It was December 1968 when Koen Nieuwendijk established the "Lieve Hemel, stoot je hoofd niet" (Good heavens, mind your head) art gallery in an extremely low-ceilinged basement flat on Sint Jorisstraat 8, in the centre of Amsterdam. Several years later, in 1971, the gallery relocated to considerably roomier, albeit consistently low-ceilinged basement premises on Vijzelgracht, which by then had already ceased to be a canal.
A quarter of a century having gone by, the gallery packed up and moved once more. When it reopened in 1996, Nieuwe Spiegelstraat as the finest art and antiques promenade, not only in the Netherlands, but arguably in the entire world, was finally complete.
Lieve Hemel has specialised in contemporary realism right from the word go. During the 1980s the group of artists whose work was exhibited expanded to just under a hundred. This prompted a policy change to be implemented as a result of which all attention would from then on be focused on a small and select group of top-drawer painters of predominantly Dutch origin.
The sculptural aspect too can be classified into several episodes. During the 1970s en 1980s a series of annual exhibitions entitled "Earthen Realities" promoted predominantly figurative ceramics. Around 1990 the focus shifted for several years to bronzes, involuntarily heralding the revival of contemporary bronze sculpture in the Netherlands which has held fast to date.
1996 was the year in which contemporary silver, as a relatively new and still "modest" movement in which exceptional design transforms into extraordinary silver sculptures, was highlighted as part of the collection.