Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Book: Wijnanda Deroo, Huizen van Vereniging Hendrick de Keyser

JTF (just the facts): Published in 2003 by Uitgeverij De Verbeelding. In Dutch (with no English translation). 96 pages, including 67 color images. Includes an essay by P.B. de Bruijn.
Comments/Context: I think I first became aware of Dutch photographer Wijnanda Deroo's work in the pages of Blind Spot magazine (here), where her work has appeared on several occasions. I was recently poking around the ICP bookstore (one of the best places for photo books in New York by the way), and I came upon this book she did as a commission for Vereniging Hendrick de Keyser, an association dedicated to the preservation of historic homes in the Netherlands, named after the famous 17th century sculptor/builder. I have wanted to get to know her work better for a while now, so into the purchase pile it went.
Deroo has focused most of her art on interiors, both in historic places and in random, commonplace locations all over the world. An overly simplistic comparison can be drawn between Deroo's work and that of Candida Höfer, since they both photograph interiors void of people. But unlike the sterile grandeur that pervades Höfer's work, Deroo's rooms have a lived in feel, as though the people stepped out moments ago, leaving the space empty but warm.
The interior images in this book are perhaps a bit more formal than the rest of her work, as these buildings are preserved history, set pieces for visitors to enjoy (the exterior images are underwhelming, but necessary as background). Even so, Deroo finds powerful colors and sensual surfaces in these vacant rooms. I was particularly struck by her use of natural light in these pictures; if often pours into the spaces from bright windows, causing glossy reflections and glare off the polished floors and painted walls. While I fully realize the cliche in this statement, many of the images reminded me of Vermeer, particularly in the use of pure exterior light to bring clarity and emotion into a picture. These end up being much more than standard architectural photos; they tell us stories about the people that lived here, the functions and routines of their lives, and the wearing down of the spaces during the passing of time.

The artist's website can be found here.

The Vereniging Hendrick de Keyser website can be found here.

Collector's POV: Deroo is represented in New York by the Robert Mann Gallery (here). Not much of her work has appeared on the secondary market, so gallery retail is likely a collector's only option in the short term. I continue to be impressed with Deroo's images and I think many of these pictures would stand up well sharing walls with other strong color work.

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