Susanna Vorst

“In love and on fire…! “These are the feelings Susanna Vorst has for the art she has collected over the last 40 years. Collecting art is her passion, but it's time to auction off her collected items: “As painful as it is, I have to say goodbye.”

Initially, Susanna Vorst had little to do with art: “I am an autodidact.”
Susanna smiles as we meet her in her apartment in Amsterdam, which, with its colored walls and striking artworks, shows warmth, originality, and creativity. Just like Susanna herself. A beautiful, slender woman with a remarkable talent and a passion for art. She says: “I didn't study art history and I had nothing to do with art until my marriage. I studied French in Paris.”
It was not the French capital with its monumental architecture and numerous cultural institutions that introduced Susanna to the world of art, but her husband Ben.
“In the early days, 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 to look at art… my way.”


Susanna was inspired by the book 'A Rose is a Rose is a Rose' by the American writer Gertrude Stein, who had an artistic-literary salon in the early decades of the last century in Paris, at 27 Rue de Fleurus. Gertrude Stein had the gift of recognizing quality very early: for example, Picasso, Hemingway, and Matisse. Then I thought: “This is what I want, the pure, the honest, the early and often yet undiscovered talents. How fantastic it must be if you can recognize an artist's talent in their variety of works. Their colours, feelings, compositions, and expressions are what hit me.”
This is how Susanna's taste developed.

“People often said: 'You have a unique perspective on art and educated intuition'.” She laughs: “At a certain point, you start to believe it. Indeed, I was in the middle of the art world and worked for several years for the art magazine Kunstbeeld.”


Susanna got her start as a professional art collector when she and her family moved into a more spacious house in the early 1980s. An acquaintance, sculptor Hans Freie, who was a student of the great Zadkine, had a gallery that went bankrupt. “He asked me: 'Can I store my work at your place?' We had already collected his work.
I said: “Fine with me.” Friends came to our place and fell in love with his work and started to buy his sculptures. I sold like crazy for my friend Hans.
Then I thought, “I'm doing nothing now and imagine if I did…” The art dealership Susanna Vorst was born. The basement of the house served as an exhibition space. Her first exhibition showcased the work of the Russian artist Jan Rauchwerger, who emigrated via Paris to Israel. “An amazing artist.”

To draw attention to her art dealership, she approached journalists and companies. She kept bombarding them with information and invitations to come by. Persistence pays off, Susanna must have thought.
What followed was an invitation by Koninklijke Bijenkorf Beheer (KBB) to work on their famous collection. For fifteen years, Susanna collected art for KBB. The pieces were exhibited in the offices of their large company. When KBB fell on hard times, the organization decided to sell all the art, which raised a lot of money.

Collector Susanna Vorst and artist Moshe Gershuni


Through her work for KBB, the art lover also became familiar with the international art market: Italy, Switzerland, the United States. After her finds for KBB, she ended up in China. By chance, actually. She visited the gallery of Rob Malasch and saw three works from China hanging there. “I couldn't believe my eyes. I was completely in love and on fire.” The paintings were by Fang Lijun. He belongs to the Chinese dissident artists who pay no heed to state decrees about what art is supposed to be and what is allowed to be made. Therefore, Fang Lijun could neither exhibit nor sell his work in his home country. “Through Fang Lijun, I came into contact with Zeng Fanzhi, currently the highest-paid contemporary Chinese artist. He also belonged to that group of dissidents.”

Susanna also discovered beautiful pieces from South Koreans in the Far East, including painter Bae Joonsung from Seoul and artist Kang Ik-joong, whose work was sold to the British Museum a few years ago. Pieces from both Korean artists are up for auction. “Do you know who else has a remarkable work up for auction? The painter Moshe Gershuni. He was a friend of mine and the most important contemporary artist in Israel. Regrettably, he is no longer with us. We miss him.”


The remaining question is: why is Susanna Vorst parting with this art collection? She hesitates and then says: “My age. I'm getting older. I've struggled to decide to part with it for years, but I have too much art and I don't want to become a museum or institution. As painful as it is, I have to say goodbye. I hope the buyers will be as happy with the pieces as I was when I acquired them. I hope the art gives them the pleasure it has given me.”


The Costume of Painter - W. House 060201 (2006)

Oil on vinyl (239.2 x 153.2 cm), covering C-print (202 x 126.7 cm), total 239.2 x 153.2 cm Provenance: - Gallery Hyundai, Seoul, 2007 - Collection Susanna Vorst, the Netherlands Literature: Gallery Touchart, Bae Joonsung. The Costume of Painter, Touchart inc., Paju-Si, 2006, p. 95 (ill.)

Nudes (1980)

Signed and dated 80 lower right Watercolor and gouache on paper, 41.2 x 52.3 cm Provenance: - Givon Art Gallery, Tel Aviv - Collection Susanna Vorst, the Netherlands

Crying Baby (2007)

Signed, dated 2007 and numbered 2/8 underneath Stainless steel, H. 159.5 cm Provenance: - Pata Gallery, Beijing - Collection Susanna Vorst, the Netherlands

Chinese Fairytale 1 (2006)

Signed in Chinese and dated 2006.2 lower right Oil on canvas, 120.4 x 100 cm Provenance: - Willem Kerseboom Fine Art, Bergen, 2006 - Collection Susanna Vorst, the Netherlands

"Prop" (2010)

Signed, titled and dated 2010 on the reverse Acrylic on canvas laid down on canvas, 157 x 184 cm Provenance: Collection Susanna Vorst, Amsterdam, acquired directly from the artist in Lebanon in 2010 Note: Kuwaiti artist Tamara Al Samerraei, based in Beirut, is known for her evocative paintings. Her work, which delves into themes of ...

Untitled (Star of David) (2003)

Signed, signed in Hebrew and dated 2003 on the reverse Oil, acrylic and oil stick on canvas, 75.3 x 75.1 cm Provenance: - Givon Art Galerie, Tel Aviv - Collection Susanna Vorst, the Netherlands Note: Moshe Gershuni was a prominent Israeli artist known for his profound exploration of identity, politics, and spirituality through his artwork. Born...

The Way to Clean Mind (2005)

Signed and dated September 2005 in Hangul on bottom row (from left: squares 4-12) Polyurethane coating, chalk and tempera on wooden blocks on painted panel, 119.4 x 119.4 cm Provenance: - Gallery Hyundai, Seoul - Collection Susanna Vorst, the Netherlands

225 Things I Believe #3 (2001)

Signed and annotated New York USA on the tag in the center Signed, titled, numbered 225 and dated 2001 on the reverse Signed and dated on the right side of the frame Mixed media and collage on framed panel, 149.8 x 150.1 cm Provenance: Collection Susanna Vorst, Amsterdam, acquired directly from the artist Note: Korean American artist ...

Bubbles No. 06-12 (2006)

Signed in Chinese and dated 2006.12 lower right Signed in Chinese, titled and dated 2006 on the reverse Oil on canvas, 150 x 120 cm Provenance: Collection Susanna Vorst, the Netherlands, acquired directly from the artist in 2007