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Art: Hendrik Kerstens

April 18, 2011 2 Comments by Adjo

This Dutch artist is a self trained photographer who decided in 1995 to dedicate his life entirely to photography. His model was his daughter Paula who he photographed trough the years and one day she returned from horsback riding. She wore a cape that reminded Kerstens so much of portraits of Dutch masters. It was then that he started to portray her in that fashion. He started refering to seventeenth century painting, but with every day items. From toilet paper to a plastic bag.

The photographs look a lot like Johannes Vermeer painting because of the serene expression, the clarity. It is that vulnerability and beauty in Paula’s staring. Furthermore he seeks for that focus in subject that can also be found with the Flemish primitives. He does this by elimination of stylistic elements, using demur colours to create a sober realism. The pictures are taken in his atelier in Amsterdam where he works with little help then only the daylight that comes in through the windows. For him it is this Dutch light that is the final touch of modern master piece. To capture the right light was also of great importance to the masters in the seventeenth century.

His latest works have a large format up to 150×120 cm and are sold like crazy all over the world. Kerstens was also commissioned by the New York Times Magazine to shoot several artist of today like the late Alexander Mcqueen. Again the tradition of the Flemish primitives and Vermeer are recognizable in his work. This self educated photographer has won the PANL award this is the Photography Association of the Netherlands. This is the most important photography prize in the Netherlands. His work the Bag was one of three final candidates for the annual Taylor Wesing Photographic Portrait Prize at the National Portrait Gallery in London. Hendrik Kerstens work is the perfect balance between the contemporary and yet being very traditional. For more information see http://www.hendrikkerstens.com/ and click on any picture for a larger view.


  1. momochii
    1680 days ago

    nice post. thanks.


  2. Peter Davey
    1538 days ago

    The work is hauntingly beautiful. It also brings to mind another Dutch Master – Rembrandt Van Rijn. Kendrick & Rembrandt both use light to capture the Soul of their subjects. Natural light acts as the beacon of the soul. The radiance of an inner universe emanates with a quite stillness that is pure poetry.
    Here is one more comparison – the Alexander McQueen portrait above with Rembrandt’s self portrait 1629


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