ABOUT
About

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.

"A Gallery as a Monument" — read The Merchant House profile by Roos van der Lindt in Amsterdam’s prestigious weekly De Groene Amsterdammer, 3 December 2015.  ENGL | NL

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.

The Founder

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.

The Team

Marsha Plotnitsky
Founding Director

Martin Whitehead
Editing

Dirk van Weelden
Editorial Advice

Stefan Altenburger
Graphic Design

Thomas Voorter
Webmaster

Seth Castein
Facility Manager

MCPR.nl
Productions and Communications
Contact: Floor Barger and Marie Claire van Hessen

Submissions

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: info@merchanthouse.nl

Save the Date
Future & Past Events

RSVP REQUIRED— INFO@MERCHANTHOUSE.NL

2016 UPCOMING EVENTS

Friday 4 November, 19:30: TMH TALKS—IN COLLABORATION WITH 
SYNERGETICA LAB

RSVP info@merchanthouse.nl LIMITED SEATS

JARRY JOYCE DUCHAMP AND CAGE -- an evening with the Legendary WILLIAM ANASTASI

Anastasi’s most recent retrospective, at Hunter College, New York, was Sound Works 1963-2013. His works are in many major museums, including the MOMA, The Met, The Art Institute of Chicago, The Guggenheim, the British Museum, Museum Ludwig in Cologne, Kunstmuseum, Düsseldorf, and the Statens Museum, Copenhagen. He received the John Cage Award in 2010 and served as Co-Artistic Advisor along with Dove Bradshaw for the Merce Cunningham Dance Company from 1984-2011. His two books, William Anastasi’s Pataphysical Society: Jarry Joyce Duchamp and Cage Dialogues: A Memoir, edited by Aaron Levy and Jean–Michel Rabaté, were published in 2005 and 2011 respectively.

Friday 25 November 25, 17:00—22:00: OPENING CELEBRATION JUDIT REIGL: LATE PAINTINGS AND DRAWINGS

The Merchant House presents Judit Reigl (age 93, French, born in Hungary), a visionary figure of contemporary abstraction in her first show in Amsterdam.

As early as 1954 André Breton invited Reigl to exhibit in Paris. She then continued as a restless innovator, and international shows and recognition (including the 1964 Guggenheim prize) followed. Reigl’s work is in the collections of the world’s leading museums, including Centre Pompidou, the Guggenheim, The Met, and the Tate Modern.

 

 

PAST EVENTS

October 7 at 19:30-22:00: BENEFIT—ART INQUIRIES INFO@MERCHANTHOUSE.NL

BART DOMBURG’S work Couperus, 2013 (fine liner on Fabriano paper, 122 x 175 cm) is for sale in support of the literary journal De Gids—inquiries info@merchanthouse.nl

Gesprek met hoofdredacteur van De Gids, EDZARD MIK; kunstenaar BART DOMBURG; schrijver DIRK VAN WEELDEN; en speciale gasten: filosoof, dichter en schrijver MAARTEN DOORMAN en componist CALIOPE TSOUPAKI

September 23-25 at 12:00-17:00: TMH JOINS THE UNSEEN ART FAIR with THE TURNER PRIZE NOMINATED ARTIST—CRAIGIE HORSFIELD

Please join us for Gallery Talks and Fizzy Drinks throughout the day.

We discuss Horsfield’s mini-retrospective, Phase III, curated for the historical space of The Merchant House.

A rare opportunity to start or augment your photography collection, or to simply enjoy these distinctive works.

Thursday 15 September, 18:00-20:00: OPENING RECEPTION

CRAIGIE HORSFIELD IN OPEN CONVERSATION WITH ADRIAN DANNATT


CRAIGIE HORSFIELD’S New Works and Slow Time

Phase iii—a Mini-retrospective

In 45 years of work in different media, Horsfield has opened significant conceptions of the community and the individual. All works are for sale—a rare opportunity to start or augment your collection.

15 September - VERNISSAGE OF CRAIGIE HORSFIELD’S MINI RETROSPECTIVE

With Open Conversation between Craigie Horsfield and Adrian Dannatt

18, 25 June - TMH Saturday 15:00-18:00: WE ARE COMMUNITY II - SCREENINGS

“The Everyday in Worldview” in the films of Carolee Schneemann, Rini Hurkmans, and Hans Scholten

11 June - TMH Saturday 15:00–18:00: WE ARE COMMUNITY I

Expanded installation art tour of the Craigie Horsfield exhibition and screening

19 May 18.00–20.00: VERNISSAGE - PHASE I

Initial installation of Craigie Horsfield's exhibition with focus on a small selection of works

29 April All Day: SNEAK PREVIEW OPEN TO ALL

5 February at 19:30: TMH WINTER GROUP SHOW: MEET THE ARTISTS

Sunday 7 February: BENEFIT LUNCH FOR THE FLAG OF COMPASSION

Hosted by The Merchant House with proceeds to benefit the Flag of Compassion

DETAILS and PAYMENTS: info@merchanthouse.nl

The Flag of Compassion is a conceptual artwork by the Dutch artist Rini Hurkmans initiated in 2002. We feel this is the time for compassion as never before... the Flag is a way to act with others or rethink for oneself... To read more

25 February at 19:30: TMH MUSIC EVENING NO. 2

IN COLLOQUY: Debussy, Pärt, Shostakovich, Stravinsky

Performed by MAX ZORIN (violin) and MARJES BENOIST (piano)

Upon the release of his award-winning debut album “French Touch”, a collection of 20th century French works for violin and piano, Strings Magazine hailed Zorin’s record as “simply magnificent.” In 2015, Zorin released his first music video “Mack The Knife” with an original arrangement for jazz quartet and won the Global Music Award as “Emerging Artist.” Accompanied by one of the most thoughtful and sensitive pianists Marjes Benoist. To read more about the artists

15 January at 19:30: TMH ANNUAL EVENT

Performative Lecture: Bridging Space and Time: Illusions, the Mind, and the Perception of Movement

Prof. Wei Ji Ma, neuroscientist, and Jody Oberfelder, choreographer, both from New York, team up for a penetrating lecture about visual and auditory illusions, interlaced with excerpts from the luminous interactive dance project The Brain Piece. To read more

December 13, 2015: FINISSAGE AND HOLIDAY RECEPTION

November 25-29, 2015: AMSTERDAM ART
Please continue to follow us on www.amsterdamart.com

November 6, 2015: 
MUSIC EVENING NO.1: Federico Mompou

“The music of Spanish composer Federico Mompou (1893–1987) isn’t for everyone...We were in luck: to unearth a selection of Mompou’s treasures, the Merchant House invited pianist Marjes Benoist.”—Marc Bakker, Musica magistra at the Merchant House, The Holland Times

March 26-27, 2015: MOUTH/BODY BY EMMA MCCORMICK-GOODHART
To accompany the exhibition of Carolee Schneemann: Infinity Kisses

Part lecture-performance, part voiceover, Mouth/Body positions kissing as a form of mute voicing, as an allegory of cave painting, and as an oral stage “into the archaic”. Emma McCormick-Goodhart (b.1990, based in Paris) is an extraordinary artist, who brings the concept of the multi-disciplinary to a whole new—very pertinent—level.

September 26-27, 2014: JAY Z & ME BY BRENDA CULLERTON

Mix yourself a nice cocktail or non-alcoholic fizzy drink to tickle your nose... and watch the unsinkable Brenda Cullerton in her maiden voyage as a monologuist. Perhaps it will remind you of Ruth Draper. Or Fran Lebowitz. Or Fran Lebowitz performing Ruth Draper. Or Elaine May without Mike Nichols. Or Bea Lillie looking for a dinghy at the jetty”— James Wollcott, Vanity Fair

June 1-30, 2015: SCREENING OF WATER LIGHT / WATER NEEDLE BY CAROLEE SCHNEEMANN (B. 1939, ILLINOIS)

Water Light/Water Needle (1966) is a filmic documentary of the legendary aerial performance conceived in Venice in 1964. Schneemann’s photography, performance art, and installations have been shown in major museums worldwide. “She was at the forefront of movements that only later came to be known as body art, performance art and feminist art, paving the way for the likes of Marina Abramovic, Cindy Sherman, Tracey Emin—and even Lady Gaga.” (Steve Ross, The Guardian, March 10th, 2014).

June 30, 2014: SCREENING OF VERTOV’S MAN WITH A MOVIE CAMERA

In 2012 this experimental 1929 silent documentary film by Russian director Dziga Vertov was voted by film critics the best film ever made. Vertov's feature film presents urban life in the Ukranian cities Odessa, Kharkov and Kiev. The film is famous for the range of visionary techniques later utilized both in cinema and in art in general.

December 2013: The Merchant House joined the AMSTERDAM LIGHT FESTIVAL with a tall window projection by the artist Jan Frank (American, b. Amsterdam).

Jan Frank was a pioneer of video art at the Whitney Museum School. His first large installation with video and lights was exhibited at New York’s premier experimental arts center The Kitchen in 1977. His early performance videos were often made in collaboration with the American photographer and appropriation artist Sherry Levine.

October 20, 2013: FUNDRAISER FOR TOMOKO MUKAIYAMA


A fundraising lunch to raise the last bit of financing needed for "wasted"; an art and architectural installation created by pianist and conceptual artist Tomoko Mukaiyama. Tomoko’s brilliantly conceived and executed installation at the Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ, December 2 – 15, 2013. For more information please visit: www.tomoko.nl.

JUDIT REIGL: Late Paintings and Drawings
Exhibition
November 11, 2016 – February 3, 2017

The Merchant House is proud to present Judit Reigl (b.1923, French, born in Hungary), a visionary figure of contemporary abstraction, a key contributor to its post-conceptual rebirth and unfolding. Installed in dialogue with Reigl, her first show in Amsterdam explores her late five-canvas monumental series Déroulement (phase IV–anthropomorphie) 2008 and the last of Oiseaux 2012, with 15 vertical scrolls of flying birds.

Reigl’s keen erudition and unorthodox outlook—from a non-Western (off-center) starting point—ground her concept of physical movement, from migration to inner mobility, to ward off stasis and conformism. Bravely parting with the Surrealist group in 1954, just as André Breton had invited her to show and had written about her work, she was forging her own style in her transformative Éclatement I Outburst series. As she continued to reign over l’écriture automatique and lyrical brushwork by a full-bodied action over a sixty-year career, fragments of canon, classical and new, have been rigorously deployed in the painterly space she opened.

Reigl’s deep connection to science and music is implicit in the unifying field of her critically acclaimed series: Guano, Centre de dominance, Écriture en masse, Homme, Écritures d'après musique, and Déroulement. These series were the focus of the five-gallery event in Paris last spring punctuating the evolution of Reigl’sexplosive gestural act in relation to the expressive tension she kept discovering in the earthly matter—la matière même—of the canvas.

In the works at The Merchant House, Reigl reconnects to her ravishing bodies in flight from Face à...1988-1990. She defined this life-long project in 1985: “The body: the most perfect instrument and the most tragic obstacle.” Yet, felicity of flight and mastery in these remarkable works break the tragic as the ballet of forms in motion soars through the rhapsodic greens and blues to articulate the inarticulate: vintage Reigl at her most seductive. As Georgia O’Keeffe would stake her artistic position (and though Reigl has strived to make herself hard to place), this is not about the best woman painter; it is about one of the best painters who brings us to now.

Reigl has received important awards, including the 1964 Guggenheim prize, and her work is in the collections of such major museums worldwide as The Met, the MOMA, and the Guggenheim in New York, the Tate Modern in London, and Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris and Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris. For over fifty years, Reigl (age 93) has lived in a village near Paris.

TMH and Artist Press
News

“Former Wall Street banker Marsha Plotnitsky finds a new role for money in her art gallery in Amsterdam,” Het Financieele Dagblad, February 2016

Read in English
Lees in Nederlands

 

 

 

 

 

Visit Amsterdam, Visit us — Eurostar.co:

“The Merchant House is a place that seems to com­bine it all: history, modern art and a vital new vision on presenting art.” To read more 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amsterdam’s prestigious weekly De Groene Amsterdamer about The Merchant House and it’s program:

"A Typically Dutch Moment

A former Wall Street banker, Marsha Plotnitsky looks at the art world with different eyes. In her gallery she currently brings together the legendary bulletins of Art & Project and new drawings of Hilarious Hofstede" —  by Roos van der Lindt. 

Read in English
Lees in  Nederlands

 

 

Musica magistra at the Merchant House

Those dreary November evenings – the weather is dismal and the bright lights of Christmas aren’t in sight just yet. What to do? We considered a musical soiree at the Merchant House gallery --  The Holland Times about our Friday 6 November concert. Read more

 

 

 

 

 

Het Financieele Dagblad about The Merchant House Art & Project Exhibition:

"Artists like Sol LeWitt and Lawrence Weiner were eager to work with Amsterdam’s gallery Art & Project, which existed until 2001. Their entire legendary collection of Bulletins is now on view in the Netherlands.

Forget New York, London, or Paris. Those who wanted to know what art was all about in the 1970s travelled to Amsterdam. "

Read in English
Lees in Nederlands

 

 

  

New York's important art blog Hyperallergic highlights André de Jong's work as an act of artistic creation.

Go to the site

 

  

 

  

Committee on Women in the Arts pick: exhibition of Carolee Schneemann's Infinty Kisses at the Merchant House.

Go to the site 

 

  

 

 

 

 
"A discovery from Friesland"

Article about André de Jong's exhibition at TMH in Het Parool. Friday, October 17, 2014.

Read the article

 

  

 

 

 

 "See how this city flourishes"

Interview with Marsha Plotnitsky in Het Parool. Friday, May 23, 2014.

Read the article

 

  

 

 

 

 "Leven bij de gratie van vorm"

Article about André de Jong in Friesch Dagblad. Friday, October 18, 2014.

Read the article

 

CRAIGIE HORSFIELD New Works and Slow Time
Exhibition
April 29 - September 30, 2016

Across a group of his earlier and new masterpieces, the exhibition traverses the photographic oeuvre of Craigie Horsfield (1949, Cambridge): art as a shared experience rooted in his notion of “slow time”—imagined as attention to and expansion of an ordinary present of which the past is understood as a dimension, a deep present.

The Merchant House has been involved with the artist’s work for almost three decades through its sister organization, the ICAR foundation.

Relations and Slow Time - Central Themes of Horsfield’s Artistic Life

Horsfield, working over 45 years in the field of social projects in contemporary art, has opened significant conceptions of community and the individual. Photography, film, sound, drawing, performance, installation, and other media are used as instruments in the thinking of “relation,” “slow time,” the “present,” “attention,” and consciousness. Relation, the idea at the center of Horsfield’s life work, proposes that being is generated “between” individuals—simply expressed: we bring each other in to being—and that being happens, takes place, in each encounter, each meeting, each conversation. This is the sphere of relation as “telling,” significantly a double meaning in English, for Horsfield the sphere of arts’ working.

An Installation-in-Progress Exhibition

To further conflate this concept of creation and viewing, the program at The Merchant House is organized as an installation in progress starting on April 29 and culminating with a full view on September 15, 2016 (additional events to be announced). It also acts as a primer to the ideas that inform the exhibition of some of the most significant of Horsfield’s works of the last ten years, upcoming at the Centraal Museum in Utrecht at the end of October, 2016.

Craigie Horsfield:  Artist for the 21st Century

Exploring the artist’s ongoing research of the medium, the exhibition at The Merchant House will include: large black-and-white photographs from a group regularly seen in museums worldwide and in the Netherlands (the Stedelijk, Amsterdam in 1992 and van Abbe, Eindhoven in 2002); the so-called Irresponsible Drawings, differently, but nonetheless “photographically” made—that is by a light-trace from objects, such as flowers, food, or drinking vessels; and new works that employ digital print technologies developed by Horsfield and used in a most intense and creative attention to nature, the phenomenal world, and to others in portraits made as profound conversations.

Craigie Horsfield’s complex fusion of photographic possibilities, a veiled territory (seductive and risky) in the age of the digitally-stripped selfie and instant image exchange, has been a subject of extensive art writing. The show of these unquestionably 21st century works at The Merchant House would further insist on drawing lines of comparison with Dutch paintings on similar subjects but with a different union of idea and tableau. This likely intense gallery dialogue is in itself a way of seeing and thinking art.

The Merchant House has been involved with the artist’s work for almost three decades through its sister organization, the ICAR foundation.

PINO PINELLI, ANDRÉ DE JONG, KEES VISSER
TMH Winter Group Show
January 8 - April 3, 2016

The Merchant House is pleased to announce our TMH Winter Group Show featuring Italian artist Pino Pinelli in dialogue with the two Dutch artists, Kees Visser and André de Jong, from the gallery program.

The show highlights how, notwithstanding their powerful distinctive work, these artists share a number of artistic techniques and concepts: palpable texture and nonlinear, or curved, geometry, which implicitly connect to the ideas of metaphor, allegory, and figure. And how their highly personal analysis of painted surface implicates a play between painting and sculpture: Pinelli—within the Mediterranean matrix exposed by the influential art critic Achille Bonito Olivia in reference to the Italian Minimalia, while Visser and de Jong—along a northerly artistic trajectory, as both found inspiration in Iceland and live and work in the Netherlands. The three artists, therefore, can be seen as exploring post-minimal abstraction in their research of autonomous creative language. 

About Pino Pinelli

“As with my third eye, I would like to reach the atomic substance of form, as an element of strength and constitution of a different kind of painting”—Pino Pinelli

Pino Pinelli (b. 1939) lives and works in Milan, where he moved in 1963 and entered the vanguard debate initiated by Lucio Fontana, Piero Manzoni, and Enrico Castellani. Pinelli’s early series of Topologies and Monochromes made him one of the leaders of the Analytical Painting group in the early 1970’s. Since 1976, Pinelli has abandoned canvas and developed his magisterial disseminations—paintings “with body” but  “unlimited by edge.” Each work is a signature alignment of softly textured chromatic bodies across a wall space—orchestrated, according to Pinelli, like drumbeats in a rhythmic cadence. Pinelli’s work has been included in numerous exhibitions of major institutions in Italy and abroad.

About André de Jong

“My inspiration ultimately comes my direct physical environment including travel”—André de Jong

André de Jong (b. 1945) is a Dutch artist celebrated for his monumental three-dimensional Folds and black and white multi-media drawings. After graduating from the Art Academy in Maastricht, De Jong moved north and continues to live in Friesland. His long periods of working in relative isolation have been punctuated by regular exploratory trips to Iceland and Norway. Recognizing the importance of de Jong’s query of man and nature, the Museum Belvédère in Heerenveen, the Netherlands, dedicated the museum’s central space to his solo show in 2010. De Jong’s work has recently been a subject of increasing international attention.

About Kees Visser

“I was looking to introduce parameters that would destabilize the comfort of perception by the notes of discord comparable to those of John Cage in his music”—Kees Visser

The Dutch artist Kees Visser (b. 1948) is known for his serial paintings, which have preoccupied him in recent years.  Monochrome and radically minimal at first glance, they astonish by their destabilized form, depth, and magic of “crystalized color” on closer inspection.Depending on their presentation, these works may either assert their two-dimensionality, or alternatively evoke an open book or a minimalist sculpture.  Visser has had numerous solo and group exhibitions in the Netherlands and abroad, including at museums in Iceland and France. He lives and works in Haarlem, with stretches of time in Paris and Reykjavík.

HILARIUS HOFSTEDE: Drawings
Exhibition
October - December, 2015

The Merchant House is pleased to announce its fall program opening October 16, 2015:  New Drawings of the Dutch multimedia artist Hilarius Hofstede presented against the background of Art & Project Bulletins 1-156, 1968-1989

“More than the brushstroke, the drawing process communicates the territory of dream, and in my case, the savagery of mind,”—Hilarius Hofstede, 2015

“Look at these drawings as an inventory of imaginary beings that exist inside of you,”—Dirk van Weelden, Into The Cave, TMH Catalogue, 2015

About the Artist

Hilarius Hofstede (Hilversum, NL,1965) is a multimedia artist who explores tensions between representations of culture and nature in his works on paper, assemblages and texts. His masterfully collaged, pastiched, and bricolaged renderings of primal and animal forms are in many museums and private collections and regularly feature in the collaborative installations—from Polynesian Instant Geography (jointly with Berend Hoekstra) at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam in 1999 and in 2012 at the Musée de la Chasse in Paris to the recent traveling Bison Caravan. Hofstede studied at the film academy Ecole Supérieure de Cinéastes in Paris in 1985 and then followed a personal trajectory exhibiting in major European art centers. He currently lives and works in Amsterdam.

Public and Open Private Collections

Collectie Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam
Collectie Becht, Amsterdam
CODA Museum, Apeldoorn, NL
Collectie Teunen, Geisenheim, Germany
Collectie Braat, Kortenhoef, NL
Collectie Arte Y Naturaleza, Madrid
Collectie Musée de la Chasse, Paris
Collectie Stedelijk Museum, Schiedam, NL

About the works

Hilarius Hofstede started making paper montages early on. Included primarily in his nature exhibitions, these glorious renderings of primal and animal forms attracted attention of their own and landed in major museums and private collections. At first sight most of Hofstede’s new drawings strike one as realistic animal images in brilliant mosaic tints. With reflection, the montage aspects come into play: the creatures and forms are utterly strange, especially when taken in with their unnatural habitats and startling titles, like Nile Aristocrat, Lord of the Birds (Experienced), The Frog of Defunktional Metaphysics, Pacific Ash Dispersion, Black Bison Radio Dream, The Scream, The Prophet. The habitats are Hofstede’s craftwork excavations. Addressing the conceptual agenda with the material effect of a prehistoric cave, they are vistas on art history, the paraphernalia of Pop, Dada collages with broken text and stamping, referents of terror, dreams, primitive mind, and of a good laugh. A master craftsman, he conjures up a microcosm in each relief. 

ART & PROJECT: Bulletins, 1968-1989
Exhibition
October - December, 2015

The Merchant House opens its fall program on October 16, 2015 with a historical exhibition of Art & Project Bulletins 1-156, 1968-1989 presented in dialogue with the recent work of the Dutch multimedia artist Hilarius Hofstede. Full Press Release

With their Bulletins, Art & Project’s late founders, Geert van Beijeren and Adriaan van Ravesteijn, ingeniously merged an information tool and art form. Each Bulletin—an A3 sheet folded and mailed to and from the great peripatetic masters, such as Ger van Elk, Lawrence Weiner, Jan Dibbets, Sol Lewitt, Richard Long, Daniel Buren, Marcel Broodthaers, and Gilbert & George, who vied for the reductive dominance over its paper grid—is an artist’s book par excellence. All 156 as a set are a 21-year log of the unique gallery experience, which helped propel Amsterdam to the nexus of the international conceptual avant-garde in the 1970s.

In Bulletin 28, Hanne Darboven’s strings of numbers mark the passage of time. Darboven’s time-marks prompted Sol LeWitt, the author of five famous bulletins, to express a succinct manifesto: “The idea becomes a machine that makes art.” Ger van Elk’s popular Bulletin 33, Paul Klee—Um den Fisch, 1926 (Around the Fish), is about him devouring a fish dinner, while Bulletin 66 isaboutMarcel Broodthaers affirming himself as “director” and “curator” of his radical museum. Lawrence Weiner, a founding authority who contributed six bulletins over 15 years, summed up the experience as “language + the materials referred to.”

Referring to the 1970s and 80s Conceptual zeitgeist and his Art & Project experience, Adriaan van Ravensteijn commented in retrospect: “I still feel the excitement of weightlessness! ...The dematerialization of the artwork at full speed.”

CHUCK CLOSE
Exhibition
April 17 - September 30, 2015

About Chuck Close

The Dutch media theorist Arjen Mulder draws attention to his renaissance method of invention and experimentation. The Dean of Yale School of Arts, Robert Store describes his career as a bedazzling trail that leads from one mesmerizing picture to the next.

Chuck Close (b. 1940, Monroe, WA) is world renowned for his large-scale, photo-based portrait paintings, which he started making with his first iconic black-and-white Self-Portrait of 1968.  His inventive technique extends beyond painting to encompass printmaking, photography, and, most recently, tapestries based on Polaroids.  At the age of 48, Close was paralyzed following a rare spinal artery collapse; he continues to paint using a brush-holding device strapped to his wrist and forearm. The work has recently culminated in watercolor prints based on a unique combination of painting technique and digital media.

Close has been represented in New York by Pace Gallery since 1977. He was awarded a major retrospective at the MOMA, New York in 1998; many major exhibitions and public collections followed. Close is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, has served on the board of many arts organizations, received the high US honor, the National Medal of Arts, in 2000, and was recently appointed by President Obama to serve on The President’s Committee for the Arts and the Humanities.

“My art is an invention of means rather than an invention of interesting shapes and interesting colors. It is a belief that ideas are generated by activity.”—Chuck Close

ANDRÉ DE JONG: Folds and Drawings
Salon Zürcher
During Frieze NY, May 11-17, 2015

The Merchant House will have a solo presentation of André de Jong's work in New York, at the international salon organized by Galerie Zürcher, 33 Bleecker Street, New York  during Frieze NY, May 11-17, 2015.

On October 17, 2014, The Merchant House opened its new season with a large-scale exhibition of the Dutch visionary artist, André de Jong. Born in 1945 and currently living and working in Friesland, his prolific career spans over four decades.

Whether plunging into the “ultimate” formal depths postulated by Ad Reinhardt or Eva Hesse-like plays of artifact, the art of André de Jong defies categorization. Recognizing the importance of de Jong’s query of man and nature, Han Steenbruggen, Director of the Museum Belvédère in Heerenveen, the Netherlands, dedicated the museum’s central space to his solo show in 2010. From the first drawings and photographs in the catalogue, de Jong’s oeuvre unfolds with uncanny beauty and masterful draftsmanship, which leave little doubt of this modest man’s place in the top echelons of contemporary art, next to Pierre Soulages, Annette Messager, Giuseppe Penone, and Georg Baselitz, to name but a few.

The focus of the exhibition is on the new mixed-media reliefs Folds and related series of works from de Jong’s vast oeuvre. Strikingly, his mostly black and white drawn images—he uses pencil, charcoal, ink, Siberian chalk, and oil stick or pigment on regular and heavily worked paper—capture the illuminated color fields and vital forms of nature chanced upon or staged by the artist.

Visiting hours:  Fridays, 12-5 p.m. and by appointment

Publications:

- Exhibition catalogue with an editorial by Marsha Plotnitsky, founding director of The Merchant House, and an interview between the artist and the Director of the Museum Belvédère, Han Steenbruggen.

- André de Jong, Getekend, monograph, Museum Belvédère, Heerenveen, 2010.   

CAROLEE SCHNEEMANN: Infinity Kisses
Exhibition
January - April, 2015

About the Artist

A pioneer of body and performance art, feminist art, expanded cinema, and intermedia art, Carolee Schneemann (who lives and works in Springtown, New York) is one of the most significant artists to have emerged from the avant-garde circles of early 1960s New York. A painter who burst off the canvas to privilege space, motion, and the body, while radically transforming the media she explored, Schneemann has made an invaluable contribution to postwar art; she has paved the way for practices as diverse as those of Marina Abramovic and Matthew Barney.

Carolee Scheemann has been exhibited widely in the US and internationally.  Her work is in major public and private collections worldwide. In the near future, she will have a solo presentation by Hales Gallery, London in the Spotlight section of Frieze NY, in May 2015 and a retrospective at the Museum Der Moderne, Salzburg in November 2015.

Works available for sale through The Merchant House
-- Prices on request:  info@merchanthouse.nl

About The Works

The Infinity Kisses Series

The experiential body—not only her own—has been paramount in Schneemann’s revolutionary politics and idiosyncratic poetics. The photographic series Infinity Kisses (1990-1998/2004) (and a related video made in 2008)sensually portray the morning kisses Schneemann received from her cats.  These works shift attention away from Schneemann’s own naked body. They illuminate the radical role that the nonhuman, feline body plays in her late erotics by foregrounding the centrality of the cat in her life and art, as companion and as a symbol. The introduction of Schneemann’s interspecies “kisses” also highlights the domestic themes of her poetics of intimacy.

“Since he was a kitten, my cat Cluny woke me every morning with deep kisses. During each week—even half asleep—I reached for a hand-held Olympus camera to film our kissing. The intimacy between cat and woman becomes a refraction of the viewer’s attitude to self and nature, sexuality and control, the taboo and the sacred.”

—Carolee Schneemann (Cluny is her cat in Infinity Kisses I, 1981-1988, the project continued with the cat Vesper in Infinity Kisses II, 1990-1998)

Caged Cats and Related Works

The experiential body—not only her own—has been paramount in Schneemann’s revolutionary politics and idiosyncratic poetics. Set in contrast to the ecstatic bodies of the photographic series Infinity Kisses (1990-1998/2004), these prints feature gruesome images of violated cats along with news of global atrocities. Sampling the gestural painterliness and collage aesthetics of Schneemann’s practice, they hint at the darker role the body plays in Schneemann’s sorrowful diagnosis of Western civilization's malaises. 

All works in this series illuminate the radical role that the nonhuman, feline body plays in Schneemann’s late erotics by foregrounding the centrality of the cat in her life and art, as a companion and as a symbol.

Unexpectedly Research

An extraordinary example of Carolee Schneemann’s conceptual mastery, Unexpectedly Research (1992), illuminates the research and “double knowledge” that support her feminist critique of the suppression of the feminine and her radical retrieval of the sacred erotic.

“Unexpectedly Research clarifies the influence of non-western and Indo-European artifacts on my work. The shameless erotic power and self-display of a New Guinea owl goddess offers a parallel to my actions in Body Collage (1968). The juxtaposition of two lions mating with the self-shot orgasmic heads from my film Fuses (1965) demonstrates a relation to animal sexuality. The Minoan priestess holding serpents in her hand, a sculpture from 2,000 B.C., offers a precedent to my unconscious placement of garden snakes on my body as a part of the "36 Transformative Actions" of Eye Body (1963). In each instance, the affinity image was discovered many years after my actual enacted image. This recombination of image sources in Unexpectedly Research brings forward psychic aspects of personal exploration of art history”—Carolee Schneemann.

JAN SCHOONHOVEN AND HENK PEETERS
Exhibition
March - May, 2014

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21 of the Most Beautiful Drawings
Works by Jan Schoonhoven and Henk Peeters

Opening Reception: Friday March 7, 6:00 – 8:00 pm
Herengracht 254, Amsterdam

The Merchant House, a new space for contemporary art in the heart of Amsterdam, is extremely pleased to present an exhibition that showcases a selection of 21 drawings of Jan Schoonhoven (1914-1994) from the private collection of Henk Peeters (1924-2013). Both artists were prominent members of the Dutch NULgroup.

Besides drawing by Schoonhoven, the exhibition includes works of Peeters and other related artists. Henk Peeters acquired the first drawings from Schoonhoven to raise badly needed cash for the first NUL-exhibition at the Stedelijk Museum in 1962, and continued collecting them all his life. Peeters had kept his, as he called “21 most beautiful drawings” which all date from the period between 1962 and 1985, together as a group. In 2005 Peeters sold these drawings to the American foundation ICAR (Institute for the Cooperation of Art and Research) founded in 2000 by Marsha Plotnitsky in order to stimulate research
and distribution in the field of art and science.

Schoonhoven and Peeters, together with Armando, Jan Hendrikse, and Herman de Vries, were founders of the Dutch group NUL in the 1960s. The group, which played an important role in the international movement, postulated “objective art,” i.e. art that, through the use of minimal (and abstract) techniques and materials - like a few strokes of a pencil or burn marks on a sheet of paper or piece of fabric - should be free of any emotional value.

Schoonhoven was the only member of the Dutch NUL-group who was internationally succesful; today he is considered one of the most influential ZERO-artists, together with Piero Manzoni, Lucio Fontana, Enrico Castellani, Günther Uecker, Otto Piene, Heinz Mack, Yves Klein and Arman. Surprisingly enough, it was 1999 already when Schoonhoven had his first solo exhibition in the United States, which explains why a young American foundation like ICAR could buy his drawings without any competition as late as 2005.

This second exhibition at The Merchant House not only showcases the work of Schoonhoven and Peeters in their own right but also the trials and tribulations of buying and collecting art.

The Merchant House, Herengracht 254, Amsterdam / merchanthouse.nl
Exhibition through May 18, 2014
Open Fridays 12:00 – 6:00 pm
For all enquiries and appointments please mail or call:
info@merchanthouse.nl / +31(0)20 8455955

 

Press kit

Persbericht – “De 21 allermooiste tekeningen”: Jan Schoonhoven en Henk Peeters
Press release – “21 of the Most Beautiful Drawings”: Works by Jan Schoonhoven and Henk Peeters

JAN FRANK: Paintings and Drawings
Exhibition
October, 2013 - January, 2014

Seeing is Reliving: Celebrating Jan Frank

The Merchant House is pleased to announce its inaugural exhibition dedicated to the art of Jan Frank (American, b. Amsterdam, 1951), the artist’s first show in Amsterdam in over 20 years. The exhibition is focused on the Plywood Paintings from 1993–1998 but will also present important new work. Given Jan Frank’s international stature, with numerous solo shows and curatorial projects in New York City and internationally over three decades, his presence in Amsterdam is long overdue.

As early as 1998, B. H. Friedman, the late American art critic (most famous for the first biography of Jackson Pollock) wrote: “For over twenty years and through ten solo shows, Jan Frank has been obsessed by line.” Now in 2013, fifteen years and many more shows later, Frank is still fully committed to the sprawling and sensual curve. And when confronted with his work, we, the viewers, are obsessed and seduced in turn: do the clusters of seemingly aleatory lines and swirls conjure organic shapes, images of reclining nudes or landscapes with winding rivers, flights of birds, traces of melodies or dance?

In the first period of his career, Frank used the line as a mode of appropriation. He borrowed pictorial elements of admired predecessors, from de Kooning and Guston to Mondrian and van Gogh, and showed that painting could both join and confront the “art of not making” that has pervaded the world of art after Duchamp. In the Weltanschauung of the 1980s and 1990s, Frank hid his artistic mastery behind the appropriated line and ingeniously revealed it compositionally, using simple commercial quality Wite-Out as a new medium. In a bold and unsurprising reversal, he changed everything around in the works that followed. This time, the deadly inorganic Wite- Out blocks, distorts, or suddenly stops Frank’s own rigorous curves— like a chance accident that can stop or change a seemingly predictable course of events. These recent works reveal the firm hand and a masterstroke of a true grandmaster through and through.

Jan Frank’s last show at Paul Kasman’s was listed third in 2011’s Top Ten in Painting by the Art In America magazine. And it is only fitting that the works from different periods of his distinguished career can now be seen in Amsterdam, installed by Jan Frank himself.

 

Press kit

Press release – Seeing is Reliving: Celebrating Jan Frank
Vernissage invitation – Seeing is Reliving: Celebrating Jan Frank
Biography Marsha Plotnitsky
Algemene informatie
Top 10 in Painting (Art in America, 2011)