2015 Must-See Art Exhibitions in The Netherlands

Lydian BrunstingAmsterdam, Art Events, ArtSmart Roundtable, Europe, Exhibitions, The Netherlands2 Comments

Netherlands Exhibitions 2015


2015 Must-See Art Exhibitions In The Netherlands

Click here for 2016 events

It’s the start of a new year with new exciting exhibitions, activities and travels ahead of us. A moment for the members of the ArtSmart Roundtable to share their outlook on 2015 with you. In view of this we have gathered some of the best exhibitions taking place in our home country, The Netherlands, this year. Any exhibitions you would like to add?

The ArtSmart Roundtable is a collaboration between a group of art-focused travel bloggers, writing about a new theme every month. Don’t forget to read the other contributions for this month (links below this article)!

Let’s now have a look at what’s happening in The Netherlands this year:




Van Gogh 2015

This year it has been 125 years ago that the famous Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh passed away. Whereas his work was hardly acknowledged during his life, these days this is very different. The artist is known globally and his work can be admired at many locations  all around the world.


A number of Dutch, French en Belgian museums, institutions and towns decided to honour the artist this year under the theme of ‘125 years of inspiration’. Under the umbrella Van Gogh Europe – of which the Van Gogh Museum, the Kröller-Müller Museum, Van Gogh Brabant and Mons 2015, the European Capital of Culture in 2015, are the basis – different activities will be organized throughout The Netherlands, Belgium, France and England, connecting the locations where Van Gogh worked and lived during his life. Apart from exhibitions, other fun events and activities will be organized throughout all four countries, like for example cycle routes through Van Gogh’s birth province of North Brabant in the southern Netherlands. Soon we will feature an in-depth article about Van Gogh 2015, so make sure to check in later for more details!


Anton Corbijn – HOLLANDS DEEP

Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, The Hague

From 21 March 2015 to 21 June 2015

This year the Dutch photographer, film director and music video director Anton Corbijn is turning sixty. A good occasion to look back at his career the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag in The Hague must have thought. The museum will organise a retrospective, called Hollands Deep, with highlights from all Corbijn’s series starting the 21st of March. The self-taught photographer Anton Corbijn became famous through his photos of rock-artists, musicians and other performers – like Stephen Hawking, Miles Davis, Luciano Pavarotti –  and was the creative brain behind the visuals of Depeche Mode and U2 for years. In more recent years Corbijn focused more on directing movies like Control and The American, and A Most Wanted Man as his most recent production. The exhibition will contain pictures of his different movies too alongside his photography.

The nearby Fotomuseum Den Haag will at the same time organize the photo exhibition 1-2-3-4 with photos Corbijn made of musicians and bands. This exhibition lasts until 16 August 2015 (extended).



The OASIS OF Matisse

Stedelijk, Amsterdam

From 27 March to 16 August 2015

Although some works of the French artist Henri Matisse were already visible in the modern art museum Stedelijk in Amsterdam as part of the permanent collection, this year will be the first time in sixty years that a retrospective of his work will be held, in the museum and, in fact, in The Netherlands in general. The retrospective – called The Oasis of Matisse – will show more works together than we have ever seen before in our country, including some seldom exhibited artworks, sculptures, drawings and of course his colourful paintings, and gives an excellent impression of Matisse his skills.


Matisse at the Stedelijk in Amsterdam.


Art Zuid

Different locations, Amsterdam Zuid

From 22 May to 22 September 2015

This year the biennial International Sculpture Route Art Zuid will be on again in Amsterdam. The longest sculpture route of The Netherlands consists of about sixty art objects placed through Amsterdam Zuid, a neighborhood just outside the city centre. By walking or cycling the route you will not only see the different art objects, but you will also get a chance to discover another area of town. Besides artworks of well-known artists – like in previous editions those of AiWeiWei, Pablo Picasso and Karel Appel – Art Zuid also aims to bring to our attention the urban design of this part of town, which is based upon plans of the Dutch architect Berlage. All in all, an ideal activity for a nice spring or summer day that we’re looking forward to!


Georg Baselitz at ArtZuid 2015, Amsterdam


Keith Haring: The Political Line

Kunsthal, Rotterdam

From 20 September 2015 to 7 February 2016

This autumn the Kunsthal in Rotterdam will present one of the biggest exhibitions ever of the American artist and activist Keith Haring, who passed away some 25 years ago. With his distinctive, yet accessible style the artist created iconic images, which are still influencing people with different cultural background from all around the world. During the exhibition The Political Line the under-explored political themes in Haring’s work are being given more attention, something we’re looking forward to hear more about! The exhibition will contain about 120 of Keith Haring’s artworks.

Keith Haring Kunsthal Rotterdam The Netherlands

Keith Haring



Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam

From 25 September 2015 to 17 January 2016

The works of the Norwegian artist Edvard Munch (1863-1944) and Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890) contain some striking parallels. Besides striving for a more modern style, the artworks of both artists were full of emotions and personal stories. Through a cooperation between the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam and the Munch Museum in Oslo, Norway, these two artists are now for the first time brought together during the exhibition Munch: Van Gogh.  Over hundred art works – among which some works which are rarely lent out to exhibitions for public viewing – will highlight all parallels between the artists.

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The Sower by Van Gogh.

Before coming to Amsterdam the exhibition will first be at the Munch Museum, Oslo from 7 May to 6 September 2015.


Amsterdam Light Festival

Amsterdam City Centre

From 26 November 2015 to 17 January 2016

The fourth edition of the Amsterdam Light Festival is expected to be more international than ever due to many international artists finding their way to the festival these days. The theme of this year’s festival is Friendship, emphasizing the importance of friendship for everyone around the world. The route will contain 35 artworks around this theme and can be seen while joining the boat tour Water Colours or by following the – interactive – walking route Illuminade. It is one of those activities we love to come out for during the colder and darker days of the year. Like to get an idea of what to expect? Here’s a link to our photo post of last year’s edition.


Amsterdam Light Festival

David Bowie Is 

Groninger Museum, Groningen

From 12 December 2015 to 10 April 2016

We’re really excited that the David Bowie Is exhibition finally is coming to The Netherlands by the end of the year, after having visited cities like London, Paris and Berlin, where the exhibition was immensely popular. This is the first international retrospective of David Bowie, who could be described as a pioneer and one of the most influential performers of our times. The exhibition will contain about 300 objects from the ‘David Bowie Archive’ and will include photos, costumes, videos, sketches and other performance material which the artist used during his career in the last fifty years. Not only will you be able to see how David Bowie influenced others with his work, you will also get to see how and by whom he was influenced.


The venue for this exhibition will be the Groninger Museum in Groningen, a city in the north of The Netherlands about 2,5 hours by train from Amsterdam. This museum is generally one we recommend you to visit, especially when you’re interested in modern and contemporary art, although the museum also had classic, historical art exhibitions. The modern building – designed by architects Philippe Starck, Alessandro Mendini and Coop Himmelb(l)au – the museum is housed in awaits you just outside the train station.



The other Art Smart contributions for this month are:

*  The Wanderfull Traveler – 2015 Outlook In Travel & Art

*  Daydream Tourist – Van Gogh 2015

*  This Is My Happiness – The Year Ahead: Art Exhibitions in 2015

*  ArtTrav – Art Exhibitions To See In Florence In 2015


For more about the best shows in Europe: THE BEST EXHIBITIONS IN EUROPE FOR WEEKEND GETAWAYS


Street Art Corner: Touring Ghent with Concrete Canvas

Lydian BrunstingCity, Ghent, Street ArtLeave a Comment

Belgium Ghent Streetart ROA Concrete Canvas

Street Art Corner:

Touring Ghent with Concrete Canvas


Belgium Ghent Streetart ROA Concrete Canvas

Recently we visited the hugely underrated Belgian city Ghent, situated just some three hours by train from Amsterdam, a perfect weekend destination for those who like culture, good food and… street art, as we recently discovered.

Whereas some cities like Berlin and London are known for their vibrant street art scene, so far street art in Ghent hasn’t been particularly well-known internationally, relatively speaking. Discovering that besides the Werregarenstraat – the well-known street art alley in the middle of the centre – Ghent since this year also offers a street art tour came as a very pleasant surprise for us street art fanatics.



The Werregarenstraat, the street art alley of Ghent, Belgium


Werregarenstraat, street art alley, Ghent, Belgium


In the Werrengarenstraat, Ghent’s street art alley.

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Werregarenstraat, Ghent, Belgium.

Street Art in Ghent: 2014_Belgium_Ghent_Street_Art_Werregarenstraat

Lydian in the Werregarenstraat, Ghent, Belgium.

While spotting street art from artists like the locally born ROA to Bue The Warrior and more, the tour – called Concrete Canvas – guides you through the different districts, including a big part of the city centre. The tour is well-designed; it covers street art and cultural highlights in such a way that you don’t have to make the choice between either or. In fact, you’ll see just a bit more than when you would hang out in the city centre only.

Street Art in Ghent: 2014_Belgium_Ghent_Street_Art-Bue-The-Warrior

Rember who you are – streetart by Bue The Warrior & Chase in Ghent, Belgium


Street art in Ghent, Belgium


Street art by Bue The Warrior & Resto in Ghent, Belgium.

Street Art in Ghent: 2014_Belgium_Ghent_Street_Art_A-Squid-Called-Sebastian

Street art by A Squid Called Sebastian in Ghent, Belgium.


When you venture out on the part of the route located a bit outside the city-centre, you will also be able to see the ‘real’ Ghent, the part where the locals live and entertain themselves. There’s for example the nightlife district – mainly popular among the students, but as attractive for partying tourists, and the part where the Turkish immigrants resided after settling in Ghent with start some fifty years ago.

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Street Art in Ghent: 2014_Belgium_Ghent_Street_Art_Ghent

Street art, Ghent, Belgium.


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Street art of locally born ROA, Ghent, Belgium

Street Art in Ghent: 2014_Belgium_Ghent_Street_Art_106_

So far 54 artworks are officially part of the Concrete Canvas tour showcasing street art in Ghent, which you can follow either on foot or by bike. The Concrete Canvas Tour map contains a walking route covering 32 of the works and a cycling route covering all of the works. You can get the map from the different Visit Gent Information centres or here online.

Street Art in Ghent : 2014_Belgium_Ghent_Street_Art_ROA

Street art of ROA in Ghent, Belgium


2014_Belgium_Ghent_Street_Art_52_ Street Art in Ghent: 2014_Belgium_Ghent_Street_Art_42_

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

Street art in Ghent – but not only! Here are our street art articles from around the world:

Like to discover more street art from around the world? Check out our previous Street Art Corner editions:

Amsterdam Light Festival 2014-2015

Art WeekendersAgenda, Amsterdam, Europe, Installation Art, The NetherlandsLeave a Comment

Amsterdam Light Festival 2014-2015-light-sky

Amsterdam Light Festival 2014-2015

The Dutch Capital Illuminated



Amsterdam Light Festival 2014

Yes, also in Amsterdam it’s soon Christmas again, which means the streets are fully decorated with festive Christmas decoration. As soon as it becomes dark the Christmas lights are lit everywhere, giving that cozy Christmasy feeling we’re all so familiar with. Yet, this is not all you’ll find in regards to lights in the city. You’ll also be able to see some enormous light sculptures, installations and projections of different artists lighting up the surroundings around the historic centre of town, from just shortly after sunset until late in the evening.


Amsterdam Light Festival 2014

All these objects are part of the Amsterdam Light Festival, which will illuminate the Dutch capital for the coming month, making the dark days just a bit more cheerful. This year’s edition is already the third one, a welcomed addition to the Amsterdam cultural winter scene.


Amsterdam Light Festival 2014

The actual seed to the idea was sown around Christmas 2009, when Henk Jan Buchel and Vincent Horbach organised a canal parade. The whole idea was to put some light into the already fairytale setting that Amsterdam offers and it was a one-off show that turned out well.

Light Alley-Amsterdam Light Festival 2014.

Light Alley-Amsterdam Light Festival 2014.

The following year Felix Guttmann got involved and his first contribution to the project was to involve yet another Dutchman, Rogier van der Heiden. The internationally famous light designer from Philips Lighting put the Magere Brug bridge, the famous Amsterdam landmark on the Amstel river, in a special light for a couple of weeks. The year after the parade grew and thereby the step to organise an actual festival around light installations was logical. Said and done, the first Amsterdam Light Festival was a reality in 2012.


Amsterdam Light Festival 2014

The main merit of the festival is that it puts some well-needed light into the street-life during the darkest time of the year. The first year the Amsterdam Light Festival was really well received, even to the extent that it got some Oprah-fame.

The theme of the event for this year is “A Bright City”, challenging artists to create a tribute to life in the city. The result is a unique take on the modern city of Amsterdam.

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Amsterdam Light Festival 2014.

These are the three distinct pillars the festival rests upon.

  • The boat route: The Water Colors. Probably the most exciting part of the festival, where you get to experience the whole festival from the water. You can enjoy all the installations, arts on display, the projections. Did we mention that the boats are warm inside? There are several boat companies offering tickets, departing from various locations around town. The boat route will take place from 27 November 2014 to 18 January 2015.
  • The walking route: The Illuminade. The route takes you past part of the light artworks of the Amsterdam Light Festival, including projections on buildings, street installations and even works that require your participation. The Illuminade takes place from December 11th to January 4th, every day from 5 pm until 10 pm. The approximate route takes the urban explorer from the Muziektheater on Waterlooplein to the Scheepvartmuseum via the Plantage neighbourhood.
  • The Light Festival program consists of various activities for and by the people of Amsterdam. They take place on various locations and there can be some hidden gems.

Amsterdam Light Festival 2014.

Light festivals are slowly turning into a global phenomenon. Be it Kobe in Japan, or Eindhoven (remember, Philips is based here), Singapore or Sydney, or why not the Loy Kratong Festival in Chiang Mai, Thailand, festivals dedicated to the celebration of light are becoming a more and more popular initiative. What they all have in common is that their aim is to inspire people, add some beauty into the hassles of the daily life and bring life and something inspiring to the otherwise fairly dull public spaces.


Amsterdam Light Festival 2014

Of course, a light festival also has to show responsibilities, after all energy is not cheap, and sustainability is high on every well-respected city’s agenda. Unlike many other arrangements, like let’s say temporary amusement parks, which are more of a nuisance than enjoyment and drain energy (no, we’re no fans), the Amsterdam Light Festival is using cutting edge technology. Dutch companies – with of course Philips in the frontline – lead the ‘LED revolution’, where innovations and dramatic energy savings are at the very core of the festival.

During the coming month Amsterdam will be illuminated. Since this is our home base, it will of course be a natural step to report back continuously. The pictures presented are of our first visit, but we’ll likely return with some more, especially on our social media channels.

Are you curious and would like to compare this year’s installations from the ones from last year? Here in this photo essay from a year ago you can find pictures of some of last year‘s attractions.

Amsterdam’s Hidden Gem: Ons Lieve Heer Op Solder Church

Pal UjvarosiAmsterdam, ArtSmart Roundtable3 Comments

A Hidden Treasure of Tolerance

In the Heart of Amsterdam’s Red Light District

This article was our contribution to the monthly ArtSmart Roundtable for November 2014, a collaboration between like-minded art-focused travel blogs to write articles on a common theme each first Monday of the month.  This time around we are discussing Hidden Gems.  At the bottom of our article, you’ll find the links to the other stories published this month – don’t miss out!  Here on the Art Weekenders pages we are taking you to a real hidden gem from Amsterdam, a centuries old secret place that even today brings a special meaning to our town: to Amsterdam’s hidden Ons Lieve Heer op Solder church.


You live in a city for many-many years, consider yourself a local expert knowing “everything and a bit” in town and still, occasionally you come across attractions that just makes your imaginary jaw drop. A clear sign if any that you came across a truly hidden gem.

OurLordAtticMuseum (2)


The other night we enjoyed the yearly MuseumNacht here in Amsterdam, a fun and different way of experiencing a good chunk of the city’s museums in a festive setting. While many of the 50,000 visitors cruising around the city opt for the big venues like the Van Gogh Museum and the Anne Frank House, the night is also a great opportunity to discover something new, a chance to discover the unexpected. One of our aims for the night was to visit the second oldest museum in town and see with our own eyes what the secretive rumour we kept hearing really is about. It was time to visit Ons Lieve Heer op Solder church – it was the occasion to venture into the heart of Amsterdam’s infamous Red Light District to visit ‘Our Lord in the Attic’.

Ons Lieve Heer op de Solder church: Our Lord Attic Co De Kruijf


Without doubt, this is a hidden treasure of the city, where the word hidden isn’t only there for the literally emphasis. Amsterdam’s second oldest museum is well tucked away from view and its shear existence is the result of secrets, politics tainted by religion and religious belief tainted by politics. Today the Ons Lieve Heer op Solder church is Amsterdam’s second oldest museum, established already on April 28th 1888 – only the considerably more famous Rijksmuseum is older in the city of Rembrandt. Before that, for the span of a few centuries, this was the most important place for the city’s few remaining Catholics.

What today is a museum used to be a clandestine Roman Catholic Church, well hidden from the view of ordinary citizens, tucked away in one of the city’s typical 17th century canal houses. Like a true monument for Amsterdam and Dutch history in general, this single place can easily be used to symbolise a few centuries of the city’s history.

Ons Lieve Heer op de Solder church: Our Lord Attic Photo Co De Kruijf


Approaching the house today, the museum is located on the 14th century canal Oudezijds Voorburgwal 40, you would be struggling to picture that you are heading towards a sight of century-old religious worship. But this is Amsterdam and on top of it, its “sin district”, so the shop windows here around won’t advertise your usual merchandise, rather services offered by practitioners of the “world’s oldest profession”. Although in general it is safe to say that as a visitor to the Red Light District you don’t need to worry too much about your safety, it is still a shady atmosphere where the modern days’ inebriated “sailors” are cruising the area out on a binge and a “shopping round”, mixed out with curious tourists. Therefore, stepping in from the outside mayhem into the world of Jan Hartman’s Catholic Church hidden on the attic, it is quite a contrast. The metaphor of ‘heaven and hell’ would be close to many people’s mind, we are sure about that.


‘Ons Lieve Heer op Solder’ through Dutch History

The history of the Ons Lieve Heer op Solder church starts in 1661 when the rich local merchant, Jan Hartman, acquired the prestigious property. The new owner of the house immediately restored it, converting the ground floor and the basement into a shop and storage room, a perfect façade for what else there was to come. The building comprises of the main house on the canal and two rear houses, a typical solution in the city where space was fairly limited. On the second floor Hartman installed his reception room, for that time an extravagantly decorated gathering room, today to admire just like in its former glory. But the real reason for the building’s new existence was to be found on the floors above: Hartman, a devout Catholic, built a clandestine house church for the city’s Catholic parish.

The Dutch Reformation hit Amsterdam’s Catholics hard. In the years of the Alteration from 1578 onward, it wasn’t easy being a practitioner of the Catholic faith in the city. The combination of the Reformation sweeping through Europe and the liberation from Catholic Spain as the final outcome of the Eighty Years War, turned the religious tide against Catholicism in the country and it became illegal to practice Catholicism anywhere in public.



Tolerance in the Age(s) of Hardships

While it was forbidden to practice Catholicism in public and the devout were forced to practice in clandestine house churches – “schuilkerken” – the Protestant local authorities knew all along about the existence of Hartman’s hidden church on the attic. As so often in Amsterdam’s history, tolerance was the method of choice and it was easier to turn a blind eye already back then, than to obstruct diversity. This has been a feat that made Amsterdam famous and a heritage the museum even today gladly links back to.

By 1887 times in Amsterdam changed even officially and Catholicism was once again openly allowed. The changes meant that the house church with its 150 seats got replaced by the grand St Nicholas Church a few minutes further away across the city’s Central Station. After the move a group of local Catholics bought the building and in April 1888 opened it as a museum open to the public on weekdays. Today it is the second longest serving museum of the city, after the Rijksmuseum, which has been the city’s pride ever since 1808. The ‘Ons’ Lieve Heer op Solder’ stayed largely out of the limelight, but nonetheless always maintained its role as the symbol for local tolerance.

Even today, the museum proudly draws on its history of tolerance. In these times when the acceptance for the foreign is diminishing, the openness for other cultures weakens around Europe and in the world, this pride remnant from the past continues to be an important reminder for us all. Staying open-minded and accept diversity is a characteristic that we can only draw parallels from through our history that ultimately enriched our lives.

Ons Lieve Heer op de Solder church: Our Lord on the Attic Co DeKruijf


What a Visit is Like

Visiting the museum of the Ons Lieve Heer op Solder church today is truly a time travel experience. Much of the way the place looks like today is the very same look the church had centuries ago. Sitting down in the benches and absorbing the impressions is almost bizarre, especially after entering the place just like any other Amsterdam apartment we who live here are familiar with. Yes, the chandeliers are these days lit with electrical candles, but you barely notice, and it doesn’t take any effort at all to imagine yourself back in time.

The museum doesn’t contain that many rooms: you mainly have the front room, the between room, the hall, the actual church, even a little chapel and the 17th-century kitchen that you pass on your way out. One of the truly strange parts of the building is the confessional room, placed and located in such a way that privacy for the confession of your sins must have been hard to get. But then again, this is the city of tolerance, who could possibly have such sins that they couldn’t be forgiven?


Ons Lieve Heer op Solder church, A Hidden Gem – Practical Information:

Amsterdam’s hidden church ‘Our Lord on the Attic’ is a truly unique experience, the ultimate hidden gem in Amsterdam and there’s no need at all to be the typical fan of churches, we promise. If you’d like to visit the location, it is just a few steps further form the more famous Oude Kerk, the ‘Old Church’, in the heart of the Red Light District. The opening hours are Monday to Saturday 10.00 – 17.00 and Sundays and public holidays 13.00 – 17.00.

While it’s a hidden gem, the museum can’t cope with large numbers of visitors, the building, the décor, furniture and art inside is extremely fragile. In just a decade the museum almost doubled the visitor numbers to the current 90,000 yearly admirers. Thus, act accordingly: don’t touch anything and keep calm.

The entrance fee to the museum is currently 8 Euros, 4 Euros for children. The Dutch Museumkaart is valid for free entrance and so is the I Amsterdam City Pass. You can learn more about the museum on their website here: OpSolder.nl.


Other articles in this month’s ArtSmart Roundtable:

Discovering Contemporary Art in Roswell, New Mexico by Ashley from ‘NOXP’

The Imperial Treasury of Vienna by Christina from ‘Daydream Tourist’

The Life of St Nicholas in Stained Glass at The Cluny, Paris by Murissa from ‘The Wanderfull Traveler’

Away from the Crowds: 6 Lesser-Known Museums by Jenna from ‘This Is My Happiness’

Amsterdam’s Museumnacht: Art Accessible For All

Art WeekendersAgenda, Amsterdam, Europe, The NetherlandsLeave a Comment

Museumnight Amsterdam Museumnacht

Museumnight Amsterdam Museumnacht

It’s that time of the year again, when the spookiness hits the streets of Amsterdam, when the mist should be hanging heavily over the canals, the shades longer than usually and it’s dead quiet on the streets. Spooky Halloween time? Except this year, of course, when instead of mist we have the warmest ever recorded start to November ever recorded in Amsterdam, and forget about quiet streets in our city, it’s instead the usual party atmosphere.

Halloween here in Amsterdam also means Museumnacht time, which in this city means party time! It’s one of those cultural events which got to that caliber that it almost markets itself and the organisers can concentrate on making the experience a great one, instead of trying to convince people to leave their homes and – Halloween spookiness forbid – go to the museum.

This yearly event has been sold out for the past years and this year isn’t any different from the others: the fifty participating museums will be full, there’s no doubt about it. There will be people biking from one spot to the other, mixing some art admiring with drinks and a little dance (that is, dance to DJs, not just a spontaneous little jiggie on the street). Thus, while we don’t have to convince people to go, we’d like to give our view on where to go, with the aim to fill the six-seven hours at hand (and beyond, if you go to any of the after-parties) with the best experience.

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Fine tunes in front of the Nightwatch, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Museumnacht these days is a global movement. It has its origins in Berlin, where a then recently reunited German capital opened its doors for the first time in 1997. ‘Lange Nacht der Museum’ – normally held in late August – just took off from there and the phenomenon started spreading around Europe and also outside the continent, to Buenos Aires and even to the Philippines.

In Amsterdam museum night is a huge hit, and has been so in the more than fifteen years of its existence. Alongside the permanent collections and usual current exhibitions, all participating museums put some effort into surprising the visitors, with interactive workshops and special performances in an upbeat and inspiring environment. It’s really a party-vibe. Some of the museums also offer food and drinks, often in harmony with their chosen theme.

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Unexpected surprises in the middle of the streets. Museumnacht 2013, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

The motto of Museumnacht is to connect a young audience with the Amsterdam museums and especially to make museums accessible for everyone. In line with this the sensory impaired audience will be able to fully enjoy Museumnacht with tours in sign language and those with limited visibility can join specific tour guides guiding them through the museums.

Some other hightlights of this year’s Museumnacht are:

Nachtbrakers hacking the Rijksmuseum and opening of the Philips Wing

The Nachtbrakers, the online platform of N8, have ‘hacked’ the audio-tour of the Rijksmuseum for the night and show that an audio-tour can be very different from the traditional one. The historical library of the museum will play a central role in the short fiction story that will be on your audio-tour.  Make sure to check out this space, especially since it will be lit in a special way.

In addition the new Philips Wing will be opened in the Rijksmuseum on the 1st of November and thus, also accessible for the Museumnacht audience.


Opening Museumnacht in the Oude Kerk by Jett Rebel

Jett Rebel will open the Museumnacht in the Oude Kerk, the church in the middle of the Red Light District. During his solo-performance Jett Rebel will be playing some of the songs of his debut album live for the very first time. Plus he will also be using the organs of the church during his concert.

Street art exhibition in the Amsterdam Museum

Together with streetart.nl N8 organises a street art exhibition, lectures and a tour with internationally known street artists in the Amsterdam Museum. Street artists Hugo Kaagman, Laser 3.14, C215, Faile and Max Zorn all cooperated on the project and made new works specifically for Museumnacht.


The night ends with after-parties in the clubs around the city. This year’s official after-party is at ‘Club NYX’, but there are many more after-parties throughout town.

Museumnacht is organized by N8, the Amsterdam Museum Night Foundation. The N8-team is active all year round connecting the Amsterdam youth to the world of the museums.


The Rijksmuseum at night, Museumnacht 2013, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Last, but not least here are some tips for those who have secured their ticket already:

* Download the Museumnacht app including the whole program and check out the Druktemeter which informs you about the waiting time for the lines.

* Follow one or more of the different routes N8 has on their website. Each route has its own theme, from Do It Yourself to Mind Body Soul to Icons, you name it. There are 10 different routes.

* Go to the museums which you expect to be less popular and really surprise yourself!

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Special animation effects at the Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Museumnacht 2013.


Museumnacht Amsterdam is on this coming Saturday and is already sold-out. The 2014 tickets (cost €18.50) include entry to all approximately 50 participating museums, free transportation on special trams and boats and discounted entry to the after-parties at one of the collaborating Amsterdam clubs. If you would like more culture later on, your ticket is valid until the end of the year at one of the participating Amsterdam museums (excluding Artis. Heesterveld en Rijksakademie). Museumkaart and other discount cards are not valid this night.


Happy Anniversary: Looking Back at Our First Year with Art Weekenders

Pal UjvarosiPersonalLeave a Comment

Happy Anniversary: The First Year with Art Weekenders


And One Year Later


It’s anniversary time: we are one year old this week. Still young with the future ahead of us, of course, but still, a year is a year. Quite some time. To celebrate it, we thought we share some personal reflections about the experiences we had, something we aren’t doing so often on these pages, mainly because in general we think Art Weekenders is not meant to be about us, but about the topics we are here to cover.

At the end of October a year ago we opened up the Art Weekenders blog to the world. Well, as things go in the life of a website, the world is fairly limited there in the beginning of an online existence and gaining momentum takes time. That doesn’t mean that we lacked in enthusiasm and big ideas, we prepared for our launch for a while and wanted to show ourselves that yes, we can pull it off. We knew from the beginning that starting up a site is not the shortest road to fame and success, or – hmm – to riches, but sometimes you get going with projects because a little voice inside you keeps whispering that you have to. So then you do it.

It’s been an eventful year, without a doubt, and with plenty of challenges. We think it’s fair to say that a year ago both of us had the vague illusion that it would be easier to kick the project off, but reality is usually there to challenge you just a little bit extra. With that said, it was a year with many rewards, there is something funnily fulfilling about having a website – and yes, plenty of extremely frustrating things surrounding it as well ;-). We think it’s fair to say we were quite naïve in many ways (let’s call it optimistic) but it’s just like that, if you’re not, you would never start with any kind of project worthy your efforts, so we don’t complain. If we would only focus in on the work put into managing, creating, developing a project like this, it’s honestly the hardest work we’ve ever done, hands down, with the faintest compensation if we look at the hourly rate. But life is just not only about money (or so we thought…).


Ten things We’ve Learned

If we first zoom in on the learning experiences we had, it’s fair to say that we didn’t get less wise over the past twelve months. The big rewards from this year are without any doubt the lessons learned, a mixed bag of positive experiences in form of new knowledge and some setbacks that teach you lessons in a different way. Yes, the hard way. The balance we had is that nice blend of mixed emotions – and here below we put our heads together to categorise the main ones.


Couple with their heads in the clouds, by Dali – collection Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam.

1. Managing a website / blogging is hard work.

We made our first attempts in the online publishing world with our first blogs while travelling across South America, an eye-opening experience and we got hooked. We learned to enjoy the opportunities it offers and the challenges involved. Now when we decided to go one step further and build a “grown-up” website, we quickly learned even more what a hard work that really is. But Art Weekenders was born and we were – and are – dedicated to it.

Just thinking about it that only ten years ago publishing your own work independently wasn’t even possible it’s even more mind-boggling what an impact the digital age has on the world. The bloggers, online entrepreneurs, who made it “big” in the past decade – and there are a few – didn’t get there without hard work, that’s a certainty. Still, it’s very fascinating to know that you yourself can from pretty much nothing create your website, build a business around it, solely with your own effort; it’s a tickling thought. But also the pitfall; while it seems reachable, it’s many-many hours of hard work that needs to be put into it before you even start feeling you get anywhere. We know now from first-hand experience and from knowing others in our virtual circles who work tremendously hard for their “babies”.


2. The creative process is a lonely process.

Exactly for the reasons mentioned above, having a website you soon realise that without putting time and effort into it you won’t get anywhere. Most of that time you will spend on your own, people around you will likely consider you a bit crazy and there’s little support you should count on. At the same time, it’s also a process where you expose yourself and your personality, your work, to the world to kind of scrutinise you – if you are lucky enough to have someone pay attention to you in the beginning even! Simply put:  It’s you against the world.


The Dali House in Portlligat, Spain.

Our respect for artists, writers, performers, for anyone involved in a creative process increased enormously. It’s often about talent, but it’s just as much about hard work. Creating content of value is many-many hours of work: research, writing, editing, design, you name it. So everyone out there working on projects created from the heart – we’re there with you, you have our full respect.


3. The digital world is still in its infancy – and it’s a jungle.

It would be very easy to say that the digital world is there for everyone and that it’s easy to use. Sure, there are plenty of tools and it’s all there for everyone to try, but – it’s a jungle. Being active online and trying to figure out things is often like landing in an overcrowded sea with hungry sharks, for you to figure out how to tackle them. Sink or swim. We learned a lot and it’s knowledge we take with us to any kind of field where we’ll be involved in the future, in the technological age.

Still. There’s so much happening in the digital world that it’s impossible to be on top of all the changes and prioritise right. Even less is it realistic to think that you can understand what works and especially why. There are many entrepreneurs out there and a lot of software and methods to try out, advice to listen to. Most crucially then, there you are in the hands of the big giants, like Google or Facebook, who honestly don’t always seem to know what happens either (just try to make sense of the wild west of SEO rules or page ranking, or Facebook reach – good luck to you all). That they are still offering a service which is far from optimised or transparent, that’s for sure – but it’s also true that it offers plenty of opportunities as well, it’s just to figure out the balance in your expectations.


The Hub by Rob Sweere in the Kroller Muller Museum, The Netherlands.

WordPress as a platform is wonderful and a lot of improvements keep happening, but still so much of it is manual that it’s mind-boggling. To conclude, if, let’s say, the car or food industries would offer similar quality as the digital world, we’d be pretty hurt by now. Shall we bet that a lot will happen in just five, ten years from now?


4. Social media is here to stay for us to love – and to hate.

Having a website and not being part of the social media world is just not even a thinkable option. Social media is the ‘evil twin’ of content creation and the best bet to reach out to the world. How it was even done before is hard to even picture these days. So the past year we spent a lot of time on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+ and all the other platforms we looked into, tried to figure out, cursed and got something out of. Figuring out what works, how things work, why and why not (good luck with that) is an eternal quest. And a secret pleasure?


Detail of the entrance to Yourtopia – Rotterdam, NL

The funny side of it is that you actually get to know total strangers you never met and only know by a profile picture and their virtual personality through what they share and how they interact. Some are more savvy than others, sure, but you also realise the world out there is this strange, wonderful mess that gives a lot while sometimes frustrates the bats out of you. But you need breaks from it – that’s a given.


5. The importance of social circles online.

Online, just like in life in general, you quickly learn that walking the walk on your own will be tough. Without supporters, partners, collaborators and especially regular readers, you’ll have a hard time. Without the contacts we made online, we’d be struggling, so a big thank-you to everyone who learned to know us during the year. Here we’d like to mention especially the Art Smart group (hi Jenna, Lesley, Ashley, Murissa, Alexandra, Christina, Jeff, Erin), Thalia from Urban Travel Europe, Lizzie from WanderArti and many more quietly being there for us – thank you!


6. It’s a road to travel on your own (and with the help of some supporters).

A new project often requires challenges and especially in the beginning it’s going to be hard to know if you are doing the right thing or not. It takes time to find your “voice” and while you keep on searching you might look for confirmations for knowing if you do the right things – or not. The best advice is: don’t look.


Snail along the Daugava by night – Riga, Latvia

People are busy and even if you’d like to think so, your project is not that important for them. Of course, you will have your loyal supporters, hopefully: friends, family, and more often, total strangers (just see above). Thank them for the support you get, while they might not even understand how much it can mean to you. And the ones who don’t have time for you, it’s fine as well, you can’t expect everyone to understand, to love, like or sympathise with your ideas and that’s just how life is. But the support we got in form of encouraging words, a comment, a simple Facebook-like was always extremely appreciated. Heck – it still is every single time! So thank you :-).


7. Make a plan, (try to) stick to it, evaluate – and keep on revising it.

When we started we had a pretty clear plan about what we wanted to achieve and how. Of course, eventually you lose track if you’re not careful – and that’s what happened to us as well. If we look back now and think about what we thought then, a year ago, compared to what we’ve done, the gap is tremendous. We wish we would be way-way further than where we are now, but given we did all on our own, it’s not surprising either.

We made the mistake of losing the focus along the road, and also focusing on the wrong things here and there. Focusing on too many things as well. We’re sure there were reasons for this, but we still wish we would’ve been a bit smarter around how we executed our plan. So an advice for the world out there: make a plan, spend time on it, understand it, be realistic and keep evaluating and changing. And never forget why you do what you do.


Berlin street art workshop result


8. You will lose face, you will make mistakes – but it’s ok.

Being active online you beg to be in people’s eyes. What you do will be seen by others and not everyone will understand. There will be other hick ups as well clearly exposed for the world to see: you present a plan publicly and others can see what is happening and you just don’t end up delivering. But at the end you know what? It’s ok. If you’re convinced enough about what you want to do and you get some confirmation that it’s not a total waste, just keep on doing it, make mistakes, and learn from them, do things better the next time, while always doing your best and stay honest to yourself and others.

At the end, that’s all you can ask from yourself.


9. Online entrepreneurship is not a “4-Hour Work-week” leading to riches.

When we started speculating and dreaming of this great idea of online entrepreneurship, we were well aware of Tim Ferris’s 4-Hour Workweek bestseller.  No, we were not that naive to think that by starting Art Weekenders we’d be rich by only working now and then from the beach and the money would tick in to our PayPal account (because that’s what online entrepreneurs tend to use mostly) while we swing around in our hammocks. Although we were not under the illusion of this utopia, we kind of been influenced by the essence of the message, as long as you have some nice ideas and you work hard eventually you will get there… Well, maybe, but maybe not. It’s not easy although there are plenty of possibilities if you just find the right bolts to tighten and loosen. All along you will need to be smart – and just forget quick success.


Sunset in Cartagena, Colombia

We occasionally de-prioritised all other work, and thereby money, to be able to build the ideas around Art Weekenders. Well, maybe not the smartest of our approaches. If you want to be serious about your business, website or blog it’s great, but before you have a proven success and you’re on the trail of an attractive solution, it’s just much better to rely on some steady money on the side. Yes, you can take our word for it. We’re more realistic now and balance things out by working on our other freelance projects, within our “old-school careers”, but it’s easy to be carried away and do what you really want to do instead of doing what you possibly should. Or shouldn’t you…?


10. Art is (still) misunderstood. Time to Change it!

Art Weekenders is somewhere at the intersection where art and travel meet, and we think it’s one of the great crossroads in life to be at. However, we still notice sometimes that art is occasionally misunderstood, or art sometimes makes itself easily misunderstood by being pretentious or elitist. We definitely think there’s a strong movement away from it, especially in cities like our Amsterdam, but art is still often looked upon as something for the “elite”.


Museum (with Van Gogh and Johan Cruyff) by Uriginal – Street Art Museum Amsterdam.

We think this is not how art should be looked at though. We think art should be something approachable and a bridge-builder, and actually it often is without people realising this. There are few forums that are that good at explaining or confusing our world, and thereby giving us the opportunity to look at it with new eyes. We would never consider ourselves as art experts, we are enthusiasts who learn more and more about it and we are people who think that art often triggers something inside us that otherwise would be missed. Art should be entertainment and for involvement – and that’s exactly what our goal with Art Weekenders has been – and will remain. Art to be approachable and not to intimidate.


What Will Happen Now?

So that’s a little summary of the main things we’ve learned and experienced. It’s been a challenging year in many ways, but we also think that it helped us in growing. Now the question is: the new knowledge we have, how are we going to apply it? Is it lessons learned just to be forgotten, or can we do something productive with it? On the personal level we definitely have new experiences, which wouldn’t have been possible to achieve if we chose to stick to our old lives, within the safety of our careers we worked and studied hard for earlier. It was basically a year for pushing our boundaries, disregarding the comfort zone. For good and for bad.

When it comes to what we are here “producing” for – Art Weekenders – we definitely feel that we have built a foundation we are proud of, something we worked hard for and that we believe we can build further upon. And we will.


La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona.

Art Weekenders remains our baby for the future, our side project that we care very much about and want to constantly make better. We work on the side, of course – so here’s some promotion for our “other lives”: Do you need good advice from a trademark lawyer? Contact Lydian! Do you need a financial consultant to sort out your company’s management accounting and reporting? Get in touch with Pal. We’re good (borderline fantastic really haha), committed and we put a lot of pride into what we are delivering.

But back to Art Weekenders: the plan is to implement quite many changes. To start with, we feel we need to freshen up the design and structure of the website, so we are working on that now, soon you’ll see us in our new “outfit”. We will focus in more and more on the concept of what an ‘Art Weekend‘ really means – it feels like we sort of drifted away from that original idea a bit and we want to get back to it. We will also keep an eye on new artists we like and create a space for them on our pages. We are planning on extending our partnership ideas too, we think it’s important to create networks of similar-minded bloggers, artists or businesses and grow together. Interested? Get in touch. And there’s much more to come…


Our First Year – summarised

But before turn pages, we can have a final look back at this first year. We know that not every article we put up has necessarily been interesting for everyone, or maybe good even, we know that certain projects we took upon us we had to scrap (where are our exhibition agendas, you might wonder?), but we know that we did it because we thought that there was a potential value in it for someone.

We had some great collaborations, we started a year ago with covering the Affordable Art Fair here in Amsterdam (on the agenda this week again, starting on Thursday the 30th October). We discovered new artists – Vincent Serritella’s ‘Project 365’ through Kickstarter, as recently as last week we had an interview with Urszula Korwin Kochanowska about her clouds – coverages we’d like to do more of, both because we like it and also since we know how important it is for artists to get some publicity and to gain recognition for the hard work they invest into creating.

We’ve been in the middle of legal cases (Lydian is a lawyer after all, hehe), following the Red Ball around through the world and a copyright infringement case. We followed great events, like the Amsterdam MuseumNacht and the Rotterdam Architecture Biennale. We’ve been rubbing shoulders with celebrities, big and small. Yup, it’s true. When the Rijksmuseum had a revolutionary new way of presenting its collection via the concept of ‘Art Is Therapy’, the man behind the idea, the philosopher Alain de Botton was here and we were part of the discussions and the press showing of the exhibition ‘Art As Therapy‘. He was pretty ok. We also met many other “creators”, who opened our eye for big and small things, like the Dutch architect Winy Maas for the Markthal in Rotterdam, or the photographer David Mosse‘s mesmerising project at Foam Amsterdam, entitled ‘The Enclave‘. Press openings like the before mentioned ones are great fun and often eye-openers: a possibility to see art as a tool to understand our society better.


We’ve also been travelling with Art Weekenders quite a bit during the year. Our trip highlight was our trip to Riga as the guests of the European Capital of Culture year, a great experience in a great city, connected with a trip to the Rothko Centre in Daugavpils.  Just very recently we’ve been away to Italy for another “professional highlight” for our Art Weekender-year, as guests for the organisation ‘TBDI – Travel Blogger Destination Italy‘, as part of the largest Italian travel fair, TGG, held every year in Rimini. We were there as one of the top travel bloggers, an honour and a networking opportunity we were very happy for. Thus, count on some Italy-coverage in the near future on our pages.


What People Read

Over the course of the year we published close to 200 articles and some of them were left behind as drafts, or never even made it that far. Some of the stories got nice exposure, others just disappeared in the Internet-noise, we’d say maybe some deservedly, others maybe not. Our stats kept on showing a nice growth for most of the year, except during the summer, when we kind of had to take a break and reflect over where we are actually standing – but now we are once again fully up to speed and the daily visits are looking better than before. During the year some of our articles fared better than others, in some cases we think it’s logical, in others it’s more of a surprise. Here below are the five most popular ones.

Botero’s Voluminous Sculptures Around the World

Tying back to our adventures through South America, one of our stories as part of the monthly Art Smart Roundtable was covering Botero’s voluminous sculptures with Medellin, Colombia, as the starting point. The article was immediately well-received and later on it was also picked up well in Google’s search results. Thanks to these two factors, it’s the article that ended up being our most read – and looked at, since it’s packed with pictures – article during the year.


Plaza Botero, Medellin, Colombia.

Naoshima, Japan’s Contemporary Art Island

The story here is very similar to the Botero-one above. Also this article was the result of the monthly ArtSmart round of articles, linking back to Lydian’s travels in Japan and this special island focused totally on art. Google likes it too, it keeps giving us a nice amount of search traffic.

Riga First Impressions, A European Cultural Capital Here To Impress

As a result of our trip to Riga, we started off our reporting when we got back with this article, which thanks to nice exposure on social media thanks to the Riga Tourism Board immediately generated a lot of visits.


Riga Nativity of Christ Cathedral in the Esplanade park – RIga, Latvia

Stockholm Fun And Quirky Facts

For this article we have no good explanation really. It was meant as one of the filler articles, we never even promoted it, but Google somehow keeps on directing readers to it. Fair or not, that’s how it is and it keeps resulting in more and more page views from search results. Beats us, but hey, we are not complaining.

Rotterdam’s Markhal: Holland’s Largest Indoor Food Market

We already mentioned Rotterdam and the Architecture Biennale above and our experience in the company of the architect Winy Maas. It was a great experience and we are very happy to see that it was well received and keeps being so. Just recently the Markthal officially opened and it’s already a big hit – a visit we can highly recommend.

2014-Netherlands-Rotterdam-IABR-Markthal (13)

Inside the Markthal, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

And Finally. Thank you.

If you are one of the people who has been around during this year and followed us and you’re still here reading this: thank you! As we hinted above, without the support we got it would be tremendously more difficult to reach any of it. So thank you like a million times. If you are by any chance a new reader who happened to stumble upon us via this “open letter to the world”, we hope we can see you back again; there’s not much we ask for, just pop in once in a while and check out what we do and hopefully let yourself be inspired, or comment and share our stories if you are so inclined, we definitely appreciate it.

For the rest? Here’s to the future.

Lydian & Pal

The Art Weekenders

The Global Affordable Art Fair Sensation

Pal UjvarosiArt Fairs, Contemporary Art2 Comments

Affordable Art Fair Amsterdam

The Global Affordable Art Fair Sensation

If you compared it to other sectors the commercial art world was backwards, I used to go around art fairs in London in my twenties and I felt I wasn’t being catered for. There I was, with no formal art training but the desire to buy art, and no one was on hand to help me learn more.

This quote is coming from an interview the online publication ‘London Loves Businessmade with the founder of the Affordable Art Fair, Will Ramsay, back in 2011.

This sentiment is shared by millions of other likeminded individuals around the world, the big difference is that the rest of us didn’t see this as an opportunity to revolutionise the art world. Will Ramsay did.

Today the Affordable AAffordable Art Fairrt Fair (AAF) is a global brand, in fact a famous and “cool” such, having a spot among the biggest brands of the UK, according to Coolbrands, alongside the likes of Apple, Mercedes-Benz and Lavazza. Not a shabby achievement in just over a decade really.

Today the term affordable is symbolic for our times. In the current financial climate, like it or not, it turned into the buzzword that the world has to focus on. Therefore, you would easily think that it all started with that in mind, but in fact, AAF is from a different era, some more glorious, money-rich times.

The idea all started back in 1996 when Will Ramsay opened his Art Warehouse in southwest London, seeing the opportunity and the link between an increased interest in contemporary art and the galleries. From the beginning the strategy was clear: offer works for a maximum price of £2,500 from relatively unknown artists. The reception was great and as a direct result of the success, some three years later, in October 1999, the first ever Affordable Art Fair in Battersea, London, was a reality.

Some ten thousand visitors and two years later the second event was held, followed by a new location in Bristol and soon after the international expansion started. First stop outside the UK was New York (2002) and from there it carried on with the first mainland European launch in Amsterdam (2007). Today the Affordable Art Fair is a global phenomenon, present in cities including New York, Amsterdam, Brussels, Milan, Singapore, Hamburg, Mexico City, Seattle, Stockholm, Hong Kong and Maastricht.

The key to success has been, of course, the popularity of the event, measured in attendance and figures. Over the years more than one million people have visited the fairs and art for a value of over €200 million have been exchanging hands. But maybe the most fascinating achievement of the concept has been the revolution it brought with it.

As the initial quote indicates, art twenty years ago was considered something elitist, reserved for a few. While it’s still true that the most famous works are, of course, unachievable except for a selected few, the major part of the artworks globally being sold are in a way more accessible price range. Will Ramsay and his Affordable Art Fairs have been fighting against the conventions and brought art to the masses.

Today there is a price ceiling of £4,000 (UK), €5,000 (Europe) and $10,000 (US/Asia), and thereby the fair aims to appeal to and make art accessible for all. To narrow the gap further, there is also a section of the fair dedicated to pieces of art just for around a couple of hundred Euros.

In the same interview we refer to above, Ramsay draws some parallels to the world of wine: in a not all too distant past, the wine industry was still something intimidating, reserved for the “connoisseurs”. With a new approach to wine labelling, marketing and retailing the barriers have been removed and the industry is not the stiff old men’s club it used to be. After the wine revolution, AAF has brought something similar to the art world. Times are changing.

By browsing through the AAF website, we came across this quote by an artist, William Morris:

I do not want Art for a few any more than I want education for a few, or freedom for a few.

We couldn’t agree more.

Affordable Art Fair Amsterdam 2013

Impression Affordable Art Fair Amsterdam 2013

The Affordable Art Fair Amsterdam 2014 opens on Thursday October 30th, 2014, for the general public in the Kromhouthal in Amsterdam Noord. Admission at the door is €13 (advance purchase online is €10).

Other Affordable Art Fairs during 2014 and 2015 are as follows:


Brussels 7 – 9 February
Milan 7 – 9 March
London, Battersea 13 – 16 March
Hong Kong 20 – 23 March
Maastricht 3 – 6 April
New York 3 – 6 April
Singapore 22 – 25 May
London, Hampstead 12 – 15 June
Bristol 19 – 21 September
New York 26 – 29 September
Stockholm 2 – 5 October
Mexico City 17 – 19 October
London, Battersea 23 – 26 October
Amsterdam 30 – 2 November
Hamburg 13 – 16 November
Singapore 20 – 23 November


Brussels 6 – 9 February
London, Battersea 12 – 15 March
Milan 19 – 22 March
New York 26 – 29 March
Maastricht 16 – 19 April
Love Art, Toronto 16 – 19 April
Singapore 17 – 19 April
Hong Kong 22 – 24 May
Hampstead 11 – 14 June
Bristol TBC
New York TBC
Stockholm TBC
Mexico City TBC
London, Battersea TBC
Amsterdam TBC
Hamburg TBC
Singapore TBC



The Clouds of Urszula Korwin Kochanowska

Art WeekendersArtistsLeave a Comment

Urszula Korwin Kochanowska

The Clouds of Urszula Korwin Kochanowska

 – Artist in Focus –

Once in a while we come across some artworks that just stick in our minds, which make us go back for another look several times. It can be just because they make us smile through their beauty, or their simplicity, or thanks to the colours or the themes. This was also the case with the art of Urszula Korwin-Kochanowska, the young Polish-born artist, who we got to known via our Facebook page.


For her project My Cloud Art Urszula paints people in daily-life situations, more often than not surrounded by clouds, but always depicted in Urszula’s refined, colourful style.

Through her images we became more curious of her art, her inspiration and moreover after Urszula Korwin Kochanowska, the artist herself. That’s where we decided to interview her as part of our new series, Artist in Focus. As a result thereof, first out in the series, below the interview we recently had with the creator of My Cloud Art, a project we believe you’ll enjoy getting closer acquainted to.


Art Weekenders: Can you tell us more about your background and education?

Urszula-Korwin-Kochanowska-My-Cloud-ArtUrszula Korwin Kochanowska: I was born in Poland in 1984. As far as I can remember I spent every spare moment drawing, painting, making all kinds of things with clay or building little men with chestnuts. And I always knew that I wanted to be an artist. After high school I decided to go abroad and look for new inspirations, opportunities and challenges. That’s how I ended up in the big city of London.

There I graduated from the faculty of Design for Performance at the Central St. Martin’s College of Art and Design in 2008.
 The experience I gained there was priceless! During my internships at the department of stage design and the model room of The Royal Opera House in Covent Garden I was working on many great and cool projects. In the meantime I was fortunate enough to complete an internship at the world-famous Atelier Pietro Longhi in Venice, where I worked on the creation of historical costumes for the opera and the Venice Carnival.

Urszula-Korwin-Kochanowska-My-Cloud-Art9But life is full of surprises and unexpected situations and I became kind of a “victim” of it. Why? Because my first artistic project after graduation was a feature film. I got an offer from Poland to be a production designer and I decided to accept this challenge. I worked for Jan Jakub Kolski, the well-known polish director and winner of many prestigious awards. The result was apparently pretty good, since the movie “To Kill a Beaver” was awarded at the 47th International Film Festival in Karlovy Vary. Afterwards I became a part of the team of the renowned Polish production designer Joanna Macha. We did a couple of movie projects together, such as “Drogówka” (2013) and “Jack Strong”. In 2013 and 2014 I created the set design for the Teatr Kamienica in Warsaw.


I fulfill my passion as a freelancer in different areas of art, such as paintings, drawings, graphics and storyboards. I still create scenery design for various projects, films and theatre performances.
 Even though work for film and theatre is cool and a great adventure I remain faithful to what I love most – painting and drawing and I am trying to doodle all the time.
 When I find a spare moment, I make for example an earthen bowl, or grab a needle and saw myself a new bag.


AW: What are the techniques and materials you use?

UKK: What I love the most is to paint on natural linen canvas using acrylic paint. This is important to me because I love all what is natural and simple. I like to play with the simplicity of this material and I’m making it consciously part of the story I paint. Maybe this is a reflection of my admiration for the paintings of the impressionists, especially for Toulouse-Lautrec.


AW: When we discovered your work through Facebook we kept returning to it since we feel it has such positive, happy vibes. Is this the feeling you want to bring across with your work, or do you perhaps have a very different emotion that you like to trigger? 

UKK: The world around us is full enough of pain, war and suffering and what you just pointed out is exactly what I am trying to accomplish with my paintings. I hope that everyone who takes a look at my paintings will find the child in him/herself and will smile seeing the clouds – both on the painting and in the sky.


AW: You have a very clear and personal style. How would you describe it? 

UKK: Whatever you mean I want to say: Thank you! It’s nice to hear that my style is clear. Someone said: “Beautiful things don’t ask for attention” and I think this is the best definition and explanation of my style. I love and believe in the beauty of simplicity. You don’t need a million lines to draw a figure. I drew a lot all of these years and it learned me to point out most important details and make a figure with one line instead of many.

Simplicity, that’s the key, the way and the goal at the same time. And it is all coming from the inside, but if you need to put some kind of sticker on it and name it, feel free.


AW: Likewise the themes in your work are very similar, like the people on bicycles or the clouds around them. Can you tell a bit more about the themes in your art works? And how about the My Cloud Art project/name, where does it come from?


UKK: As every artist I have my head in the clouds and I love the clouds! 

They are so cute, so soft, so nice, so friendly, so unreachable, so unpredictable.

They are so far and so close at the same time.
 How not to love them? As they are always around me, so are they on my paintings.

The themes? No big theory… When I’m going to the park, to the shopping center or wherever, I am watching the people’s life around me and later I put that on canvas… Many of the ideas for my paintings were very spontaneous and so was the My Cloud Art project. I think you will see now that the name for it was obvious.

AW: Where can our readers find your work apart from online? Are you perhaps exhibiting your work somewhere? And can our readers buy your works somewhere? 

UKK: At the beginning I put up my work on various auctions in Poland. 
I participated in a number of exhibitions so far, namely
”Print & Drawings” at The Toads Mouth Too Cafe in London (2009-2010),
„Mama, Ulka i Ja” at the Gallery in Andrzejów, Łódź, with ceramic, paintings and graphics (2012); “Pierwszy niezależny salon młodych twórców” at the Gallery Wytwórnia, Łódź (2014) and “Pierwszy niezależny salon młodych twórców” at the Muzeum Miasta Łodzi, Łódź (2014).

Right now I’m working on some new projects and exhibitions, but you can still find my works (and buy them) on Free Arts On Sale.


You can also contact me directly by sending me an e-mail at mycloud.art@gmail.com

AW: We all know the life of an artist can be difficult financially, especially when just starting. Is this something you do full-time, or do you have other jobs next to this? If so, are they art-related? 

UKK: As you have already noticed I am not that lucky to live out of my paintings only yet and I do other things as well. Some of them are art-related, others not really. One of my latest projects is the design and paint interior of a café. Art-related or not?


AW: Do you have a goal with your art?

UKK: My goal with art is to bring smiles to people’s faces. I want to bring a joy to all who will see my art. But if creating art allows me to make a living, or what you called to be a full- time artist I won’t complain.


AW: Selling art online is becoming more and more popular. What do you think of that as an artist? Would you do it yourself, or have someone else do this for you?

UKK: I don’t like it at all! Nothing can replace the real-life experience and physical encounter with an original piece of art!
 But isn’t it a mark of our times? What can we do? Somehow we are all pushed to participate in this artificial virtual world. Of course, there are also benefits of the global village. One of them is that we are now talking to each other doing this interview…


The online world is also a great way and opportunity to promote art and artists around the world and make art even more global and for the common benefit and goodness.
 I’m blessed to have someone who takes care of this part. Thank to my “marchand”, so I can focus on my clouds.

AW: Is there something else you would like to share with us/our readers?

Urszula-Korwin-Kochanowska-My-Cloud-ArtUKK: On this occasion, I would like to thank you for your interest in my art and me as a person, and also for giving me the opportunity to introduce and present myself to your readers and other art lovers.
 To all who read this I want to say: don’t forget that you are the most special, unique and beautiful piece of art created by the greatest artist!


When you look up on the cloud, think of me and just smile!

Update: Ursula now also sells her work on Etsy.com, click here to see her online shop.

The ‘Artist in Focus’ Project on Art Weekenders

As a new initiative on the website, we’d like to give artists we discover a window of opportunity to present themselves while we also get the chance to get to know them a bit better. It regularly happened in the past that we came across some artworks we really liked, often by artists we never heard of, making us curious about the person behind the hard work put into creating the pieces in question. With this project we’d like to create a place where we can highlight someone special, someone creating something beautiful, inspiring and/or thought-provoking.

Are you an artist yourself or do you know someone who you think would deserve getting  the attention of an extended audience? Get in touch. Of course, time and space are limited, so it won’t be possible to feature all projects. Also, since art is something very personal and Art Weekenders is an equally personal project of ours, it will always be important that we feel that the match is right.

Rothko’s Colours: His Spiritual Performers

Pal UjvarosiArtSmart Roundtable, Contemporary Art, Mark Rothko, Modern Art2 Comments

Rothko Purple and Brown

Rothko’s Colours – His Spiritual Performers

Each month there is an opportunity to discover a new topic or new events via the ArtSmart Roundtable, a series of articles by a group of art interested travel bloggers. This month the theme is ‘colour’ and our theme will cover Mark Rothko’s colours explaining his career, especially with his newly opened exhibition at the Gemeentemuseum in The Hague, the Netherlands, in mind. Don’t forget to check out the other contributions for this month, good stories offering something fun to discover – listed at the bottom of the article.

One day at the height of his career, Mark Rothko got asked how long it took him to paint one of his paintings. His answer was short and, quite characteristically for him, sardonic: “I’m 57 years old and it took me all my life to do it.” Quite some time for an artist famous for having most of his works painted in just one, at its maximum a combination of two, maybe three colours. And yet, his works, which seem to be grown out of simplicity, are very tellingly involving a complexity worth a lifetime of contemplations.

Rothko's colours: Mark Rothko Purple & Black

Mark Rothko (1903-1970), Untitled, 1953, National Gallery of Art, Washington © 1998 Kate Rothko Prizel & Christopher Rothko

To recite Wim Pijbes, the director of Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum, Rothko’s paintings are intense: “they’re profound and somehow all about that intensity of the colour that you end up staring at while it vibrates in front of your eyes”. As the onlooker of Mark Rothko’s works you end up gazing, scrutinizing, intricately trying to decipher his paintings, but despite your best efforts to understand what they are about you just can’t really grasp it. It feels simple, but it’s a trap: the intense colours you stare at are not giving away anything – and maybe they’re not meant to either. Mark Rothko saw his art as a spiritual process and, in fact, as one of the only artists in the contemporary art world, he openly proclaimed his art to have a spiritual meaning – especially a bold statement in a time when abstract art in general was still considered fairly impersonal, in some people’s eyes even cold.

If we would draw further on the spiritual parallels in Rothko’s art, it would be a natural step to extend on the spiritual tie. The artist himself considered his colours as his performers, and with a stretch of the imagination it could be said that the colours are in fact taking the place of, let’s say, the high priest, the cleric, or of the shaman if you so please. Is it an exaggeration? Maybe not. If you see his work with your own eyes, in the right setting, the experience will feel very special.

Rothko's colours - Mark Rothko red on red

One colour only: Untitled, 1970, acryllic on canvas Mark Rothko

One of our best art moments this year was our visit to the Mark Rothko Center in Daugavpils in Latvia. Experiencing some of his work in the splendid setting his native town offers was a treat both for the eyes and the mind and it was a moment when the price tag for his works felt, almost, justified. Rothko is today one of the most celebrated artists in the world – a faith that didn’t look so likely when the artist struggled in the New York of the 1950’s – and the price for his paintings are steady record breakers. Given the meditative aspect of his works it’s no big surprise that his popularity got especially pivotal in the Far East and many of his highest paying works have been purchased by Asian collectors.

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Silent room in the Mark Rothko Centre in Daugavpils, Latvia.

Mark Rothko is in many ways a cultural bridge-maker, spiritually and geographically alike. Coming from Jewish but a religious background of Russian-Latvian origins, Rothko evolved into one of the most important American artists in the post-war era and his popularity only skyrocketed after his premature death. While not directly having eastern mysticism in mind, as far as we know, Rothko’s voice through his art feels almost more adjusted for the oriental world than the more hectic America. Just reflecting over his beloved colour performers, the thought quickly takes us to eastern philosophies. Was it intentional? It’s one of the many mysteries for us to reflect upon while being absorbed by his works.


Rothko back in the Netherlands


We, based here in Amsterdam, are right now in the fall of 2014 lucky enough to have one of the latest large-scale Rothko exhibitions just a short train ride away. After 40 years of absence from the Dutch shores, the works of Mark Rothko are back in the Netherlands, at the Gemeentemuseum of The Hague. Our Dutch base being the home of many other of the greatest modernists – shall we just mention Mondrian quickly? – it will certainly be a treat to have the opportunity to compare the two styles, a treat we can’t wait to be part of.

Rothko next to Mondrian - a First in history. At the Gemeentemuseum The Hague, Fall 2014.  © Gemeentemuseum Den Haag

Rothko next to Mondrian – A first in history. At the Gemeentemuseum The Hague, Fall 2014. © Gemeentemuseum Den Haag

As often happens, the reviews we’ve read have been mixed, which as we see it only gives an extra inspiration for the experience. Rothko is unlike anyone else and his oeuvre touches everyone differently. The extra benefit to have the other great of his time, Mondrian, just a few rooms away adds an extra bonus, it feels like a sort of artistic face-off, a contrast of American and European abstract art, as many like to put it. Or maybe a great complimentary show?

The exhibition at the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag is on until 1 March 2015, an opportunity not to miss if you are in the Netherlands.


Where to see Rothko’s Colours around the world


Mark Rothko’s colours through his works can be seen all around the world, many of the places offering a sort of art-related pilgrimage, places especially carved out for the personal Rothko-connection.


The Rothko Chapel in HOUSTON

The place in every sense symbolizing Rothko’s mystical approach to his art is the Rothko Chapel in Houston, Texas. The Rothko Chapel is especially built and designed for the “religious” aspect that Rothko gave to his paintings and the whole place is built around his spiritual ideas about his art. Rothko indeed spent six years of his life making the place ready. It is meant to be a spiritual experience, where Roman-Catholic symbolism is at the core of the matter. Rothko himself never saw the completed “chapel” including the 14 artworks he made especially for it, he committed suicide shortly before the opening. But you can admire his legacy here in this most special setting – supposedly a rare transcending one, to use Rothko’s own fascination with the term –, a unique art experience in the world.

Rothko's colours: The Rothko Chapel


The Pace Gallery in New York

The family collection of Mark Rothko works owned by the Mark Rothko Estate has been represented by the Pace Gallery in New York since 1978.


Mark Rothko at the MoMa in New York

The New York’s Museum of Modern Art is in the possession of one of the biggest collections of Rothko’s in the world. These works are always in high demand and it’s almost unthinkable to find all of them here at the same time. But do not worry, there will be enough of them to grab your full attention.

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Rothko at the National Gallery in Washington, DC

One of the best collections of Rothko’s oeuvre can be found in the National Gallery of Washington, DC. In fact, many of the works visiting the Dutch exhibition in The Hague now in 2014 and early 2015 are works lent by the National Gallery. Among the highest rated works that can be seen in Washington, DC, are the famous and controversial Seagram murals, the sketches for it and some finished works. The 1959 project, originally planned for the Four Seasons restaurant in the Seagram Building in New York City, was cancelled by the artist when he didn’t find the setting proper for his work, a withdrawal with big financial consequences for the artist.

Rothko's paintings: Not only fields of colours - Mark Rothko, Untitled (man and two women in a pastoral setting), 1940. National Gallery Washington

Not only fields of colours: Mark Rothko, Untitled (man and two women in a pastoral setting), 1940. National Gallery Washington


The Mark Rothko center in Daugavpils, Latvia

As already highlighted above, one of the new great additions to the contemporary art world is the newly inaugurated Rothko Center in the artist’s place of birth, Daugavpils (Dvinsk, if you so like, as the city was called in the time of the Russian empire when the artist was born in 1903). This is a place that is not likely to be just a train-ride away from where you are, but based on our first-hand experience we’d like to say that it’s a destination worth making the pilgrimage for. We think the potential for the place is fantastic, it’s a museum experience with a very special touch.

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The Mark Rothko Centre in Daugavpils, Latvia.


Besides Rothko’s colours, the other “Colour” contributions for this month’s Art Smart Roundtable are:


Salvador Dali’s Catalonia – A Guide to the Dalinian Triangle

Lydian BrunstingDali, Spain3 Comments

Salvador Dali's Catalonia - Dalinian Triangle Guide 2014 Spain Figueres Dali Theatre Museum

The Dalinian Triangle

Salvador Dali’s Universe in Catalonia

The ones familiar with Salvador Dali’s surrealistic art may easily get curious about the artist himself, even wishing to get to know this extraordinary man more in depth, an artist who not only got synonymous with surrealistic art in general, but who also transformed his own reality into a surrealistic world. A good part of it can be found in north-eastern Spain, in Dali’s Catalonia.

One of the ways to get a better understanding for the artist and his life, is to experience some of the most important places where he lived. These are all located in the Dalinian Triangle in Catalonia, Spain, Dali’s province of birth.


Ceiling painted by Dali in the Dali Theatre Museum, Figueres, Spain

Whilst most visitors to Catalonia will have Barcelona and the surrounding beaches as their main destination, the Dalinian Triangle offers some perfect breaks for when you have enough of the beach or the busyness of the Catalan capital. The route to explore Dali’s life can be equally busy, but as we’ll show you in this article, there are ways around.


Salvador Dali – The Artist

Already early in his life Dali showed a great interest for practicing arts. After first attending drawing school, he moved to Madrid in 1922 to study at the the Spanish capital’s Art Academy. Here he got the most attention through his Cubist paintings, a style that until that moment was hardly seen in Madrid. His extraordinary, somewhat provocative character was clearly observable in those days. A story that survived tells of the occasion when he was expelled from the academy shortly before his exams, due to some strong opinions about the institution he studied at, which he expressed publicly. But it was not only just to stir things up, Dali saw life differently. He was more eccentric and enjoyed expressing himself outlandishly, in whatever possible way. Stories such as the one where he appeared at a party in a diver’s costume or other ones involving flamboyant outfits are far from uncommon.

There is only one difference between a madman and me. The madman thinks he is sane. I know I am mad. – Salvador Dali


The Persistence of Memory by Salvador Dali

This said, after having been expelled from the Art Academy, Dali left for Paris for the first time. Here he got to know Picasso, Miró and companions. Although he was influenced by his peers works, simultaneously he clearly developed his own style, a style that by then was characterized by elements of impressionism, futurism and cubism and slowly resulted in his first surrealistic works. The Persistence of Memory, made around this time, remains to this day as one of his most famous works.

In the same year he painted this work (1929), Dali also met his muse and future partner, Gala, with whom he would spend the rest of his life.



In our quest to get to know the artist, let’s start with our tour of the Dalinian Triangle, an area of roughly 40 square kilometers in Catalonia, Spain, where the three most important places in Dali’s life are located.


The Dalí Museum in Figueres



The outside of the Dali-Theatre-Museum in Figueres, Spain.

The best place in the world to see an overview of Dali’s whole oeuvre – from his Cubist period to his Surrealistic works – is the Dali Theatre and Museum in Figueres. This is the place where Dali’s Catalonia has its beginning, where the artist was born and where he spent the last years of his life, after his wife Gala passed away. Th town of Figueres and its museum is nowadays visited by over one million visitors per year, a sight of a true pilgrimage.

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Now you might think of the Dali Theatre and Museum as yet another museum, but reflect over it quickly: Salvador Dali and just an ordinary museum? Since the surrealist master worked on the design and construction of the museum himself for its opening in 1974, and even afterwards, it is no surprise that it evolved to much more than just a museum. What you’ll see when you arrive at the premises is a spectacular building, unlike any other you will ever see in your life. And the inside is likely what will blow you away even more.

In Dali's Catalonia: Figueres-Dali-Theatre-Museum

Inside the Dali Theatre Museum in Figueres, Spain.

I want my museum to be like a single block, a maze, a great surrealist object. It will be an absolutely theatrical museum. People who come to see it, will leave it with the feeling of having had a theatrical dream. – Salvador Dalí

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Inside the Dali Theatre Museum in Figueres, Spain

Especially for those who only know Dali through his surrealistic paintings – but as much for the ones more familiar with his whole oeuvre – , the dream-like world you enter as soon as you step through the entrance of the museum may come as a surprise. Around 1,500 pieces of different type of artworks, from paintings to sculptures to installations to holograms give you more insight into Dali’s imaginative mind, but also the diverse artistic skills he mastered. The Dali Jewels Gallery is just one of those places where you can see how meticulously Dali worked and how he mastered yet another skill, the one of the goldsmith.


Dali-made jewellery.

In Dali's Catalonia: Dali-jewellery

Dali-made jewellery.

How to get there? The Dali Theatre and Museum is located at the Gala-Salvador Dalí Square, 5 in Figueres, Spain. It is easy to get here by car or public transport.

Figueres has a train and bus station. If you can choose, take the train, this is usually the fastest. By train Figueres is about half an hour from Girona and 2 hours from Barcelona. The museum is a bit more than a 10 minutes walk into the city. Check the train time-table here.

In Dali's Catalonia: Figueres-Dali-Theatre-Museum

Part of the rooftop of the Dali Theatre Museum in Figueres, Spain.


  • As the museum is immensely popular and one of the best visited museums in Spain, it tends to get busy. If you’re not an early riser, prepare to queue for a while. When you like to prevent standing in line for too long, make sure to come as soon as the museum opens.
  • Another way to make the best out of your time and to prevent too much queuing is to buy your tickets online here.
  • Opening times depend on the season, so check the museum’s website for the actual opening hours. On Mondays the museum is closed during low season, from 1 October to 31 May. During high-season the museum is open every day.
  • The entrance fee is 12 or 9 (discounted) Euros. Children under the age of 8 get in for free.
  • Every August there are special late night openings for a maximum of 500 people per night.


The Heart of Dali’s Catalonia – Dali’s House in Portlligat


The Dali House in Portlligat, Spain

Whereas the Dalí Museum gives you a thorough overview of the diversity of Dalí’s artworks, the Dalí House in Portlligat is the place to go when you’d like to see where Dalí got the inspiration for his art and where he spent a lot of timing creating. Without a visit to this place you won’t be able to really know who the artist was.

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Tree in boat in front of the Dali House in Portlligat, Spain.

Whereas the house was initially – when Dali bought it – a small fisherman’s house, throughout the years Dali extended it bit by bit and made it into a labyrinthine structure with different rooms at different levels, all connected via small passageways, with their own purpose.

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The view over the bay from the Dali House in Portlligat, Spain

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Sitting area in the Dali House, Portlligat, Spain.

With views over the little, romantic bay near the beautiful coastal village of Cadaqués we can very well imagine why the artist spent the largest part of his life here together with his wife, Gala.

Portlligat is the place of production, the ideal place for my work. Everything fits to make it so: time goes more slowly and each hour has its proper dimension. There is a geological peacefulness: it is a unique planetary case. – Salvador Dalí

This house was not only a place where the couple just lived and relaxed, it was also the place where Dalí worked either in his studio in the house or in the extra studio built in the olive grove area, both with a splendid view over the tranquil fisherman’s bay.

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A welcoming bear in the Dali House in Portlligat, Spain.

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Although large part of the house was actually furnished by Gala, when walking through the house you clearly see Dalí ‘s stamp on it too. Just have a look at the outside area where the swimming pool is situated. While it’s easy to see the quirkiness, it is also surprising tasteful. Yes, it has surrealistic elements, but it is not like stepping into one of the artist’s wilder paintings.

In Dali's Catalonia: Spain-Portlligat-Dali-House

Swimming pool outside the Dali House in Portlligat, Spain

In Dali's Catalonia: Portlligat-Dali-House-Spain

Relax area near the swimming pool outside the Dali House in Portlligat, Spain

How to get there? The Dalí House is located at the Portlligat bay, just outside Cadaqués, Spain. It is easy to get here by car. By public transport it is a bit different story due to Cadaqués only being accessible by bus, taxi or boat. There are no train connections.

Since buses in this area are relatively slow, it is best to take the train to Figueres and jump on the bus to Cadaqués from here. From Cadaqués it’s about 15 minutes walking to Portlligat via backstreets. Check your route and the timetable here. We recommend to sort out your journey well in advance, also for the return, as bus and train services may be limited depending which direction you need to go.


Detail of Dali’s studio outside the Dali House in Portlligat, Spain.

In Dali's Catalonia: Spain-Portlligat-Dali-House

Dali’s second studio outside the Dali House in Portlligat, Spain


  • You always need to make a reservation to visit the house, since it is only accessible for 8 persons at the same time. You’ll be guided through the house by a guide in about 40-50 minutes. If you haven’t made the reservation before your visit (here) and postpone it until you arrive, there is a risk that you can’t visit the House at the same day or that you’ll have to wait for a while to get in. In summer it tends to get busy. After your online reservation make sure to pick-up your ticket half an hour before the indicated hour of your tour at the ticket counter.
  • Nearby Cadaqués is a very pretty village, exceptionally worth visiting too. It has loads of galleries and places to drink, eat and stay. If you have the time we recommend staying here for the night. Or why not longer?
  • Instead of visiting both the house and the olive garden, there’s also an option to visit the olive garden only, giving you the opportunity to enjoy the view over the bay from one of the highest points around in the area.

Objects inside Dali’s studio in the Dali House in Portlligat, Spain.

  • Opening times depend on the season, so check the website for the actual opening hours. On Mondays the museum is closed during low season, from 16 September to 14 June. During high-season the House is open every day.
  • The entrance fee is 11 or 8 (discounted) Euros. Children under the age of 8 get in for free. For the olive garden only you pay either 5 or 4 (discounted) Euros.
  • Although there are some places around to drink or eat something while you’re waiting to visit the house, Portlligat is very small, so don’t count on a big supermarket to stock up on water or anything. If you’re on a budget make sure to do your groceries in Cadaqués or perhaps even before.
  • It will not come as a surprise to hear that Dalí and Gala often went to cruise the bay by boat. Nowadays you have the possibility to take a boat-tour supposedly taking exactly the route the couple used to take, in the same boat as they used. In any case, a nice opportunity to cruise the Costa Brava coast for a bit.
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View on the Dali House from the road, Portlligat, Spain.


The Gala Dali’s Castle in Púbol

One day Dali – in the early days of their relationship – promised his wife Gala to give her a castle, a promise not left in vain. The artist lived up to this in 1968, when he bought his wife an 11th century castle in Púbol, Spain.

At that time the three-storey castle and its courtyard was in an advanced state of deterioration and needed a thorough renovation. Yet, the couple saw through this and found the medieval building had a truly romantic atmosphere. They made huge efforts to retain this atmosphere while renovating. We believe that because of these efforts this atmospheric feeling is still possible to experience today.

Pubol Castle Dali

Pubol Castle by Albert Torello, Flickr Creative Commons

Although the castle was Gala’s domain, Dali did help her to renovate and decorate the place. You will notice this when walking through the building and the garden by many details, ranging from the decoration of the garden to the painting of the ceilings.

It gave me pleasure to decorate the ceilings so that when Gala raised her eyes, she would see me always in her heaven. – Salvador Dalí

An interesting detail is that the castle was only accessible for Dali upon Gala’s advance permission in writing. Dalí’s wife put this condition when being given the castle as a present and Dalí respected this honorably. It was only after the much older Gala passed away at the age of 88 (Gala was ten years older than the artist), that Dalí started living in the castle permanently, as Gala was buried in one of the castle’s rooms and he did not want to leave her alone. It was here, in the Púbol castle, where he created his last art works while living in solitude, in a similar fashion as his wife did before. After a fire in his bedroom in 1984 Dali was moved to Figueres, where he lived until the end of his life.

Salvador Dali's Catalonia - Elephant Pubol

Dali elephant in the gardens of Pubol Castle by Manel, Flickr Creative Commons

How to get there: The castle is located at the Gala Dalí Square in Púbol-la Pera, some 20 kilometres from Girona. It is easy to get here by car. By public transport it is a bit more difficult.

When you decide to come by train stop at Flaçà station. From Flaçà it is still 4 kilometres from Púbol. If you can’t or don’t want to walk to Púbol, you can take a taxi at the train station. Alternatively you can take the bus, get off in Flaçà and take a taxi, or go to La Pera, from which it is a 2 kilometres walk to Púbol.


  • Opening times depend on the season, so check the website for the actual opening hours. On Mondays the museum is closed during low season (from 1 October to 31 May), during high-season the castle is open every day.
  • The entrance fee is 8 or 6 (discounted) Euros. Children below 8 get in for free. It is not necessary to make advance reservations, but you can here.
  • Close by Girona is a very charming city to visit too. Combining the Castle and a visit to this city makes an excellent combination for a weekend trip.



Inside Dali’s studio, Portlligat, Spain.

Salavador Dalí definitely puts an extra twist on the exploration of this area. But this is a region full of beauty in any case. Why not plan a long weekend or even a bit longer vacation in the area. Give yourself the opportunity to discover the area properly. Having your base in Girona or Figueres makes all the three sites easily reachable. You could of course also hop between the different parts of the Costa Brava and stay in different towns and villages. Having a car is definitely helpful here, but you can do it by public transport as well. In that case make sure you plan ahead as it is not always that straight-forward with connections and opening hours.

Enjoy your stay in Dali’s Catalonia – enjoy the company of Salvador Dali.

In Dali's Catalonia: Lydian in one of Dali's eggs outside the Dali House, Portlligat, Spain.

Lydian in one of Dali’s eggs outside the Dali House, Portlligat, Spain.



Read more about Catalonia here:


Street Art Corner from Montpellier, France

Lydian BrunstingEurope, France, Street ArtLeave a Comment


Street Art Montpellier

A Street Art Corner from France


When arriving in elegant Montpellier streetart was somehow not the first thing we expected to see much of, but we can now say that the street art scene was just one of the pleasant surprises awaiting us in this Southern French city. With an attractive old city-centre, a relaxed atmosphere and a nice Mediterranean climate this university city definitely caught our attention. More about our impressions from the city itself will follow in a separate article soon, but now first out is a comeback for our Street Art Corner from Montpellier, France.

Streetart Montpellier: France-Montpellier-Streetart

Where we’ve often been able to learn a bit about what’s going on in a country or a city through the local street art due to the social-political undertone the art-form often entails, the majority of the street-art we came across in Montpellier was more of the happy and lighthearted kind, far from the social-political criticism often encountered in street art. Have a look for example at the above art work by what we believe is AW (please let us know if you can confirm the artist) or the below stencil by Al Sticking, they immediately bring a smile to the face, don’t they?

Streetart Montpellier: France-Montpellier-Streetart

Street art by Al Sticking, Montpellier, France


Street Art Montpellier – The Little Details Matter

Or take this walled-in-bike popping out from a facade, one out of many more ‘half-bikes’ we spotted in Montpellier – in general a very bike-friendly city, by the way. A pretty imaginative project, we thought, that somehow fully fits in with the architecture and the vibes of the city, mixing the slight edginess the bikes create with the ruggedness of the medieval walls.

Streetart Montpellier: France-Montpellier-Streetart-BMX

Street art by BMX, Montpellier, France

Streetart Montpellier: France-Montpellier-Streetart

Street art by BMX, Montpellier, France.

This below cute little ghost is another recurring character in Montpellier. We encountered it a couple of times in Montpellier and again, colour-tones and imaginativeness fully fit the environment around it, we thought.

Streetart Montpellier: 2014_France_Montpellier_Streetart_13_

Streetart Montpellier: France_Montpellier_Streetart_31_

These decorated bollards around a square in the old city-centre are the result of yet another creative project that seems to be embraced by the local community. Most of them are faded, indicating they must have been there for years, but there are also some really fresh ones.

Streetart Montpellier: France-Montpellier-Streetart

Streetart Montpellier: France-Montpellier-StreetartWhereas we did not manage to find many names or nationalities of the street artists around in Montpellier, the recurring characters, themes and stylishness like the ghost or the bikes do give us a slight hint that many of them must be French, perhaps even Montpellier-based ones. We did by the way only visit the central parts of the city, so it could be that you’ll have a whole different experience in the outskirts of town, streetart Montpellier of a different flavour to it.

Streetart Montpellier: France-Montpellier-Streetart-Space-Invader

Streetart by Invader, Montpellier, France


Do you happen to know any of the street artists we’ve featured in this article? Please leave a comment below, we’d love to credit the artists behind all street art we show.


Street art by Sunny Jim, Montpellier, France



Streetart (left) by Oré, Montpellier, France



This Street Art Montpellier article is part of our ‘Street Art Corner’ series during which we take you to different street art locations around the world. Would you like to contribute to the Street Art Corner series? Just send us a message at wkndr (at) artweekenders (dot) com. We love to see more street art crossing our paths, either on the net or in real life.

France-Montpellier-Streetart  France-Montpellier-Streetart


Like to see more street art from around the world? Check out some of our other Street Art Corner editions:

Street Art Corner from Girona, Spain

Lydian BrunstingEurope, Spain, Street ArtLeave a Comment


Street Art Corner

from Girona, Spain


After a much welcomed summer-break we’re back again with our Street Art Corner, this time from Girona, Spain!


Last week we spontaneously booked a flight to Girona, Spain, looking for some warmth and sun during the rainiest August we’ve had in Amsterdam for a long time.


Street art in Girona, Spain by Scaramuix


As in many other Spanish cities, like for example Valencia and Barcelona, we encountered a good selection of street art in Girona as well.


Street art by Interesni Kazki in Girona, Spain

Besides a lot of graffiti (and we mean really a lot!) we mostly noticed the walls in the Catalonian city being decorated with cartoonish characters. We did however also came across some bigger pieces of street art, such as the above one by the Ukrainian duo Interesni Kazki (located at Travessia Portal Nou 8).



Street art in Girona, Spain.

Digging a bit more into the street art scene in Girona we discovered we just missed the Milestone Project, an annual street art event which took place in Girona during the past June. Unfortunately, we hardly saw any of the walls made for this project this year – apart from the above one of Interesni Kazki -, as we had limited time to spend in the city and only stayed around the old centre of Girona, an area which seems to be fairly untouched by street artists in regards to big murals, apart from some decorated shutters and doors here and there.




To give you an idea of the street art created for this project have a look at their Facebook page here. You’ll likely still be able to find many of the Milestone Project creations when walking around the city.

Lastly, we discovered some nice public art through town for the Color Latent exhibition, a contemporary art exhibition at different locations throughout town. Perhaps it’s not real street art, but we just couldn’t withhold this one from you.


Public art part of the Color Latent, contemporary art exhibition throughout Girona, Spain.

Do you happen to know the name(s) of any of the street artists which we showed works of in this article and which we don’t know? Feel free to share this with us, so we can properly credit all artists.


Streetart? In any case, much more colorful than a plain riverbed.


Somriu! (translated Smile!), reminding us of one of our favourite movies Amelie


During Street Art Corner we take you to street art at different locations around the world, one city at a time. Like to contribute? Feel free to send us an email at wkndr@artweekenders.com.


Like to see more street art from around the world?

Check out our previous Street Art Corner editions:


An Art Day at the Kröller-Müller Museum

Pal UjvarosiArtSmart Roundtable, Modern Art, Sculpture, The Netherlands4 Comments


An Art Day at the Kröller-Müller Museum

The first week of the month means a new occasion for the ArtSmart Roundtable, a monthly series of articles by a group of art focused travel bloggers. This month the theme is ‘an art day’ and our experience is coming from the Kröller-Müller Museum in the east of Holland, a venue out of the ordinary. Don’t forget to check out all the great contributions from the other bloggers from this month – listed at the bottom of the article. Enjoy!

What if we told you that you can spend a day among close to a hundred Van Gogh original paintings and a few thousand other famous modern art works of great importance from a wide range of different “isms”? Still not enough you say? What about later in the day (or earlier, if you so prefer) a stroll around one of Europe’s biggest open-air sculpture parks, with some fascinating pieces located in lush nature, and then rounding off the day with a bike around in one of the nicest national parks of Europe? Does that sound like an ideal suggestion for a daytrip? We certainly think so. All this and a bit more is waiting for the visitor at one of the the hidden secrets of the Netherlands, at the Kröller-Müller Museum in the east of the country, located in the heart of the Hoge Veluwe National Park, not far from a little town called Otterlo.


Three upright motives by Henry Moore

On the first day of August, on one of the brilliantly sunny days we’ve recently been spoiled with here on the Dutch latitudes, we visited the Kröller-Müller Museum. A great experience that left us wondering why we didn’t jump on this opportunity earlier. There’s no reason holding back here, already in the opening lines we can admit that this is one of the best spots in Europe to experience art and it’s a spot that most people still don’t know about.


Auguste Rodin, Femme accroupie, 1882

Its location in the east of The Netherlands has a role in it; although this is a small country, it is not just around the corner, even though this “far eastern” part of the country happens to be only some one and a half hours away from the greater Amsterdam area. Still, it feels far and we’re not the only ones who think so: most tourists visiting the country never make it here, it just happens to be off the usual travel maps. Still, things are changing; in 2013 there were some 330,000 people strolling through the museum designed by Henry van de Welde and the adjacent sculpture park. A nice number already, with a huge potential for further growth.


Rietveld Pavilion


The Dutch-German female modern-day “Medici”

In case you are silently wondering who on earth came up with the idea of picking this “isolated” location for an attractive art museum you won’t be the only one. The person behind the idea is in any case Helene Kröller-Müller, the wealthy wife of the Dutch shipping and mining tycoon Anton Kröller. Helene Kröller-Müller was one of the first women in the world to put together a major art collection and in fact the first person in the Netherlands who created a modern art collection of any kind. The choice of location was motivated by her with the following words in 1932:

We decided on this location in view of the fact that in today’s world distance is no longer a problem.

Van Gogh

The first Van Gogh bought by Helene Kröller-Müller

She was right in a way; it’s not that complicated getting there, by car at least (public transportation offers some challenges, but see our detailed tips for getting there below). We suspect though that in our busy modern era the lack of time might be a bigger factor impacting on the visitors’ decision-making than the actual distance. In any case, for us who make it there, this is a real treat. Helene Kröller-Müller‘s biggest legacy is undoubtedly the 90 or so Van Gogh paintings and 185 drawings, making this the second largest collection of the artist’s works, second only to Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum. The latter is in the possession of more than the double amount of pieces, although it opened some good three decades later, but if you ask us the experience is more special, even intimate, out here “in the woods”.


Love by Joseph Mendes da Costa in the Aldo van Eyck Pavilion

It is often argued that Vincent Van Gogh’s fame never would’ve taken off without the influence of Mrs Kröller-Müller. We’re not here to speculate, but there’s no doubt that the collector had an important role in the after-life fame of the artist’s. It’s no small secret that the Dutch expressionist only managed to sell one work of art during his short and tragic life and the first person who seriously put the artist’s name on the map was Mrs Kröller-Müller.

Sitting man with guitar by Jacques Lipchitz.

Sitting man with guitar by Jacques Lipchitz.

It wasn’t always that obvious that one day she would be known as an art collector. It was first in her early 40s that she started the project on the initiative of her art tutor Hendricus Petrus Bremmer. Bremmer was a vaguely successful painter in The Hague, where the Kröllers also lived, although his main achievement in life was to realise that he was very good at promoting art to the privileged Dutch elite. On top of it, he was one of the early big fans of Vincent Van Gogh’s and his enthusiasm was contagious on his pupil the enthusiastic Helene too. The collection of the Van Gogh artworks started in the early 1910s and soon enough it became one of the life missions of the collector. The most intense year was by far 1912, when on a visit to Paris seven paintings were purchased in different galleries on the same day and ten more later that month. An extravagant art safari of sorts.


Wielkie brzuchy (Bellies) by Alina Szapocznikow in the Aldo van Eyck Pavilion

It is said that the idea to the museum was born by a visit to Florence and the inspiration the Medicis provided, and the many private collectors showcasing their works around the renaissance city. While the idea was solid from the beginning and many attempts were made to create the museum, the actual realisation of the museum took many years. There was a war that came in between, followed by a financial crisis that almost evaporated the Kröller-Müller empire in the 1920s. At the end the family decided to donate their entire estate to the Dutch government under the condition that a museum would be raised for housing the collections. The chosen location was on the grounds of the Hoge Veluwe Park, which prior to its national park status was the hunting grounds of the Kröller-Müllers.


The Kröller-Müller Museum – The Extended Version

If we fast-forward to our days, the museum we can visit now is quite different from the one that Helene Kröller-Müller left behind. She was only able to be the director of her life’s creation for a bit more than a year before she passed away at the age of seventy in 1939. One of the requirements of hers was that the collection had to be maintained as it was then, no changes were allowed. Her wish has been respected to this day. And built upon.

2014-Netherlands-Kroller-Muller-Veluwe (14)

The original plan for the museum included an extended version that finally got realised when the situation in Europe once again stabilised after the war. The museum got a new congress wing and sculpture gallery in 1953 and a whole new wing between 1970 and 1977, specifically made for temporary exhibitions. But the biggest impression-lifter was without any doubt the sculpture garden added in 1961 as the brain-child of the director of the museum from 1947 onwards, the ambitious art critic A. M. Hammacher. His intention of not just sitting around on the legacy of Mrs. Kröller-Müller has made this museum very unique: the combination of world-class paintings with a fantastic sculpture garden is fairly unrivalled in the world.


Hoofdstukken by Jan Fabre


The Sculpture Garden

We came to the Hoge Veluwe on a sunny day, so it felt natural to start our visit out in the open, in the famous sculpture garden of the museum. We expected to spend some time here, just not as much as we actually ended up wandering here. And that’s a very good sign. This is a fantastic spot and it’s easy to conclude that it was a very clever strategic move to “break down” the museum’s walls and extend it into the free. The initial idea of the garden reflected Helene Kröller-Müller’s conception of a symbiosis between art, architecture and nature, a concept well witnessed as soon as you step inside. The garden has expanded over the years and today it includes some 150 objects – and counting.


La Grande Penelope by Emile-Antoine Bourdelle


Since 1961 there has been a steady addition of new works, in fact, to this day the goal is to add at least one new piece every year. The mix of objects is fun and challenging, there are well-known pieces like works by Auguste Rodin, Henry Moore, Jean Dubuffet or Lucio Fontana. There are also many hidden gems, in many ways the highlights out there, like Tom Claassen’s Men in Wood or Kenneth Snelson’s Needle Tower. Or why not Watch Out! by Krijn Giezen, the fun staircase to an infinite heaven (access closed down due to the lure of climbing up to heaven, which easily can result in accidents).


Kijk Uit Attention



Needle Tower of Kenneth Snelson, 1968

The newly renovated Aldo van Eyck Pavilion – build between 1965 and 1966, rebuilt in 2005 – is also a highlight jam-packed with close to a hundred pieces. Thus, it was no surprise that time flew by, to the extent that we actually had to skip a part of the fun. But more fun was waiting for us inside.


The Van Gogh Collection

We already extended on the subject earlier, but it’s worth repeating: this is the highlight of the museum, with all due respect to the plentiful other highlights around. Fact remains, this is a unique collection and the story of it is fascinating. Some pieces are more than well-known: Café Terrace at Night (1888) has been on almost too many reproductions already. Same goes to for instance Country Road in Provence (1890). Still, there are many that are just not familiar to a broader public, and many which are just fascinatingly beautiful in real life. The darkness of The Potato Eaters (1885) creates an experience that transfixes the viewer. There were also some new-found favourites that in real life turned into real experiences, like the Four Sunflowers Gone to Seed, a surprisingly bright coloured piece among his early works. And hauntingly beautiful.


Four Blown Sunflowers by Van Gogh


A full Range of “isms”

Before and after the Van Gogh Gallery you have the chance to travel through modern art history, there are almost no “ism” here that you can’t find. There are cubism masters like Picasso, Braque. Renoir and Monet from the impressionists. Symbolism, Post-impressionism, pointillism and… no German Expressionism. This later might come as a surprise, Helene Kröller-Müller was after all German by birth and not Dutch, but the collector famously considered the German painters as “insufficiently authoritative”. A hint for her disapproval with the development in that corner of Europe?

L' homme qui marche II by Alberto Giacometti.

L’ homme qui marche II by Alberto Giacometti.

At the far end of the wing housing the permanent collection, after you passed the numerous works by the likes of Fantin-Latour, Seurat, Signac, Cézanne and the hundreds of works by Dutch artist Bart van der Leck you reach another important section of the museum, especially from Dutch perspective: the room where the Mondrian’s and his peers can be seen – Helene was one of the first in the country who recognised the greatness of the Dutch master and the abstract art they represented.


The Wing Housing Great Temporary Exhibitions

If there’s one criticism we can come up with is the fact that the museum closes at five pm. Nothing unusual with that, it’s normal, but for us that meant no time to explore the temporary exhibitions on show this time around. More than three hours spent at the museum and it really felt like we barely came halfway. Thus, this place certainly isn’t for a quick visit only.


The Circle of Clothing by Pet van de Luijtgaarden

Just at this occasion the exhibitions on show included ‘Seurat: Master of pointillism’. ‘Seurat’s Followers’, ‘Simon Starling – Blue, Red, Yellow, Djungel’ and ‘Ger van Elk – Flatscreens’. On top of it, out in the sculpture park there were several live events going on and the thought-provoking ‘The Circle of Clothing’ exhibition.


Out in the free in the Hoge Veluwe

Once you’re done inside (and even if you’re not, at 5 pm it’s time to find the exit), the day isn’t over. Are you lucky enough and the weather is nice you are in for a treat. The Hoge Veluwe National Park is there to explore on your own. What better even, the park provides free bikes, to be used all across the park, leave on the roadside, in the park, for catching your bus, or for finding your car that you parked somewhere. Just as you please.

Cycling in the Hoge Veluwe National Park.

Cycling in the Hoge Veluwe National Park.

This park is a remnant of the latest ice age, and while it has an icy past occasionally it actually reminds you more of a hot desert. The sand dunes spread out are beautiful and somehow out of place and the rest of the park with the lush green all around is just as spectacular. And then they say that it’s in the autumn that the colours are really coming out…it sounds just like an invitation for going back soon again.



National Park Hoge Veluwe



Pal cycling the Hoge Veluwe National Park



Cycling the Hoge Veluwe National Park



Igloo di pietra by Mario Merz


 Practical Information

  • The museum is open every day from 10 am to 5 pm with the exception of Mondays. The sculpture garden closes at 4:30 pm.
  • The museum is situated in the middle of the Hoge Veluwe National Park, thus the only way in is by purchasing the entrance fee to the park. The day ticket for the museum and park costs € 17.40 for adults and € 8.70 for children 6-12. Only park entrance costs € 8.70.
  • Dutch Museumkaart is valid and thereby entrance is free (but not to the park).
  • Parking inside the park costs an additional € 6.20 and outside the park €  3.00.
  • There are free bikes everywhere – as soon as you step into the park really.
  • There are three motorways – A1, A50, and A12 – to the park and three points of entry: at Schaarsbergen ( Koningsweg 17), Hoenderloo ( Houtkampweg 13) and at Otterlo ( Houtkampweg 9). It is advisable to study the map before you get there so you have an idea where to go, after all you’re out in nature here.
  • There are bus services from Apeldoorn and Ede/Wageningen train station every day throughout the year. The bus stops immediately outside the centre and the museum. It isn’t complicated, but you do need to think it over before-hand, and unfortunately, it takes some time to come here. For instance from Amsterdam between 90 minutes to two hours). Always plan ahead with 9292.nl. Smooth and easy. The train fare is € 16.60 one way with chip card from Amsterdam.
  • Time, plan in a lot of it, especially if it’s your first visit. We’ve spent three hours and it was not even close to be enough.



The other contributions for this month’s Art Smart Roundtable are:

  1. Jenna of This Is My Happiness –An Art Day in Napa Valley
  2. Erin of A Sense of Place – An Art Day in Cambridge, MA: Modernist Architecture at Harvard and MIT
  3. Ashley of No Onions Extra Pickles – An Art Day in Doha, Qatar
  4. Christina of Daydream Tourist – Masterpieces for Free: An Art Day in Washington, DC
  5. Murissa of Wanderfull Traveler – An Art Day in Paris: My Own Accidental Walking Tour
  6. Alexandra of ArtTrav – An art day in Maremma at Daniel Spoerri’s garden



Tom Otterness’ Fairytales at Sea Along Scheveningen Beach

Pal UjvarosiSculpture1 Comment

Sculptor Tom Otterness' sculptures At Sea Scheveningen


Tom Otterness’ Fairytales at Sea

Along Scheveningen Beach


It’s not that obvious to most people outside the Netherlands, but the Dutch have their own “Riviera”. Possibly not as spectacular as the Mediterranean original, especially since the water impossibly can get the same shade of blue on the North Sea coast, but nonetheless it is a summer-mecca and always very busy in high season. The stretch of coast popular with visitors stretches from the mouth of the Ij river, just north of Haarlem, down to the “corner of Holland” (Hoek van Holland) just outside Rotterdam. The focal point of this wide stretch of beaches is without a doubt Scheveningen, the well-renowned seaside resort which in theory is a suburb to the political focal point of the country, The Hague.

Tom Otterness 9

Scheveningen in summertime is busy: there are terraces lined up all along the beach, people are taking advantage of the sun when possible, the seagulls steal the fish snacks people just purchased from the stands. Really, it’s not that far off from Nice or Cannes, although celebrity spotting might be different. What you definitely can spot if you pay close attention is a group of sculptures occupying one of the most attractive spots on the recently re-opened boulevard along the Scheveningse beach.

Tom Otterness 7

The 23 sculpture groups found here are called ‘SprookjesBeelden aan Zee‘ – or in a language we better understand: the ‘Fairytale Figures by the Sea‘ – and they are the creations of the American Tom Otterness. These works of art became a reality as per the initiative of the Museum Beelden aan Zee, one of the hidden art gems of The Netherlands and the only institution in the country focusing fully on modern and contemporary sculpture. The museum is a privately funded and managed venue that opened in 1994 by the Dutch art collectors Theo and Lida Scholten. Ten years later, in 2004, the couple popped the idea about this freely accessible sculpture park a stone throw away from the beach to Tom Otterness and the American artist wasn’t late to grasp the opportunity with both hands.

Tom Otterness 6

Tom Otterness1

Tom Otterness is by far no stranger of public art of fame and huge fan-appreciation. The Wichita, Kansas, born (1952) American artist is without doubt most famous for his art made freely available for the public and especially the pieces he created in New York: his ‘The Real World‘ from 1992 in the Rockefeller Park in Battery Park City, loved and admired by New Yorkers and visitors alike.

Tom Otterness Collage

What puts Tom Otterness aside from the crowd is the ability to combine humour with deeply serious insights. At first glance his figures are always amusing, fun, playful, entertaining. His style is often described as cartoonish and cheerful, very accessible. People can often freely interact with his public art, touch the figures. His style is made up of geometric shapes like cubes, cylinders, spheres that depict fun-looking human characters. His art is, however, often highly political and even with the most innocent looking themes the observant viewer will notice details with strong deeper meanings.

Tom Otterness 4

Tom Otterness 5

No exception with his fairytale figures in The Hague. While all sculpture groups – there are 23 of them – depict characters from fairy tales (known and less known ones), there is often a slightly disturbing element to them, a bit of seriousness among all the fun. If you pay attention you will notice signs of oppression, greed, power depicted in his works.

Tom Otterness Collage 2

At the end though, what remains memorable is the fun the characters offer. Children go crazy around the statues, grown-ups almost even more. Well, at least they do end up behaving a bit like children, but most importantly the sculptures seem to catch their viewers off-guard, luring a smile even on the most strict-looking spectator’s face.

Just like art should be, right?

Tom Otterness 12

Tom Otterness 8

Tom Otterness 3

Tom Otterness


The group of the 23 sculptures have been in storage for some two and a half years while the Scheveningse Boulevard went through some serious renovations. Since April 2013 Ottersen’s characters are back and all playfully occupying a chunk of the new walk-board, fascinating and surprising curious visitors. Like us.

Go and have a look when you can: it’s free and open 24/7. Here’s a little video animation with the figures, enhancing the playfulness the characters can offer. Kind of like a modern fairytale.


Practical Information

If you would like to learn more about the Fairytale Sculptures by the Sea you can visit the SprookjesBeelden website, maintained by the Beelden aan Zee Museum in Scheveningen, The Hague. There are many-many reasons from a cultural point of view to visit The Hague in general (let’s just say Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring at the Mauritshuis), but a visit out to Scheveningen is always highly recommended.

While it is best on days with nice weather, it’s certainly worth the short trip out even on gloomier days; Tom Ottersen’s statues will surely cheer you up. If you’re not by car, the easiest way of reaching Scheveningen is by jumping on Tram 1 or 9 in the centre of town and jump off at Kurhaus/Circus theatre. Very easy. The admission to the museum is € 12, but of course the Fairytale Sculptures are always free to check out, 24/7. The Dutch Museumcard is valid to the museum as well.

If you would you like to see more of Tom Otterness’s public art, New York is your city of choice. Especially the already mentioned Battery Park installations are worth every single second of your time, and similarly the art you find in the Subway at the 14th Street and 8th Avenue transit stop. San Jose, CA, Toronto in Canada, Phoenix, AR, Claremont, CA, Seoul, Korea and Munster in Germany are some of the other places where Ottersen’s fun figures can be found.

Ready to see some more fun sculptures? Check out our post about Fernando Botero’s sculptures from around the world.



Gaudi’s Barcelona: Catalan Art Nouveau At Large

Lydian BrunstingArtSmart Roundtable, Barcelona, Spain5 Comments

Casa Batllo Gaudi Barcelona Spain

Gaudi’s Barcelona

 Catalan Art Nouveau at large


It’s time again for the ArtSmart Roundtable. This month the topic is Architecture. We therefore take you to Barcelona, Spain, for Gaudi‘s modernist architecture.

Each month the members of the ArtSmart Roundtable – a number of international art enthusiastic travel bloggers – delve into a topic on the crossroads of art and travel. Browse to the end of this article for the other contributions to this month’s ArtSmart Roundtable.

While gazing up the Sagrada Familia I could not help myself from thinking, what an ingenious mind its architect must have been. We are standing in front of the largest construction designed by Antoni Gaudi, yet to finish. From here we will start our Gaudi Tour through Barcelona.

(last update May 2017)


Sagrada Familia, Barcelona – (c) Flavio Ensiki. Flickr CC.


Getting to know Gaudi

The Catalan Antoni Gaudi (1852-1926) who nowadays is considered as one of Spain’s most renown architects, was not immediately seen as such. When graduating from the Barcelona School of Higher Architecture in 1878, his skills were still questioned by his professors. Soon after graduating he became more known for his modernist style though. Gaudi fairly quickly received commissions to design some of the constructions we nowadays recognize as the most important structures of modernist Barcelona, or what others refer to as Catalan art nouveau.


The rooftop of Casa Mila, Barcelona.

Contrary to the Art Nouveau movement in the rest of Europe, in Barcelona Modernism found its origin more in nationalistic pride than in anything else. In an economic climate where the rest of Spain was doing so-so, Barcelona was still thriving. The wealthy local upper-class wanted to promote the Renaixanca, the revival of Catalan traditions and the national culture. As a natural effect the preference for local artists was strong. This was likely also one of the reasons Gaudi quickly received important assignments throughout town.

Although Gaudi is seen as the main figure in the Catalan Modernism, his style went way further than that. Gaudi often found his inspiration in the geometric forms he encountered in nature, applying these into his architecture.


La Sagrada Familia

There are likely few other unfinished constructions around the world as famous as La Sagrada Familia, which unusually also got assigned a UNESCO World Heritage status already before its completion. The architect has now been dead for soon ninety years and the cathedral has been a work in progress ever since.


The inside of La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona – (c) Claude Attard. Flickr CC.

At the foundation of the construction of the Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família (translated as the Basilica and Expiatory Church of the Holy Family) lays the idea of the bookseller Josep Maria Bocabella, founder of Asociación Espiritual de Devotos de San José. His idea was to build an expiatory church fully devoted to the Holy Family. Through generous donations the building of La Sagrada Familia commenced in 1882 initially under the architect Francisco de Paula del Villar. Soon after the start – in 1883 – he was replaced by Gaudi who never let go of the project until his death in 1926.


La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona.

Anticipating that he would not be able to finish the construction of La Sagrada Familia during his life Gaudi already designed the construction of the church in phases. In this way every generation would have a goal to finish one partAt the moment of his death only about a quarter of the church was finished. 


Details of La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona.

Some unfortunate incidents, such as the Spanish Civil War and lack of funds, almost caused the church never to be finished. Fortunately thanks to a large number of well-trained architects and private donations the work on the church continues up to date. These days the progress of the construction goes even a bit more quickly, thanks to the computer-aided design technology applied in the construction works. The church is said to be finished in between 2026 and 2030.

While seeing La Sagrada Familia itself from the outside is already a treat for the eye (make sure to walk around it), we can definitely recommend entering the church for a closer look. Repeated visits stay exciting due to the progress continuously made.

General information:

The entrance fee depends on which areas you’d like to visit (only the basilica or also one of the towers) and if you take part in a (audio) guide. Fees start as from €14,80. Click here for the details. By buying your tickets online, you can prevent hours of waiting.
General opening hours to the Basilica are from 9.00 am to 6.00 pm from October to March and 9.00 am to 8.00 pm from April to September. Other parts of the church may be open a bit shorter.
La Sagrada Familia is located at Mallorca, 401. Unless you’re walking, take the metro (L2 and L5), city bus (19, 33, 34, 50, 51 H10 and V21) or the tourist bus and get off at stop Sagrada Familia.


 ParK Güell

Already early in his career Antoni Gaudi met the industrialist Eusebi Güell, who – immediately impressed by Gaudi’s modernist design – commissioned the architect to build various structures bearing his name. Some of the most famous are the Parc Güell, Palau Güell and the Crypt in Colonia Güell, the latter being 23 kilometers outside Barcelona.


View from Parc Guell, Barcelona.

Parc Güell is one of those spots in Barcelona, where you can escape the hustling and bustling of the city. This is provided you walk a bit further than the entrance, which is one of the most popular parts of the park and thus often pretty crowded. The park – measuring 17.18 hectare and built between 1900 and 1914 – is full of beautiful architectural structures designed by Gaudi. Some parts are decorated with the colourful mosaics he often used in his work. Other parts are more of a rural shape, totally fitting in with the ambiance of a park. On top of it, from the higher parts of the park you have different, excellent views over the city. For a panoramic view search for the large cross at the high-point of the park.


In Parc Guell, Barcelona.

In this park you also find the Gaudi House Museum, the house in which Gaudi lived from 1906 until 1926, and which by the way is not designed by him, but does contain furniture designed by the architect himself. Entrance to this museum is €5,50 (unless discounts apply).

General information:

Entrance to the outer areas of the park is free, but you will have to pay an entrance fee to enter the monumental zone, the main entrance and the parts containing mosaics.
The monumental zone of the park is open from 8.00 am to 9.00 pm (1 May to 26 October), 8.00 am to 8.00 pm (24 March to 30 April) and 8.30 am to 6.00 pm (27 October to 23 March)
Tickets can be bought online here or at the spot (respectively €7 or €8 unless discounts apply). Again, buy your ticket online, if you want to make sure to get in. There’s a limit to the number of people that are allowed to be in the monumental zone of the park at the same moment.
The park is located at the hill El Carmel in the Gracia district. Take a metro (L3) to Vallcarca or Lesseps station from where it’s about a 15 minutes walk uphill (unless the escalators work) or – easier – take the bus (H6, 32, 24 or 92) to respectively Travessera de Dalt (H6, 32, 1o minutes walk), Place Catalunya (24) or Carretera del Carmel-Park Güell (92, stopping in front of the main entrance). For more specifics, click here.


Palau Güell

After having been closed for renovation for several years Palau Güell has opened again completely in 2011, adding an extra destination to our Gaudi Route in Barcelona.


Palau Güell, Barcelona. (c) George M. Grouta. Flickr CC.

Palau Güell was designed and constructed by Gaudi in between 1885 and 1888 as a city palace for his patron and friend Eusebi Güell and is situated in the Raval neighbourhood on Carrer Nou de la Rambla (no. 3-5). Parts of its facade resemble a Venetian palace and the oval portals were the place where guests could enter the mansion with their horse and carriage, after which they would be guided to the upper floors where the family lived. You can see Gaudi’s typical playful design back in the whole building (including its colourful rooftop), its furniture and other ornaments. As the other Gaudi sites in this article Palau Güell is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


Palau Güell, Barcelona. (c) Frank Kovalchek. Flickr CC.

General information:

The entrance fee to Palau Güell is € 12,- (unless discounts apply, check here), an audio guide is included in the ticket price.
Opening hours are: Tuesday to Sunday from 10.00am to 8.00pm (April to October) and 10.00am to 5.3opm (November to March).

Also read: Barcelona or Madrid? How To Choose


Casa Battló

Casa Battló went trough a thorough renovation already at an earlier stage of its existence and thanks to the renovation being commissioned to Gaudi the building has gotten the fame it has today.


Casa Batllo, Barcelona

Casa Battló was built by the architect Emilio Sala Cortés in 1877 and was at that stage a typical classical building without the modernist characteristics we would see applied to it shortly after the turn of the century. When the ownership of the building changed in the early 1900s, Gaudi was asked to re-do the interior and exterior design, for which he got all creative freedom. Part of the result of this renovation is what we can nowadays see at Passeig de Gràcia number 43. Throughout the years more renovations and refurbishments have taken place. None really affected Gaudi’s stamp on the building though. With nicknames like the house of the bones, the house of the masks and the house of the dragon you can imagine the exterior is quite magnificent, as is the interior.


Casa Batllo, Barcelona. (c) Ferran Pestana. Flickr CC.

The 5,000 m2 building is no longer used for housing, instead it is being used for events and since 2002 made accessible for tourists.

General information:

The standard entrance fee is hefty with a €21.50, so have a look here if you or one of your companions would perhaps be able to get a discount, or if there is a special event going on. Audio-guides are available in ten languages.
Opening hours are in general from 9.00 am to 9.00 pm from Monday to Sunday, 365 days a year.
When you’re based in the city centre you’ll likely come across Casa Battló when walking around. If not, take the bus (no. 7,16, 17, 22, 24 or 28), metro (L2, L3 or L4) or train (RENFE) and get off at Passeig de Gracia.


Casa Mila (La Pedrera)

Casa Mila, locally more often referred to as La Pedrera (the stone quarry), is one of the other magnificent houses designed by Gaudi along the Passeig de Gracia, this one being located at the corner with Carrer de Provença (numbers 261-265). It was built by Gaudi for the wealthy family Mila at the height of his career in between 1906 and 1912 and seen as one of this most innovative works in terms of functional, decorative and constructive aspects.


Casa Mila (La Pedrera), Barcelona

The building consists of two separate buildings, structured around two courtyards, and was meant to be partially a house for the Mila family and partially apartments for rent.

Although the roof-terrace was mainly meant to fulfill a functional role, this doesn’t make it less spectacular. Walking around here you’ll note different kind of architectural sculptures, which are functioning as either staircases, chimneys or ventilation towers.


The rooftop of Casa Mila, Barcelona.

The nickname La Pedrera was given to it by locals less happy with the exterior design, which according to some resembled an open quarry. The facade was however pretty innovative for the time it was being built, purely self-supporting, so that any demolition inside the building would not have consequences for the outside. As was common at the modernist time Gaudi also designed furniture for the house, but unfortunately little of it could be saved through the years.

Nowadays Casa Mila besides being a popular architectural attraction also is a cultural centre, where events and art exhibitions take place throughout the year.

General information:

As a visitor to Casa Mila you will get access to the main parts of the building: the Espai Gaudi (the attic), which is an apartment in early 20th century style, the courtyards and the stunning roof-terrace. The exhibition hall is open whenever there is an exhibition.
Opening hours are Monday to Sunday from 9.00 am to 8.00 pm (from 3 March to 2 November) and Monday to Sunday from 9.00 am to 6.30 pm (from 3 November to 2 March).
Casa Mila is easy to reach by foot, bus (7,16,17, 22, 24 and V17), metro (L3 and L5, stop Diagonal) and train (FGC: stop Provença-La Pedrera or RENFE: stop Passeig de Gràcia).


Casa Vicens

Casa Vicens was Gaudi’s first important work and was built as a family house for the Vicens family in between 1883 and 1889. Characteristic for this house are the Moorish influences and the different patterned tiles. This last detail is thanks to the owner, Mr. Vicens, being the owner of a brick and tile factory. Besides the Moorish influences you’ll also see oriental influences and the inspiration Gaudi got from the surrounding nature back in the design of the house. Casa Vicens obtained a UNESCO status in 2005.


Casa Vicens, Barcelona. (c) J.J. Merelo. Flickr CC.

As the house is a private residence until now you can’t enter the building. This will change towards the end of 2017, when the house will be opened for the public late 2017. For now it is still worth to venture to the house to admire the outside of it. It is located at Carolines, no. 24 in the Gracia district.


Casa Vicens, Barcelona. (c) Michela Simoncini. Flickr CC.



If you have limited time, we suggest you visit at least La Sagrada Familia, followed by a walk around Parc Guell and a visit to one of the mansions in the centre. Purchasing your tickets online can save a lot of time and hassle (and sometimes money). Especially in high season, which lasts pretty long here. We are sure you will get more out out of your weekend by buying your ticket online.

Have you seen Gaudi’s work in Barcelona already? Which site is your favorite?


The other articles for this month’s Art Smart Roundtable are:

  1. Christina of Daydream Tourist – Brunelleschi the Architect: More Than Florence’s Duomo 
  2. Jenna of This Is My Happiness – Digging Deeper: Historic Architecture in California
  3. Alexandra of ArtTrav – Putting on a good face: Renaissance facades in Florence