Steef Zoetmulder

Sept. 2, 2023 – Jan. 7, 2024 This exhibition has ended
The photographer Steef Zoetmulder (1911-2004) is a key figure in post-war Dutch art photography who became known for his creative depictions of everyday reality. Unusual structures and patterns, emphasised by unexpected perspectives, lighting, and cutouts are characteristic of his work. From Saturday 2 September, Kunsthal Rotterdam will be presenting the exhibition ‘Steef Zoetmulder’, compiled from the collection of Leiden University Libraries (Universitaire Bibliotheken Leiden, UBL). Over fifty vintage prints, created by Zoetmulder himself, will be shown to the public for the very first time at the Kunsthal: iconic Rotterdam buildings, still lifes, portraits, and abstract compositions.

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Steef Zoetmulder grew up during the Interbellum. Inspired by photographers like Piet Zwart, Gerrit Kiljan, and Jan Kamman, he subscribed to the basic principles of New Photography.  This photographic movement focused on realistic depictions of the subject matter. Later on, Zoetmulder developed a visual language of his own that was related to Subjective Photography, in which form was considered more important than documenting the subject matter. In his increasingly abstract work, Zoetmulder experimented with different ways of cropping the image, lighting techniques, perspectives, and compositions. 

Versatile oeuvre 

After the Second World War, Zoetmulder focused on publicity and advertising photography, although fashion, industry and trade were also themes that regularly appeared in front of his lens. Especially for this exhibition, fifty original prints were selected by Maartje van den Heuvel, curator of photography at Leiden University Libraries’ Special Collections. On the basis of different themes, the visitors are introduced to Zoetmulder’s versatile oeuvre,


The exhibition 'Steef Zoetmulder’ was realised in collaboration with Universitaire Bibliotheken Leiden (UB Leiden, Leiden University Libraries). Steef Zoetmulder’s core collection could recently be acquired by UB Leiden thanks to the support of Vereniging Rembrandt (including a gift from The School of Life Amsterdam), the Mondriaan Fund, and Friends of UB Leiden.

Lecture Steef Zoetmulder

Steef Zoetmulder

Lecture by Maartje van den Heuvel

16 September 2023 14:00 - 16 September 2023 15:00
On the ocassion of the exhibition Steef Zoetmulder, Maartje van den Heuvel - guest curator of the exhibition and curator of photography at Leiden University Libraries - will be giving a lecture in the Kunsthal Auditorium.

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See also


3.Steef Zoetmulder, Zelfportret, 1945, UBL v2_LR.jpg
Steef Zoetmulder, Zelfportret, 1945 Ontwikkelgelatinezilverdruk, 44,5 x 33,1 cm Universitaire Bibliotheken Leiden
Friday open until 22:00
Celebrate 40 years of Summer Carnival during Friday Night LIVE on 19 July. All exhibitions will be open during the evening.
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