Amsterdam today represents a number of unique artists such as Viviane Sassen, Erwin Olaf, Rineke Djikstra, Inez & Vinoodh, and many more with their personal aesthetic standing out on the international art market.
Within only a 10 min walk from the Central Station, there is an area called Westerdok with old-style charming docks, harbours and renovated ancient warehouses - the place where you will find the best contemporary photography gallery in Amsterdam.
'Horse And Rider'| ©Freudenthal/Verhagen | Courtesy of The Ravestijn Gallery
The Ravestijn Gallery was founded in 2012 by Jasper Bode and Narda van 't Veer, which focuses on and champions conceptual contemporary photography. Having worked in the field of photography for over 25 years, Bode and van 't Veer bring together decades of experience in curating photography exhibitions and represent a diverse group of photographic talents.
The gallery displays both Dutch and international artists whose work combines strong aesthetics with deeper conceptual layers.
Self Service, 2006 | ©Inez&Vinoodh | Courtesy of The Ravestijn Gallery
"We are specialised in photography, but also anything that has to do with it," says Bode." We live with photography. We look for artists who use photography as a basis, who add another layer to it; building the story; who try and play around with photography as a medium. For example, at the last Art Rotterdam fair, we presented a solo show comprising of framed photographs combined with life-size sculptures by the artist Mariken Wessels."
Amsterdam-based Wessels was inspired by Eadweard Muybridge's little-known studies of the motion of an obese person that she bought in an auction and embarked on a series of photographs, films, and sculptures.
As I walked in the Ravestijn gallery, I was suddenly surrounded by the portraits of the exhibition Love Me by artist Robin de Puy.
At first glance, the portraits in this exhibition have nothing in common: starting from an up-and-coming model named Birk to Randy, an adolescent boy who lives in Ely, Nevada. There were portraits of both young and elderly people, broken shopping trolleys, and old hands. Beautiful and ugly. But does ugly even exist? Not in the images of Robin de Puy, who finds beauty in what others regard as unsightly.
Unexpected, moving beauty is what links the photos, and De Puy's touch is present in every image. As a photographer, she determines who participates in her photographic world; she is the director, and, in her world, everyone has a specific, undeniable beauty.
This is just one of the many precious things you can find at The Ravestijn gallery - the commitment to exploring new photography perspectives and dedication to nurturing young talent largely contributes to the gallery's relevance in today's rich contemporary photography landscape.
In addition to exhibitions, participation in international fairs, and museum exhibitions, the gallery holds an expansive collection of 20th century and contemporary photographs.
What distinguishes The Ravestijn from other galleries is its online presence. Bode, in one of his interviews, said: "With the emergence of online platforms and specific websites, buying and collecting art has become easier for everyone. The digital revolution created a brand new clientele in the art world and made the artworks more attainable and visible worldwide."
When asking him about the artists they represent, Bode points out French fine art photographer Vincent Fournier. Fascinated by science and technologies, Fournier explores the future of our society and the biological changes to come. His photographs are a mix of fantasy and reality, showing us the next innovations to come and what could happen to our civilization.
His show Space Utopia collected over a decade of Fournier's work on space exploration and earth. His photography evokes a tenacious nostalgia towards the science fiction of the twentieth century and reflects both the past, present, and future of international space travel. The exhibition consisted of photos from various international space stations and research centers, and it was Fournier's third show at The Ravestijn Gallery.
Black Helmet NASA | ©Vincent Fournier | Courtesy of The Ravestijn Gallery
Bode also mentions his admiration for the work of a Swedish-born, Berlin-based artist Eva Stenram. Stenram's photographic practice brings together analogical archival material and digital manipulation, sifting through past and present artifacts, interacting with and re-interpreting the imagery she encounters.
Negatives, slides, magazines, images from the internet, and photographic prints are her source of inspiration as well as working material. These photographs are sometimes scanned, sometimes re-photographed, and subsequently changed through digital, analogue or physical manipulation, leading to fantastic and arresting images.
When talking about the new movements in contemporary art photography, Bode explains: "There are new movements, of course. And if you want to go and look something extreme, have a look at Nico Krijno. He is a young South-African artist. I saw some of his work online, and was immediately gripped by it." In his studio, Krijno builds installations of wood, fabrics, plants, and other materials, which he then photographs, only to cut them up digitally afterwards, painting with the digital information of the images. Through this practice, he achieves his unique and distinguished visual language that resonates with many artists working today.
Hawequas, 2016 | ©Nico Krijno | Courtesy of The Ravestijn Gallery
As of 2018, The Ravestijn Gallery is representing the famous photographers' duo Inez & Vinoodh, known for their fearless and adventurous photography. The Dutch and New York-based artists Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin are partners and collaborators whose practice moves between genres and media, pop-culture, fashion, and art.
The duo has been exploring and pushing the boundaries of art and fashion photography for over three decades. In the early 90's they were at the forefront of using new developments in digital technology for photography, paired with a bold aesthetic sensibility, which resulted in a signature style that has become the world-famous brand: Inez & Vinoodh. Their friendship goes back to when they were students at the prestigious Gerrit Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam. From 1990 till 1997, when Inez left for New York, Jasper Bode was her agent.
"We wanted to publish a new book with triptychs. Combining 3 images, creating an almost abstract storyline. But a tryptic on a two-page spread didn't work. So we quickly came to the conclusion that it would be best to show our triptychs on the wall."
Therefore they discussed the idea with Jasper Bode and The Ravestijn Gallery and quickly agreed on collaboration.
Inez & Vinoodh have created ground-breaking editorials for such publications as American, French, Japanese and Italian Vogue, V Magazine, Visionaire, The New York Times Magazine, The Gentlewoman, and W Magazine, as well as campaigns for Balenciaga, Balmain, Calvin Klein, Chanel, Dior, Gucci, Isabel Marant, Louis Vuitton, Miu Miu, Valentino and Yohji Yamamoto.
Their work has been exhibited in galleries and museums internationally, including the Stedelijk Museum and Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, the Hayward Gallery in London, the Deichtor Hallen in Hamburg, and the Whitney Museum of Contemporary Art in New York. A retrospective show titled PRETTY MUCH EVERYTHING 1985-2010 began its international tour at FOAM, Amsterdam, in the summer of 2010 and has since travelled to the Pavillion Bienal in Sao Paulo, the Dallas Contemporary in Dallas and Fotografiska in Stockholm.