Harmen Brethouwer was born in 1960 in Aalten (NL). After his study at the CABK in Kampen and the ABK in Arnhem, Brethouwer started his career at The Expeditie gallery in Amsterdam in the early nineties. Since 2009 he is represented by Hidde Van Seggelen, Hamburg. In 2008 he had a show at Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, in Rotterdam, on which occasion a catalog was published, On Superfluous Things, giving an overview of his work, with texts by Sjarel Ex, Mark Kremer, Teio Meedendorp and Carel Blotkamp.

His works have been collected by various important public collections, such as Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, Centraal Museum, Utrecht, Museum Beelden aan Zee, The Hague, Museum Voorlinden, Wassenaar, Bonnefanten Museum, Maastricht, Museum LAM, Lisse, and corporate art collections, such as the AkzoNobel Art Foundation, Rabo Art Collection, De Nederlandsche Bank, as well as by private collectors in Europa and the US.