A Portrait of Europeans at Home
Text by Saskia Asser.
Published by Aperture
Over the past decade, the noted Dutch photographer Bert Teunissen has documented hundreds of old European homes and the dignified, often elderly people who inhabit them. He seeks out rudimentary, yet cultured settings aglow with a warm, timeless atmosphere; spaces with a very particular quality of natural light. Old World details crowd the frame of each image: ornate wallpaper, ancestral portraits, home-cured hams hung from exposed beams and decorative dishware proudly displayed on mantels. These homes were built before the World Wars, before electricity was a standard feature, a time when sunlight played a pivotal role in the conception of architecture. Teunissen renders these last vestiges of old Europe with a palette and a sensitivity to light that recalls, with astonishing sensitivity, Dutch masters like Vermeer and Rembrandt. At first glance, one might easily mistake any one of them for a Renaissance painting. They are certainly some of the most remarkable and intimate architectural portraits of recent years. The body of work captured in Domestic Landscapes, Teunissen's first monograph, dovetails with two traditions: the use of the camera to record cultural vestiges and a strain of portraiture that looks at subjects in their own environs. Made in numerous countries, including the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, Italy, France, Great Britain, Spain, and Portugal, Teunissen's poignant photographs capture and record an architecture--and a way of life--that is quickly disappearing.