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Helena van der Kraan (1940-2020)

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A few days ago i learned that Helena van der Kraan had died at the age of 80.

I have encountered Helena a number of times at the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag where she had become friends with many of its staff. At many occasions these friendships grew into series of portraits and i remember at one time she made photographs of all the staff to be published in a little book which was presented to Theo van Velzen at his leaving the museum. A very kind woman she was and she will be surely remembered for her great photographs she made during her entire career.

On June 14th, on her 80th birthday, former participant and photographer Helena van der Kraan passed away. Born in Prague in 1940, she came to the Netherlands shortly after the uprising in former Czechoslovakya in 1968, for a two year residency at what was then known as ‘ateliers ’63’. There she met sculptor Axel van der Kraan, with whom she collaborated for many years on large-scale, wooden sculptures, until Helena’s artistic practice focussed more and more on photography. She is known for her restrained and tender portraits of artist friends. Her work is represented in the collections of the Rijksmuseum, the Stedelijk Museum and Museum Boijmans-Van Beuningen. In Fotomuseum The Hague, her series of teddybear photographs is on view until November 1st, 2020.


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David van de Kop ( 1937-1994 )

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I would have liked to have known David van de Kop, since i have seen practically all his exhibitions in the Netherlands from the mid Eighties until his death in 1994. For me van de Kop is foremost a sculptor and less a painter. Most if his sculptures a fairly large and compositions with different kinds of materials . Steel, stone, ceramics. Every material is suitable for a sculpture. David van de Kop was educated by Carel Visser and in his turn he taught Arjanne van der Spek. Two artists i admire very much.

So for me personally it is a natural admiration, but his works are not only admired by me. His works are present in numerous dutch Museums of Modern art, but because of their size are hardly present within the collections of the well known dutch private collectors. This should be different, but time will show the importance of van de Kop and it will not take long before his works receive the recognition they deserve. David van de Kop publications are now available at

( and yes it still is possible to not find a portrait photo of the artist, so i have put his sculpture DE WACHTERS, on top of the blog)

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the final … Piet Dirkx weekly

This is the last of the “Piet Dirkx weekly” . After i had finished the cigarboxes 2 years ago and now the series publishing almost 80 Piet Dirkx weekly’s . This series has now come to an end.

Small, important, rare kinds of Piet Dirkx publications and collectibles have come along. Does this mean that there will no longer be any Piet Dirkx publications/ blogs anymore? Certainly not….. i will be preparing in the next months the material for another 60+ works by Piet Dirkx and will publish these in a “PIET DIRKX MONTHLY”.

For now i have decided this beautiful and cherished 2009 New Years wish by Piet Dirkx to conclude this series. It is a pencil and watercolor drawing. Signed  and colored by Piet.

measures 14 x 9 cm.

dirkx nieuwjaar mond

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Reinier Gerritsen (1950)

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Reinier Gerritsen is a Street photographer “pur sang” , but i found an exception to his works as a street photographer in a book i acquired recently from the library of Total design. In this book which is now available at, i noticed that his photographs were mostly staged. The book BLINDE VERRASSING is published i a small edition in 1993. The photographs look like real pictures on photographic paper, but they are actually printed on special paper. Bound with 3 screws it looks like a very special publication.

In 2008, on a hot day in May, I was walking along the Thirty-Third Street subway platform in New York City. Suddenly they were there, as if I had asked them to pose for me. Red lips, a red bag, and a red sweater. The reds all happened to be in the right place. I pressed the button several times. A blond woman stood reading One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez, a look of concentration on her face; she was clearly reading a sad part of the book. My second character was intently reading Ayn Rand. Another woman was reading a book from her Kindle device. Unfortunately, Kindle does not display the cover of the book being read, so I will never know what she was reading. In the background of the photograph I took that day, you can see a man looking suspiciously into my camera.


You might ask: How did I get here, photographing readers on the 6 local train? It started with the financial crisis. For a few years prior, I was working on my street photography project The Europeans. The book was ready to print, but unfortunately, the crisis had depleted my funds, and I was unable to publish it. I decided to photograph the guys that caused it. I ended up on Wall Street, where I could feel the tension and hoped to capture it in my photographs. Yet people reacted in a friendly way toward my camera and me. When people questioned what I was doing in their subway, I handed them a little slip of paper that explained my project. Within a year I had gathered enough material to make a book. My American colleague Gus Powell came up with the title Wall Street Stop (2011), and provided a text, which captured the essence of what I wanted to achieve with my photographs:

Starting in 2011, this notion drove me to again photograph people reading. This has resulted in an enormous archive of images of individuals and their books, now presented here. These images constitute a document of this transitional moment — but not, one hopes, of the truly last printed book.

gerritsen blinde

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Dick Ket (1902-1940)

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This blog is long time overdue. Of course we have some of the greatest realistic painters in the Netherlands from the 20th century. Specially Carel Willink and Pyke Koch are well known, but my personal favorite in this genre is definitely Dick Ket. Ket had a short but very productive painter’s life , specially the last 10 years of his life he had a large production and made a name for himself producing beautiful highly detailled portraits and oil paintings.

His health was fragile, but had he had better health i am sure that his style would have developed into a brilliant abstract kind of paintings , since he experimented with cubism during his career which could have become the fundament of his abstract painting. What is left are some brilliant portraits and still life paintings that could be compared with the best that painting has brought us in the 20th century in the Netherlands. is fortunate to have some dick Ket titles available.

ket arnhem

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Polariteit and Polarität, 1961 exhibition

No difference in name of the exhibition. Just a different spelling. One is for the 1961 Stedelijk Museum and the other for the 19761 Recklinghausen exhibition. Both are designed by Willem Sandberg, almost identical covers and the use of different sorts of paper is equal too. …….But there is a difference. The German catalogue contains 208 pages and the dutch only 140 pages. I am still wondering if the complete exhibition was at the Stedelijk Museum or that the Recklinghaus exhibition was much more complete. I prefer the german one and i wish i could have seen this one. It is such a great exhibition and must be counted as one of the greatest exhibitions from the second half of last century.

Both catalogues are now available at

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Eric de Nie ( 1944 )

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It must have been in 1979. Because at that time  i started to take an interest in more serious abstract art and one of the first galleries i visited was a local one. The ARTLINE gallery represented some nice artists. Among them Tomas Rajlich of whom i first saw some great paintings and an american artist….Larry Poons. I liked his vertical rectangular shaped canvasses. It was clear to me that part of the composition was by coincidence. From top to bottom he “painted  with acrylic. Great abstract expressionist art and i believe the ARtline gallery was later continued as Seasons galery . The Seasons gallery presented aroudn 2000 a series of paintings by Eric de Nie.

left Poons / right de Nie

The paintings/vertical drip paintings were in technique similar to the ones i had seen twenty years earlier, but with a much lighter touch and more precise. The video shows the process of painting. The result great paintings that stand on their own.

De Nie has a very personal method to compose his paintings. At first he chooses three to five, sometimes even six, colors of (diluted) paint that he drips on the canvas one by one. He arranges a pattern of stripes by an almost mathematical system, ‘out of an agreement with myself’ as he calls it. After using all of the colors the sharp lines get faded out with half-wet pencils in different sizes, causing the colors to blend and resulting in a richer pallet of colors. For the second and following layers the artist uses the same colors again, this time liberated from the earlier restriction of the system as De Nie reacts to the consequences of his previous actions in a more coincidental way. The process results in a universe of layers, that seduces the spectator to wander around in the painting endlessly.

The artist developed this method in the last fifteen years. Growing unto more refinement at first to subsequently (partly) throw that overboard by wiping the lines away, the style of De Nie evolved over the years. Nevertheless his paintings show a very characteristic manner. The motives of vibrant lines are hard to see through and make you wonder if they are either randomly arranged or organized according to an ingenious pattern. A mystery that is caused by the combination of the tightness of the systematic starting point, the dynamic appearance of the partly faded stripes and the more reactive way of painting in the later phase.

A major inspiration to De Nie is music, especially experimental jazz and composed contemporary music. In the past some of the titles of his work referred to pieces of music by his favorite composers, such as Giacinto Scelsi, Morton Feldman and György Ligeti. Also in performances, in which he painted while listening to music, the reference is clear. In this kind of music De Nie ‘hears a feeling’ that suits his way of painting. The aspect of increasing and fading is strongly present in his recent paintings, as the concentration of lines expands or the colors are more bright at one point and less dense or intense in the next area. Opposite to the work he made before 2005, which showed a more all-over way of painting with less accents, his latest work shows more range in rhythm and emphasis, providing an experience of space and time to the spectator. De Nie himself likes to certify his work as lyrical: ‘By that I mean the reminding of a lyrical feeling by looking at my work. My paintings are pieces of music in color.’ has some Eric de Nie titles available.

de nie geel

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Hildo Krop (continued)

Almost a year ago i published my first blog on Hildo Krop, who’s work you can encounter all over the streets and bridges of Amsterdam. You can read it here:

Hildo Krop (1884-1970)

I recently discovered that he also made some special covers for the “Kroniek van Kunst en Kultuur” which was published in the late Forties from last century. The woodcuts he made for the cover of this magazine have all a  very strong appealing composition. Dark and much influenced by his German counterparts these covers are wonderful prints. The best is of course that these were taken from the original woodblocks and therefore true original woodblock prints by Hildo krop.

krop kroniek b

this “Kroniek van Kunst en Kultuur” is now available at


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José Vermeersch (1922-1997)

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One of the only sculptors from Belgium who has made a name for himself during the second half of last century. Of course for me the best during those years is Walter Leblanc, but although his work is completely different the sculptures by Vermeersch rate for me personally almost as high as the ones by Leblanc and he certainly is one of the best from Belgium of the lastFifty years. The title of the book that is now for sale at is BEELDBOUWER and reflects the way Vermeersch “builds” his sculptures, which are constructed from different kinds of ceramic parts.

The individual parts are controlled and shaped until they enter the oven at 1200 Celsius. After that the fire shapes the surface and makes the “skin” of the ceramics dustier, sandy more experimental. With some sculpturen “props” are added like hair, sticks and beads., but always the shape and structure in the end is a typical Vermeersch sculpture.

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Ulrich Rückriem (continued)

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A few years ago i wrote a blog on the work of art i was able to buy , but did not. The story is as follows. At that time the Gemeentemuseum was printing its publications with the very best printers in the Netherlands. Among them was of course Lecturis and my contact with Lecturis was the late Jan Jongepier. Jan , knowing my interest in art , offered me at one time a series of original works of art. All were for sale through Lecturis. Lecturis had at one time accepted works of art as (partial) payment for the publications they were printing for the artists. These publications were made outside the official editions for the dutch museums or accepted as part of the financing of the editions. They build a nice collection this way, but did not know what to do with it, hence the offer, which was made to me. In retrospect i can tell that these prices were outright cheap, but at that time i could not finance any of the works offered.

Still i always remember Jan and his art collection from Lecturis. Specially now that i have added the Rückriem catalogue which must have been the origin of the Ruckriem work in the Lecturis collection. It is now available at

ruckriem abbe