|Birth||24 March 1956, The Hague|
Hendrik Kerstens (born March 24, 1956) is a Dutch photographer and visual artist. Fascinated by the master paintings of the Dutch Golden Age he photographs his daughter Paula. In a similar but more modern way as Rembrandt did before him, Kerstens highlights the beauty of the ordinary and the greatness of vulnerability, in all of his pictures.
Initially educated as pastry chef, Hendrik Kerstens started his professional career as a wine merchant. After the birth of his daughter Paula, his wife Anna continued working full-time, whereas Kerstens took on him most of the parental duties. Simultaneously he tried to raise his skills in portrait photography by buying a camera and by analyzing articles in photo magazines.
Being an autodidact Kerstens' career as a photographer got a kick-start in 2001. The jury of the PANL Award of the Netherlands granted him two golden medals for two of his portraits. Invitations to exhibit his work at FOAM Amsterdam, the FotoFestival Naarden, at Art Rotterdam and an art show at the Fotomuseum (Gemeentemuseum The Hague) followed.
In 2007, photographic magazine American Photo released a special edition, called "The Portrait Issue", presenting top photographers like Annie Leibowitz, Albert Watson, Matthew Rolston, Nigel Parry and Lori Grinker. In the section "The Portrait as Masterpiece" the portraits Hendrik Kerstens made of his daughter were highlighted and described as follows: "shaking up the concept of time, Kerstens literally immortalizes his daughter, as if to stop time and oblivion."
From 2007 onwards The New York Times Magazine regularly requested Kerstens to make portraits illustrating the interviews, like with film producer Michael Haneke, visual artist Marlene Dumas and actor Philip Seymour Hoffman. Prior to the 2011 Emmy Awards, Hendrik Kerstens portrayed Brian Cranston, Peter Dinklage and six other actors, who were all nominated for an award. The portrait of nominee Alec Baldwin ended up on the cover of the issue dated September 11, 2011, instead of an image commemorating the collapse of the Twin Towers, exactly 10 years prior to that date.
From 2007 onwards autodidact Kerstens continues to develop himself from a documentary portrait photographer to an autonomous artist.
The trendsetting Italian art and design magazine Domus presented Kerstens' Bag on its cover in May 2008. A few months later the National Portrait Gallery in London honoured Bag with the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize, a prestigious award in the world of photography. Simultaneously, posters of the work Bag were displayed all over London.
In 2009 Kerstens' work was selected by Kathy Ryan, curator of the exhibition "Dutch Seen: New York Rediscovered" in the Museum of the City of New York. Bag and Sunburnt were chosen as leading images of this exhibition, commemorating the discovery of America by the Dutch 400 in 1609. Fashion designer Alexander McQueen gave Hendrik Kerstens all credits of being a source of inspiration for his cutting-edge show "Horn of Plenty". McQueen's interpretations of Bag, Paper roll and Tinny were incorporated in his designs, whereas the image Bag was printed on the invitation to the show.
A series of posters designed by Kerstens in 2010 for the Bayerische Staatsoper in München were elected as Beste Plakette des Jahres (Best poster of the year).
In 2010 in a special exhibition in the Gemeentemuseum in The Hague the State University Leiden-Special Collections showed their masterpieces, including all Paula-portraits made by Kerstens.
In 2013 Harper's Bazaar requested Kerstens to give his view on fashion, photographing clothes and accessories of Armani, Dolce & Gabbana, Vera Wang, Philip Treacy, Comme des Garçons among others. This series of photoshoots was granted the 11th Lucie Award in New York for the "Fashion Lay-out of the Year".
Interior designer Ian Schrager decided to have an artwork of Kerstens in every single room of the Edition Hotel, in Soho, London (UK).
The MOPA Museum of Photographic Art in San Diego (USA) chose the work of Hendrik Kerstens for a solo-exhibition, called "Model and Muse".
Hendrik Kerstens has been married to his wife Anna. Their daughter Paula is the sitter in most of his work. Kerstens lives and works in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
Over and over again the same starting point –portraying his daughter Paula-, but every time ending up with a surprising new result, because of different circumstances, a variety of accessories, and a constant interaction between photographer and sitter. In addition to that Hendrik Kerstens photographs in such a way that the camera seems to be his paintbrush, almost in the same way how the great painters of the Dutch Golden Age, like Rogier van der Weyden, Johannes Verspronck, Rembrandt and Jan van Eyck approached their sitters.
As Kerstens' career progresses, more and more the perspective shifts from documentary photography to staged photography, or staged visual art. In the meantime Kerstens does not forget that he is living in the present and adds elements to his work that are relevant for today. In an indirect way he calls for attention for structural problems of society of today, like the waste issue by re-using bags or tins in an innovative way in his work. Besides that, Kerstens manages to establish a link in his work between "fiction" and "fact", or "to be" or "seeming to be", characteristics directly related to baroque art. In a similar modern way daughter Paula directly communicates with her audience.
Hendrik Kerstens received many awards for his work, among others PANL Award of the Netherlands (2001), Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize, awarded by the National Portrait Gallery London (2008), the silver LeadAward Medaillon, Porträtfotografie des Jahres (2010), the 11th Lucie Award (2013), and musea all over the world show his work.
Publications : books and exhibition catalogues
- Foam in Het Vondelpark – Marloes Krijnen (2002) – ISBN 9789075380545
- Beyond photography, photography and imagination - Rommert Boonstra (2008)– ISBN 9789078068341
- Paula - Maartje van den Heuvel (2010) ISBN 9789078964384
- Dutch Seen – New York Rediscovered – Kathy Ryan (2011) ISBN 9789490022037
- The New York Times Photographs (2011) ISBN 9781597111461
- Portrayal Betrayal, photographic portraits from the permanent collection of the Santa Barbara Museum of Art (2012) ISBN 9780899511146
- Paula – Silent Conversations – Martin Barnes, Deborah Klochko (2013) ISBN 978-1419710643
- 21st Century Portraits, a compendium of the National Portrait Gallery (2013) ISBN 9789029589888
- Salon – Salzburger Festspiele (2015) ISBN 9783903069008
- De Stilte van het Licht – American beauty (2015) ISBN 9789029589888
- The Penguin book of Dutch short stories (2016) ISBN 9780141395722
- De keuze van Joost Zwagerman (2016) ISBN 9789089897138
- Leiden University Library - NL
- Santa Barbara Museum of Art - USA
- Gemeentemuseum Den Haag (Foto museum) – NL
- Zuiderzee Museum Enkhuizen – NL
- Magda and Carlo Clerici private collection - I
- Rijksuniversiteit Utrecht – NL
- Museum of Photographic Art MOPA - San Diego – USA
- Erasmus University - Rotterdam – NL
- 21c Museum Louisville – USA
- Amsterdam Museum - NL
- Pilara Family Foundation Collection – San Francisco – USA
- Sir Elton John Photography Collection – London – USA/UK
- The Alexander McQueen Collection – London – UK
- The Sanders Collection – Amsterdam – NL
- Caldic Collection / Museum Voorlinden – Wassenaar – NL