A space between old and new Amsterdam, showcasing new perspectives on visual arts and allowing artists to ripen
Narda van ’t Veer and Jasper Bode opened the Ravestijn Gallery in 2012 in Amsterdam. Jasper Bode’s experience focused more on the conceptual end of photography whereas Narda van ’t Veer’s background was more commercial. Throughout the past thirty years, Narda van ’t Veer has amassed a collection of over thirty thousand photography titles. They describe themselves as opinionated people who always fantasized about opening their own gallery.
Both Narda and Jasper had been looking for their ideal location in the center of Amsterdam for some time. When they found the space they now inhabitate in Westerdok, it was clear to them that it was the one. The gallery has a front and back entrance, natural light entering from both sides, and a view of both new and old Amsterdam. The building has been designed so that there is a main gallery space, an open but still separate back gallery, as well as a library with all the photography books.
The Ravestijn Gallery has an active exhibition program, representing twelve artists exclusively, but also featuring another sixteen artists. Both Jasper and Narda tend to admire and select the same types of artist, focusing on inquisitive and provocative approaches to contemporary photography. Regarding the selection process, they follow photographers they would like to represent in their gallery by looking at artists’ websites, visiting photography festivals, and attending art fairs.
They assess a potential artist’s body of work over the years and when they feel that the body of work has ripened enough, they contact the artist to see if they would agree to exhibit at the Ravestijn Gallery. As Jasper Bode states: «Context is key». They place emphasis on visiting and interacting with young artists coming out of art school, if they see something interesting, they follow the artist by looking at their website and social media. Jasper goes on to say: «When the artist in question has developed themself, there is context. And if we like that context, we contact the artist».
In September 2020, Narda and Jasper opened the first-ever gallery exhibition of Patrick Waterhouse’s series Restricted Images; made with the Warlpiri of Central Australia. His work has so far only been exhibited in museums and institutions, thus making this exhibition particularly exciting.
Besides their active exhibition schedule, the Ravestijn Gallery has a considerable permanent collection of photographs. Narda has been collecting photography for over 30 years, from young and then-unknown artists to well-established artists.
The collection holds works by, amongst others, David Armstrong, Lilian Bassman, Ruth van Beek, Guy Bourdin, Matt Collishaw, Louise Dahl Wolfe, Sian Davey, Ed van der Elske, Walker Evans, Stephen Gill, Todd Hido, Adam Jeppesen, Inez & Vinoodh, Jacques Henri Lartigue, Annie Leibowitz, Joss Mckinley, Christine de Middel, Lee Miller, Helmut Newton, June Newton, Max Pinckers, Robin de Puy, Man Ray, Scheltens & Abbenes, Collier Schorr, Eva Stenram, Bert Stern, Bruce Weber, Harley Weir. Some of these artists are also represented in the gallery. In the words of Jasper, «you can basically say whatever work we like to own, we like to represent in the gallery».
«Being in the business of photography for over twenty-five years, operating mainly within the art scene, it was a tough sell in the beginning. This is mostly still the case because of the reproducibility of the medium. Also, the number of people armed with cameras today has never been greater. We believe wholeheartedly in photography as an art form and by organizing exhibitions we hope to enthuse others», concludes Jasper Bode.