Dutch photographer duo Anouschka Blommers and Niels Schumm have worked together for the past sixteen years, creating waves with their beautiful, minimalistic portraiture and still lifes for the likes of AnOther Magazine, The New York Times, Interview and Vogue. For one of their latest projects – a commission by Stadsarchief Amsterdam – the pair were asked to reinterpret the portraiture of Jacob Merkelbach, the famous Dutch photographer and cinematographer who opened his luxurious portrait studio exactly 100 years ago in Leidseplein. Blommers and Schumm were one of three photographers approached for the project intended to celebrate, and coincide with, the ongoing restauration of Merkelbach's vast archive.
For their offering, Blommers and Schumm innovatively opted to combine still life with portraiture. "We used three portraits (including those of Lilly Bouwmeester and Chaja Goldstein) by Merkelbach and rebuilt them using all the stuff from our studio, studio Blommers-Schumm," Schumm explains. The resulting portraits, complete with hole puncher noses, Sellotape dispenser eyebrows and camera strap chins, are at once witty and wonderfully characterful. Here, we present two black-and-white "making of" films by Blommers and Schumm, which prove mesmerising artworks in themselves. Schumm tells us, "The films are a side product of the process and explain what is what, because we found out a lot of people didn't realise they are still lifes!"
To find out more about the ongoing restoration of Merkelbach's archive, and to contribute to the cause, please click here.
Text by Daisy Woodward