Summer 2020 program

The Merchant House, Amsterdam / Netherlands

June 19–September 7, 2020
July 8, 2020
The Merchant House
Herengracht 254
1016 BV Amsterdam

T +31 20 845 5955
[email protected]
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The Merchant House reopens its 2020 program with two new exhibitions that unite around the theme of the city in crisis.

The Indispensable Experience of Art 
Part 1: Urban Image-Jitters

With Dennis Oppenheim (1938–2011, US), Pino Pinelli (1938, IT), and Sylvie Bonnot (1982, FR)

Of The World We Share
Affective prints of Craigie Horsfield (1949, UK)—in a new installation

This installment of TMH’s changing group show takes its cue from Dennis Oppenheim’s famous project drawing Virus (1989) and Craigie Horsfield’s “billboard in downtown Manhattan days after 9/11” and related pieces. Together with the provocative art of Pino Pinelli and Sylvie Bonnot featured in parallel, these works deconstruct the ruptures and impact of cities in a biocultural crisis. 

A 1992 article in The New York Times quoted Dennis Oppenheim: “Virus was conceived as part of a larger body of work that used common, lighthearted images on ‘deadly structures.’ Virus was supposed to have the characteristic of a biological model, but instead of using the usual round sphere, I used Mickey and Donald. The message was one of giving people image-jitters, of using common light figures in a heavier context.” The article highlighted Disney’s demand to destroy Oppenheim’s sculpture (then installed in a California office complex) on copyright grounds. In the years preceding, the poignant Virus was shown all over the world. Like all germinal art, and more than ever now, such works draw energy—with irreverence or poise—from particular incidents of life but speak to looming social issues.

Elucidating the present and imagining the future, Oppenheim’s Virus as well as Pinelli’s wall-defying Pittura R.and Bonnot’s hard-etched Tokyo on view powerfully capture the timeless spirit of art. In foregrounding time, they connect to the work of Craigie Horsfield in TMH’s show paused by COVID-19. The new installation offers a chance to revisit Horsfield’s affective prints steeped in his fascinating conception of “slow time.” As Horsfield once said: “The situations in these works may appear familiar at first glance, and yet each unfolds into an intimate epic as our senses open us to recognition, to stories of our own lives, and to our own responsibility.” 

The Indispensable Experience of Art, proposed by Marsha Plotnitsky for 2020, highlights the physical experience of art and will develop in several interdisciplinary installments with TMH’s artists. 

The Merchant House presents contemporary art projects with sales of art as a funding strategy. Each project, curated by TMH’s Founding Artistic Director Marsha Plotnitsky, brings together an extended exhibition, cultural and research events, and a dedicated catalogue/artist’s book.

TMH has showcased international and Dutch innovators, such as John Coplans, Hilarius Hofstede, Craigie Horsfield, André de Jong, Henk Peeters, Pino Pinelli, Judit Reigl, Carolee Schneemann, and Jan Schoonhoven, as well as young talent. Since it opened its doors in a historical canal house in Amsterdam in 2013, it has become known as a modern take on the Dutch tradition of a merchant—a vibrant art space freely open to the public.

Program funded by art sales.
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Entry to exhibitions and events is free.