Inside the Soho House Amsterdam art collection
To celebrate the club’s fifth anniversary, we delve into its international assemblage inspired by the weighty history of Dutch art
Thursday 20 July 2023 By Anastasiia Fedorova
Soho House Amsterdam opened in summer 2018 just by the Singel canal in the heart of the city. The club truly has it all: lovingly restored original interiors, an expansive gym with canal views and a spa, a Cecconi’s restaurant, and a range of spacious bedrooms. The pool overlooking the city skyline has become a beloved member hangout since, and the historic building perfectly channels the Soho House vision. ‘It’s a beautiful piece of architecture, originally built in 1934 as a department store and designed by J.B. Ingwersen – a prominent architect known for his Art Deco style,’ Soho House Founder Nick Jones remembers.
As in each of our Houses around the world, the art collection is a crucial part of the space. In Amsterdam, it comprises international heavyweights and local names in an homage to the history of Dutch art. To celebrate the club’s fifth anniversary, we sat down with Soho House’s Global Director of Art, Kate Bryan, for a private tour of the collection.
‘Whenever we set the curatorial remit for a new collection, we always speak to all of the galleries and artists in the city. And in case of Amsterdam, they wanted the collection to be international. All of the artists are either based there or Dutch, or they’re an international artist who’s responding to historical Dutch themes: the Dutch Golden Age, Vanitas still lifes, the tradition of self-portraiture inspired by Vincent van Gogh and Rembrandt, or Dutch landscape painting.
‘As we were selecting the collection in this way, I was worried that it would limit the number of international artists we would get. We were being quite prescriptive, as they had to sort of give us one of three things. But actually, so many of the artists wanted to do all three things, they really wanted to play with it. It was fascinating to see that they were prepared to adapt their style in order to have a conversation with history, which I thought was really poetic.
‘The still life collection is located at Cecconi’s on the ground floor. We’ve got Keith Tyson, Ina van Zyl and Addie Wagenknecht, among others. Works by Gordon Cheung are especially interesting. He took actual paintings from the Rijksmuseum, got access to the high-resolution digital files, and then created an algorithm that basically slowly decayed the files so they look like pouring sand. The algorithm is destroying the original high-resolution image, which is then captured as a digital still.
‘In the self-portrait collection, we have probably the most international line-up. It was the first time we were ever able to acquire the giant of American photography scene, Catherine Opie. A lot of the artists took the theme quite conceptually, sending other people in standing for themselves. Annie Kevans, for instance, did a portrait of the Dutch Golden Age woman artist Rachel Ruysch, who’s been left out of history. Fiona Tan, a really important Dutch artist, contributed a portrait of Rembrandt’s wife remade from a video art series. Hugh Mendes reimagined himself as Rembrandt, and Billy Childish drew himself as Van Gogh. Fiona Banner, aka The Vanity Press, depicted a bookshelf as a human body. Other highlights include Lisa Brice, Amsterdam-based Maaike Schoorel, Sue Webster, Clare Woods, Charlotte van Berkel, and Mat Collishaw.
‘In the collection, we also have landscapes from Tacita Dean, Charlotte Prodger, Sanja Marusic, Zina Saro-Wiwa and Rui Matsunaga, among others. And there was a whole presentation of local artists, who are at the other end of the club from the portraits. We have a great work by Marianne Vierø, which is a photograph of a potato stencil that you make at school. She came into the House with the same stencil and stamped it on the wall. And we have a beautiful work by Amie Dicke, who’s one of the most established Amsterdam-based artists and has a studio around the corner.
‘I think Soho House Amsterdam is so beautiful. She’s just an absolute old glamorous star of a building. This is one of the reasons why I really wanted to wind back a couple of centuries and try to think of Amsterdam as a place in history.’
Browse the art collections at all of our Houses around the world.