Portraits from the photo collection
Through the centuries artists have looked at women, young and old, and painted, drawn and sculpted them, and more recently immortalised them in photographs, videos and films.
In forty photographs the exhibition ‘A look at women’ offered an intriguing and varied overview of portraits of women which were purchased for the museum’s collection in the period 2001-2005. It included works by Koos Breukel, Céline van Balen, Hellen van Meene, Annaleen Louwes, Dana Lixenberg, Martine Stig, Julika Rudelius, Sarah Lucas, Tracey Moffat, Shirana Shahbazi and Juergen Teller, among others. They are impressive, sometimes moving, and sometimes also provocative moments from the range of portrait photography.
The black and white photographs by Koos Breukel, who admires Ed van der Elsken, stand out for their classic simplicity and emotional charge. The portrait of a survivor of the air disaster at Faro is probing. In her portraits of vulnerable and deprived women Céline van Balen is able to evoke great intimacy. She photographs very close up, her subjects faces generally placed frontally, and filling the image. The portrait of a psychiatric patient large, wide open eyes by Annaleen Louwes is impressive, and the portrait of a blushing girl by Martine Stig also arouses some amazement. Adolescent girls sit for the photographs of Hellen van Meene, which are striking for the extremely carefully chosen settings, poses, use of colour and lighting. In his obsessive quest for the purity and beauty of teenage girls Arno Nollen does portraits that are sometimes vulnerable, sometimes provocative, and often movingly natural.
The recording of women in a social class is the subject for various artists. The photographs by Tracey Moffat are largely based on her own history in Australia and reveal the power struggle betwen mothers and daughters. There were several self-portraits by Sarah Lucas from her series Working Class Hero. The photographs that Juergen Teller made of supermodels are almost provocative: a nude, scarred Kirsten McMenanny and a pregnant Kate Moss.
The exhibition is a collection of portraits that tell personal and intimate stories.