Exhibition text FOAM in Van Loon: Bart Julius Peters

In 2005 and 2009 (and later in 2012 and 2017), Museum Van Loon opened its historical rooms for FOAM, Amsterdam’s renowned photography museum. The two museums are located opposite each other, on either side of the Keizersgracht. 

Museum Van Loon is an impeccably preserved 17th-century canal house that still exudes the wealth of its patrician owners, the Van Loons, one of whom co-founded the Dutch East India Company. Expect to see pastel portrait exhibitions, intriguing contemporary photographs, and site-specific works strewn across the house. Cocteau operas are performed in the canal-side garden come summertime. (via Condé Nast Traveller)  


In early 2009, FOAM temporarily closed its doors to install a large retrospective of Richard Avedon’s work, and so the Museum Van Loon invited Dutch photographer Bart Julius Peters to be inspired by the house of the Van Loon family (and, in turn, Peters invited me to write the exhibition text for this solo exhibition, link below).

The result of this invitation to Peters was the exhibition Foam in Van Loon – Bart Julius Peters (January 15–March 14, 2009), where Peters made use of Museum Van Loon’s eclectic collection, resulting in a fusion between his work and the museum. In this cooperation, each party preserved its own identity, while at the same time forming a tension through the integration of modern visual culture in the old period rooms of Museum Van Loon. 

In addition to an overview of his work, Peters made new works for this exhibition for which he was, as always, inspired by his theme of longing

Peters’ oeuvre is characterised by a feeling of nostalgia, romance and the timelessness that that evokes. The grainy black-and-white photos look much older than they actually are. This is strengthened by his choice of subject matter: like a cosmopolitan vagabond, Peters wanders the world in search of the “old world,” apparently old-fashioned places and people. Time and place seem to be irrelevant, but a feeling of decadence returns. 

Bart Julius Peters FOAM in Van Loon (PDF of exhibition catalogue)

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© Bart Julius Peters
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© Bart Julius Peters
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© Bart Julius Peters