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Art Rotterdam – 6 insider tips from director Fons Hof

It’s that time of the year! Yes, from 8 February until 11 February 2018 Art Rotterdam will once again open its doors and I can’t wait to go there. It is the must-see accessible art fair where art lovers can discover works by new and innovative artists. I sat down with Art Rotterdam director Fons Hof and asked him to share his most valuable tips for anyone who wants to drop by at its monumental Van Nellefabriek location.

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Art Rotterdam director Fons Hof

1 – Art Rotterdam is for everyone 

“Whether you’re a beginning collector or a seasoned art lover, Art Rotterdam really has something for everyone. Our fair moved to the Van Nellefabriek a few years ago, a location that has so much more space than the Rotterdam Cruise Terminal we started out at once. All that extra space has made it possible for us to really go overboard with Art Rotterdam. The video projections in particular look fantastic now. In fact, Projections has become the heart of our fair. People come from all over the country to see it. I’d recommend aspiring collectors to check out the presentation of Ontroerend Goed, where you can learn in a few easy steps how you can start collecting art for on a budget of a few hundred euros. If your love for art is a bit more advanced, then I’m sure you’ll appreciated Commonities by curator Lorenzo Benedetti. He has asked all participating galleries to merge their stands with that of one of their neighbors, so that the combination of different works of arts together tell a new story. It’s all very poetic, just like the early years of curator Rudi Fuchs!”


2 – Buy art at Art Rotterdam

“At Art Rotterdam, you can buy art between a few hundred euros up to about 10,000 euros. That price range makes us very accessible compared to other art fairs. I can really imagine that buying art can be quite stressful the first time. If you fork over 600 euros for a work of art, it’s about the same amount as you’d spend on a new TV set – which isn’t an everyday purchase either! Every now and then, I buy something at Art Rotterdam myself. Last year, for example, I bought a painting by Catherine Biocca. Her work is very outspoken, I like that. Freedom, unpredictability – that’s what matters to me. If art becomes to engaged, I tune out. Of course, things like that are always a matter of personal preference. And that is exactly why I suggest you take a nice walk around the fair, discover art and write down the names of the works you like. Look up the artists online, it will help you to develop your own taste after a while.”


3 – Go visit a gallery some time

“You would think that art galleries don’t have any added value now that art buyers can get in touch with artists directly through the internet. But the really good artists aren’t exactly keen on packing and sending online orders. What they want instead, is to show their work to a large audience at an art gallery. Art galleries still have an important role to play for their clients as well. Cultural awareness has grown enormously these past few years. Our desire to surround ourselves with art is bigger than ever.”


4 – Start out with small shots

“I inherited my love for art from my father. He used to buy nineteenth-century works at auctions and I loved going there with him. When I moved out my parents’ house in the late Eighties, I wasn’t able to afford art just yet. And so, I borrowed my first painting from our local art library. At the same time, the Iron Curtain opened up and I traveled to Poland together with a friend from my student society to find a market in Western Europe for Polish artists. Let me tell you, it was an adventurous time – they didn’t call it the Wild East for nothing. For me, art slowly became an addiction that started with small shots. With another friend, I started an art gallery that we ended up running successfully for more than a decade. As you can see, art can lead to beautiful things. And even though not everyone will end up as a gallerist, those typically Dutch phenomena like the art library and subsidized art buying have brought art to many more homes in our country than in the rest of Europe. If you want to start a collection, Art Rotterdam is the perfect next step.”

5 – Discover your sweet spot

“It goes without saying that when you buy a work of art, you have to check beforehand whether it fits in the space where you want to put it. When I was a gallerist, I always advised people to use old newspapers to tape off the size of the painting they intended to buy. In the end, however, I think you should only buy art you truly love. Your interior changes through the years – but good art stays with you for the rest of your life. We have a giant painting in our living room that I bought when we were still living in a tiny apartment in Amsterdam. At the time, I often wondered why I ever bought it. But now it fits perfectly.”

6 – But wait, there is more!

 “Art Rotterdam is part of Art Rotterdam Week, a fantastic four-day festival with multiple locations around town. If you like photography, you could do worse than go to Haute Photographie. Design aficionados will love the Haka building, the new home of Object Rotterdam. Events like these really complete your visit to Art Rotterdam.”


Fons Hof’s three favorite works at Kunstuitleen Rotterdam

Thank you, Fons! Now could you please show the world your three favorite works from the collection of Rotterdam’s local art library, the Kunstuitleen Rotterdam?


Stacii Samidin – Societies

“Real-life, raw photography from Africa.”


Bas Meerman – Kleine portretten

“With his own visual language, artist Bas Meerman will always remain a very special artist to me. What a pity people seem to have forgotten about him.”

Otto Snoek – Hometown (supperterstribune)

“A great photo from an artist I hadn’t heard of before. Humor, tragedy and heroism all combined in this unique image.”




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