Hellen van Meene (Dutch, b. 1972) is a photographer known for her highly stylized, coming-of-age portraits of young adults, usually teenage girls, and occasionally androgynous teenage boys. Van Meene studied photography at Gerrit Reitfeld Academy in Amsterdam and at the College of Art in Edinburgh, Scotland. Her early work of the mid-1990s featured photographs of adolescent girls in her hometown, and she has frequently returned there to photograph throughout her career. She chooses to photograph teenagers because she finds their openness inspiring. She directs her subjects closely, telling them where to face and how to position their bodies, because she believes it makes them more confident, allowing their personalities to come out. The subjects she chooses are not classic beauties, but through her interaction with them and her unique craft of picture-making, she creates striking, intimate images that celebrate the awkward beauty of each personality she shoots. Each detail is considered: clothing, pose, nail polish, etc. Although her images are meticulously styled, she uses all natural light in a manner that recalls Johannes Vermeer (Dutch, 1632–1675). Van Meene has traveled around the world seeking subjects for her portraits. In 2002, she demonstrated her talent for non-verbal direction when she photographed young people in Japan, which she did even without having a common language in which to communicate with her models. In 2007, she travelled to post-Katrina New Orleans to shoot her series Going My Own Way Home.

Van Meene has published numerous monographs, been commissioned by the New York Times, and has exhibited worldwide at galleries and museums such as the Nancy Richardson Gallery in New York, Sadie Coles in London, the Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago, IL, and the Folkwang Museum in Essen, Germany. She received the START Stipendium Award in 1998 and the Charlotte Köhlerprijs award in 1999.

Timeline

www.hellenvanmeene.com
1972
Born in Alkmaar, Netherlands
1995
College of Art, Edinburgh, Scotland
1992–1996
Gerrit Rietveld Akademie
Currently lives and works in Alkmaar, The Netherlands

Exhibitions

2007
Hellen van Meene. Portraits, C/O Berlin, Germany (solo)
2006
Folkwang Museum Essen, Germany (solo)
2006
Hellen van Meene, Pump house Gallery, touring to Stills Gallery, Edinburgh, UK, Open Eye Gallery, Liverpool, UK, Focal Point Gallery, Southend-on-Sea, UK. (solo)
2006
Van Zoetendaal Gallery, Amsterdam, The Netherlands (solo)
2006
Gallery Koyanagi, Tokyo, Japan (solo)
2006
Tokyo Wonder Site, Tokyo, Japan (solo)
2006
Huis Marseille, Amsterdam (solo)
2005
In Sight, Contemporary Dutch Photography from the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, The Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois
2003
Galerie Rodolphe Janssen, Brussel (solo)
Le Case D’Arte, Milan (solo)
Imperfect Innocence, The Debra and Dennis Scholl Collection, Palm Beach Institute of Contemporary Art, Lake Worth, Florida
2002
Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago (catalogue) (solo)
Inverleith House, Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh (catalogue) (solo)
Frans Hals Museum, de Hallen, Haarlem (catalogue) (solo)
PhotoFestival Espania, Madrid (solo)
2001
New Photographs: Japan, Matthew Marks Gallery, New York (catalogue) (solo)
Marc Foxx Gallery, Los Angeles (solo)
Ruth Blessi, David Chieppo, Andrea Iten, Hellen van Meene, Kunsthaus Glarus, Switzerland
Deliberate Living, curated by Sima Familant, Greene Naftali Gallery, New York
The Citibank Private Bank Photography Prize 2001: Roni Horn, Hellen van Meene, Boris Mikhailov, Jem Southam, and Hannah Starkey, The Photographers’ Gallery, London (catalogue)
The Beauty of Intimacy, Lens and Paper, Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, The Hague, The Netherlands
Intentional communities, Rooseum Center for Contemporary Art, Malmo, Sweden
2000
De Vleeshal, Middelburg, The Netherlands (solo)
Le Case d’Arte, Milan (solo)
Galleria Laura Pecci, Milan -solo
Galerie Paul Andriesse, Amsterdam (solo)
Marc Foxx Gallery, Los Angeles (solo)
Sadie Coles HQ, London (solo)
Gallery Koyanagi, Tokyo (solo)
Galerie Rodolphe Janssen, Brussels
City of Girls, Japanese Pavilion of the Biennale for Architecture, Venice Biennale, Venice
Septembre de la photo, Quinze en Europe, la jeune photographie européenne, Galerie du Musée d’Art Moderne et d’Art Contemporain, Nice
1999
5 Jaar Art Primeur, Pictura, Dordrecht, The Netherlands (catalogue)
Uitgelicht 3, Startstipendium Fonds BKVB, De KunstRai, Amsterdam (catalogue)
Foto-documentaire opdrachten Noord-Holland, Dreef Expositie, Provincie Huis, Haarlem
Conditions Humaines, Portraits Intimes, Le Mois de la Photo, Montreal (catalogue)