Sunday, September 24, 2023

Voorwerk 1

Fiona Rae, Doriana Chiarini, Aernout Mik, Kay Rosen
Voorwerk 1
Rotterdam, The Netherlands: Witte de With, 1990
21 x 31 cm., boxed
Edition of 500

In October of 1990 Witte de With in Rotterdam held the first of their Voorwerk series, which featured works by Doriana Chiarini, Aernout Mik, Fiona Rae and Kay Rosen.

Voorwerk translates to "preliminary work" and the series featured then-younger and emerging artists, with the intention to provide "the first substantial presentation of works by relatively unknown artists". Their track record of picking those who would go on to greater success, especially in this first year, is pretty incredible. The shows were annual and presented without thematics or common denominators.

Italian artist Doriana Chiarini presented elegant objects that combined design and art. Aernout Mik showed his Dummies series, which consists of cushions from photographic linen, loosely modelled after the human body, that are photographically printed with children’s portraits. The two painters couldn't have been more different - Fiona Rae exhibited abstract works and Kay Rosen presented textual paintings rich with visual jokes, taken from everyday conversation, pulp novels and telephone directories (see below). 

The "catalogue" for the exhibition featured a compartmentalized cardboard box containing works by all four artists: an original painting by Fiona Rae (each unique), five cards by Kay Rosen, a fold out paper by Chiarini and five photocards by Mik.

Art Metropole stocked at least two of the three boxes that were released, in the first year that I worked there. I can't remember the exact price, but I seem recall them being between thirty and fifty dollars. All of the titles have increased in value considerably since that time, with the first one (owing much to the inclusion of the unique Rae painting) particularly costly.

The copy above (bottom three images) copy is from Cult Club, a store and gallery project by Jeannette Dekeukeleire and Harry Ruhe in Amsterdam. A copy of the complete set of boxes can be purchased from Ruhe, here

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