Lionel Wendt (1900–1944): rediscovering an avant-garde photographer from Ceylon

19 juni 2017 tot 19 juni 2017
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For decades the work of the Ceylonese photographer Lionel Wendt (1900-1944) has been barely visible, until a large cache of his prints resurfaced in the 1990s. Wendt’s choice of subject was eclectic: from sensual and (homo)erotic portraits to tropical images of Ceylon, and from picturesque scenes to compositions for which he used modernistic stylistic devices and experimental techniques. June 19th, 8PM at Spui25 several speakers will discuss his unique oeuvre.


This event is organized on the occasion of this summer’s retrospective on Lionel Wendt – the first one ever in Europe since 1950 – at Huis Marseille Museum for Photography and the accompanying book Lionel Wendt. Ceylon. After his premature death in 1944, Wendt’s negatives were destroyed, but his prints survived and nowadays they are part of several international private and museum collections. Nanda van den Berg, Nira Wickramasinghe and Shanay Jhaveri will address Lionel Wendt’s importance as a unique individualist in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) who both as an artist-photographer and as a promotor and patron of the arts advocated a Ceylonese modernism. Their presentations will be followed by a panel discussion moderated by Stephan Sanders.

About the speaker

  • Nanda van den Berg is director of Huis Marseille Museum for Photography in Amsterdam, which will show a large Lionel Wendt retrospective with more than 140 vintage prints from June 10 to September 3, 2017.
  • Nira Wickramasinghe is professor of Modern South Asian Studies at Leiden University. Trained as a historian, she has written on late colonial and modern Sri Lanka, using a variety of archives.
  • Shanay Jhaveri is assistant curator of South Asian Art within the department of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. In 2014 he curated the exhibition In Dialogue: Amrita Sher-Gil and Lionel Wendt which was on display at Jhaveri Contemporary gallery in Mumbai.
  • Stephan Sanders (moderator) works as an essayist and columnist for several Dutch magazines and newspapers. He is interested in (political) philosophy, multi-ethnic and multi-religious relations and literature.



You can sign up for this program for free. If you subscribe for the program we count on your presence. If you are unable to attend, please let us know via | T: +31 (0)20 525 8142.



(foto: Lionel Wendt. Private collection, courtesy Jhaveri Contemporary (Londen-Mumbai))

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MINDBOOKSATH : athenaeum