Jan Dibbets was originally a painter. From 1965 to 1967, he painted works that could pass as shaped canvases. The perspectival effect is clearly present in their geometric form. The urge to create a really concrete form of painting without ‘side effects’ made Dibbets decide to merely pile up various monochrome paintings on the floor, or next to each other against the wall. By simply piling up several monochrome canvases against the wall he turned a natural situation into an artificial one, the painting being no longer used as a ‘vision on the world’, but as an object of its own.
The unexpected possibilities of photography offered Dibbets an alternative to painting. Towards the end of the sixties, in an artistic climate dominated by conceptual and processual tendencies, and photography being used for its objective, documentary qualities, Dibbets made quite an impact with what he called perspective corrections. These ingeniously staged photo-works sharpened the eye of the beholder for perspective; at the same time they laid bare the classical pictorial area of tension between illusionistic space and the flat canvas. From the seventies onwards, Dibbets was experimenting with a wide variety of materials and media and continues to work mainly with the medium of photography. The more or less ‘seamless’ perspective corrections during the years gave way to the fragmented reality of the photomontage. Bonnefanten / Saenredam, from 1978, is an early example, in which Dibbets visualises the same principle in an interior space.