Ger van Elk who died age 73 on 17 August was a highly regarded conceptual artist, both nationally as internationally, he continuously reviewed and reconsidered his own work, his personal, trivial, observations as well as art historical developments.
Born in Amsterdam, in 1941 at the height of WWII, Van Elk spend many of his his active years in New York and Los Angeles. He first achieved recognition in the 1960s exhibiting in several exhibitions that came to define what we now call conceptual art, including Harald Szeemann’s When Attitudes Become Form at the Kunsthaus Bern in 1969.
In sculptures, painted-on photographs, installations, slide projections and film works produced since the 1960s, he made unexpected connections between the trivial and the elevated, the serious and the absurd, history and personal experience. Looking at contradictions of whatever kind is the motor behind his work. His last works utilised a series of flatscreen televisions which gives us his view on the possible workings of the history of art in contemporary artistic practice.
Jacinto Lageira and Carel Blotkamp analyse his oeuvre from different art historical perspectives. Where Lageira considers his oeuvre also in terms of a poetics of the trivial (referring to Van Elk who considers making an art work as a form of poetics) Blotkamp looks at the cultural influences in Van Elk’s work made between Amsterdam and Los Angeles. Phillip van den Bossche questions Van Elk on his recent works and the importance of cross-referencing and re-citing.
Photo: Kunstenaar Ger van Elk ontvangt uit handen van prof. dr. Schenkeveld de David Röellprijs11 maart 1983 Nationaal Archief By Marcel Antonisse / Anefo