Must-See Art Exhibitions in The Netherlands 2017

Lydian BrunstingAgenda, Coming Soon, Currently On, Europe, Exhibitions, The Netherlands1 Comment

Must see exhibitions netherlands 2017

With the year being well on its way, it’s time to share our annual listing of must see art events and exhibitions in The Netherlands.

Also, this year the Dutch museums and institutions have some promising exhibitions and events on their agenda. We see some famous photographers’ work and interesting historical exhibitions coming to the country and also some long-awaited events finally appearing.

This year further marks the 100 years anniversary of the foundation of the Dutch art movement The Style (or in Dutch ‘De Stijl’). This anniversary is widely celebrated by different museums in The Netherlands this year, as you will note throughout this listing.

We are gradually expanding this list throughout the year. Thus, make sure to check in again for updated versions of this guide with exhibitions in The Netherlands!

First, let’s have a look at some of the must-see art exhibitions in The Netherlands in 2017.

(last update 16 August 2017)


100 Years De Stijl

Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam

De Stijl at Stedelijk: 3 December 2016 – 21 May 2017

Chris Beekman, De Stijl Defector: 8 April 2017 – 17 September 2017

De Stijl and Metz & Co.: 14 October 2017 – 18 January 2018

Mondriaan, composition No. IV, with Red, Blue and Yellow Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam

Piet Mondriaan, Composition No. IV, with Red, Blue, and Yellow, 1929, coll. Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam.

This year it is a hundred years ago, that the Dutch modern art movement The Style (or in Dutch ‘De Stijl’) was founded. A good reason for museums around The Netherlands to celebrate this anniversary with different exhibitions and events.

De Stijl at Stedelijk

The Stedelijk museum in Amsterdam in fact organizes three exhibitions around De Stijl. Each exhibition highlights different aspects of the art movement, also known as neoplasticism, by works from artists such as Piet Mondrian, Gerrit Rietveld and Theo Van Doesburg.

During the exhibition De Stijl at Stedelijk the museum’s own collection of works of De Stijl will be exhibited alongside works of different other artists in its collection. Among others facets such as the use of colour, the diagonal, purity and architecture will be presented.

Chris Beekman, De Stijl Defector

One of the lesser known De Stijl artists is probably Chris Beekman. In the early years of existence of De Stijl he created works in a similar style as we know the art movement for. As a result of Beekman being quite politically active, he broke with the art movement in the 1920s. He was of the opinion that the world needed art that everyone could understand. While abandoning abstract art Beekman started making figurative work of a more political nature. During the exhibition Chris Beekman, De Stijl Defector the oeuvre of the artist will be presented for the first time. Some 80 different works of Beekman will be shown.

De Stijl and Metz & Co.

The Amsterdam based department store Metz & Co. played an important role in disseminating Modernism in The Netherlands as from the late 1920s. They sold among others furniture, textiles and other design items made by De Stijl Members in their store. During the exhibition De Stijl and Metz & Co. the Stedelijk will show some of these works alongside other works made by De Stijl Members and artists influenced by De Stijl.


22 April – 27 Augustus
Kunsthal, Rotterdam

robertmapplethorpe_kunsthalrotterdam exhibitions in the netherlands

(c) Robert Mapplethorpe

This spring the Kunsthal in Rotterdam will host a large-scale retrospective of the work and life of Robert Mapplethorn, the famous American photographer, who is mostly known for his minimalist, serene pictures of flowers and nudes.

With over 20o works the exhibition will give a better insight in the main themes of Mapplethorn’s career and photography from the late 1960s to his premature death. Besides pictures there will be rare letters, books and notes which show much more of the photographer’s life and work and his approach to this.


14 April – 9 July
Nieuwe Kerk, Amsterdam

One of the annual events we always look forward to go is the World Press Photo exhibition. If you know the event, you will know it is not so much about fun, as it is about seeing what happened around the world throughout the eyes of some great photo journalists, both from the down and the positive side. In any case there are always many touching pictures in between.

As a tradition the exhibition starts in Amsterdam and travels the world following that. Are you not able to make it to the exhibition in Amsterdam? Just have look at the map of the World Press Photo organization to see if it might be organized anywhere nearby any time soon.


Oud-Zuid district, Amsterdam
19 May – 17 September 2017


KAWS ArtZuid 2015 Amsterdam

This year marks already the fifth time that the bi-annual Sculpture Route Art Zuid will be organized. The 2.5 kilometers long sculpture route is running through the main streets of Amsterdam’s Oud-Zuid (translated as  ‘old-south’) district and is one of those events that is perfect to visit on a nice spring or summer day.

The theme of this year  is set around the anniversary of De Stijl and shows the influence of this art movement on post war Dutch sculpture. Apart from Dutch artists like Atelier van Lieshout, Joost Baljeu en Klaas Gubbels, also modern art works of international artists  like Cristóbal Gabarrón, Ryszard Winiarski and Miquel Barceló will be shown.

When you are there, make sure to also have a look in the Beatrix park. Here you will find an art installation of flowers and butterflies of Japanese artist Eiji Watanabe, which should be worth seeing as well.

Arp: The Poetry of Forms

Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterlo

20 May – 17 September 2017

jean arp kroller muller exhibitions in the netherlands

The exhibition Arp: The Poetry of Forms at the Kröller-Müller Museum in Otterlo will be the first major retrospective in the Netherlands of the work of Jean Arp since the sixties. The German-French artist, who initially started his career as a poet, was a key member of groups and movements such as Dada and surrealism. As such he had a major influence on and connection with important artistic developments in the first half of the twentieth century, among which De Stijl.

Throughout Arp’s work on display you will see the continuous interaction between visual art and poetry and the strong bond between word and image. Besides eighty visual works from throughout Arp’s career you will also be able to have a read through examples of Arp’s poetry, writings and publications.

Once you made it to the museum, make sure to also pay a visit to the Van Gogh Gallery and the surrounding sculpture garden, by far one of our favorites in The Netherlands.

Streets of The World – Jeroen Swolfs

16 June 2017 – 1 April 2018

Hembrugterrein, Zaandam

Travelling the world and having your photo’s exhibited is something that many travel photographers can only dream of. Imagine if the space is as big as the 3800 m2 venue at the Hembrugterrein in Zaandam! Photo journalist Jeroen Swolfs made this dream become a reality.

After 7 years of travelling through 195 countries around the world, documenting street life in the capitals of all countries, his photos can now been seen in real-life scale in a venue, which once upon a time was part of an artillery factory.

In his photo-series Streets of The World Swolfs has documented the daily life of normal people around the world with the idea to bring across a positive image of the world. Although we are regularly fed with negative images of other countries, the reality is actually far from this, as you will see throughout the exhibition.

The exhibition Streets Of The World is located at the Hembrugterrein, an industrial area of Zaandam, just north of Amsterdam.



Oudezijds Achterburgwal canal, Amsterdam
Mid 2017

MX3d bridge 3d printed bridge joris laarman

Visual of 3D printed Bridge (c) MX3D bridge

It was already announced in 2015. Amsterdam would have a 3D printed bridge right in the middle of the centre. This year the bridge is finally expected to be ready. As from mid 2017 it can be found fully finished at the Oudezijds Achterburgwal, amidst the Red Light District. While we already saw a prototype of the bridge during the exhibition of the Dutch artist Joris Laarman in the Groninger Museum, we can’t wait to see it in reality and actually walk over it!

Roy Lichtenstein

3 November 2017 – 31 May 2018

Moco Museum, Amsterdam

Roy Liechtenstein crying_girl

As from early November works of one of the world’s best known Pop-Art artists, Roy Liechtenstein, will come to the Moco Museum in Amsterdam. The works will share the museum’s space with works of street-art legend Banksy, which seem to have an almost permanent spot in the modern/contemporary art museum, that has put its mark on the Museumplein since its opening as recent as 2016.

Liechtenstein is mostly known for his comic-like paintings in bright, primary colors, in which he depicted his view of the (consumption) society. Few people know however that the artist also worked with ceramics, glass and steel.



4 November 2017

Different institutions throughout Amsterdam

exhibitions in the netherlands Museumnacht Museumnight Amsterdam Museumnacht

Museumnight 2014 at Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam


30 November 2017 – 21 January 2018

Throughout Amsterdam


Lightfestival Amsterdam 2013.

Have you seen any exhibitions in The Netherlands you others should see as well? Let us know in the comments or send us an email at wkndr at artweekenders dot com. We love to hear about your experiences!

Rotterdam’s Bobbing Forest

Lydian BrunstingArt Events, Art Projects, Currently On, Exhibitions, RotterdamLeave a Comment


How to increase vegetation in an urban environment which is full of interesting architectural buildings and water, but where only little space is left for anything else? The Dutch artist Jorge Bakker found the solution with his Bobbing Forest project.

During this project different people and organizations – including the art collective Mothership – collaborated and experimented, to see how a tree could grow and root in a buoy floating in the water. An interesting venture, as the experiments showed that not every tree can survive in such a limited environment. So far only the Dutch Elm seems to be able to survive in such difficult circumstances.

The result of the project – also called ‘Het Dobberend Bos’ in Dutch – can be admired in Rotterdam’s Rijnhaven (Kop van Zuid) since March this year, where there are about twenty trees bobbing in the little harbour. While the trees are still fairly small, we are curious to see how they grow with time!

Banksy and Warhol coming to MOCO Amsterdam

Lydian BrunstingAgenda, Amsterdam, Coming Soon, Currently On, The NetherlandsLeave a Comment


Banksy and Warhol coming to MOCO Amsterdam

9 April 2016 until 31 December 2016 (Banksy) and 15 November 2016 (Warhol)

This spring the Moco is opening its doors at the Museumplein in Amsterdam, the heart of the Dutch capital’s art world.

The new modern contemporary museum aims to make modern and contemporary art more accessible and available to an international and mixed audience. Part of the plan is to show artworks, which are part of private collections and thus rarely seen in public.

Moco is an initiative of gallery owners Lionel and Kim Loghies, owners of the Lionel Gallery in Amsterdam’s Spiegelstraat. Here they already organized various exhibitions of renowned artists like Keith Haring, Michel Basquiat, Damien Hurst.


BANKSY ‘BEANFIELD’ at Moco Amsterdam.

In line with these names the opening exhibition of the Moco features works of two big names, namely street artist Banksy and the king of pop art Andy Warhol. Over more than 80 works of both artists will be on display. The above 3 x 4 meters large ‘Beanfield’ of Banksy is just one of them.

The museum is housed in Villa Alsberg just opposite the Rijksmuseum. The building is a former townhouse, which was fully restyled by Dutch designer Piet Boon’s design studio.

At a later stage artists like Os Gemeos, Kaws and Maya Huyuk are expected to exhibit their works at the Moco.

Keep an eye on our exhibition agenda for future exhibitions at Moco Amsterdam!


Must-See Art Exhibitions in The Netherlands 2016

Lydian BrunstingAgenda, Amersfoort, Amsterdam, Coming Soon, Currently On, Exhibitions, Rotterdam, Street Art, Travel TipsLeave a Comment

must see art exhibitions the netherlands 2016

2016 Must-See Art Exhibitions In The Netherlands

With 2016 well on its way and some weeks of hibernation behind us, it’s about time to have a look at what’s going on in terms of art events and exhibitions in The Netherlands this year. As in the previous years there’s a lot being organized in our tiny country again, with some famous artworks are being brought to the Netherlands from all over the world to cool, cool new initiatives and the regular yearly art events of course.

But which are the events we personally would love to see and/or would recommend you to go? Let’s have a look at our selection of exhibitions from the north to the south to the east and the west of country. We’ll be regularly updating this overview with new events we’ll come across, so bookmark this page if you’re interested to discover more exhibitions in The Netherlands.

(Last update: 23 October 2016)




Karel Appel 

Gemeentemuseum, Den Haag

until 16 May 2016

0333088_gemeentemuseum_karel_appel_exhibitions in the Netherlands

Karel Appel, Kind IV, collectie Gemeentemuseum Den Haag. © Karel Appel Foundation, c/o Pictoright Amsterdam 2015

Internationally seen, Karel Appel is probably one of the most renowned Dutch artists of the second half of the twentieth century. As from mid January the Gemeentemuseum in The Hague is organizing a major retrospective of the artist, who passed away ten years ago this year. With Appel being a member of the Cobra group, the exhibition naturally also pays attention to this aspect from all different angles. There will however be many more aspects that will be highlighted. Think of Karel Appel’s interest in psychopathalogical art, his stylistic experiments and his highly personal interpretation of traditional subjects like nude, rural landscapes and the like. With almost 140 different artworks at display, ranging from drawings to objects and paintings, it sounds like a promising exhibition worth traveling to The Hague for.

Jheronimus Bosch year

among others in Noord Brabants Museum in ‘s Hertogenbosch

until 8 May, exhibition + others all year round

This year it is 500 years ago, that ‘s Hertogenbosch’s most famous citizen passed away. His name was Jheronimus Bosch, the artist behind many surreal, detailed paintings and drawings, depicting life in medieval times. Already back in his days Bosch his work was admired all over the world. This is clearly still the case, as nowadays his works works can be found in many museums around the world.

To commemorate the 500th anniversary of Bosch his death the southern Dutch city of ‘s Hertogenbosch (or alternatively called ‘Den Bosch’ in Dutch) is organizing different events throughout the year, ranging from in- and outdoor exhibitions, theater, music and lectures.

The exhibition ‘Vision of a Genius’ in the Noord-Brabants Museum in Den Bosch (or alternatively spelled ‘s Hertogenbosch in Dutch) is expected to be the highlight of the Jheronimus Bosch year. For this exhibition dozens of Bosch’s artworks will be brought back to the city where they were once created, making this the largest retrospective of Bosch ever seen. Expect the quality of the paintings to be high, as many of the artworks have been restored carefully as part of the Bosch Research and Conservation Project.

Spanish Masters from the Hermitage. The World of El Greco, Ribera, Zurbarán, Velázquez, Murillo & Goya

The Hermitage, Amsterdam

until 29 May

hermitage-spaanse_meesters-exhibitions in the Netherlands

Exhibition Spanish Masters at Hermitage, Amsterdam, © Evert Elzinga


It has seldom been seen before in The Netherlands, such a comprehensive overview of Spanish masters like El Greco, Goya, Ribera and Zurbaran as currently on in the Hermitage in Amsterdam. All artworks come from the collection of the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, which is said to have the largest collection of Spanish art outside Spain. With some sixty artworks of different artists telling the story of the Spanish masters and their pupils in the Golden Age, it sounds like quite a promising exhibition. Yet, the exhibition has gotten some mixed reviews already. We still plan on going to form our own opinion.

Bobbing Forrest

Rijnhaven, Rotterdam

as from 16 March

Bobbing_Forest_exhibitions in the Netherlands

Bobbing Forrest, Rottterdam, The Netherlands

How to increase vegetation in an urban environment, which is full of interesting architectural buildings, but where only little space for anything else is left? The Dutch artist Jorge Bakker found the solution with his Bobbing Forest project. During this project different people and organizations – including the art collective Mothership – collaborated and experimented to see how a tree could grow and root in a buoy floating in the water. An interesting venture actually as the experiments showed that not every tree can. So far only the Dutch Elm has shown that it is able to survive in such a limited and difficult environment.  The result of the project will be visible in Rotterdam’s Rijnhaven as from 16 March onwards, when there are supposed to float some twenty trees in the harbour.

Joris Laarman

Groninger Museum, Groningen 

until 10 April

We were already quite fascinated by the possibilities of 3-d printing for some time. So far we’ve seen little examples as beautiful as the 3-d printed objects of the Dutch designer Joris Laarman though. You can currently find examples of his work in the Groninger Museum. While we were actually in the museum for the impressive exhibition of David Bowie (which is prolonged until 10 April by the way), this exhibition fitted extremely well to it. During his career as a designer/artist/inventor Laarman (born 1979) has continuously been experimenting with new techniques and new materials producing playful, yet beautiful objects, of which 3d printing is only one. In the museum you can also see a first impression of how the 3-d printed bridge will look like, which Laarman is currently constructing in the centre of Amsterdam.


Soft Power. Arte Brasil.

Kunsthal Kade, Amersfoort

21 May – 28 August


Soft Power. Arte Brasil exhibition in Kunsthal Kade, Amersfoort. Contemporary Art. Exhibitions in the Netherlands

Soft Power. Arte Brasil exhibition in Kunsthal Kade, Amersfoort.

This summer you don’t have to travel all the way to Brazil to see its stunning contemporary art. As from the 21st of May the Kunsthal Kade in Amersfoort will house an extensive exhibitions of contemporary art from the largest South American country. The exhibition coincides with the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in August 2016, an important moment for Brazil to present itself to the world. Through the art exhibited you can have a closer look at Brazil’s identity and culture. A number of artist will make some artworks specifically for this show, among which a number of murals.

We kind of have a soft spot for Brazil, after having traveled there for three months in a row a couple of years ago, so this exhibition will certainly be on our list to visit in 2016, especially since we missed the Inhotim, the biggest contemporary art centre in Brazil. Amersfoort being only about half an hour away from Amsterdam we’re sure it will make an interesting day trip.

The Art of Banksy

Beurs van Berlage, Amsterdam

18 June 2016 – 30 September

The Art of Banksy Amsterdam Beurs van Berlage

Previously he organized an unauthorized retrospective of Banksy in London, this time Steve Lazarides – Banksy’s former agent – comes to Amsterdam with the European premiere of The Art of Banksy, one of the biggest exhibitions of Banksy so far.

About 85 works of the renowned street artist will be exhibited at a central location in Amsterdam, namely the Beurs van Berlage, just some five minutes walk from Amsterdam’s Central Station.

The exhibition will contain the artworks most important for Banksy’s rise to fame and will range from original canvasses to paintings and sculptures, all connected to each other via interactive story-telling. All artworks come from the collections of private collectors and Lazarides himself.

Helmut Newton – a retrospective

FOAM, Amsterdam

17 June – 4 September

newton foam amsterdam exhibitions in the Netherlands

(c) Newton

This summer FOAM will present a major exhibition of the work of the legendary photographer Helmut Newton, one of the most influential photographers of the 20th century, especially in the field of fashion and glamour photography. One of themes often recurring in his works are seductive and powerful women, which was at the time considered as quite provocative and thus in a way somewhat surreal. Besides that Newton often portrayed the major names of his times, like film stars and politicians.

During this retrospective more than 200 photographs will be shown, ranging from his early prints hardly displayed before to those better known to the public. Most of these come from the collection of the Helmut Newton Foundation in Berlin. Helmut by June, the film made in 1995 by the wife of Newton’s wife June, will also be screened. Not surprisingly, an exhibition of this size will take over the whole FOAM building.

If you haven’t been to the Museum for Fotografie of the Helmut Newton Stifting in Berlin before, we expect this will be an excellent chance to see more of the photographer’s work.

Botero: Celebrate Life!

Kunsthal, Rotterdam

2 July until 11 September


First Lady by Fernando Botero

We got super-excited when we heard that the Colombian artist Fernando Botero would be having a large-scale retrospective at the Kunsthal in Rotterdam this summer. During this retrospective you’ll be able to admire about one hundred sculptures, sketches and paintings of Botero, among which his ‘Caballo’, the famous sculpture he made of a horse.

If you are a bit familiar with Botero’s oeuvre, you’ll immediately recognize his work by the voluminous bodies and objects, the elements so characteristic for it. In his work he often depicts daily life in Latin-America with a humour, which you don’t often see in the art world. His oeuvre does however also contain images of the somewhat darker side of the society Botero grew up and lived in. Think of his paintings of presidents, executions and weeping widows, which form a stark contrast with his other colourful paintings, full with people dancing and partying. Another favourite theme of Botero is religion, something he often comments on satirically, for example in his paintings of nuns, cardinals and popes. Also these works will be on show during the exhibition.

With this retrospective the Kunsthal once again manages to get in a world-famous artist (like they did last year with the Keith Haring exhibition), marking itself one of the must-visit museums in Rotterdam this summer, or well, actually in The Netherlands as a whole.

Ai Weiwei  – Safe Passage

Foam, Amsterdam

16 September – 7 December 2016

Safe Passage Ai Weiwei FOAM Amsterdam

Safe Passage, 2016 © Ai Weiwei

Starting early autumn this year the Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei (1957, China) will have a large solo exhibition at the Foam, photography museum, in Amsterdam.

Having lived under constant government surveillance as a political refugee for years, Ai Weiwei feels very much related to the life and stories of the refugees attempting to enter the European Union. It is thus not surprising that he dedicated himself to bringing this topic (in his words ‘the biggest, most shameful humanitarian crisis since World War II) to the attention of a wider audience through his artworks.

After having been granted permission to travel outside China again Ai Weiwei started travelling to the refugee camps around the Mediterranean and further,  documenting the people and stories he came across.

The exhibition will be an interesting mix of Ai Weiwei’s personal experiences as a refugee of the Chinese government and the lives and experiences of those who risked their life to reach Europe. The artist does however not only look at the individuals, he will also focus on the overruling systems of society. An exhibition well-worth visiting we’d say, even without having seen anything of it at the moment of writing this (July 2016).

Scarlett Hooft Graafland – Shores Like You

Huis Marseille, Amsterdam

10 September 2016 – 4 December 2016

Scarlett Hooft Graafland Shores Like You Vanuatu

The Dutch photographer Scarlett Hooft Graafland travels around some of the most remote countries around the world for her photography projects, in which she combines landscapes with local, cultural elements in a subtle, serene way . The results are beautiful, surreal pictures from places like the Vanuatu archipelago to the island of Socotra and the Bolivian highlands.

If you look at these serene pictures well, you will however notice that many of them contain elements telling a deeper story which actually threatens this serenity.  Think of the salt-plains of the Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia, which contains loads of lithium in which many people are interested, or her quest to find some of the most unique tree variants around the world.

During the exhibition ‘Shores Like You’ at Huis Marseille you will be able to see many of Scarlett Hooft Graafland’s impressive works. Make sure to read the signs to get a better understanding of what you’re actually seeing in front of you.

Making Africa – Continent of Contemporary Design

Kunsthal, Rotterdam

1 October – 15 January 2017

Mario Macilau Making Africa Kunsthal Rotterdam

Mário Macilau, »Alito, The Guy with Style«, from the »Moments of Transition« series, 2013, photograph, photo: © Mário Macilau, courtesy Ed Cross Fine Art Ltd, London

When thinking of African art most of us will think of the amazing wood-works coming from all different African countries. Although these have some contemporary feel, they are mostly shaped according to centuries old traditions and superstitions, like is for example the case with the coffin-art. Yet, the newer generation of artists looks at other ways to express themselves, breaks with the conventional definitions and often uses very different materials compared to their predecessors. During the exhibition Making Africa – Continent of Contemporary Design in the Kunsthal in Rotterdam end of this year you can see how.

Through the work of over 120 African artists and designers you will get a better idea and feel how design fuels the economic and political changes on the African continent and how local artists experiment and seek for solutions of worldwide relevance. Besides relatively well-known artists of the older generation such as the photographers Keita and Sidibé, the exhibition presents an entirely new generation of artists who are engaged in designing the Africa of now and of the future.

Rodin – Genius at Work

Groninger Museum, Groningen

19 November to 30 April


Auguste Rodin (1840-1917), The Thinker, 1903

With over 120 sculptures and 20 works on paper the exhibition Rodin – Genius At Work in the Groninger Museum will be the largest Rodin exhibition to take place in The Netherlands ever. The exhibition not only features Rodin’s sculptures, including those titled The Thinker and Balzac, but also ceramics, and never-before-exhibited photos, all showing the artist’s creativity. Also a further look will be given into the unique working process behind several of his most famous works, such as The Kiss. This exhibition was curated by the Musée Rodin in Paris and the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in Canada. It promises to be one of the highlights of the museum this year, after the great success of the David Bowie exhibition that is.

Since we stood in front of closed doors when trying to visit the Rodin museum in Paris last year, we hope this exhibition will give us another chance to see the works of one of the greatest and most influential sculptors of the modern era.


More to come ..








Earth Art – Out To Nature Back To The Gallery

Pal UjvarosiArt Projects, Land Art, Robert Smithson, The Netherlands, Walter De Maria5 Comments


Earth Art – Out To Nature Back To The Gallery

ArtSmart Roundtable: On the Topic of ‘Art Concepts’

The ArtSmart Roundtable is back for October. This month the theme is a broad one: concept in art, conceptual art, a topic with many different possibilities. For us, the choice fell on the concept of Land Art, an art direction that promises a lot and also offers a lot of complexities. Thus, we are heading out into nature, but somehow we will find our ways back into the traditional settings of a museum. For other interpretations of the term ‘concept’, please check out the other posts written by the other ArtSmart members, to be found at the bottom of this post. 


There is a merit of moving art out from the limitation of the four walls offered by museums and galleries. One benefit of it could be to make art available for a broader audience who would never venture into a gallery or pay the admission fee to a museum. The problem with this “liberating” idea is, though, that quite often the new setting will impose serious limitations on how many people actually will see it. Only because art is out in the open, accessibility often remains a big issue. The concept of land art is an excellent example for this.

When the Land Art movement – or if you so prefer Earth Art – came through in the late Sixties, one of the guiding principles was to break free from the conventional settings of traditional art and the commercialisation of it. This was the 1960’s after all. It’s all a noble cause, ultimately, and in many ways it can be seen as part of the process that we still experience in the efforts to make art accessible for new audiences. The “land art problem” was, though, that very often the projects became overly complicated, often really expensive and it would be fair to describe them as often overly pretentious, even when measured with the wildest ideas of modern art standards. Thus, it was a movement that largely came and went, but there are good reasons to believe that it could have a revival in our modern times.

There is an aspect of Earth Art that makes it more relevant to our time than ever before: it is in a way an art concept made for the media age. More often than not most land art projects are best enjoyed from distance. In many cases the only way of really enjoying it is to observe it from an elevation, and in many other cases not even the bird’s eye view is sufficient: a whole multimedia presentation is needed to enable its enjoyment. Therefore, it’s easy to see why our world – where the visual impressions inundate our online feeds – is likely a world better suited for this art form than it was in its heyday during the 1960s and 1970s.

A Cherry-picked History of Land Art

Land Art is in many ways the human civilisation’s oldest recorded attempts to express itself through art. Several of the mysterious sites we are fascinated by today are large scale projects of which many to this day remain scarcely explained to us modern humans. Just think about the Nazca Lines of Peru or the mystery of Stonehenge. While it’s likely that the original purpose of these examples above were different than aesthetic ones, it’s also true that they remain a huge inspiration to many artists in our days as well. They were early unofficial land art works where humans created visual objects in close congruence with nature.


Nazca lines in Peru.

Formally though, as already mentioned, Land Art had its explosion through the cultural landscape first in the late 1960s. The concept has, however, existed earlier as well, although the actual concept and the term only got used later. The movement – inspired by minimalism and conceptualism – gained in popularity especially in the American hippie-culture when commercialism increasingly became “dirty”, all the while the world – well, a small portion of it – started to care more about environmental challenges. Having these two factors in focus it was no surprise to notice that the art world was soon enough moving out into nature.

The irony of Land Art projects was that, contrary to the goal of de-commercialising art and moving it out of the galleries, they tend to be pretty expensive. “Land artists” in America relied mostly on wealthy patrons and private foundations to fund the works. Not only that, often the main idea behind the projects were to document the process and this required technological expertise, which wasn’t cheap and not that easily accessible. This latter would surely be a lesser challenge today in our smart-phone era.

Money, or rather the lack of it, was at the end also the factor contributing to the decline in popularity of land art projects. With the sudden economic downturn of 1973 the funds dried up and the hype around land art slowly diminished. Some notable exceptions carried on, artists whose legacy even today is significant.

The Major Names and Works in Land Art

It could be said that any summary of land art should start and end with Robert Smithson (1938 – 1973), whose large-scale projects employed natural elements like earth and rocks to construct art works that both manipulated and preserved the natural landscape.His most famous work, to this day widely regarded as the centrepiece of the land art movement is Spiral Jetty. Spiral jetty is a work constructed on the northern shore of the Grand Salt lake in Utah and it’s a 1,500-foot-long (460 m), 15-foot-wide (4.6 m) counterclockwise coil stretching out into the lake. After snow-rich winters in the neighbouring mountains, when water level is rising, the work is occasionally totally covered by water. The artist also documented the construction of the sculpture in a 32-minute color film, also titled Spiral Jetty, by some even considered the main work of Smithson’s instead of the jetty itself. The movie is a work to this day often used as a centre-piece of many land art exhibitions – as you will see below.

Spiral Jetty - Robert Smithson

Spiral Jetty – Robert Smithson

Another big name in the field was one of our universally personal favourites in the art world: the legendary Walter De Maria (1935 – 2013). The multi-talented Berkeley-born artist who broke through in the New York art scene of the Sixties, also happened to be the early drummer of the band The Velvet Underground. De Maria, famous for his sculptures, became later one of the major names of the land art concept and continued with land art projects long after the general decline of the genre. De Maria became especially popular outside the United States, and then particularly in Japan (as witnessed by the fantastic Naoshima Art Island we covered earlier) and in Germany, where one of his most famous works can be found, his mystical Vertical Earth Kilometre found in Kassel. This is possibly the biggest work of art in the world that you can barely see…: being a one kilometre long brass-rod, five centimetres (two inches) in diameter drilled straight into the ground of the Friedrichsplatz Park. In reality all you can see of it is its circular top, framed by a two-meter square plate of red sandstone, while the rest is left for your own imagination.

Further names in the field worth keeping an extra eye out for are the British Andy Goldsworthy (born 1956), with works more easily appreciated by the general public, which often can be found in some of the best sculpture parks around the world (check out our sculpture park post for some inspiration), in Goldsworthy’s case with the Yorkshire Sculpture Park as the main destination of pilgrimage.

Andy Goldsworthy - Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Andy Goldsworthy – Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Land Art in Our Days

As the example of the contemporary artist Goldsworthy shows, there is a currently active land art scene in existence as well. In many ways land art is, some fifty years after its initial heydays, more relevant than ever. Given that land art is often difficult to reach, due to the “earthly challenges” it faces, our multimedia world and social media tainted world definitely creates forums for expanding its potential reach. Combine this with a strengthening environmental movement, triggered by global warming and inspired by for instance Naomi Klein’s ‘This Changes Everything’ and you could have a fertile ground for land art projects.


Seen/Unseen Known/Unknown, artist Walter De Maria – Naoshima, Japan

If you think about it, land art is really made for a specific place and the thought of being able to transport it to another location is just daunting. The documentations of this kind of projects have, therefore, often taken an even more central role than the actual work of art. A good example of this is for instance Robert Smithston’s Spiral Jetty presented above. But land art has also made an entrance into the exhibition world as well; almost ironic when knowing that its main appeal from the beginning was to move out of the restrictions of the walls. There have been large-scale exhibitions just recently in Los Angeles and a few in Europe. In fact, one just started here just a short ride from our home.

Land Art Exhibition in Netherlands: Kunsthal Kade in Amersfoort

19 September – 3 January 2016

During the fall of 2015 Amersfoort’s Kunsthal Kade introduces a Dutch audience for the first time ever to what the earth art concept really means. The documentary movie of the Spiral Jetty, introduced above, is one of the main works presented for the Dutch public. ‘Exhibition Land Art’ aims to connect the earlier ‘land art’ artists with the contemporary ones. As a result the main emphasis in the show will be on six of the main land artists from the early days of the genre (Nancy Holt, Robert Smithson, Walter De Maria, James Turrell, Richard Long and Marinus Boezem) and their influence on a younger generation (Francis Alÿs, Tacita Dean, Mario Garcia Torres, Zeger Reyers, Pierre Bismuth and Lara Almarcegui). The exhibition’s interesting merit is that it shows how much today’s artists owe to the pioneering land artists of the past.

Reflecting further over it, the whole concept of Land Art, Earth Art, Earthwork, is an interesting concept, where the drive that took the artists out from the galleries in an exhibition like this one comes back behind the four walls. There is a lot left for the imagination and there is an intriguing part of it that feels like worth exploring further. For us it feels, it will be a good opportunity to venture out of Amsterdam and see what Amersfoort and ‘Exhibition Land Art‘ have to offer. Maybe so will you?

Practical details to Kunsthal Kade in Amersfoort:

Address: Eemplein 77, 3812 EA Amersfoort (Eemhuis) Eemplein
Opening Hours: Tue / Fri 11-17, Sat-Sun 12-17

The ArtSmart Roundtable is an initiative of different art-interested travel bloggers from around the world. Once a month the members contribute with an article on the same theme, which this month was the broad idea of concept in art. Please check out the other articles in this month’s round of articles as per below.

Daydream Tourist: Changing Paintings After They are “Finished”
This Is My Happiness: Northern California’s Greatest Artist: Wayne Thiebaud
The Wanderfull Traveller: The Conceptual Design of Vancouver’s New Art Gallery
ArtTrav: Nurture and Hospitality at Santa Maria della Scala, Siena
WanderArti: The Concept of Travel in Art Through the Ages


Must-See Exhibitions In Rotterdam This Autumn – Winter

Lydian BrunstingExhibitions, Rotterdam, The NetherlandsLeave a Comment


Must-See Exhibitions In Rotterdam This Autumn – Winter

The city of Rotterdam, being the second largest in The Netherlands, is getting more and more hip and happening in the last couple of years and is in our eyes becoming a serious competitor to Amsterdam, both from a tourist as local point of view. The city has recently even been referred to as ‘the Design Capital of The Netherlands‘ by National Geographic thanks to its impressive modern architecture and more and more cool places like galleries, bars and shops popping up throughout town.

Think for example of the Markthal, but also of buildings like the Cube Houses or the by Rem Koolhaas designed De Rotterdam next to the Erasmus bridge. And, of course, let’s not forget about Rotterdam’s museums, which regularly have some spectacular shows on offer, like also this autumn.

Below you’ll find an overview of the must-see exhibitions in Rotterdam you can see during the coming months. Many great exhibitions, among which the Temporary Fashion Museum and the Keith Haring exhibition in the Kunsthal are our favourites so far.

The Temporary Fashion Museum

Nieuwe Instituut

13 September 2015 to 8 May 2016


Try them out – pumps in all sizes at the Temporary Fashion Museum

The first thoughts that will come to mind when hearing the words ‘fashion museum’ will probably be about individual fashion items, like costumes and accessories. The Temporary Fashion Museum is however much more than that. Keeping in mind that the initiator, the Nieuwe Instituut, stands for an innovative approach to the themes covered by its exhibitions, this shouldn’t come as a surprise though. Visitors will for example not only be able to admire, try out and buy the clothing on display, but will also be invited to make their own clothing and reflect over topics like the future of fashion and the effects of the fashion industry from a sustainability point of view.

Keith Haring – The Political Line


20 September 2015 to 7 February 2016


Diverse works by Keith Haring

Most of us will recognize Keith Haring’s colourful and playful images as soon as you see them. The social and political thoughts behind his works are however full of details to explore in more details. During the exhibition The Political Line the Kunsthal is highlighting especially these aspects of the artist’s work (read our impressions of it in the article linked to here), showing how relevant Haring’s work still is 25 years after his death in 1990.

The exhibition further shows the development Haring went through from an artistic point of view, the influence street culture had on his work and vice versa, plus his mastering of that what only a few other artists seem to master, namely the perfect line.

The works presented come from among others the Keith Haring Foundation, but also from the collections of museums and private collectors and are unlikely to be seen together again, so make sure not to miss this exhibition when you have a chance.

Red Wealth. Soviet Design 1950-1980


26 September 2015 to 14 February 2016

In communist Russia consumer culture wasn’t really known until the 1950s. This started changing as from the 1959 Moscow exhibition ‘The American Way of Living‘. After this novelty, initially a lot of Western designs were copied, but gradually the Russians developed their own style, marked by words like robust and sustainability.
During the 1960s design even became a cultural policy in the Soviet Union – although by the Russians referred to as technical aesthetics – something emphasized by the set up of the VNIITE, an organization which was in charge of ensuring that goods were designed responsibly and were taking into consideration the basic needs of all consumers.
During the exhibition Red Wealth. Soviet Design 1950-1980 360 of the best examples of Soviet design from the period 1950s until the end-of-the-era 1980s will be exhibited, ranging from real retro products to graphic designs.
Poster for the 22nd Olympic Games, Moskow

Poster for the 22nd Olympic Games, Moscow, 1980 © courtesy Moscow Design Museum
Designer M. Lukyanov

Nevalyashka toy Russian tilting doll

Nevalyashka toy, Russian tilting doll, 1970
© Moscow Design Museum

Horst P. Horst, Photographer of Style

Nederlands Fotomuseum

26 September 2015  to 10 January 2016

This autumn the Dutch Fotomuseum (Nederlands Fotomuseum) is presenting the first major retrospective exhibition of the German photographer Horst P. Horst, one of the most important fashion photographers of the twentieth century. During his life Horst regularly worked for the magazine Vogue and people like Coco Channel and Salvador Dali. He also often portrayed Hollywood celebrities – like for example Marlene Dietrich – and their houses. Naturally his work is not only about fashion, but as much about art and design.

Through the presentation of his pictures, haute couture objects, his notes and his sketches and the vintage fashion magazines containing his work the exhibition gives you a good feeling of Horst’s photography skills and sense of style. Last but not least, the exhibition puts his work in a broad cultural and historical context, making the exhibition as interesting for photography as for fashion fans.


Horst, Muriel Maxwell, Amerikaanse Vogue cover, 1 juli 1939. Courtesy Condé Nast / Horst Estate.

Tip for those interested in both visiting this exhibition and the Temporary Fashion Museum: both institutions offer a combi-ticket of € 15,- including entrance to both.

From Bosch to Bruegel – Uncovering Everyday Life

Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen

10 October 2015 until 17 January 2016

This autumn Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen gives you the opportunity to see how everyday life in the sixteenth century looked like through the eyes of painters like among others Jheronimus Bosch, Lucas van Leyden and Pieter Bruegel. From dancing peasants to brothels and skating parties, nothing escaped the eyes of these painters, who often depicted the details of everyday life with a lot of irony and self-mockery.

As part of the exhibition you can also witness the restoration of the five-hundred year old painting of Saint Christopher by Hieronymus Bosch in the museum’s Art Studio, before it will travel to the Noordbrabants Museum in the Dutch city of Den Bosch and the Museo Nacional del Prado in the Spanish capital Madrid in 2016 in view of the 5ooth anniversary of the death of Hieronymus Bosch (yes, both Hieronymus and Jheronimus work fine as spellings).

Restoration Christopus Hieronymus Bosch Boijmans Van Beuningen

The Restoration of Saint Christopus by Hieronymus Bosch at the Boijmans Van Beuningen. Photo courtesy of Boijmans Van Beuningen


Have you been to any of the above exhibitions in Rotterdam yet? Was there something you specifically liked or maybe disliked? We’re curious to hear your experiences, so let us know in the comments. Also, if there are further exhibitions you’d like us to include, please send us a message and we’ll take your advice into account.


Not going to Rotterdam, but anywhere else in Europe? Click here for our other exhibition overviews and reviews.

‘Keith Haring. The Political Line’ Visits Rotterdam

Pal UjvarosiExhibitions, Keith Haring, Modern Art, Rotterdam, Street Art, The NetherlandsLeave a Comment


Keith Haring’s Voice from the Eighties Echoes in our Present

Keith Haring. The Political Line.

Rotterdam Kunsthal – September 20 2015 to February 7 2016

More than 30 years later Haring’s works return to the city where his international career once took off: in 1982 Rotterdam’s ‘Galerie ‘t Venster’ was the first ever outside the United States to show his work. Now the Kunsthal is hosting the exhibition ‘Keith Haring. The Political Line‘.

Keith Haring always had a special bond to The Netherlands, ever since his first solo exhibition in 1986 was hosted by the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, in many ways an exhibition that slammed wide open the doors for his art for an international audience. Hence, we dare to say that it’s a return Keith Haring himself would have looked forward to with excitement.


Mask by Keith Haring

This is a retrospective show over the short but very productive career of the formerly New York-based artist’s, a career that spanned over the course of the deeply political 1980’s. Just like our polarised times, The Eighties were also an era heavily influenced by politics, especially in Haring’s crisis-ridden New York and the conservative America of the Reagan-years. Ideological conflicts and the big differences between contrasting elements in society came into focus and a social awakening dominated a good part of the cultural life.

Sounds quite familiar to our current political climate? Maybe no surprise then, that while being a retrospective exhibition, among the many striking impressions we experienced throughout the show is how contemporary it all felt, now three decades later. It was almost like everything was made for our days and Keith Haring is still talking to us here.

The Politics & The Line

Hence, no coincidence that politics is a focal point of the exhibition, as also the name witnesses thereof. Keith Haring was equally known as an activist expressing himself through his art, and just as much an artist who created art to activate his surrounding. This exhibition at Kunsthal is however about so much more than politics: it’s just as much about the raw talent and imagination that Haring possessed, or the personal struggles the artist faced.


Diverse works by Keith Haring

During the exhibition it’s inevitable not to bear witness to the personal aspects of his art. While going back and forth the halls of the Kunsthal – you almost have to do so, because while walking you often realise that a certain detail you probably missed needs a second look – the thoughts are circling around two main threads: the raw talent and unique style that Haring possessed, and the socially engaged message he brought to the public through his distinct lines.

The Mastery of the Line

Keith Haring was born and raised in Pennsylvania where his early exposure to his father’s passion for cartoons laid the ground for his future artistic direction. The world of the cartoons, and especially Walt Disney, had a great influence on his technique and the simplicity of his line became quickly his trademark. Throughout art history it’s difficult to find many others who had such a simple but distinct way of creating so much with so few movements, the only ones who pop to mind are Picasso and Miró – not a bad company.

Haring moved to New York already at the age of twenty, where he studied at the School of Visual Arts and he quickly became part of the booming art scene of Manhattan, where he became a protégé of Andy Warhol‘s. During this time he became close friends with many artists who later would turn into huge international names, where a young woman called Madonna, at that stage still barely known, would become one of his closest friends.


Subway interventions by Keith Haring

One of Haring’s main ideas about art was to bring it out of the galleries and make it available to a large public who never would go to art galleries. The early expression for this was his continuous and untiring “interventions” in the New York Subway where he took advantage of the unused advertising spots – black surfaces awaiting billboards – where he illegally created quick drawings on the spot, often in close symbiosis with the surrounding. While he got arrested at multiple occasions the effort paid off and his fame sky-rocketed thanks to the thousands of Subway Drawings he created.

The Eighties was also an era when street art turned from what was early on considered vandalism into a recognised and more and more respected art genre and as a young student Haring was strongly inspired by it and street culture in general. Although he never learned to master the aerosol technique, his style got influenced by the work of the graffiti world. By coincidence, he also came across the tarpaulin, a material which became his own innovative canvas, mainly driven by the realisation how cheap and useful it was, a blessing for a poor artist. Many of the works displayed at the Kunsthal exhibition are made on tarp, a material that turned out to give his work a special edginess.


Keith Haring’s Tarps

The Politics of the Line

As we’ve been introduced to by the curator of the exhibition, Dieter Buchhart, the problems of our world now in 2015 in high degree resemble the conditions under which Keith Haring worked in the 1980’s. This also sets the tone for the entire exhibition. You can’t help but wonder throughout what Haring would’ve said today about the development since his death. Is this really the furthest we got since?

Haring’s deep-rooted involvement in social causes likely influenced his productivity as well and the way he chose to distribute his work. His social activism was the dominant force behind his art and the way of expressing himself, largely influenced by his own experiences. Being homosexual in a time when American conservatism dominated the public discourse made his involvement in social causes, especially around gay rights, even more prevalent. This was only accentuated with the arrival of AIDS, which unfortunately also became his death. As testified by Julia Gruen, the executive director of the Keith Haring Foundation, during his last year Haring worked harder then ever. For an artist who so quickly and tragically was taken away from this world at the young age of 31, he left a copious amount of work behind.


Keith Haring dancing figure

The Political Line at Kunsthal

It’s important to say it straight out: ‘Keith Haring. The Political Line‘ is a fantastic exhibition. Saying that it is one of the cultural highlights in the Netherlands this autumn is really no exaggeration. Haring’s unique style influenced several generations of street artists and seeing it in person provides the knowledge of his art – be it the commercially widely spread barking dog on t-shirts, or the larger pieces that ended up in private collections – with a special meaning. Furthermore, the political dimension of the exhibition will follow you around, and it’s impossible not to realise that the current political climate offers challenges that Haring’s voice strangely enough already discussed three decades ago.

The exhibition in Rotterdam contains some 120 artworks, some rarely seen pieces from private collections together with some of the more familiar works already often seen by the general public. This exhibition is the result of common efforts between several parties, making the final outcome even more interesting. The two institutions involved are the Kunsthal Rotterdam, naturally, and the Kunsthalle der Hypo-Kulturstiftung in Munich, and the artistic organisation is dictated by the guest curator Dr Dieter Buchhart and the Keith Haring Foundation in New York, represented especially by the executive director of the Foundation, Julia Gruen.


Personalized Dollar Bill by Keith Haring

The artistic direction resulting from two distinctly different perspectives makes the experience maybe even more interesting. The impression of the personal touch provided by Julia Gruen – who was a close friend of the artist’s and who worked for him since 1984 – provides an extra dimension to the exhibition, making it feel even more authentic.

Keith Haring’s Legacy

The Keith Haring Foundation‘s mission rests on two main pillars: firstly, to protect and promote the legacy of Keith Haring and secondly, to support not-for-profit organisations that assist youth in disadvantaged neighbourhoods, as well as organisations involved in AIDS-related education, research and care. Julia Gruen often points out that the work of Haring’s always leaves plenty for the individual interpretation. There are no clear-cut answers for what his work should mean, it’s open for everyone to create a personal message out of it. Nonetheless, the political involvement is always there, throughout all his works and naturally throughout this exhibition.

At the end, one of the unanswered questions I’ve been left with was for me to determine if Keith Haring was an optimist or not. After all, a lot has happened since The Eighties, especially when it comes to gay rights and in the fight against HIV and AIDS. There are, however, also plenty of topics that strangely enough to this day feel like nothing happened around. Racism, the environment, the problems arising from capitalism – all issues that Keith Haring was hugely engaged in – to this day remain hot topics where humanity is still failing.

Would Haring be surprised that not more is done? Should we? Do we have reasons to be optimistic, after all? All questions that the ‘Keith Haring. The Political Line‘ opens up. For the answers you be the judge.

Practical Details – ‘Keith Haring The Political Line’

Rotterdam’s Kunsthal is located in the city’s newly re-developed Museumpark, a great district with most of the city’s great museums within a short walking distance. Kunsthal is one of the major exhibition venues in the Netherlands, which has been open since 1992. Without a permanent collection, the focus is on a wide range of different exhibitions and thanks to the large space available there are always several shows presented in parallel. Check out their full current agenda if you’d like to know more.

Visitors address: Museumpark, Westzeedijk 341 | 3015 AA Rotterdam
Opening hours: Tuesday till Saturday: 10am – 5 pm | Sunday: 11am – 5pm | Closed on Mondays
Admission fee: Adults € 12 | CJP and students up to 26 years € 6 | Youth 6 to 18 years € 2 | Children to 5 years free entrance | Groups (minimum of 15 people) € 9 p.p. | Museumcard is valid.
You can also buy your ticket online.


Interested to see more exhibitions in Rotterdam? Have a look at our exhibition guide to see what else is going on!

Street Art Moving People

Lydian BrunstingAmsterdam, Art Projects, Street Art, The NetherlandsLeave a Comment


Street Art Moving People

You might see them at the bus stop, in the supermarket, the park or even while travelling by train or subway en route to their next destination. Their collective name is the Moving People.

Given that there are 10,010 of them, the chance that you will actually encounter one of them is rather high during the fall of 2015. At least as long as you’re visiting or living in Amsterdam or The Hague in The Netherlands, as it is here where the project kicked off.

Our #movingpeople at #museumplein

A photo posted by Power of Art House (@powerofarthouse) on

The Moving People is a street art project by the Power of Art House, an Amsterdam-based foundation that aims to create and grow awareness around socio-political topics by creative and cultural campaigns and in this way contribute to our society. With the Moving People Project the Power of Art House aims to bring the current refugee topic to our attention in a more creative way and, more importantly, give the millions of refugees worldwide a face by telling their stories. Something that seems to be very relevant in today’s refugees debate, where it’s often forgotten that behind each refugee there is a human being with stories and emotions.

Damsko gerilja street art #movingpeople A photo posted by @pariahparey on

The 3D-printed figurines, together referred to as the moving people, tell the stories of ten former refugees, who once had to flee from different corners of the world, including countries like Syria but also Rwanda and Eritrea. These are stories that need to be told and the idea is that by seeing the figurines it will make us think and hopefully reflect once again over the deeper meaning of the refugee topic. Because let’s face it, what would you do when your country would be at war and your life is being endangered? And if it would get that far, how would you like to be treated?


Istahil, fled from Somalia in 1991 – ‘In Nairobi I slept on the streets, illegal, without money. Photo: Pantar/ Power of Art House.

The ten centimeter tall figurines are meant to be moving around and thus, whenever you find one take it with you and place it somewhere else to also share these stories with the rest of your surroundings, or maybe the entire world. We’ve heard that one already came as far as the White House!


Lin & Remy, fled from Rwanda in 1994 – ‘I had to tell her her brother was shot.’ Photo: Pantar/ Power of Art House.

Have you come across one of the moving people already? Maybe you saw Lin, Idris or Alex already? Let us know, we’d be very curious to know about these experiences.

A photo posted by Vlad (@vladivozcozmos) on


Would you like to find out more about this project, the stories of the moving people, or maybe even support the Power of Art foundation? Click here for more information.


Fashion in The Netherlands – Exhibitions Fall/Winter 2015

Lydian BrunstingArtSmart Roundtable, Exhibitions, Fashion, The Netherlands5 Comments


Fashion in The Netherlands

Exhibitions Fall/ Winter 2015

After a little summer break we’re back with the ArtSmart Roundtable. This month the theme is fashion, a topic that can be interpreted in many different ways, as you can see from the fashion exhibitions taking place in The Netherlands this fall and winter – including the exciting launch of Holland’s first (temporary) fashion museum. The variety of the topic is just as visible from the contributions of the other ArtSmart members, to be found at the bottom of this post. Let’s first have a look at the Dutch fashion world.

We can be honest. The Netherlands will probably not be the first country that comes to your mind when thinking about fashion. The Dutch themselves rarely really dress up and often use more nonchalant clothing irrespective the occasion, be it for a dinner or going out for the night, jeans often seem to be the preferred clothing item.

Yet, there’s enough reason to pay a bit more attention to what is actually happening in the fashion world in the “lowlands”. Not only is the country the birthplace of some famous fashion brands like Viktor & Rolf, Marlies Dekkers and Jan Taminiau, there are also various Dutch stylists, photographers and creative entrepreneurs having an important role in the international fashion world. Just think of the photographers duo Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin, who have been working regularly for luxury brands like Louis Vuitton and magazines like Vogue. There’s also Robert Polet, CEO of the Gucci Group.

Add to that the stimulation of young Dutch fashion designers by for example the Redlight Fashion Amsterdam project and the interest of modern art museums in fashion as such, and you might understand the reasons why various museums throughout the country are all about fashion this fall and winter.

Let’s see what will be happening in the Netherlands this fall and winter around the theme of fashion:


New for Now, The Origin of Fashion Magazines

Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Until 27 September 2015

Whereas fashion advertisements are nowadays mostly consisting of photos and videos, before photography and filming no such thing existed. Instead, publishers used so called ‘fashion illustrators’ to portray the models as elegantly as possible, following which a print-maker would transfer the drawing on an engraving to reproduce it and a colourist would add colours manually.


Winter and summer, Wenceslaus Hollar, 1643, courtesy Rijksmuseum

During the exhibition New for Now in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam 300 of such prints, made from the year 1600 up to the first half of the 20th century, are displayed showing the development of women’s and men’s fashion throughout the centuries.


Twee coiffures van kapper Depain
Coiffures de Depain, ca. 1790, courtesy Rijksmuseum


Temporary Fashion Museum 

Het Nieuwe Instituut, Rotterdam

13 September 2015 – 08 May 2016

Despite various Dutch museums having fashion items as part of their collections, so far The Netherlands didn’t have a national fashion museum. This fall and winter though the Nieuwe Instituut in Rotterdam will be temporarily transformed into a fashion museum, to among others explore the possibilities for such an institute on a permanent basis.

Het Nieuwe Instituut, Rotterdam, The Netherlands

Het Nieuwe Instituut, Rotterdam, The Netherlands. Photo courtesy of Het Nieuwe Instituut

Fashionista or not, there’ll be plenty of interesting things to do for all different kind of visitors, be it by the trying, borrowing or buying of the clothing on display, the partaking in a debate about the social developments influencing the fashion designers of these days, making your own clothing or the viewing of an exhibition about the history of Dutch fashion plus much more. We’re booked in to visit the museum later this week, so keep tuned for more photos and information!


Ode To Dutch Fashion

Gemeentemuseum, The Hague

19 September 2015 – 7 February 2016

The Gemeentemuseum in The Hague is said to have one of the most important fashion collections in the world, among which pieces of internationally praised Dutch fashion designers, like Viktor & Rolf and Frans Molenaar.


Iris van Herpen, ‘Escapism’ collection, and ‘Hybrid Holism’ collection 2012. Courtesy Iris van Herpen. Photo: Sabrina Bongiovanni, Art direction: Maarten Spruyt, Production: Gemeentemuseum Den Haag.

Initially, from the 17th century onwards, the Dutch elite mainly followed the international fashion trends. This, however, gradually changed from the beginning of the 20th century, when the first Dutch fashion designers started working under their own name in The Netherlands. Slowly but surely more and more Dutch designers emerged, all developing their own unique and distinct styles.


Max Heymans, ca. 1978-1985. Photo: Sabrina Bongiovanni, Art direction: Maarten Spruyt, Production: Gemeentemuseum Den Haag

During the exhibition Ode To Dutch Fashion one hundred items of the collection of the Gemeentemuseum will be presented to illustrate the history of fashion in the lowlands as from the 1900s. Expect some colourful, distinct, yet beautiful designs.


Catwalk Rijksmuseum 

Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

February – May 2016

As from February 2016 the Rijksmuseum will for the first time present a large number of creations from its costume collection. During this exhibition you’ll be able to see fashion items from medieval times to the world famous Mondrian dress by Yves Saint Laurent (1965) and more. Further details are not yet known, but given the museum’s reputation we do expect some impressive creations.

The Mondrian dress by Yves Saint Laurent.

The Mondrian dress by Yves Saint Laurent. Photo courtesy Rijksmuseum



The ArtSmart Roundtable is an initiative of different art-interested travel bloggers from around the world. Once a month the members write a post about the same theme. The other posts for this month’s ArtSmart Roundtable are:

The Dutch and Water: A Complex Relationship

Lydian BrunstingArtSmart Roundtable, The Netherlands3 Comments

The Complex relationship of the Dutch and the water surrounding them

A new month has started again, meaning it’s time for a new ArtSmart Roundtable! For those unfamiliar with the ArtSmart concept: we’re a group of culturally focused travel bloggers from around the world, once a month writing about a common topic. The topic for this month’s ArtSmart Roundtable is ‘water’. Here on ArtWeekenders we decided to reflect over the complex relationship the Dutch have with water, as shown through art made as from the 15th century until today.

Water is a complex phenomenon. Without water we human beings wouldn’t exist. Without water we wouldn’t be able to survive, water simply means life. Water was also the mean that made it possible to travel to undiscovered parts of the world we previously couldn’t reach.

Yet, for the inhabitants of The Netherlands the relationship with water is even more complex. With a large part of the country situated below sea-level the Dutch have always had to fight the water and find creative solutions to live with it. Thus, it’s not more than natural that through the decades Dutch artists often used water as a topic for their art works, putting this challenging relationship centrally, just as it has been in life in general.

One of the most recent examples of this is the multi-media installation of the artist Daan Roosengaarde at the Museumplein in Amsterdam in the spring of 2015, called Waterlights. During a number of days the whole square – around which Amsterdam’s most popular museums are situated – was virtually flooded during the latter part of the evening, to demonstrate and create awareness how this part of Amsterdam – and large part of The Netherlands – would have looked like, if the water would have been able to run freely without human intervention.

Nowadays it’s often forgotten, but the fact is that some twenty six percent of the country is situated several meters below sea-level (the deepest point being 6,76 meters) and that this little country would have been even smaller without the invention of the dykes and the like.


Waterlight at Museumplein, Amsterdam (c) Studio Roosegaarde

The occasion for this spectacular temporary exhibition by Daan Roosegaarde was closely linked to the Rijksmuseum’s purchase of the painting ‘The Breach of the St. Anthony’s Dyke’ by Jan Asselijn, a 17th century Dutch painter.

When in 1651 the Dutch coast was flooded by heavy storms, Amsterdam wasn’t spared. The dykes around the city, among which the St. Anthony’s dyke, breached and soon enough large part of the city was inundated. Being a witness to the flooding, Jan Asselijn painted different versions of the disaster, of which the painting acquired by the Rijksmuseum is said to be the most dramatic one.

Jan Asselijn -The breach of the St Anthonisdike in Amsterdam

Jan Asselijn -The breach of the St Anthonis dyke in Amsterdam, courtesy Rijksmuseum

As the Dutch have always been surrounded by water, the breach of the dykes around Amsterdam in 1651 was not an isolated event, as various paintings and drawings part of different Dutch museums also tell us.

The below altarpiece depicting the Saint Elizabeth’s flood by an unknown painter, which can also be seen in the Rijksmuseum, tells about the flooding of the country on the feast day of Saint Elizabeth in 1421 for example. This flood is said to have been one of the worse floods taking place in history ever (ranking 20th in the list of worst floods worldwide), flooding numerous villages in the southern coastal provinces of South-Holland and Zeeland and causing thousands of deaths.


The right panel of the altarpiece depicting Saint Elizabeth’s flood, courtesy of Rijksmuseum.

Whereas the story of the altarpiece mainly seems to emphasize the way the people dealt with the flooding, other artists like Reinier Vinkeles and contemporaries especially depicted the disastrous effects of the different inundations they witnessed around the country, like the destruction of houses, the flooded land and the people fleeing.

Dijkdoorbraak Doornik Vinkeles

Breach of the dykes at Doornik in 1799, Reinier Vinkeles, Cornelis Brouwer, Cornelis van Hardenbergh, 1799 – 1800, courtesy Rijksmuseum

Another exceptional example of this is the cartoon-like painting by Johan Veltens, acquired in 2007 by the museum Het Valkhof in Nijmegen (in the east of the country), which accounts of one of the last major floods in the east of the country in the 19th century. This painting, consisting of in total 25 smaller paintings, depicts how in 1855 numerous villages in the Gelders Valley and the countryside between the Maas and Waal rivers were flooded with all the consequences thereof.


One of the images of the painting of the flooding near Nijmegen by Johan Veltens (part of collection Het Valkhof)

Although the country faced many more storms throughout the centuries, none of them would have the same impact as the one in 1953. During the North Sea Flood (in Dutch referred to as the ‘watersnoodramp‘) the dykes were again not able to resist the enormous pressure of the water and a large part of the southern west provinces of The Netherlands was flooded heavily.

North Sea Flood Waternoodsramp

View from a U.S. Army helicopter over the village of Oude-Tonge on the island of Goeree-Overflakkee after the North Sea Flood

With a death toll of over 1,800 people and damages amounting to almost half a billion euros it was clear that more drastic measures needed to be taken.

This finally resulted in the Delta Works, an enormous project which would enable emergency closings of the mouth of the main rivers running through The Netherlands, namely the Maas, Rhine and Schelde, to prevent flood surges upriver. The complete works were finished as recently as in 2010 and have already been considered as one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World by the American Society of Civil Engineers.


View of Oosterscheldekering surge barrier (part of the DeltaWorks) by Vladimír Šiman. CC Wikipedia

Although the country has been faced with many more flooding disasters during the last six decades, none of these have been as disastrous as in previous centuries thanks to all developments made in hydraulic engineering and the preemptive measures taken at different locations. As a consequence the complex relationship of the Dutch with water obviously also played less of a role in Dutch art in the second half of the twentieth century compared to before.

With the melting of the ice and rising sea-levels all around the world this is however almost a bit surprising, as the threat of the water remains for a large part of the country and thus, the battle of the Dutch with the water too. Works as the one of Daan Roosegaarde to create awareness of this topic are thus more than welcomed, so no-one forgets the continuous threat that hovers over a big part of the so-called lowlands. And indeed the entire world.

Do you happen to know any other contemporary artists putting this topic central?

The Dutch and Water


Don’t forget to also check out the other posts for this month’s ArtSmart Roundtable:



Paris Gare Du Nord’s Transformation Into One Big Street Art Gallery

Lydian BrunstingExhibitions, Paris, Street ArtLeave a Comment


Quai 36

The Unique Gare du Nord Street Art Gallery


During the last couple of weeks Paris Gare du Nord station has gradually been transformed into one enormous street art gallery, brightening up the station for its 700,000 daily passerbys. Whether you arrive at one of the lower or one of the upper floors of the station the brilliant artworks made by the street artists participating to the Quai 36 Art Residence just can’t go unnoticed, as we witnessed a couple of weeks ago when we made a spontaneous visit to the French capital.


Btoy – Gare du Nord station in Paris

The first brightly coloured mural already popped up in front of us as soon as we stepped out of the underground, the Metro 4 line. And this was only the start of our street art discovery through Paris’ largest public transportation hub. More stunning murals would be awaiting us. With a map indicating the locations of the other murals on our phone we continued our search.


Kool Koor – Gare du Nord, Paris


Koralie – Gare du Nord, Paris

The idea to transform the Gare du Nord station into one street art exhibition came from Quai 36, a collective founded in 2013 by a group of Parisian friends, who all passed the Gare du Nord station during their daily commute from the suburbs into town. The friends all had the same wish, to promote urban art by bringing together public and private stakeholders in a public space, a project they succeeded with well, The French national railway company SNCF Gares & Connexions and the local transport company Region Île-de-France eventually subsidised the Quai 36 Art Residence project fully.


Jana & JS – Gare du Nord, Paris


Dourone – Gare du Nord, Paris

During a period of four weeks different parts of the station were decorated by sixteen national and international street artists, all interpreting the theme ‘Faces of the Station’ differently.

Not only did the artists make use of all different type of spaces available at the station – including corridors and poles -, but also of the objects around, creating playful art works, like the ones here below:


Levalet – Gare du Nord, Paris


Levalet – Gare du Nord, Paris

The name of the collective – Quai 36 – does by the way refer to ‘platform 36’, a common entry point to the station for the initiators of the project. It is here where you can admire a large number of artworks by all different artists who took part in the art residence. If you have no time to walk around the station to see every single mural, we recommend you to visit this part of the station, all artists from the project have at least one work exhibited here along the some 150 meters long ‘real-life canvas’.


Dourone – Gare du Nord, Paris


Jerome Mesnager – Gare du Nord, Paris

At the time of our visit to the station, the street artists were still actively working on their murals, given the scaffoldings we saw here and there – we arrived on a Sunday morning before heading back home, when none of the artists were around -, yet by now the Art Residence has ended and no new murals will be made anymore. The murals will however stay for some time as part of the renovation plans for the station, so go and check them out if you can!


Solylaisse – Gare du Nord, Paris

Paris-Gare-du-Nord-Street-Art-Quai-36 (3)

Gregos – Gare du Nord station in Paris

If you have no opportunity to see all works live or like to have an idea where to go in the station, check out this video taking you along part of the murals in just a couple of minutes.

Curious about the street artists? Here are the names of 16 the street artists contributing to the Quai 36 Art Residence 2015: Btoy, Solylaisse, Jerome Mesnager, Baske Tobetrue, Levalet, PiocPPC, Koralie, Dourone, Gregos, Jana & JS, Bad Trip Crew, Louis Masai, Fafi, SP38, Kool Koor and Artiste Ouvrier.


Like to see more street art from around the world? Have a look at our other posts – including loads of picturers – in our Street Art Corner.

We also wrote more about Paris.


Do Folklore and Folk Art Have a Place in Modern Society?

Pal UjvarosiArtSmart Roundtable, Folk art2 Comments

Folklore in Modern Society

Do Folklore and Folk Art Have a Place in Modern Society?

A new month and a new round of the ArtSmart Roundtable are here. This month’s theme is a topic familiar for all of us, but at times still hard to know how we connect to: folklore and folk art. It’s a very broad area, often hard to define and nail down and regularly taking different shapes depending on where you are. It’s also a field which stretches to every possible corner of the world, and where the quality is diverse and varying. But what is the role it has in today’s society? Is it slowly disappearing from many regions without us noticing, or is there a way for it to embrace our contemporary world? Questions which we will go into in more details below. Besides our contribution don’t forget to check out the other articles written for this month’s ArtSmart Roundtable, found at the end of this article. 

In our modern times, despite our differences and varied opinions, we are coming increasingly closer to each other, as a result of globalisation and the spread of popular media and culture via the Internet. Our worlds are getting more interlinked, international, and the individualistic expressions through fashion and design are becoming boundary-less, where national identities are increasingly vanishing. It hasn’t always been like this; in many parts of the world folklore and folk art had a dominant role, where local symbolism expressed your identity and defined who you are.

Today it’s fair to say that we see less and less of this phenomenon, especially in the West, but not only. Thereby, the question is justified: is there really space for folklore and folk art in our modern, homogenising societies? If so, where can we find it, and is it maintaining its old form, or is there an expressionistic evolution taking place? Is there a modern version of folk art around us?

In contrast to fine art, folk art is primarily utilitarian and decorative rather than purely aesthetic.

A Personal Relationship to Folk Art

During my childhood folk art always had a substantial role in my life. Like everyone with roots in Eastern Europe will testify, folklore is to this day still a big part of life there, as it has been for many generations. Folk art and national identity are very closely linked in that part of the world and, throughout my Hungarian upbringing, Hungarian handicraft was part of everyday life. Be it in form of tablecloths, pottery, or decorative artifacts, it was always there. I’m grown up in Transylvania, Romania, and for a minority people like us Hungarians in that region, it carries an extra symbolic value. All around the country, though, different regions strongly identify with their local style, indifferently of the language they speak. In a way, folklore keeps people with one foot steadily anchored in the past, establishing the sense of being part of something bigger.

Later on, in my youth, life took me to Sweden, where – maybe surprisingly to many – folklore traditions always had a strong role, especially in certain central regions of the country like Dalarna. It is, however, fair to say that modernisation transformed these traditions considerably and while folklore has a small role in day-to-day life, today a certain type of symbolism from folk art got transferred into a contemporary era. How exactly? We’ll see a bit more of it further down, but a hint is design.

This symbolism is even more prevalent in the country where my heart found a home in the more recent years of my life, here in The Netherlands. Clogs and tulips anyone? I’m sure you’ve heard about them somewhere… And yes, they certainly have an important role in Dutch traditional folklore, but also in the modern era. And there’s more.

A Changing World, Maintained Identity

Throughout the years, the two of us behind this site have been travelling quite a lot, as “art weekenders” but also on the trails less travelled, for instance through South America and more recently in West Africa. As observers on the road, there are two ways of studying our surroundings (just to simplify life a little bit): by looking for the familiar, and by finding the uniqueness in a place. While it’s true to say that all so often we find ourselves in familiar territory – where jeans, t-shirts, glaring music and loud TV-shows in the background serve as connectors, even in deep Amazonia – the true identifiers of a place are always there, details that put the location and its people aside from others.

Facts that make a place unique. Quite often these details are deeply rooted in the folklore and in most cases expressed in folk art and craft, often passed down through generations, carrying a deeply rooted regional or even national identity with them. A sense of belonging. In most cases folk art feels very regional and outside its local context it just feels “wrong”. In some other cases the local folk art feels timeless, even boundaryless. It just transcends all cultural restrictions.

When is this transcendence happening, and what is the psychology behind it? Is there a place for folk art in modern society and when does it “work”? During travels, and at times in retrospect, these are questions we often wondered about.

Let’s have a look at a few examples from our own experiences and observations to help with our analysis.

Andean Art and Its Influence on Fashion

Los Uros Lake Titicaca Folklore in modern society

Folklore at Los Uros, Lake Titicaca

While travelling through South America local traditions are joining you around, especially if you follow the Andean trails. Be it in the Salta region of Argentina or around Otavalo in Ecuador, the distinct Inca patterns are everywhere. A lot of the fascination westerners have with the local merchandise is attributable to the world-famous alpaca wool, but just as much to the famous patterns. Sure, in its current form it’s mostly appealing for practical purchases to keep you warm (sweaters, hats, scarves). However, more and more of it finds its way into the finer fashion salons of the booming cities of the Andean nations. Peru is possibly the country where this trend is most obvious: there are many up and coming brands taking advantage of the Inca heritage, and likely none of them does it better than the fashion house of Kuna. Sure enough, the emphasis is certainly on the material, but the Andean Influence is traceable in the designs as well, albeit definitely put into a westernised context.

Kuna – Peru’s flagship fashion brand using alpaca and vicuna wool for their designed products (

West African Kente – From the Ashanti to World Fashion


Kente weaving in Kpalime Togo folklore in modern society

Kente weaving in Kpalime, Togo.

One of the brightest stars on the West African cultural folk heritage sky is the kente weaving technique, perfected by the Ashanti over the past centuries. The Ashantis, one of the most successful tribes or nations ever on the African continent, are of course even more famous for their gold, but the kente – originally silk-based – textiles produced in today’s Ghana and neighbouring countries are highly attractive further and further afield. One strongly contributing factor is the Dutch fashion house Vlisco, which is largely building its huge success on batik fabrics since 1846, bringing Indonesian folklore not only to Africa but also to European fashion houses through designers like Vlisco Atelier and Victor & Rolf.

Vlisco dresses for a new summer season. (

Delft Blue from Granny’s Teapots to Trendy Home Decoration

To stay close to home, here in The Netherlands, besides cheese, clogs and tulips another strong “Dutch identifier” is the famous blue and white Delft Pottery, aka Delftware. While maybe it’s debatable if it fully qualifies as folk art – it was after all developed by commercial-minded artisans fully influenced by Chinese traditions – there’s no denying that it always had a very strong popular anchoring in Dutch society ever since the 17th century. For a long while though, especially in recent decades, Delft Blue became more and more a symbol linked to older generations and tacky(ish) souvenir shops. Recently, however, it ended up being part of a collection developed by no one less than Marcel Wanders, the most famous of Dutch designers, who is possibly Dutch coolness personified.

Marcel Wanders designed objects from MOOOI's Delft Blue Collection (

Marcel Wanders designed objects from MOOOI’s Delft Blue Collection (

Swedish Dala Horses – from IKEA to Everywhere

Sweden is a country where folklore traditions have always been very strong, be it through music, outfits or decoration in general. While today the traditions are fading more and more (I wonder how many Swedes still could even figure out how to dance a Swedish polka), in certain other respects the folk art symbols are stronger then ever. For instance, many of the famous glass manufacturers like Kosta Boda and Orrefors use traditional motifs and techniques in their designs of the world famous goods they distribute worldwide. But nowhere else is the symbolism as strong as with the little wooden horses – Dalahästar – you’ll find everywhere in Swedish design these days, starting with IKEA, becoming a beloved and respected symbol for the whole nation.



The Swedish Dalecarlian horse

Hungarian Embroideries – The Exception Against the Rule

As Hungarian-born, traditional embroideries have of course always been a part of my life. To this day, I find them beautiful, well-made and I feel a certain level of pride for it. Even today the tablecloths, blouses and cushions play an essential role in Hungarian day-to-day life. However, what I don’t seem to find evidence for is renewal, ways of embracing the modern world. While I see the appeal for the goods, in most cases I have difficulties seeing it conquering the world significantly outside the country’s borders with one or two feet steadily left in the past. Maybe it’s a Hungarian treat. These days renewal is not a big thing in the country, where instead of openness suspicion against the world around is ever bigger. Maybe no wonder for a small nation surrounded by foreign tongues for centuries, but still; ever since the migration started more than thousand years ago somewhere in Asia, it is part of the local survival mechanism (but that’s a topic for another blog).

Asian Timelessness

While we’re looking eastwards, let’s head further towards Asia. It’s no surprise by now that Asian art and craft grown out from local folklore have had a strong appeal on the Western world already for centuries. From Turkey to India, from Persia to Vietnam, and of course the giants of China and Japan, all have strong folk art traditions that easily transcend borders and cultures. This appeal of oriental art and craft on other societies is obvious, but maybe nowhere is it as much influencing modern, local life as in Japan. Be it interior decoration, clothing (kimonos anyone?) or just the quintessential Japanese way of being are all very deeply rooted in Japanese folklore.

Japanese traditional clothing

Dressed up for a ceremony in Miyajima, Japan.

What makes folk art time- and boundaryless?

Through the above virtual tour from one corner of the world to another it is obvious that folk art is everywhere, even if often we just don’t even seem to notice it. Despite the fact that our world is becoming more homogeneous, it is clear that local traditions prevail, in some regions more strongly than others. Some of it has a tendency to stay timeless. Some of the folk art from around the world seems to have a broad appeal further afield as well. The boundlessness of Asian heritage, kente weaving or Andean patterns can easily appeal to culturally very different people. What can it be? Is it thanks to the simple geometric symmetry they offer? The subtle colours and patterns? I would say yes.

Andean textiles

Andean textiles

On the opposite end there’s a lot of local folk art that slowly fades away or that unlikely will get a broader international appeal. This is certainly a problem in Europe, where many regions have only remnants of their folkloric heritage left, even in culturally strong countries like Italy. In Eastern Europe – where flowers, wild patterns often dominate – the likelihood for folk art to remain stronger is so far good, but it is also likely that it will remain mainly locally anchored. Some traditions are simply best where they are based? Or who knows, change might be just around the corner thanks to a new generation of young local designers.

How do you look at folk art and folklore? Do you agree with us that there’s a place for it in our modern societies too and can even evolve into “bigger phenomena”? Do you think there is a risk that the modern soon eradicates all traces of the folksy? Should we do something about this before it’s too late? We’d be happy to hear your views!


Other folklore-inpired stories in this summery month from the ArtSmart Group are as follows:

This Is My HappinessFolklore and the Intersection of Art and Culture written by Jenna

Daydream Tourist: Digging into the Legend of Troy written by Christina


Banksy Exhibition in Amsterdam: His Street Art World Comes to the Lionel Gallery

Pal UjvarosiAmsterdam, Europe, Exhibitions, Street Art, The Netherlands1 Comment


Banksy’s World Coming to Amsterdam

Banksyyou know that famous guy from Bristol that nobody seems to know, who instigates us to think and observe our world a bit differently through his street art creations? – is in our town of Amsterdam for the coming six weeks. Maybe not in person, but definitely in spirit: the Lionel Gallery on Amsterdam’s Nieuwe Spiegelstraat arranges an unauthorised exhibition of Banksy’s work, what must be one of the biggest ever shows of the reclusive street artist’s works outside the United Kingdom. Quite a feat to pull off, we think, and our visit to the Lionel Gallery definitely confirmed that our excitement is justified. This Banksy exhibition in Amsterdam is a not-to-miss opportunity, for the generally curious, the street art afacionado and the collector alike, who’d like to make a possible deal of a lifetime with the future in mind.

As always with something worth seeing, the exhibition left us with plenty of questions to ponder over. Street art? What is really going on with you?

Banksy Exhibition Amsterdam Lionel Gallery - 2015-The-Netherlands-Banksy-In-Amsterdam-Lionel-Gallery-donut-truck

Street art 2.0 – We’re in a new era

What happens when a change takes place? Not a revolution necessarily, but a change of the slower kind, something you have time to get used to, but still every time you feel slightly surprised being confronted with. Somehow though, those are the changes that impact you deepest. They give you enough time to reflect, to grow together.

A clear phenomenon strongly qualifying for this category is without any doubt the current state of street art. It’s fair to say that a lot has happened in the past three decades. For instance we – our generation – grew up, grew older, we’re at the brink of new stages in our lives (yes, it’s ok to call it the middle-age). The passing of time hasn’t left the phenomenon of street art unaffected either, things have clearly happened there as well. A lot even. Street art is not just a form of expression of rebellious teenage angst, it is having a deeper meaning, often reflecting upon our surroundings and challenging the world we live in.

Banksy Exhibition Amsterdam Lionel Gallery - 2015-The-Netherlands-Amsterdam-Banksy-Lionel-Gallery-Jerry

Who else if not Banksy, to use just an example. What the artist represents today is not the same as what the artist aspired for in the eighties. Like it or not – and very likely the same goes for Banksy himself – popularity brings with it fame, fame brings with it ”mainstreamity”, which in turn brings with it money. But what happens to the old ideals? And what is the value of art really? I’m sure you agree those are just some of the many good questions you can spin further on while pondering over the fate of a guy from a well-off neighbourhood (at least what ‘they’ say) of the English city of Bristol who deeply affects millions of admirers worldwide over a few decades now.

Street art all around us

If you have followed us for a while you undoubtedly must have noticed that we have a thing for street art. Just look into our ‘Street Art Corner’ gallery and you’ll be convinced that we are on a constant hunt. But in general, we tend to look around for street art around the ‘shady’ side of town (exaggeration intended) or at least behind that hidden corners off your usual grid (maybe exception of Berlin street art and Ghent street art then, examples of cities that truly embrace street art in the middle of their historic centres). But how to react when street art hits the fine galleries of our refined cities? Let’s say the famed art district of Amsterdam, the Spiegelkwartier, where all the famed art dealers have clustered their shops for generations? Should we be terrified? Shocked? Happy? Confused?

Banksy Exhibition Amsterdam Lionel Gallery  - 2015-The-Netherlands-Amsterdam-Banksy-Lionel-Gallery (5)

Lets get over it, by now street art is way beyond graffiti (only). Sure, it still has a place to express the more simplistic gang symbolism around city ghettos, but it has evolved way beyond that stage. A few pioneers like Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat paved the early road already in the Eighties, but loads more have happened since. Just watch television for a while, and before you know it there will be some kind of street art link in commercials. In fashion? Sure enough you’ll quickly find street art influences in there without maybe even realising it. Thus, no surprise that street art is moving into the galleries as well.

Street art – Change and Value

We might get occasionally a bit surprised when we reflect over the price tags certain artworks carry. No exception with street art and it’s move into the finer art collector-world. The big difference of going to a gallery instead of a museum is always that very same: the unavoidable fact that you can actually buy a piece of art for yourself – or maybe more likely reflect over the fact that someone else will. So the value of art becomes a bit different. But what makes good art worthy is if it makes you move: your feet, your soul, your mind – or maybe all of them combined at once. If it’s unique. What we might not always remember is that other movements likely went through similar changes and evolved into fine art, be it pop art, art deco or design in general. Change is good, for the arts and otherwise. Many questions…

Banksy Exhibition Amsterdam Lionel Gallery - 2015-The-Netherlands-Banksy-in-Amsterdam-Lionel-Gallery

Banksy at the Lionel Gallery: ‘Keep It Real’

What can you expect if you visit the Lionel Gallery? Is there a chance that you might get surprised if you know Banksy already well enough? In most ways, yes. That you will enjoy it we can guarantee. The exhibition is circling around some ten original works where the masterpiece to look out for is the 2.5 meters tall ‘Forgive Us Our Trespassing’, a painting the artist used for the original promotion of his movie ‘Exit Through the Gift Shop’. The rest of the exhibition is made up of signed and unsigned limited edition prints – feel free to ponder over why a signed print is worth 6-7 times as much as an unsigned one, and if that’s a really a fair proportion to the price difference. The collection on display presented by the Lionel Gallery is rather unique and it encompasses a large overview of the works from the artist’s most popular days from especially around the mid 2000s – in terms of exposure to the world at large at least – when most of his iconic stencils turned up around the world.

Banksy Exhibition Amsterdam Lionel Gallery - 2015-The-Netherlands-Banksy-in-Amsterdam-Lionel-Gallery-Forgive-Us-Our-Tresspassing

Most importantly, the exhibition is also about the BIG values. Banksy is after all – at least I’d like to think so – all about opening our eyes to our world and helping our conscience to evolve. His political, satirical view on things with that little unique extra of humour and sarcasm is everywhere. Do we care when we see his work? We sure do. Can it be exactly the reason why we welcome it to what some called the ‘opposite world of where street art belongs’? Could just as well be.

Banksy Exhibition Amsterdam Lionel Gallery - 2015-The-Netherlands-Amsterdam-Banksy-Lionel-Gallery (13)

Practical details of the Banksy Exhibition Amsterdam

Better hurry up. The Banksy ‘Keep It Real’ Exhibition has been extended until the 30th of July. The place is Lionel Gallery, where Kim Logchies will happily welcome you and we can guarantee that she’ll take her time to answer to your curious questions. The address is Nieuwe Spiegelstraat 64 in Amsterdam’s art district of Spiegelkwartier, just a short walk from the Rijksmuseum. To go through the exhibition you’ll need a good half an hour, maybe up to an hour. Entrance is free, and no, you don’t have to buy anything if you don’t want to – although the book published for the occasion is definitely a good catch even for the smaller pocket. Enjoy – it’s well worth it!

Banksy Exhibition Amsterdam - 2015-The-Netherlands-Amsterdam-Banksy-Lionel-Gallery-Have-A-Nice-Day

Popular Free Outdoor Events In Amsterdam This Summer

Lydian BrunstingAmsterdam, Europe, Exhibitions2 Comments


Popular Free Outdoor Events In Amsterdam

This Summer


Although you may not believe it when you arrive to Amsterdam on one of these mid-June days, the summer has in fact arrived, although that’s still only according to our calendars. The last couple of weeks actually felt a bit more like autumn, yet better weather seems to be on its way. With that in mind, let us share some of the fun outdoor events taking place in the Dutch capital this year, varying from cultural festivals to art and music events. None of the events listed charge any entrance fee, so no advance booking is needed to secure your ticket, which is a big benefit when you like to maintain all your flexibility (as we tend to do), or when the weather isn’t that good or suddenly changes drastically and you’d rather stay indoors.

Let’s start with some of the best free outdoor art events taking place in the Dutch capital this year:


ArtZuid, now until 22 September

One of our favorite events coming back to Amsterdam every two years is the International Sculpture Route ArtZuid. While walking the art route you get an opportunity to enjoy some fantastic art works of artists like KAWS and John Chamberlain, and to discover an entirely different part of town, which you’d normally not visit, because it’s simply put just off the usual tourist trail. It’s a perfect way to escape the busy city centre too and to enjoy a greener, genuine part of Amsterdam. Have a look at our post published earlier this month for a first impression.


KAWS at ArtZuid 2015 Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Miro, now until 11 October

A show right on the tourist trail is the Miro exhibition in the gardens of the Rijksmuseum. This summer you’ll find 21 sculptures of the Spanish artist, who is mostly known for his abstract paintings including stars, figurines and other symbols. Maybe unknown for many, Miro also made over 400 sculptures during his life. This is the first sculpture exhibition of Miro in The Netherlands and the four metres high Oiseau Lunaire, which for years was stored in the depot of its previous owner in New York, even makes her public debut here.

Free Outdoor Events In Amsterdam This summer: Miro-in-Rijksmuseum-gardens-Amsterdam

One of Miro’s sculptures in the gardens of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


Miffy Art Parade, now until end of September

When walking from or to the Rijksmuseum over the Museumplein – the big square surrounded by the Stedelijk, the Van Gogh and the Rijksmuseum – you will likely also stumble over a row of Miffy statues in different outfits. The by origin Dutch rabbit (locally called Nijntje, being an abbreviation of ‘konijntje’ – meaning ‘little rabbit’ in Dutch), popular among children worldwide, has her 6oth birthday this year. Among others, the occasion is being celebrated by the Miffy Art Parade, a parade of 60 Miffy sculptures painted by different artists located throughout the country (besides in Amsterdam, you can also find them in for instance Utrecht, The Hague and Maastricht). To be honest, walking past them you can’t not let your inner-child come out…

Free Outdoor Events In Amsterdam This summer: Miffy-Art-Parade-in-Amsterdam-Nijntje-60-jaar

One of the Miffy statues, part of the Miffy Art Parade. This one you can find at the Museumplein in Amsterdam.


Summer is also the festival season in Amsterdam and although many of them are paid ones, and they will usually sell out fairly quickly, there are also some excellent free festivals taking place in the city, ranging from music festivals to performing arts and cinema:

Vondelpark Open-Air Theatre, now until late September

Every summer the city’s most popular park, the Vondelpark, hosts the Vondelpark Open-Air Theatre, taking place every weekend from Friday until Sunday. Each part of the day is reserved for different disciplines. On Friday evenings you can for example enjoy free modern dance performances, whereas on Sundays you can join free concerts, ranging from more classical music in the mornings to more popular music in the afternoon. At the different entrances of the Vondelpark you’ll usually find the program at one of the fences, where you can see what is going on. The stage is actually a bit hidden for those not familiar with the park, so make sure to check the maps how to get there.


Vondelpark Open Air Theatre, Amsterdam, The Netherlands- photo courtesy of Vondelpark Open Air Theatre

Keti Koti Festival, 1 July

The first of July marks an important day in Dutch history. On this day in 1863 slavery was officially abolished in the former Dutch colonies of Suriname and The Netherlands Antilles. ‘Keti Koti’ – meaning ‘broken chains’ – is a Surinamese term, symbolizing this change. The Keti Koti festival is organized not only to remember this day, but also to celebrate that things have luckily changed and to build bridges between the Surinamese population and the other ethnic groups living in The Netherlands. Expect music, dance and loads of good food. Contrary to previous years this year the festival will be at the Museumplein instead of the Oosterpark, due to the latter being renovated.

Keti koti-festival-Amsterdam

Impression of Keti Koti festival, photo courtesy of Keti Koti festival

Roots Open Air, 5 July

This year is already the 33rd year that the world-music festival Roots is being organized. The festival is divided in an open air part, the Roots Open Air, which is accessible for free, and an indoor part, for which you have to buy tickets. Musicians and bands from all around the world will perform during the festival. Besides that, you’ll come across different food and non-food stalls, where you can buy and taste more of these different cultures.  The open air festival is taking place on Sunday, the 5th of July in Park Frankendael from 2pm until 10pm. The indoors part of the festival is already starting at the 30th of June.

Amsterdam Canal Parade – Gay Pride, 1 August

The Amsterdam Canal Parade is part of the Amsterdam Gay Pride Festival – already starting the week before the parade – and is as much fun for straight as for gay people. On the 1st of August in total 80 colourful decorated boats – one more spectacular than the other – full of happy people, many dressed-up in costumes, will sail through the Prinsengracht, over the Amstel and towards the Oosterdok. We would almost say it is as good as King’s Day, but okay, let’s be honest can pink really beat the royal orange colour? You be the judge while loads of fun will be had.


Canal Parade, Amsterdam

Pluk de Nacht, 5 – 15 August

The Pluk de Nacht (translated as ‘Seize the night’) Open Air Film Festival takes place in that month of the year when we can usually expect some nice summer evenings in Amsterdam. But of course, in The Netherlands you just never know. Every evening as soon as the sun starts setting some short movies will be shown. When the sun is below the horizon, the main movie will start. The movies shown have usually made it to international film festivals, but not (yet) to the Dutch cinemas. Access is free, yet, if you like to sit a bit more comfortable you can rent a beach chair. After the 15th of August the festival will by the way move to two other Dutch cities, namely Arnhem and Utrecht.

Grachtenfestival, 14- 23 August

During the ten-days lasting Grachtenfestival (Canal festival) you will be able to enjoy all kinds of classical music performances at different locations throughout town, with the Prinsengrachtconcert as one of the highlights. Do note that not all performances are free, check the program online to see which ones are and which ones are not.


The Muziekboot Notendop of Reinier Sijpkens, often sailing through Amsterdam’s canals

Sail, 19 -23 August

Sail is said to be one of the largest public events in the world and with some 1.7 million visitors (double Amsterdam’s population!) during its last edition back in 2010, it’s hard to believe there could be any larger event. As the name reveals already, the event is all about boats and not just some boats: you will see modern vessels, navy vessels, replicas of old VOC (Dutch East-India Company) ships and many more. You can enjoy the event from the shore, but you can also try to get on one of the boats hitting the Ij river.


Impression of Sail by Nico Koster.

Uitmarkt, 28 – 30 August

The Uitmarkt is the largest annual festival in The Netherlands and marks the start of the new Dutch cultural season by top performances in the field of music, dance, performing arts and many other art disciplines. Expect about 2,000 performers at 30 different locations throughout town – among which at the Leidseplein and the Museumplein – and a very large crowd of people. Previous editions were reportedly visited by over 500,000 people.

Jordaan Festival, 4 – 6 September

If you’d like to get a taste of typical Amsterdam folk music and see popular Dutch singers perform, make sure to visit the 41st edition of the Jordaan Festival, taking place from 4 to 6 September at the Appeltjesmarkt, right across from the Jordaan. Although the line-up is not known at the moment of writing – and likely unknown abroad – we’re sure the Dutch will introduce and entertain you, singing along with their idols.


So, there’s a large number of events pleasing our eyes and ears, but how about our stomach? Whilst you’ll basically find food stalls everywhere where there is a festival, your chance for a bit nicer bite is at one of Amsterdam’s food festivals:

Food Truck Festival Trek, 17 – 19 July

Durign the Food Truck Festival Trek the Amstelpark in Amsterdam Zuid is being transformed into one open air restaurant. Besides numerous food carts you’ll find a lot of entertainment, like theatre and live music, all around you. Amsterdam is only one of the eight cities the festival will be in, so if you can’t make it to the festival in the Dutch capital, perhaps another city will fit your plans?

Lastly we don’t want to withhold the Pure Markt and the Neighbourhood Foodmarket from you, both markets taking place at different locations one or more times a month throughout the year, and thus also during summertime.

The Pure Markt (pure market) offers its visitors artisan, Dutch and international food in respectively the Amstelpark (every 2nd Sunday of the month from April through October and December), the Beatrixpark (check agenda) or the Frankendael Park (every last Sunday of the month from March through October and December). The Neighbourhood Foodmarket takes place at the Westergasterrain once a month on a Sunday and is the place to be for Amsterdam’s finest food made by artisans from in and around the city.

As you can see, there’s plenty of events in Amsterdam to choose from this summer. Let’s now just keep our fingers crossed for some more sunshine, so we can enjoy them as they’re meant to be enjoyed!


Looking for some indoor events this summer in Amsterdam and around? Have a look at our article covering the must-see exhibitions in The Netherlands this year!



Street Art Corner From Düsseldorf’s Kiefernstrasse

Lydian BrunstingDüsseldorf, Europe, Germany, Street ArtLeave a Comment

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Street Art Corner

From Düsseldorf’s Kiefernstrasse



The ocean, street art in the Kiefernstrasse in Dusseldorf, Germany.

I kind of felt like a kid in a candy store, while walking through the Kiefernstrasse in Düsseldorf, Germany. This was not at all what I anticipated, when I first came across this Kiefernstrasse street name, while googling where to find street art in this German city. Of course, I expected some nice street art around, as the street is known for its creative spirits,  yet the quality, the amount and especially the size of all different works was mind-boggling.

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Street art in Dusseldorf’s Kiefernstrasse


Insects, street art in Dusseldorf, Germany

Düsseldorf is generally known for its thriving contemporary art scene, not only known locally but also internationally and thus, seeing art in public spaces during our visit to the city would be unavoidable, we guessed. Still, the street art we encountered in the Kiefernstrasse exceeded our expectations by far.

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Street art in Dusseldorf’s Kiefernstrasse.


Monkeys, street art in the Kiefernstrasse in Dusseldorf

Although tourists will nowadays visit this street mainly for its street art, the Kiefernstrasse initially became known in the eighties for the squatters occupying the buildings in this street in order to prevent the area being renovated and turned into a commercial district, whereas there was an enormous shortage of housing in the city. While the squatters and the city council were discussing how to legalize the situation, another mid-eighties event brought the Kiefernstrasse to the news.

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Street art in Dusseldorf’s Kiefernstrasse.

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Street art in the Kiefernstrasse in Dusseldorf

This time a number of members of the RAF – the Red Army Faction, a West German far left militant group – were found and arrested here, an event which was followed by more raids and demonstrations. Soon after everything calmed down official tenancy agreements were concluded between the squatters and the city council.


Street art in Dusseldorf, Germany


Street art in Dusseldorf, Germany

When the squatters were supposed to leave the houses in 2008, causing some unrest here and there, the city council decided to prolong the tenancy agreements indefinitely. Currently about 800 people of 45 different nationalities are said to live in the 180 meters long street. The area around it has meanwhile been transformed into a commercial district.

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Street art near AK 47 in Dusseldorf, Germany

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Street art, Dusseldorf’s Kiefernstrasse

Besides the street art you will also find the Kulturbüro Kiefernstrasse and the night club AK47 in this street. AK47 is the club where the cult punk-heroes of the German band ‘Die Toten Hosen‘ broke through in the eighties. To this day the club remains legendary with concerts on every single week.


Crossword, street art at the Kiefernstrasse in Dusseldorf, Germany


Street art in Dusseldorf’s Kiefernstrasse.

The street art in the Kiefernstrasse is especially visible at the unnumbered houses, which have more or less all been fully decorated with street art. And if we mean fully, we really mean from top to toe. Even some of the trailers and cars in the street have been painted and fit to their surroundings perfectly.

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Street art in Dusseldorf’s Kiefernstrasse

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Street art on the roofs of the houses at the Kiefernstrasse in Dusseldorf, Germany

While the area might have been turbulent for years, when we were visiting it felt actually peaceful and calm. The older generation was chatting calmly on the streets, while the kids were playing and using the half-pipe put there especially for them. So if you’re a fan of street art just like us, make sure to make the detour out of the city centre to this area in Flingern-Süd, at the border of the Oberbilk area. Easiest is to take the metro to the Kettwigerstrasse and continue to the Kiefernstrasse from there by foot.


Street art in Dusseldorf, Germany

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Street view of the Kiefernstrasse in Dusseldorf, Germany



This article about street art in Düsseldorf is part of our ‘Street Art Corner’ series during which we showcase street art from around the world. Like to contribute to this series or have to tip where we can find more street art? Just send us a message at wkndr (at) artweekenders (dot) com. We would love to see more street art crossing our paths, either online or in real life.


Like to discover more street art? Have a look at the below articles we’ve previously published: