top of page

#9 From the archive

Invitation for an exhibition at Galerie Pennings in 1981

In 1998, Rik Suermondt interviewed Harry Pennings on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of Galerie Pennings. The text gives a good idea of ​​what Harry intended. A beautiful characteristic of the time. Hence a ‘reprise’.

The interview was published in De Fotograaf (no. 4) 1998, pp. 19-21.

Galerie Pennings: A close eye on photography for 20 years

Galerie Pennings, located in Eindhoven, is the oldest existing photo gallery in the Netherlands, and today more than ever on the move. Under the inspiring leadership of Harry Pennings, a conscientious exhibition policy has been pursued since 1979, which is almost entirely focused on autonomous photography. A conversation with a committed photo enthusiast.

Ten years ago Galerie Pennings was displayed in an art magazine as "an exhibition space that is part of an interior care store where about ten exhibitions are organized each year on contemporary photography by mainly Dutch photographers." When I submit this description to Harry Pennings, he responds somewhat surprised.

“No, I was certainly not only concerned with Dutch photographers. One of my first exhibitors was Ralph Gibson. Another early participant was Keiichi Tahara, whose wonderful series ‘Fenêtres’ is still fresh in my memory. But Christian Boltanski, Jochen Gertz, John Hilliard, Mario Giacomelli and Werner Mantz also exhibited in that early period. So I certainly didn't just want Dutch photographers. But maintaining contacts outside the Netherlands was not always easy to combine with the work for my design store.”

“If I was really interested in a foreign artist or photographer, I still took the time to visit him or her. Before the arrival of the Euro market, this sometimes caused problems. For example, when I went to Paris around Christmas 1982, with my wife and children to pick up photos at Christian Boltanski, and the French customs authorities made all kinds of VAT problems after inspection. At the John Hilliard exhibition I remember that far too high amounts were requested for the transport, and then I finally drove myself up and down to England to deliver the photos again. ”

“I started in 1979 with photo gallery Pennings. Then there were two other galleries in the Netherlands: Ger Fiolet and Canon Photo Gallery, both in Amsterdam. In the meantime they have both ceased to exist. So I am now the oldest photo gallery in the Netherlands. Then I explicitly called it ‘photo gallery’. Now I find that a too restrictive name, because in recent years I have also shown photography in relation with sculpture and other disciplines; as a form of mixed media."

“When I was young I bought a box camera like so many. That was the beginning of my fascination for photography, which was reinforced by the first experiments in the dark room. However, I was very critical, and in the end I thought I was not talented enough. After starting the gallery, I was also confronted with so much good photography that I decided to put the camera away.”

“In the beginning, my aims were certainly not commercial, but idealistic. I saw the gallery as an extension of my furniture store, which cost me more money than it yielded, but which also gave the store extra cachet. Art photography was also difficult to make commercial in the early days. I sold very litt