Passion for collecting
Simon Ophof started his collection more than twenty-five years ago, after purchasing a photograph by Hans Franz of children playing volleyball in Cuba. That first acquisition was to grow into a collection of more than 800 prints. He bought some of the photos via the internet or at fairs but also acquired many of them from galleries or directly from the photographers.
As a skilled amateur photographer, Ophof was guided in his passion for collecting by the primacy of the image. As a consequence, the Ophof collection contains a large proportion of photographs by unknown makers, mainly from the 19th century and early 20th century. But it also features a wide selection of greats from the history of photography, including August Sander, Henri Berssenbrugge, František Drtikol, Karl Blossfeldt and Johan van der Keuken, and works by contemporary photographers such as Koen Hauser, Elspeth Diederix, Dirk Braeckman and Viviane Sassen.
Melancholy, alienation and vulnerability
Simon Ophof considered himself a gleaner rather than a collector with a systematic approach, but there are still clear lines in his collection. Ophof wrote about this: ‘Willem van Zoetendaal [collector, designer and former Rietveld Academy lecturer] once said that every collection has its own signature, that there is a relationship between the collector and the photographs he has assembled. As such, I hope that people will recognise in this collection the three pillars that were so important to me when collecting: melancholy, alienation and the vulnerable person.’
About the exhibition
The exhibition features a selection of around fifty photographs, selected in a way that honours Ophof’s personal perspective: amateur photographers and big world stars hang side by side. The three pillars that Ophof himself recognised in his collection are also a common thread in the exhibition. The method of selection and presentation emphasises the visual aspect, allowing the photographs to enter into a dialogue with each other.
About Simon Ophof
Simon Ophof (1947-2022) was an amateur photographer and collector and was for many years deputy headmaster of a large school in Apeldoorn. He was an active member of the Fotobond, the association for amateur photographers in the Netherlands. Together with Hans Brongers, he wrote the book Speaking of Photos, which served as a guideline for a Fotobond course on talking about photographs. Ophof died at the age of 74 and left his photography collection to the Kunstmuseum Den Haag.