history of the gallery 1985 - present
In 1985, Kees van Gelder started a gallery on the second floor of a solemn industrial building in the Planciusstraat 9 in Amsterdam. Originally he tried to found an artists run space with the name Anableps anableps, a scientific name for a double eyed fish. When it came to paying the rent and bills the artists involved lacked the money to share the rent and costs of overhead. After having studied for a long period at different fields - four years at a technical printers school, five years at an evening school for adults and eight years philosophy at the University of Amsterdam / Interfaculty - at the age of 36 Kees van Gelder sold his house and started a commercial gallery instead.
The cultural climate in Amsterdam was not very open to avant-garde art and economical times at that period were poor. Due to the fact that he was for years a member of advisory boards for both the Dutch state in The Hague and the City of Amsterdam he developed a clear insight of what was going on in the art scene in The Netherlands. At that time not that many galleries were active in contemporary art, although a small community of mainly artists could create a kind of insiders art scene. A diverse group of (foreign) artists at De Appel, In-Out Center, Other Books and So and associations of video artists like Time Based Arts, The Bank and Montevideo established the scene. He therefore took it upon himself to create an open-minded place where above all artists from abroad could express themselves, in spite of the lack of both a proper art market and a national pride in the arts. With his dedication to art and a keen interest in philosophical ideas as ideas he focused on content from the beginning. He created a platform for Dutch artists like JCJ Vanderheyden, Hannes van Es, Jaap Kroneman, Klaas Kloosterboer and Ansuya Blom. Since 1973 he collected artist's books of mainly foreign artists. No wonder he felt a strong urge to work with artists from abroad, also for reasons of strategy to find ways to extend the gallery's range of impact. Right from the start the so-called first generation of Icelandic artists living in Amsterdam began to show their works in Galerie van Gelder. In 1987 Kristján Gudmundsson was the first one to have a solo show, later on followed by Hreinn Fridfinnsson and Sigurdur Gudmundsson.
In 1984 Kees van Gelder invited John M Armleder to participate originally in Anableps anableps and for this he had a meeting in a train station in Basel. A more than generous and as always high-spirited Armleder agreed at once on having a solo show in Amsterdam and in 1988 he had his first solo exhibition in Galerie van Gelder. Without knowing where this could lead to this was the beginning of broadening the gallery's contacts at an early stage in both Europe and the USA. In 1990 Olivier Mosset, in 1992 Sylvie Fleury and in 1993 Steven Parrino had their first solo exhibitions. The national press neglected severfal shows of Mosset and was negative on both Armleder's and Fleury's solo exhibitions being described as 'charlatan art', 'non-art' and 'fashion instead of art'.
In the first decade of the gallery's existence various strategies were developed to increase its international reach. Artists were invited to make a multiple or print. Kristján Gudmundsson was one of the first to make a solid graphite wall object in a limited edition. In 1988 John M Armleder followed with a fake fur cat bed edition. In 1992 Sylvie Fleury made her first and only VOGUE edition that is a true size replica of the magazine.
Another way to create liveliness into the gallery's program Galerie van Gelder decided to invite artists and special guests to come up with a group show. In this manner not only the production of editions, but also remarkable group shows were realized. To name a few:
"Ecart", curator John Armleder: with Pierre-André Ferrand, Sylvie Fleury, Christian Floquet, Olivier Mosset, Herbert Hamak, Peter Schuyff, Jonathan Genkins, General Idea, Christian Marclay, Cady Noland, Steven Parrino and Allan McCollum. 1991
"They See the Light", Ranbir Singh / Peggy Grunert, Brussels: showed their carpets of Walter Dahn, Rob Scholte, Rosemarie Trockel, Mark Dagley, Jiri G. Dokoupil, Peter Nagy, and others.
"Mechanical reproduction", curator Jack Jaeger: with Henry Bond & Liam Gillick, Sylvie Fleury, Richard Hawkins, Arnold Mosselman and Wolfgang Tillmans. All participated in a hand made photo catalogue (edition 50).
"Een goed in de weg staande tafel", curator Jack Jaeger: with Tom Friedman,Rosemarie Trockel / Cartsen Hoeller, Phyllis Baldino, Yvette Brackman, Johan Gimonprez, Elke Krystufek, Yayoi Kusama, Chuck Nanney, Ohio, B. Wurtz, Muntean/Rosenblum, Henrik Olesen, Kay Rosen, Georgina Starr, Haim Steinbach, Rirkrit Tiravanija, and others.
"Freedom Borders", curator Barnabás Bencsik / Kees van Gelder: with Hungarian artists Szabolcs KissPál, Dezso Tandori and Tamás St. Auby alias IPUT (International Parallel Union of Telecommunications).
In 1991 a second space in Asia was opened in cooperation with Patrick Franssen, a friend from the time at the University of Amsterdam who moved to Bangkok in Thailand. The gallery was called after his wife's surname, i.e. Gallery Sukanit situated on the ground floor and on the first floor Franssen had his law firm. At that time there were no galleries for contemporary art and no museums. The idea of founding a gallery was that Thai students would come back from their studies in Europe and the USA and would increasingly become interested in Western art.
In 1995 a gallery's artist magazine was founded called AP with contributions of John Tremblay, Claude Closky, Sylvie Fleury and Marijke van Warmerdam.
will be continued...