The Netherlands in Focus
Photo Vincent Mentzel

March 5, 2011 – June 19, 2011 Deze tentoonstelling is afgelopen
Herman Brood and André Hazes
Kunsthal Rotterdam presents a more than impressive retrospective of Vincent Mentzel, who undoubtedly is Holland's most renowned photojournalist. During a period of forty years (from 1970 to 2010), in which he worked as a staff photographer for the leading Dutch daily newspaper NRC Handelsblad, Mentzel has managed to establish a powerful oeuvre.

The exhibition entitled ‘The Netherlands in Focus' presents a survey of his work, showing both digital and black and white photographs. A lot of these photos are familiar. The additional textual comments that Mentzel himself made on his favourite photographs reveal what was happening outside the eye ofthe camera at the actual time of the shoot. The exhibition not only displays the dynamics of the news both within the Netherlands and abroad but also shows a major part of cultural Holland over the last forty years.

Images from the News

In the seventies and the eighties Vincent Mentzel became widely known for his photographs of politicians and statesmen. The portraits he made of Willem Drees, Ruud Lubbers, Joop den Uyl and the back then young Hans Wiegel have become nothing less than icons in the history of Dutch photojournalism. At the end of the eighties Mentzel curtailed his work as a political photographer because he felt that his friendships with several politicians interfered with his journalistic independence.

From then onwards he regularly travelled abroad as NRC Handelsblad gave him assignments of a wider scope, dispatching him to cover all sorts of foreign events and people. He visited amongst others the People's Republic of China, the Middle East, Surinam, East Germany and the United States of America. Mentzel captured on camera several historical events, such as the First Gulf war (1991) and the Tiananmen Square protests in Beijing (1989).

Extraordinary Portraits

Besides his photojournalism Mentzel is also famous for his portraits. From these photographs it becomes clear that he succeeds at capturing the very essence of all of his models, whether they are members of the Dutch Royal Family, actresses like Audrey Hepburn and Shirley MacLaine, artists like Daan van Golden and Herman Brood or a boxing champion like Mohammed Ali.

He rapidly manages to establish a very special connection with every single one of his models, which results in highly intimate and personal photographs. Although both his working area and his technique have altered over the years, Mentzel has always remained a photojournalist: his photographs are quintessentially made to convey information. People should not have to puzzle over what a newspaper photo is all about, even though Mentzel never chooses a conventional composition for his photographs.

Vincent Mentzel, Beatrix 1986 - LR.jpg
Beatrix, 1986


The exhibition will be supplemented by the catalogue entitled ‘Foto Vincent Mentzel', which was designed by Irma Boom and published by D'Jonge Hond Publishers.

3. Vincent Mentzel, Carice van Houten, 2001 - LR.jpg
Carice van Houten, 2001
5. Vincent Mentzel, Wiegel en Van Agt, 1978.jpg
Wiegel and Van Agt, 1978