Willem van Zoetendaal (born The Hague, 1950) is a graphic designer who has been producing photography books since the early nineties. In 1994 he started publishing his own books, first under the name of Basalt (in collaboration with Frido Troost) and then under the name of Van Zoetendaal Publishers.
In the same period, Van Zoetendaal curated photography exhibitions in the Netherlands (the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, FOAM) and in France (L’institut Neérlandais, Maison Européenne de la Photographie, Paris in collaboration with Elisabeth Nora), in Japan (Luis Vuitton Tokyo) in collaboration with Elisabeth Nora, and in Korea (Kumho Museum, Seoul) in collaboration with Kim Song Min.
Additionally, Van Zoetendaal has been active as a gallery owner for contemporary photography from 2000 until 2014. Recently (Feb. 2014) he changed his gallery space into a studio to develop his own art projects, art books and installations. In 2008 the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag acquired his photography collection (consisting of more than 1200 photos) that he had built up during his period as lecturer at the photography department of the Gerrit Rietveld Academie in the nineties. The collection included early works from now renowned Dutch photographers/artists such as Céline van Balen, Koos Breukel, Rineke Dijkstra, Paul Kooiker, Esther Kroon, Harold Strak, as well as striking photos from anonymous photographers (found footage). Together with Noshka van der Lely, Van Zoetendaal manages the estate of the filmmaker/photographer Johan van der Keuken and the photo archive of former studio photographer Lee To Sang.
Van Zoetendaal considers his books as spacious constructions and he has been extremely influential in terms of the selection and montage of the content of the books, enabling a rhythmic melody to be formed in unison with the design.
Van Zoetendaal considers that photography in print must be optimally lithographed and printed so that it ‘becomes a new form of vintage.’ For him, the photo book is an art form in its own right.
His oeuvre includes high-profile books such as Murder in Rotterdam 1994 (Duo Duo Publishers), To Sang Photo Studio 1995, Hyde 1996 (with Koos Breukel), Die Berliner Zeit 1999 (with Rineke Dijkstra), Johan van der Keuken – Quatorze Juillet 2010, Harold Strak/ Arthropoda 2010, Paul Kooiker / Heaven 2012 and Diana Scherer/ Mädchen 2014.