Hans van der Meer (Leimuiden, The Netherlands – 1955) belongs to the most distinctive Dutch documentary photographers of his generation; he is a storyteller in image and text. His approach is based on an inquisitive look and a sharp sense of observation, in which empathy, social involvement, and a strong sense of humour and absurdity go hand in hand. They run like a thread through his entire oeuvre. In addition to the serie he shot in Budapest in 1985-86, the exhibition Minor Mysteries also includes highlights from later projects that relate and cross-reference Van der Meer’s origins to the period when he worked in Hungary.’ (Claudia Küssel, curator exhibition Minor Mysteries exhibition at Capa Center, Budapest 2022)
Van der Meer studied at the Technical School for Photography in The Hague between 1973-1976 and attended in 1983 the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam. During the study he went in 1984 to Hungary, where he photographed everyday life on the streets of mainly Budapest around 1985. His observations were published in QUIRK OF FATE (1987) and won a World Press Award in the Daily Life category.
In WORK (1993) body postures illustrate the transition from physical labour to automation. Amsterdam Traffic (1994-1995) shows hilarious traffic situations in the centre of Amsterdam.
In 1995 he started to photograph amateur football in the lower divisions, choosing fields that offered a view on the surrounding landscape. The resulting landscapes were published in the book Dutch Fields (1998) and brought him international acclaim in the art world and beyond. Commissioned by several photography institutions across Europe, the following years he was able to produce a large body of work and some videos in Europe as well. For the Rencontres D’Arles 2004 he was commissioned by curator Martin Parr to photograph amateur football in the Provençe. The photographs and video were shown in Arles that year, together with Dutch Fields and the video Flemish Fields. In 2006 European Fields – The Landscape of Lower League football was published by SteidlMack in several languages, including a French edition Terrains d’Europe. The traveling exhibition was launched at museum Boijmans van Beuningen in Rotterdam.
In 2004 NRC newspaper had invited him to travel around the countryside and write alongside his photographs. In the daily column Achterland (Hinterland) he starts to question the dominant culture in The Netherlands, a theme which was further explored in The Netherlands – Off the shelf (2012). In book and exhibition his own photography and his fascination for vernacular photography is brought together, by including catalogue images of street furniture. In 2018 Time to Change – The Changing World of the Dutch Cow was published, in which he is looking at and thinking about cows and consequently dairy farming, animal welfare, hi-tech food production and its impact on the environment. He is currently working on Counting on Mature, a project about monitoring the living environment in the Netherlands, which illustrates the changing position of humans towards nature.
His photographs and writings were published in leading Dutch newspapers de Volkskrant and NRC. He has been teaching documentary photography at the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague between 2011-2021 for ten years, his work is part of private collections and museums.