Rudie Berkhout

Rudie Berkhout was among the very few artists in the world who chose light as the principal medium for their work. Combining his passion for technology with his drive to explore his own aesthetic frontiers, Rudie found his ideal métier in the arcane disciplines of holography and came to be known as one of it's foremost practitioners. His work received abundant recognition by those who were also open to a new vision for a new century. Mastering the limited technology available to him in the pre-digital world in which he lived and worked, he was clearly a man ahead of his time.

Born in post-war Amsterdam, Berkhout's early love of mechanics led him to technical school, where he discovered the magic of lighting. By high school he was creating light shows in the legendary psychedelic clubs of Amsterdam. He met his life partner, Hudson Talbott, in one of those clubs, and together they set out on travels throughout the world, eventually coming to New York in late 1974.

The great sweep of the city's creative energy inspired Berkhout to seek out a medium that he could call his own. He found it in 1975 when he saw his first holography show at the International Center for Photography. Immediately, he immersed himself in classes but quickly surpassed his teachers and began to teach himself. In 1979 he had his first one-man show at the Museum of Holography in New York, and recognition of his work grew quickly. As Rudie's exploration continued, so did his reputation as master, with a solo show at the Palazzo Fortuny during the 1982 Venice Biennale, The Gulbenkian Museum in Lisbon, the Grace Borgnicht Gallery in New York, The Fukuoka Museum in Japan, and the first show ever of holographic art at the Whitney Museum of American Art. His work is included in the permanent collections of museums in Germany, Italy, Japan, The Netherlands, Spain, and the USA. Among his corporate commissions are major installations for the University of Wisconsin, The Bank of America, and the Netherlands National Dept. of Transportation Building.

At the time of his death, Rudie was exploring new directions with light. Seeking ways of bringing the playful, otherworldly nature of light into the home environment, he combined laser lights with holographic elements to create ambient lighting for both domestic and commercial interiors. He was thrilled with the immediate public response to his new direction when, on the afternoon of Sept.16, 2008 , he was suddenly taken by a massive heart attack,during a phone conversation with his sister in Amsterdam. They were speaking of the new frontiers and his journey forward. True to his visionary nature to the last moment, he used a word that could be applied to his entire life, his work and the legacy he has left us. For Rudie Berkhout, it was all "wondrous".

 

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