN CENTURY – THE BIRTHPLACE OF OUR WORLD'

  • BRUSSELS – FOTO FEVER

  • LONDON – EMBASSY OF THE NETHERLANDS – 'RECONNAISSANCE – DUTCH COLLECTORS'

  • NEW YORK – AIPAD

  • THE HAGUE – GEMEENTEMUSEUM – 'MINIATURE MUSEUM'

  • DRESDEN – DAS DEUTSCHE HYGIENE MUSEUM – 'AUF LEBEN UND TOD - DAS GANZE LEBEN – DAS MENSCH IN MALEREI UND FOTOGRAFIE'

  • SANTA BARBARA MUSEUM OF ART – 'PORTRAIT PHOTOGRAPHY IN THE AGE OF INSTAGRAM'

 

2011

  • SAN FRANCISCO – PIER 24 – THE FISHER COLLECTIO

  • PARIS – PARIS PHOTO

  • MIAMI – PULSE IN THE ICE PALACE STUDIOS

 

2010

  • COLOGNE – WALLRAF-RICHARTZ MUSEUM – TEUTLOFF COLLECTION – 'AUF LEBEN UND TOD – DO OR DIE'

  • SANTA FE – CHARLOTTE JACKSON FINE ART – 'SELF AND FAMILY ... A RECENT LOOK'

  • THE HAGUE – MUSEUM OF PHOTOGRAPHY – 'FOTOGRAFIE! SPECIAL COLLECTION OF THE UNIVERSITY OF LEIDEN'

  • NEW YORK – NATIONAL ARTS CLUB – 15 GRAMERCY PARK – 'DUTCH ART NOW'

 

2009

  • NEW YORK – MUSEUM OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK – 'DUTCH SEEN, NEW YORK REDISCOVERED' – WITH FOAM AMSTERDAM

  • LOS ANGELES – LA ART FAIR

  • LONDON – LONDON INTERNATIONAL ART FAIR

  • ENKHUIZEN – ZUIDERZEE MUSEUM – 'GEJAAGD DOOR DE WIND' 'GONE WITH THE WIND'

 

2008

  • LONDON – NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY

  • KANSAS CITY – BYRON COHEN GALLERY

  • BERLIN – WHITE SQUARE GALLERY – 'REMINISCENCE'

  • BUENOS AIRES – ARTEBA

  • LOUISVILLE – 21C MUSEUM

 

2007

  • BASEL – SCOPE

  • NEW YORK – DIVA

  • BRESCIA – EXPO 07 ARTE

  • BOGOTA – ARTBO

  • BRUSSELS – ART BRUSSELS

  • PUERTO RICO – SAN JUAN – 'CIRCA'

 

2006

  • NEW YORK – SCOPE

  • PARIS – PARIS PHOTO

  • ROTTERDAM – ART ROTTERDAM – 'FAMILY VIEW'

  • BERLIN – BERLINER LISTE

  • AMSTERDAM – ART AMSTERDAM

  • ROTTERDAM – EUR ERASMUS UNIVERSITY – 'NIEUW'

  • LONDON – MICHAEL HOPPEN GALLERY – 'ELEVEN CONTEMPORARIES'

  • MIAMI – SCOPE

 

2005

  • THE HAGUE – GEMEENTEMUSEUM

  • LONDON – PHOTO LONDON

  • AMSTERDAM – PAN

  • ROTTERDAM – ART ROTTERDAM

  • NAARDEN – VINTAGE PHOTO – 'PAULA PICTURES'

 

2003

  • NAARDEN – FOTOFESTIVAL NAARDEN

  • AMSTERDAM – FOAM IN THE VONDELPARK

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