The key role of the Dutch conceptual artists: The development of the Dutch Conceptual Art network within Europe and the relations with America

This is a research I carried out together with Francesca Lacroce last Winter. I copied the introduction below. The full article, including biographies of Jan Dibbets, Ger van Elk, Bas Jan Ader and Stanley Brouwn can be downloaded here: The key role of the Dutch conceptual artists


To be a part of a network means to be in contact with people and institutions. This doesn’t necessarily always needs to be a two-way communication, because being noted and followed by others indicates a form of (power) relationship as well. As Cherix notes, Stanley Brouwn’s 1969 exhibition in Art & Project introduced the gallery to conceptual artists internationally.[1] The ‘Bulletins’ the gallery sent out on monthly basis, is also an example of a unilateral device, very effective from a promotional perspective.

Another constitutional feature of a network is the function of connector that is carried out by some of its exponents. Jan Dibbets, for example, had met Richard Long and Gilbert & George at St. Martin’s School of Art. At the early conceptual art group exhibition Dies alles Herzchen wird einmal dir gehören, 19:45-21:55, organized in 1967 by pioneer Paul Maenz in Düsseldorf, Dibbets had met many people including Konrad Fischer – then exhibiting under his mother’s name Lueg – who would become a central figure in the conceptual art network after opening his own gallery a month later. Dibbets then, introduced Long and Gilbert & George to Fischer whom he all exhibited subsequently.[2] The conceptual art network was thus, if anything, an international affair.

What were the most important agents, that is, most under the attention of others? Who were the people most importantly forging constructive connections between other actors in the network? These questions have been guiding our selection of the principal Dutch artists and following from there, the most relevant agents, be they persons or institutions came into perspective. These are respectively: Bas Jan Ader, Stanley Brouwn, Jan Dibbets and Ger van Elk, and Galerie Swart, Konrad Fischer, Art & Project, Szeemann, and the most important international museums.

The general structure of this essay will be chronological. We have written chapters alternately, so outlining the following time slots:

1.1959-1965: Roots of the Dutch Conceptual Art Network (Jesse van Winden)
2.1966-1968: The Development of the Network Throughout Europe (Francesca Lacroce)
3.1969-1971: International Network Exposion (Jesse van Winden)
4.1972-1979: Conceptual Art becoming Institutionalized and Mainstream (Francesca Lacroce)

[1] C. Cherix, ‘Un entretien avec les éditeurs du Art & Project Bulletin (Février-Mars 2003)’, in: S. Richard, UnconcealedThe International Network of Conceptual Artists 1967-1977, London, Ridinghouse, 2010, p. 94f.

[2] Letter from Fischer to Long, in: S. Richard, op. cit., p. 77; N. Zonnenberg, ‘The Amsterdam Connection. In conversation with Jan Dibbets and Ger van Elk’, Metropolis M, No. 4, 2010, via: accessed: January 17, 2011.


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