474 - A collection of choice: The Susanna Vorst Collection

17 April 2016


In love, on fire, intoxicated. These are the feelings Susanna Vorst has about the art she has collected over the past 35 years. Collecting art is her passion, but it is time to put this special collection up for auction. “As painful as it may be, I have to say goodbye.”

Initially Susanna Vorst (72) had little to do with art. “I'm really an autodidact,” smiles Susanna, who we meet in her apartment in Amsterdam South, which radiates the warmth of beauty and the originality of creativity through colored walls and striking works of art. Just like Susanna, by the way. A beautiful, slender woman with a special talent, with a passion for art. She says: “No, I did not study art history. I used to have nothing to do with art. I studied French in Paris until I got married.”
It was not the French capital with its monumental architecture and many cultural institutions that introduced Susanna to the world of art, but it was her husband Ben. “My husband was a modest collector. Many of his friends were artists. He also had contacts in the art world and through him I visited museums and galleries everywhere: in Paris, Zurich, London and also in the Netherlands. I started reading, reading a lot. I gradually started looking at art in a different way.”

Susanna was inspired by the book 'A Rose is a Rose' by the American writer Gertrude Stein who in the first decades of the last century in Paris, 27 Rue de Fleurus, had an artistic-literary salon where many artists, writers and poets lived. “Gertrude Stein had the gift of recognizing quality very early: for example Picasso, Hemmingway and Matisse. Then I thought: 'this is what I want, the pure, the first, undiscovered', I thought 'how fantastic it must be if you are able to recognize an overall picture of a work so early: color, feeling, composition, appearance'.”
Gradually Susanna developed her own taste. “People often said to me: 'You have such a unique view of art'.” She laughs: “At some point you start to believe that yourself! I've heard from people that I have a trained intuition. I was in the middle of the art world. I also worked for the magazine Kunstbeeld for another three years.”
Why is Susanna 'so intoxicated' by art? She answers with devotion: “For me, a good artist is able to put his feeling into his work. The beautiful thing is when his feeling touches my feeling. Then my heart opens, then I get excited, then my day is good. For me it is only art when you feel the soul of the artist. I do not hunt, but I encounter.”

art dealer
Susanna gained a foothold as a professional art collector when she and her family moved to a larger house in Buitenveldert in the early 1980s. An acquaintance, sculptor Hans Freie, who was a pupil of the great Zadkine, had a gallery that went bankrupt. “He asked me: 'Can I put my work down with you?' We have already collected his work. I thought that was fine. People came to us who wanted to buy his statues. I sold like crazy. I thought, 'now I'm not doing anything and imagine if I did become active….'.”
Art dealer Susanna Vorst was born. The basement of the accommodation in Buitenveldert served as an exhibition space. Her first exhibition showed the work of the Russian artist Jan Rauchwerger who emigrated to Israel via Paris. “A great artist. His work is now also for sale at the auction.”
To draw attention to her art dealership, she approached journalists and companies. She continued to bombard them with information and an invitation to come over. Sustained wins, Susanna must have thought, because in the end she got a great collaboration with Koninklijke Bijenkorf Beheer (KBB). Susanna has collected art for KBB for fifteen years. The pieces were exhibited in the offices of this large company. When KBB got into trouble, she helped the organization sell all the art, which brought in a lot of money.

Far East
Thanks to her work for KBB, the art lover has also become at home on the international art market: Italy, Switzerland and the United States. After her searches for KBB, she ended up in China. By coincidence, by the way. She visited the gallery of Amsterdam resident Rob Malasch and saw three works from China hanging. "I could not believe my eyes. I was completely in love, on fire.” The cloths were from Fang Lijun. He is one of the Chinese dissident artists who did not care about state decrees about what art should be and about who can make what. Therefore, Fang Lijun could neither exhibit nor sell work in his native country. “Through Fang Lijun I came into contact with Zeng Fanzhi, today the most dearly paid contemporary Chinese artist. He was also part of that group of dissidents.” Susanna also discovered beautiful pieces by Koreans in the Far East, including the painter Bae Joonsung from Seoul and the artist Kang Ik-joong who has just sold work to the British Museum. Pieces of both Koreans are for sale at the auction. “Do you know who also sells special canvases at the auction? From the painter Moshe Gershuni. He is a friend of mine and he is Israel's foremost living artist.”

The question remains: why is Susanna Vorst relinquishing this art collection? She hesitates and then says, “My age. I'm starting to get older. I've hated it for years, but I have too much art and I don't want to become a museum or an institution. As painful as it may be, I have to say goodbye. I hope the buyers are as happy with my pieces as I was when I bought them. I hope the art gives them the pleasure it has given me.”

(By Simon Jacobus, Amsterdam)

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1. Hans Freie
a) Study for reclining nude (Daphne)

Taxation € 500 - € 800

Hammer amount € 450

2. Joop Sjollema
Park view

Taxation € 500 - € 800

Hammer amount € 950

3. Johan Buning
Summer garden view

Taxation € 500 - € 800

4. Gerard Schäperkötter
On the beach

Taxation € 500 - € 800

Hammer amount € 1.600

5. Theo Swagemakers
Still life

Taxation € 500 - € 800

Hammer amount € 650

6. Ben Snijders
Still life

Taxation € 500 - € 800

Hammer amount € 600

7. Ben Snijders

Taxation € 800 - € 1.200

Hammer amount € 800

8. Giovanni Dalessi

Taxation € 600 - € 1.000

Hammer amount € 1.100

9. Giovanni Dalessi

Taxation € 800 - € 1.200

Hammer amount € 850

10. Vladimir Grigoryevich Weisberg
Nude No.92 (c. 1975)

Taxation € 600 - € 1.000

Hammer amount € 400

11. Vladimir Grigoryevich Weisberg
nude no. 87 (c. 1975)

Taxation € 600 - € 1.000

Hammer amount € 400

12. Vladimir Grigoryevich Weisberg
Composition Tanagra

Taxation € 25.000 - € 40.000

Hammer amount € 25.000

13. Slava Seidel
"Die Kuppel 8"

Taxation € 1.000 - € 2.000

Hammer amount € 500

14. Slava Seidel
Der Enge Raum

Taxation € 1.000 - € 2.000

Hammer amount € 500

15. Radek Szlaga
Vicious Circle

Taxation € 1.500 - € 3.000

Hammer amount € 1.800

16. Anna Kott

Taxation € 2.000 - € 4.000

Hammer amount € 1.000

17. Nebojša Despotovic

Taxation € 800 - € 1.200

Hammer amount € 642

18. Jan Rauchwerger
Morning in Jaffa / The artist's studio

Taxation € 800 - € 1.200

Hammer amount € 500

19. Naftali Rakuzin
72 Drawings by David Hockney

Taxation € 1.000 - € 2.000

Hammer amount € 550

20. Naftali Rakuzin

Taxation € 600 - € 1.000

Hammer amount € 500

21. Moshe Gershuni
Ohne Title

Taxation € 1.000 - € 2.000

Hammer amount € 1.200

22. Moshe Gershuni
Ohne Title (Cyclamen)

Taxation € 4.000 - € 6.000

Hammer amount € 7.000

23. Moshe Gershuni
Ohne Title (Drama)

Taxation € 5.000 - € 8.000

Hammer amount € 9.000

24. Aviva Uri

Taxation € 3.000 - € 5.000

Hammer amount € 8.000