Rineke Dijkstra

(b. 1959)

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(1959– )

Dutch photographer and video artist, born in Sittard. She began her career as a conventional portrait photographer but gained an international reputation with the series of beach photographs she made between 1992 and 1996. These pose the single figures against the sea from a low angle, resulting in a remarkable psychological intensity. In the most celebrated of the series, Kolozbreg, Poland, July 26 1992 (1992, Tate), the pose reminds many spectators of Botticelli's Birth of Venus. Two further series are of men and women who have just been through an intense, even life-threatening experience. The men are bullfighters, not from Spain but Portugal, where the object is to hold the bull to the ground rather than kill it. They are still in their torn and bloodied costumes. The women are mothers holding their babies, a short time after childbirth. Dijkstra embarked on this series after assisting a friend who was giving birth. Both the bullfighters and the mothers are depicted against totally white backgrounds, with no distracting documentary paraphernalia. Similarly, when photographing in Israel, she concentrated on soldiers, both male and female, immediately after undergoing stringent exercises.

Further Reading

D. Birnbaum, ‘Rineke Dijkstra’, Artforum International (April 2001)

Subjects: Art.

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