Portrait – As is, as was


C-print ra 4 on Duraclear film between Plexiglas, Plexiglas suspension

44 x 45 x 24 cm | 17.3 x 17.7 x 9.5 in


Ger van Elk is considered to be one of the pioneers of conceptual art. Averse to conventions, Van Elk experimented with many different media and frequently collaborated with fellow artists, including William Leavitt, Allen Rupersberg and John Baldessari and Bas Jan Ader among others. In 1969 he participated in the groundbreaking exhibitions When Attitudes Become Form at Kunsthalle Bern and Op Losse Schroeven: Situaties en Cryptostructuren at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam; the latter still counts as the introduction of conceptual art in The Netherlands.

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 become Catholic instead of Protestant 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 the question of authorship and originality and examined the dubious relationship between image, imagination and reality. Ger van Elk tried to disrupt the established art world one artwork at a time.

After studying at the Institute for Applied Arts from 1959 to 1961 in Amsterdam, Ger van Elk (1941– 2014, Amsterdam, NL) moved to Los Angeles 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. Van Elk’s work from that period, across a wide range of mediums, often draws humorous parallels between Amsterdam and Los Angeles. Van Elk’s work had been exhibited in numerous international museum and gallery exhibition such as Museum of Modern Art, New York (US); Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (NL) and Marian Goodman Gallery, New York (US). Recent exhibitions include La Casa Encendida, Madrid (SP), The Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterlo (NL) and the Art Institute of Chicago (US). His work can be found in many institutions and museums around the world such as Fondazione Prada, Milan (IT); Francois Pinault Foundation, Venice (IT); Tate, London (UK); Museum of Modern Art, New York (US); Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (NL), and the Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven (NL).

Curriculum Vitae

Download CV




Ger van Elk

Artist: Ger van Elk Year: 2009 Publisher: Thieme Art, Deventer Author: Carel Blotkamp, Ron Kaal, Jacinto Lageira, Anne Rorimer Design: Irma Boom Paperback: 304 pages Size: 28 x 21 cm ISBN: 9789078964285