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Dutch Art, Photography and Design Highlights from the collection at the Embassy of the Kingdom of The Netherlands in Washington, DC

Artist impression of the mural by Dutch artist Jeroen Henneman.

Embassy of The Kingdom of The Netherlands Driving up to the chancery* of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, tucked away on 3.7 acres near the hills of Rock Creek Park, you might not know you’re in Washington, DC. But when you walk the halls and appreciate the art and design that provide texture to our workspace, you will know what it means to be Dutch. The 90,000-square-foot chancery at 4200 Linnean Ave., designed by architect Pieter H. Tauber, was built for $2.4 million in 1963. Yet the chancery would be a sterile vessel for the 130 people who work in it without vivid photographs adorning its walls, modern designs springing from office staples such as chairs and lamps, and contemporary architecture that inspires the people who represent the Netherlands in the US. The centerpiece is a mural in the great reception hall by artist Jeroen Henneman (Haarlem, 1942) that offers a bird’seye view of urban construction in a predominantly black-and-white format that jumps off the canvas yet can hide in the background. But the main art form in the chancery’s collection is photography, an important medium in Dutch art and an area in which the reputation of the Netherlands continues to grow worldwide. The work of young designers also accents offices and meeting rooms. Progressive furniture design emerges from the lamp in the ambassador’s chambers, the tables in the dining hall, and even the colorful tulip-shaped chairs outside the main entrance. In this booklet, you’ll find details on the work by the finest Dutch photographers and designers, representing the modern phase of art and design in the Netherlands. * “Chancery” is the word used to describe the building that houses the embassy.

Cover: “Harlem River Café,” Wijnanda Deroo (2009). (

From the ceiling in the reception hall hang three chandeliers, “Raimond,” designed by Raimond Puts (2008) and produced by Moooi.

The artist Jeroen Henneman (Haarlem, 1942) was chosen to create the mural in the great reception hall of the chancery because of his prior artistic achievements. The design for the mural offers of a bird’s-eye view of urban construction in a predominantly black-and-white format. The buildings optically come forward, but can just as easily sink back into the image. The perspective illusion created captures the eye. A nice enhancement is that the work blends splendidly with the structure of the stairway and the play of lines on the floor. The black-and-white contrast of the image reinforces the architecture and fills the wall in the natural manner desired.

The main entrance of the Netherlands Embassy at 4200 Linnean Avenue NW, Washington, D.C.

Tulip-shaped chairs “O-Nest” by Tord Boontje (produced by Mororso) sit near the main entrance. (

The Dutch perspective The main art form in the chancery’s collection is photography, an important medium in Dutch art and an area in which the reputation of the Netherlands continues to grow worldwide. Dutch photography, famous for its technical sophistication, is especially appreciated in the US. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs worked closely with the photography museum FOAM in Amsterdam to select a collection that includes young and upcoming artists as well as established Dutch photographers. Curators chose to show images of more than 20 photographers, many of whom hold a special bond with the US. The collection is an eclectic mix, organized by theme per floor to offer a sense of cohesion. At the same time, it encourages employees to explore the building to find other works of their favorite artist and connect with their colleagues.

Vincent Mentzel (Hoogkarspel, 1945) studied at the Academy for Visual Arts in Rotterdam. Initially, his photographs were characterized by a narrow perspective encompassing large swatches of sky and landscape. Later on, he applied himself to portraits of well-known Dutch politicians and members of the Royal Family. In doing so, Mentzel changed the portraiture of political life in the Netherlands. The portrait on display has served as the basis for the profile of Queen Beatrix that adorned the Dutch guilder, a design by Bruno Ninaber.

Vincent Mentzel, “Queen Beatrix” (1981). (

Ruud van Empel (Breda, 1958) earned his degree in photography from the St. Joost Academy of Art in Breda. Van Empel begins to implement his characteristic digital image processing in 1995 with the series, “The Office.” This technique provides him with limitless possibilities to experiment and optimize the desired atmosphere. The “Souvenir” series (2008) shows a collection of old household items of Van Empels’s parents, which he uses to underline the relationship with his childhood.

Ruud van Empel, “Souvenir 5”(2008), Pigment archive print, Courtesy Flatland Gallery (Utrecht, Paris). (

Ruud van Empel, “Souvenir 4” (2008), Pigment archive print, Courtesy Flatland Gallery (Utrecht, Paris). (

Ruud van Empel, “Souvenir 3” (2008), Pigment archive print, Courtesy Flatland Gallery (Utrecht, Paris). (

Margriet Smulders, “Cherish Me” (2010). (

Margriet Smulders (1955) is a photographer who gives the traditional floral still life a twist. She places a mirror underneath a shallow pool in which luxuriant flowers and coiling branches lay. Smulders’ images are inspired by floral still lifes from the 17th century, but diverge strongly from these in terms of substance and composition. In addition to the great variety of forms, colors play a vital role in the images as well.

Margriet Smulders, “Get Drunk 5” (2003). (

Margriet Smulders, “Get Drunk 4” (2003). (

Daniëlle van Ark (Schiedam, 1974) studied photography at the Royal Academy of Visual Arts in The Hague. Her work shows a personal fascination with status, power and transience. All this comes into being through her quest for the emotional, unnatural relationship she has with her subject. The chancery houses works by Van Ark from her series “The Mounted Life,” “Everything Fell into the Right Hands,” and “For Art’s Sake.”

Daniëlle van Ark, “For Art’s Sake 4” (2004-2006). (

Daniëlle van Ark, “Everything Fell into the Right Hands” (2011). (

Wijnanda Deroo (1955) earned her degree from the Academy of Visual Arts in Arnhem. Her work gives us a glimpse into a mysterious world. The first impression is spellbinding and draws one into the work. The subtle use of natural light plays an important role in the photograph by breaking through the formal and static composition of the image. Most of the works by Deroo displayed in the chancery show the splendor of the Netherlands’ dune and forest landscape, but there are also some interiors, such as the symmetrical “Harlem River Café.”

Wijnanda Deroo, Zee. (

Marcus Koppen, “New York No6” (2008). (

Marcus Koppen (1973, Minden) studied at the Southampton Institute of Art and Design and started out immediately after that as a freelance photographer for several magazines. He travelled throughout the world and developed an interest in Oriental metropolises. Koppen is fascinated by the rapid changes in the appearance of these modern metropolises and the growing prominence of their position. The cityscapes all show the nocturnal activity of metropolises like Dubai, Hong Kong, Tokyo and New York.

Marcus Koppen, “Tokyo No8” (2007). (

Bert Sissingh, “Rites de Passage” (1997). (

Bert Sissingh (Den Haag, 1956) produced “The End of History,” a series of photographs of his parents and himself in everyday situations at home. Most viewers will find a sense of familiarity in them. His pictures embody the archetypal and hierarchical relationships between father, mother and child. The beholder will find tragic and comical aspects at once. Sissingh’s images leave one with a feeling of melancholy.

Bert Sissingh, “Mythologie Blanche” (1997). (

Jeroen Bodewits (Rotterdam, 1971) studied fine art at the Willem de Kooning Academy in Rotterdam. Bodewits specializes in the design of spatial objects and photography combined with screen-printing techniques. In the chancery, three works of Bodewits are on display: “Sasha” and “Natasha” from the series “Russian Girl” and “Airplane Window” from the series “Gold.” Both series show an expert balance between photography and silkscreen.

Jeroen Bodewits, “Window,” (2009). (

Sanne Peper, “Death Valley,” (2001). (

Sanne Peper (Haarlem, 1963) studied photography at the Academy of Visual Arts in Arnhem and the Academy of Art and Industry in Enschede. Peper quickly became conscious of the subjective aspect of photography. The fictitious parallel world she creates is a sanctuary, but simultaneously a utopian dream. In her work, she combines estheticism with engagement, and romantic escapism with historical, political, and social awareness.

Sanne Peper, “Grand Canyon,” (2001). (

Raimond Wouda, “Paris,” (2009). (

Maarten Wetsema, “Daan on Children’s Chair,” (2005). (

Raimond Wouda (Amsterdam, 1964) studied photography at the Royal Academy in The Hague. In his works, he examines the relationships that exist between people, and man and his environment. His attention is drawn to small communities, such as social groups within society. Social conventions and codes of behavior are sometimes respected and adopted by these groups, which often form spontaneously, and sometimes not. The twilight zone between private and public human behavior has become of interest because the boundary between them is gradually growing thinner in modern society.

Maarten Wetsema, “Jacob on the Attic,” (2004). (

The chancery houses a beautiful collection of furniture, showcasing the experimental, innovative and often quirky character of Dutch Design. A great variety of designs can be seen throughout the building and gardens. The collection includes pieces inspired by the Dutch landscape, such as Hella Jongerius’ “Polder sofa” (“polder” means acclaimed land) and the tulip shaped chairs by Tord Boontje. But employees and visitors can also admire the world famous sculptural designs of Gerrit Rietveld and the innovative creations of internationally acclaimed design firms Moooi and Droog.

Gerrit Rietveld, ZigZag chair (

Gerrit Rietveld, Berlin Chair (1923) (

Maarten Wetsema (Uithoorn, 1966) studied photography and fine arts at the College for the Arts in Arnhem. In part because of his lifelong fascination with pets, Wetsema made portraits of dogs in seemingly artificial surroundings. Wetsema’s works demonstrate a great empathy and love for the animals. Sometimes the dogs even accept peculiar poses and look natural, which can only be attributed to Wetsema’s control of the scene.

Chairs from left to right: Piet Hein Eek, Scrap wood chair (, Piet Hein Eek, Crisis chair (, Gerrit Rietveld, Mondial in red ( Maarten Wetsema, “Jacob on table,” (1999). (

Gerrit Rietveld, Steltman chair (

In the reception area visitors can admire the Hella Jongerius’ “Polder sofa” for Vitra (2005) and her fauteuil “The Worker” (2006) (

Chairs near the ambassador’s office by W.H. Gispen (1934), Gispen 412 (

“Enormous Scrapchair,” by Piet Hein Eek (

The large meeting room in the chancery. Chairs by W. H. Gispen, 413R ( Table, “Ona Desk” by Jorge Pensin ( On the wall: Marieke Bolhuis, “II” (for Munch, Friedrich and Daniels), digital print (2004). Lamp in the deputy chief of mission’s office by Marcel Wanders, “Set up Shade,” (1989) (

Small conference table and chairs in the ambassador’s office. Marcel Wanders, “V.I.P chairs” (2000) and “Container Table” (2003) (

This publication was produced by the Department of Public Diplomacy, Press and Culture. Dutch Embassy, United States @DutchEmbassyDC Graphic design: ŠAll rights reserved 2012

Profile for Royal Netherlands Embassy

Dutch Art, Photography and Design  

Highlights from the collection at the Embassy of the Kingdom of The Netherlands in Washington D.C.

Dutch Art, Photography and Design  

Highlights from the collection at the Embassy of the Kingdom of The Netherlands in Washington D.C.