Sannes remains one of the most captivating photographers of the 1960’s, having produced an outstanding body of work in the mere eight years he worked as a photographer, until his untimely death at the age of 30. His oeuvre is mostly built up of countless photographs of female nudes. Women were his favourite subject and an endless source of inspiration. In a nearly obsessive way, he photographed them during ecstatic sessions, recording their most intimate moments. This intimacy was emphasized in out of focus and underexposed photos; Sannes always worked with existing light and a hand-held camera. He wasn’t afraid to experiment with his work; he used close-ups, crops, scratched and painted on his negatives, exposed prints multiple times, the list goes on and on. Sannes felt no qualms about using these ‘wrong’ methods or techniques while making his images. He received no formal education as a photographer, he was trained as a graphic artist and painter. He was free from the formal and technical restraints that imposed other photographers and he didn’t feel the need to be precious about the process of making a photograph. In the end, it was the emotion and atmosphere that Sannes wanted to show with his work that was the most important to him.
During his lifetime, Sannes’ work did not remain unnoticed by the art world. His work was exhibited at the Groninger Museum, the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam and even the prestigious George Eastman House in Rochester, New York, featured his work in a group exhibition in 1963. Publishers also noticed Sannes’ intense images; in 1964 his work was published alongside the poetry of famed Belgian writer Hugo Claus (1929-2008) in the book Oog om Oog (Eye for an Eye). Sannes also worked as a commercial photographer, though he dreaded the fact that he couldn’t live of his art. It was on the way back from commercial assignment that Sannes crashed his car against a tree. He was killed instantly, his passengers, which included his assistant Gerrit Jan Wolffensperger, were badly injured.
After his death, Sannes’ work fell into obscurity for a number of years, but the last couple of decades has seen a renewed appreciation for the boundary-pushing nature of his photographs. His works has been featured in both solo and group exhibitions in museums and galleries all around the world, including the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, Foam Amsterdam and the Institut Néerlandais Paris. Sannes’ work has been included in many national and international collections, both private and museum, including the Rijksmuseum, Stedelijk Museum and the Nederlands Fotomuseum Rotterdam.
The Enduring Legend
19 Sep – 31 Oct 2015