Ruth van Beek (b. 1977) uses the established visual codes of photography - a shadow, pedestal, dark backdrop, or gesture - to guide viewers into a belief in the incredible rarity or importance of the shown object, even when that object is unidentifiable. From a growing archive of found photographic material, van Beek arranges images in constantly changing ways.

The primary source for her odd and playful collages are specialist books and magazines of the 50s, 60s and 70s. Titles on subjects including the proper tending of bonsai trees, the care of cacti, and the art of Japanese flower arranging—often found at thrift stores across Europe and the United States—provide rich material for her unique pieces. From these odd combinations and decontextualized images van Beek makes her work. By cutting and folding, adding shapes of watercolor-painted paper and forging visual connections between found pictures, the artist makes form, scale and colors reverberate, often to unsettling or comical effect. These overt interventions are never hidden; indeed they are central to the work. Van Beek lives and works in Koog aan de Zaan, in the Netherlands.


Her work has been shown internationally with exhibitions at Post Books (Tokyo); The Ravestijn Gallery (Amsterdam), De Warande (Belgium), Fraenkel Gallery (San Francisco); Foam (Amsterdam), Les rencontres d’Arles and Fotomuseum Antwerp and has been featured in magazines such as De Gids, The NewYorker, Vogue Magazine, Centrefold Magazine, Foam Magazine, IMA Magazine, The British Journal of Photography, The New York Review of Books, The Aperture Photobook Review, Elephant Magazine and The New York Times.


She has published numerous artist books including The Arrangement (RVB Books, 2013) which was shortlisted for the Aperture Photobook of the Year Award in 2014 and How To Do The Flowers ( APE & Dashwood Books, 2018 ) to widespread acclaim. After her book Eldorado that came out in 2020 she is currently working on a second book with designer Willem Van Zoetendaal. Expected to be released in spring 2023. 


Ruth is represented by The Ravestijn Gallery in Amsterdam.

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