Paula by Hendrik Kerstens
Since 1995, Hendrik Kerstens has been photographing his daughter, Paula, creating moving portraits in the spirit of Vermeer. Born in The Hague in 1956, Kerstens is a self-taught photographer whose work has been shown in more than 40 exhibitions across Europe and the United States. His work is in major museum collections and is frequently featured in the New York Times magazine, and has inspired tastemakers as diverse as Elton John and Alexander McQueen. (McQueen used Kerstens’s now-iconic portrait Bag as the invitation for his fall 2009 collection.) Here, Kerstens lovingly portrays Paula as a self-possessed young woman (with a sense of humor), as well as projecting onto her his fascination with the Dutch Master painters of the 17th century. The resulting portraits seem at once contemporary and timeless. Kersten’s beautiful, haunting images, filled with “Dutch light,” express both paternal love and a deep respect for craft. Essays by photography curators Martin Barnes and Deborah Klochko examine the Paula images, considering them as an ongoing, three-way dialogue between photographer and sitter, and photographer and audience, and also discuss Kerstens' influences his larger body of work.