On Jan Henderikse
Jan Henderikse (*1937, Delft) is the youngest member of the former Dutch Nul Group, a collective of four artists--Armando, Henderikse, Henk Peeters, and Jan Schoonhoven--exhibiting and publishing under that name between 1961 and 1965. In the wake of Informal painting, the predominant style of the 1950's, these artists sought for new forms of expression, moving away from traditional, academic means such as the bronze and paint on canvas.
From Painting to Assemblage
Henderikse distanced himself from painting in 1959. What followed were assemblages composed of flotsam washed up on the banks of the Rhine, in Cologne and Dusseldorf. In those days, Düsseldorf, where Henderikse lived from 1959 to 1963, was the cradle of the ZERO movement, an international collective of likeminded artists. Henderikse’s move from Delft to Düsseldorf brought him into contact with the main protagonists of ZERO, with artists Heinz Mack, Otto Piene and Günther Uecker, and with Enrico Castellani, Lucio Fontana, Yves Klein and Piero Manzoni, among others. Artists shared an interest for new materials and new forms of expression, working with the effects of fire, light and shadow, with movement, reflection, or with the alluring beauty of everyday objects and materials. Jan Henderikse took part in several major ZERO-exhibitions, among them 'Nul' at the Amsterdam Stedelijk Museum (1962). Here, most notably was his installation of beer crates, which was also on show at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, in 2014-2015.
Rhineland, Curacao, New York, Berlin
In 1963, Henderikse exchanged the Rhineland for Curacao, birthplace of his wife Idi Henderikse-van Henneigen, followed by New York City in 1967. The development of Henderikse's assemblage throughout the 1960s, led to what has become the trademark of a highly personal artistic approach.
For Henderikse, the 1970s marked--in his own words--'the end of wall and pedestal art'. Throughout the 1980s, Henderikse augmented his material basis with conceptual artists’ books, land art projects, photographic series, film, and installations comprising “ready-found” photographic material.
In many of Henderikse’s works ‘choice’ plays a key role, in the sense of appropriation and designation, replacing to a greater or lesser degree the conventional, craft-based ‘fabrication process’. A television interview from 1980, filmed in a limousine on Broadway in New York, is enlightening. Henderikse speaks about Broadway as ‘(...) the twenty kilometres-long work of art (...), and that which turns it into art, that is I. This qualified and experienced artist determines that Broadway is a work of art by Jan Henderikse.’
In 1988, Henderikse moved to West-Berlin. Traveling back and forth between Manhattan, New York, and the parted city of Berlin, left its marks on the artistic production of those years. Henderikse embarked once again on the 'production' of his beloved assemblage, this time with the couleur locale of a parted city, in the shadow of the GDR-regime.
In 1999, Henderikse exchanged Berlin for Antwerp, the city where he lives and works until the present day, when not in Brooklyn, New York. For Henderikse, the assemblage and the enticing beauty of the everyday banal have retained their attraction.
‘You could put it to the test by halting worldwide production, even just for one day, and Henderikse would immediately hang up his boot', said Henk Peeters in 1985. Henderikse observes and registers the world as an ethnographer of everyday life, his fascination for the commonplace and the trivial is endless and constant.