Publication: Spatial Biographies Triptych

The research into the spatial biographies of Benno Premsela and Max Heymans has resulted in a coherent series of three books; one devoted to the architectural analysis of important buildings and spaces in the life of Max Heymans, one similar for Benno Premsela and a collection of all essays that treat with a variety of themes within the narrative of the spatial biographies of both men.

Benno Premsela

The architectural analysis of the life of Benno Premsela takes us to several prominent places in Amsterdam, where Benno lived, worked, exhibited, hid and helped manifesting an emancipation of homo sexuality in post-war Amsterdam. The book not only examines the architectural characteristics of each seperate building, but aims to find and define the connection to the biography – the life – of Benno. As a whole, it seeks for relations between his work, his sexual orientation, his life as a Jew in mid-twentieth century Amsterdam and the influence of space and place in this complex narrative.

Max Heymans

Similar to Benno Premsela, another book of the triptych is devoted to the spatial biography of Max Heymans, examining important places in his life. Again, the work seeks for the influences several places in the mid-twentieth century Amsterdam scenery have had on Max Heymans and how Max Heymans influenced these places himself though his work, his life and his sexual orientation. It takes us from the tiny attic floor he used to live in at the Nicolaas Witsenstraat to the most extravagant fashion houses of the Netherlands during that time.


The essays deal with a variety of themes that are sideways related to the spatial influences on the lives of Max Heymans and Benno Premsela and are combined to complete the triptych. The broad range of themes results in many different points of view to the phenomenon of a spatial biography. The book contains collages, sketches, photos, spatial reconstructions, interviews and maps in order to understand the meaning of the relationship between space and, place and the most remarkable moments in their lives.