The Merchant House on Herengracht 254 presents and sells contemporary art. Established by Marsha Plotnitsky in 2012 as a modern take on the Amsterdam tradition of a merchant, it is a self-supporting exhibition space. Taking inspiration from our location, we seek to explore the city as a critical nexus and reconnect with the avant-garde themes that exemplify it.
At The Merchant House, we feel there is a real need for mixed venues dedicated to contemporary art, business, and culture in Amsterdam today—post-crisis and with the reopening of its great museums. Our plan is to rely on dynamic social networks to create a flexible program and to invite people for art exhibitions, talks, concerts, and social evenings encouraging an exchange of ideas in different fields.
Marsha Plotnitsky established The Merchant House at Herengracht 254 in 2012. The concept behind Herengracht 254 as an art center is to use architecture and curatorial projects for new forms of interaction with customers and the general public. The program is funded by art sales in response to the city’s post-crisis cultural needs.
“Why not have pleasure in the way you use money” -- read René Bogaarts’s interview with Marsha Plotnitsky inHet Financieele Dagblad, February 2016 ENGL and NL
“See how this city flourishes” -- read Ronald Ockhuysen's interview with Marsha Plotnitsky in Amsterdam's Het Parool, May 2014
After a twenty-year career in business, primarily as Managing Director and Principal at the Wall Street firm, Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette (“DLJ”), Ms. Plotnitsky spent ten years pursuing research interests focusing on politics, society, culture, and economics worldwide.
While still at DLJ, Ms. Plotnitsky founded the not-for-profit Institute for the Cooperation or Art and Research (“ICAR”). To publicly launch ICAR in 1999, she conceived and, with the Dutch artist R. Lipsius, co-directed the ICAR-Paris Art/Research 2000 Program, involving major artists D. Oppenheim, V. Acconci, J. Coplans, JCJ Vanderheyden, along with the ENSBA-Paris project led by the French art historian J-F Chevrier. Ms. Plotnitsky authored ICAR’s publications and releases, and the program was critically acclaimed for a new way of profiling art and artists. In conjunction with ICAR, she has collected contemporary art (R. Rauschenberg, J. Schoonhoven, H. Peeters, J. Coplans, J-P Bertrand, R. Pondick, D. Oppenheim). She has assisted artists in their careers since 1985.
From 1991 till 2001, as Managing Director and Principle at DLJ (acquired by Credit Suisse First Boston in 2000), Ms. Plotnitsky was responsible for leading professional teams in project finance, acquisitions, restructuring, and merchant banking services, advising clients in US and international markets. She joined DLJ as Vice President in 1984. Prior to joining DLJ, she was an Assistant Vice President in project finance at Bank of Montreal, New York, where she started in the bank’s training program in 1980 and was promoted to an officer in less than three years. Ms. Plotnitsky served as Chair of DLJ’s Fairness and Valuation Committee and as a Director of STG Corporation.
Ms Plotnitsky was born in St. Petersburg and moved to the US in 1976. She graduated summa cum laude with a BA in Linguistics from the University of Pennsylvania in 1978 and earned an MBA with high distinction from the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School in 1980. Prior to moving to Amsterdam, where she now lives with her daughter, Ms. Plotnitsky has lived and worked in New York and Paris.
The Canal House
Canal houses of the 1600s and squatter houses of the 1960s are part of Amsterdam. These houses, and life within them, formed the avant-garde of their time and proposed a way of life to imitate. By domiciling The Merchant House at Herengracht 254, we are in some ways reflecting on the worldview that posits “post-historical melancholy.” The challenge was to turn the utilitarian rooms, badly disfigured by earlier renovations, into vibrant, thought-provoking spaces not frozen in history but grounded in an engaging mix of contemporary Dutch lifestyle and international commerce.
One enters Herengracht 254 through the commercial bel étage at, what we call, the first level— for contemplation and reading; it is experienced as separate from the second level— for showcasing art. With the window shutter/screen down, the two levels can merge— for video and film. Spreading to the outdoors Amsterdam-style, the artworks and life around them are inadvertently exposed through the high windows of the bel étage to the eyes of the passersby, part of the city shop windows and the play of light on the canal—“YouTube” in real.
The “concept level” of the restored Stijlkamer boasts an authentic 18th century ceiling painting by a Dutch master. The beautiful flora of his hand is still there as if to preside—her “embarrassment of riches” notwithstanding—as we endeavor to develop new ideas and programs rooted in the uniqueness of the Amsterdam style of residence—a house whose intimacy spills into the street, the boat, and into the local shop.
Dirk van Weelden
Productions and Communications
Contact: Floor Barger and Marie Claire van Hessen
Since The Merchant House is a new venue with a small staff, we are unable to respond to unsolicited submissions. However, if you are having a show, we will endeavor to come and see your work.
General Inquiries and press: firstname.lastname@example.org