André Smits donates photographs of contemporary artists to RKD

Artist in the World

This week the artist André Smits (1960) has presented to the RKD all the digital photographs he has produced in the last ten years. Smits is a conceptual artist who photographs other artists in their studio as he stands behind them. He has so far portrayed more than 5000 artists, including Ai Weiwei in Beijing, Robert Frank in New York, Joep van Lieshout in Rotterdam and herman de vries in Eschenau.

Vicky Foster, André Smits at the RKD, The Hague, 11 October 2016.

The idea of photographing artists from behind in their studio was inspired by Caspar David Friedrich's painting Wanderer above the Sea of Fog (1818). It all began in 2008 with the idea of making a journey into artists’ workshops in the Netherlands. Afterwards Smits went to Belgium and since then he has been all over the world. This was the origin of his project Artist in the World. His ultimate goal is to create Rückenfigur or rear-view portraits of as many artists and art professionals as possible: 'to intersect with someone's life for a split second and record that moment’.

Smits's concept is as clear as it is simple. When photographing people for Artist in the World, he asks them if they know anyone else in the art world who would like to be portrayed by him. Each leads him to his following subject and frequently the practicalities are sorted out there and then.

More information on the artist can be found in RKDartists& and

André Smits, Nico Parlevliet, Dordrecht 1 September 2016. | Andre Smits, Robert Frank, New York 14 June 2016.