Rijksmuseum Exhibits Photography for the First Time–For Real?

Hendrik Teding van Berkhout  Susanna Frida in her Playpen (1910)Rijksmuseum via WSJ

Hendrik Teding van Berkhout, Susanna Frida in her Playpen (1910)
Photo via: The Wall Street Journal

The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam launched its photography department 21 years ago. Since then, it has amassed a collection of over 200,000 photographs, but has never displayed any of them in an exhibition. Until now, that is.

The museum will soon open its first photography exhibition, entitled “Modern Times,” the Wall Street Journal reports. The exhibition will feature about 400 images that represent important moments in photographic history, including early examples of color photography and the development of photojournalism.

One of the photographs that will be displayed as part of “Modern Times,” Susanna Frida in her Playpen (1910), was taken by amateur photographer Hendrik Teding van Berkhout. According to the WSJ article, the Rijksmuseum’s decision to devote a large portion of its annual photography acquisition budget to amateur photography is rather controversial, as few critics consider amateur snapshots as art. But Hans Rooseboom, the co-curator of “Modern Times,” argues that Susanna Frida in her Playpen is “both a historical document and art.”

Another example of amateur photography included in the exhibition is Person Dressed Up as a Fox (c. 1907), taken by J.H.A.M. Lutz, a Dutch beer distributor. The image is as an early example of the use of color photography.

J.H.A.M LutzPerson Dressed up as a Fox (ca.1907)Rijksmuseum via WSJ

J.H.A.M Lutz, Person Dressed up as a Fox (c. 1907)
Photo via: The Wall Street Journal

In terms of contemporary documentary photography, the series “Comfort Women” by the Dutch photographer Jan Banning stands out. In 2008, Banning took a series of striking portraits of Indonesian women who had been forced into prostitution during World War II. “These women, even now, are affected by the war,” Banning explained.

“Modern Times” will be on view at the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, from November 1, 2014 to January 11, 2015.

Jan Banning Comfort Women (2008)Jan Banning/Fontana Gallery via WSJ

Jan Banning, Comfort Women (2008)
Photo: Jan Banning/Fontana Gallery via The Wall Street Journal


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