Speaking: Jo Brunenberg
The organization of ‘Breda Photo 2005’ had invited Harry Pennings at the time as curator for the main exhibition of the photo festival. The theme was ‘Unreal Beauty’. Of the hundred photos that Pennings selected for the exhibition in the Breda’s Museum, almost half came from Jo Brunenberg's collection.
Jo Brunenberg (1949) visited Pennings Gallery from the early 1980s. There he met Harry Pennings. “In 1982 I started collecting photography. Sometimes I bought photos from Galerie Pennings, such as by Mamabart, Philip Provily and Charles Fréger. At that time, we visited the photo festival in Arles almost every year, just like Harry and Françoise (see blog # 1), to stay up to date with new developments in photography. We also met there.”
“At an early stage Harry knew which photographers mattered. For example, he saw one of the first photo series of the now renowned French photographer Charles Fréger. He invited him for an exhibition and introduced him in the Netherlands. At Galerie Pennings I also got to know his work and bought the first photos of him from the ‘Waterpolo’ series from the year 2000 and got in touch with the photographer. One of the great things about collecting is that you often meet the photographers in person. For example, I once visited Duane Michals in New York and in the same city, in an abandoned hospital, I photographed a day together with Arthur Tress. I have remained friends with Fréger and a number of other photographers.”
When Harry and Françoise went to Arles, they stayed in their wonderful home in Aigues Vives. In July 2005 Jo and his partner Rino Boersma (see blog # 3) visited them. “Harry didn't have much energy then and Françoise asked if we wanted to do some pruning in the garden. In the evening we noticed for the first time that something was wrong with Harry. He was tired and kept falling asleep. We took this photo of Harry and Françoise on the day of our departure.”
Brunenberg has been working in the graphic sector. He had an education in graphic techniques and had attended the Academy of Industrial Design in Eindhoven. He developed as a specialist in printing, photographic printing techniques and color management. In 2013 he gave a lecture about this at Galerie Pennings.
Jo Brunenberg and Rino Boersma were also involved in the establishment of Fotosz.nl (Fotografie Stichting Zuid Nederland, established in 2008 to develop activities in collaboration with Galerie Pennings. In 2018, Fotosz.nl and Galerie Pennings merged into Pennings Foundation (IvB). For Fotosz.nl, he designed the website and the house style. In the first year Fotosz.nl organized the exhibition ‘Glow in Photography’, for which Jo approached the photographers. The exhibition was part of the Glow festival, which still takes place annually in Eindhoven.
Jo Brunenberg is not only a collector and graphic artist, but also a photographer. In 2005 he had an exhibition in the gallery with a series of portraits of young people in Cuba. In the Eindhovens Dagblad it said: “Looking at the eyes, the photographer is more interested in men.” (Irma van Bommel wrote that at the time as a reviewer for the Eindhoven daily newspaper.)
Brunenberg collects photos with male nude. In 2005, he lent a large number of photos from his special collection to Harry for the main exhibition of Breda Photo with the theme ‘Unreal Beauty’. Photos by Herbert Bayer, Bernard Faucon, Pere Formiguera, Horst P. Horst, Wilhelm von Gloeden, Peter Hujar, Sally Mann, Michal Macku, Paul de Nooijer, Erwin Olaf and Frank Meadow Sutcliffe. A photo by Michal Macku was choosen for the invitation for the festival.
The exhibition that Harry had organized was on show in the Breda’s Museum in September and October. In a booklet that accompanied the exhibition, he wrote: “… This naturally brings the compiler to the choice for the classic beauty symbol: the woman. But the term ‘Unreal Beauty’ gives more possibilities for further research. The most important addition consists of photos of the man. In a number of cases this can have an erotic connotation, just like with women. If this is the case, however, the photos will often have a narcissistic appearance, unlike women, who show a more natural beauty. "
A review by Irma van Bommel was published in the Eindhovens Dagblad October 15, 2005. See this blog in Dutch.
The Breda Photo 2005 magazine included an essay by Harry Pennings about the exhibition of which he was a curator. The text is included in blog #13. It provides a good picture of the times, not only of various views about beauty, but also of the transition from analog image processing to digital image processing.