Dutch interdisciplinary artist Ger van Elk was a best known as a pioneer of Conceptual Art with associations to both Arte Povera and Fluxus. Van Elk’s practice defies easy categorization; his sculptures, installations, experimental video works, photography, and paintings, combine mediums in unexpected and poetic ways. At the core of his practice, Van Elk was devoted to examining the tradition of Western art and revealing how cultural constructions such as politics and religion define image-making. His work was shown in formative exhibitions such as Op Losse Schroeven at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (NL) and Harald Szeemann’s Live in Your Head: When Attitudes Become Form at the Kunsthalle Bern (CH), both in 1969. Throughout his career Van Elk developed his practice both in the United States and in the Netherlands and frequently collaborated with fellow artists, including William Leavitt, Allen Ruppersberg, John Baldessari and Bas Jan Ader, among others. Van Elk realized at a young age that, “theory was nothing but a construct, a work of artifice”, after his mother remarried and he had to convert from Protestantism to Catholicism overnight. It proved to be a crucial moment for his art practice, the insight that truth is not truthful and that one theory is always interchangeable with another. In his witty and radical work, Van Elk analyzed the role of the artist, explored questions of authorship and originality, and examined the dubious relationship between image, perception, and reality. His style has been in constant flux, embracing new techniques and innovative media, whilst maintaining a dialogue with the history of art.
After studying at the Institute for Applied Arts from 1959 to 1961 in Amsterdam (NL), Ger van Elk (1941-2014, Amsterdam, NL) moved to Los Angeles (US) in 1961, where his father was working at the time. He attended the Immaculate Heart College, where his long-time friend Bas Jan Ader joined him the following year. In 1980, Van Elk represented the Netherlands at the 39th Venice Biennale (IT). He participated in the 38th Venice Biennale (IT) in 1978 and in Documenta 6, Kassel (DE) in 1977. Van Elk’s work has been exhibited in numerous international museums and gallery exhibitions such as Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY (US); Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris (FR); The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA (US); Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN (US); Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA (US); Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (NL); Marian Goodman Gallery, New York, NY (US); Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Paris; and The Bronx Museum of the Arts, New York (US). Recent exhibitions include La Casa Encendida, Madrid (ES); Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterlo (NL) and the Art Institute of Chicago, IL (US). His work can be found in many institutions and museums around the world such as Fondazione Prada, Milan (IT); François Pinault Foundation, Venice (IT); Tate, London (UK); Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY (US); Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (NL), and the Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven (NL).