From Amsterdam To Miami: Dutch Curator On Crusade For Female Artists, And Sustainability

Tamara Thiessen for Forbes

In a shimmering silver outfit, as eye-catching as many of the artworks around her, Dutch curator, art historian and gallerist, Pien Rademakers, is getting ready for the start of PAN Amsterdam. The modern art and antiques fair in the Dutch capital, now into its 33rd year, gets underway Sunday.

The founder of Rademakers Gallery is explaining why the two “pillars” for her are female artists and sustainability. Indeed, as she talks, the importance of promoting women artists seems to be a cardinal rule. On the counter of her virtual gallery-stand, is a golden honeycomb and black organic work by Dutch ceramic glass sculptor, Barbara Nanning. Meanwhile the entry and an entire wall are taken up by pastel-colored textile and rope sculptures–evocative of fishing nets–by young German born, Dutch based artist, Joana Schneider

Rademakers will be showcasing a trio of these artists at PULSE Art Fair in Miami next month as she continues to push this double cause of women and sustainability. “I’m taking with me the works by Joana Schneider who uses the recycled ropes of the old fishermen. Then the paintings by Florentijn de Boer, just graduated from the Royal Academy in The Hague (who users her fingers to paint her fragment like oil stick abstract paintings on eco-friendly, unprepared linen); and the sculptor Marjolijn Mandersloot  (a graduate of the Design Academy Eindhoven).


Rademakers mission is to set the scales right, in the gender balance of art history.  “When I started art history, I only sold the big names–they were always men and never the inspiring female artists. Now for 25 years with my gallery I have focused on bringing a lot of female artists to the scene.” 

To that end, she is finding social media a true friend–up against the foe of conservative art powers that be. “In the digital age, we can spread the news more, and become better known. There are now a lot of female gallery owners present here. So for me it is really important that I show eight female artists.

“The other vital mission is the sustainable … the renewing of materials. A really good example of that are these seals, made from old police cartridge cases used for shooting practice.”

Concerned by the growing threat of human behaviour to exotic animals, 41-year-old Dutch artist Sebiha Demir creates beautiful bejeweled seals, gorillas, elephants, panthers and bears, giving them a pet-like quality. “And with that she is making wildlife sculptures, and wants to show their beauty and say ‘don’t kill them, but admire them’,” says Rademakers.

With the planetary future in mind, the curator is not exclusively interested in women. Above her strikingly visual exhibition counter, is a chandelier of 650 recycled perfume bottles (the “Essence Chandelier”) by artist-designer Diederik Schneemann. His work is often about giving a second life to waste. Following on from his renowned Rubdish, in which installations and photos took the form of tantalizing dishes morphed from garbage, now he’s turning he’s turning his furniture and product design training to recycling scents.