The Amsterdam Museum and What Makes Amsterdam Unique

On June 17, the Amsterdam Museum opened its newest exhibition: “De Mooiste Stad,” or “The Most Beautiful City.” The gallery on a passageway has been turned into an exhibition about the wonders of the Dutch capital city.

“We all have a huge problem: we live in the most beautiful and nicest city in the world,” said the late mayor of Amsterdam, Eberhard van der Laan. The Dutch politician, who passed away in 2017 to lung cancer, was mayor of the city from 2010 until his death. During the last period of his life, van der Laan had been working on an exhibition about the city he loved so dearly. A selection of more than 80 paintings, pictures and objects from the collection of the Amsterdam Museum and the city’s archives portraits how the inhabitants of the city have dealt with as fast population growth throughout the years. Through the exhibition, the late mayor hoped to initiate a conversation on the city’s future. The decoration of the “The Most Beautiful City,” mainly done out of scaffolding, symbolizes that Amsterdam is never completely finished.

Van der Laan’s exhibit shows that living in such a place can indeed be a problem; an increase in residents and tourists is leading to a housing market that is on the verge of collapsing and to streets that are too crowded for anyone’s good. But these aren’t just contemporary problems. In “The Most Beautiful City,” the much-loved mayor demonstrates that issues such as high immigration numbers and tourism have been around for centuries in our country’s capital. For instance, the exposition demonstrates the issues with bad living conditions through the centuries; whole families would live in a damp basement because there was no affordable housing available. In addition, many problems are presented to the audience such as the social housing system intervention, making decent housing possible for even the poorest of the city’s inhabitants. As an eulogy of the city, its progressiveness is represented by remembering the first December 21, 2001, when a law to allow same-sex marriage was signed in the Netherlands for the first time in history. As a result, the exhibition pays homage to administrators of the city who had a great influence on its developments, including Monne de Miranda, Jan Schaefer and Floor Wibaut.

Many locals joined the exhibit. Among them, 63-year-old visitor Marion van der Kleij, who was born and raised in Amsterdam, admits the has suffered from a large crowd over the years. “Here, you can see that all these developments and expansions actually pay off,” she comforts herself. “It changes your perspective, to be more positive.” Like van der Kleij, her friend and fellow citizen of Amsterdam, Paulien van Gijn, 59, believes the exhibition taught her that people have been complaining about problems in the city for centuries. “Even years ago, people would write angry letters about fences that were in their way or expansion of the city,” van Gijn said. The two women admit being fans of former mayor Eberhard van der Laan. Van der Kleij. “The exhibition was quite moving,” van der Kleij adds, “I kept tearing up. I suppose it was a combination of the exhibition and the late mayor.”

The exposition is open to the public from 10am and 5pm every day until November 4. The display is the result of a partnership with the festival “We Make the City” that takes place from June 20 to June 24 across Amsterdam.

Avenue reporter at the Amsterdammer.

21-year-old Dutch girl with a passion for journalism, traveling and getting people to make her food. I’m also a Communication Science student at the University of Amsterdam and a lindy hop dancer -but I’m not that good at it quite yet.

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The Game Continues: Searching for Space Invaders in Amsterdam

Since 1998, the French urban artist, Invader, started his mission of liberating art from the boundaries that museums and institutions set. The artist brings one of the most beloved games from the 80’s back to life and intends to transcend the game screen and release Space Invaders into the real world. His series of ceramic tiles have already “invaded” over 30 countries, with over 3,600 pieces spread in more than 70 cities, in which Amsterdam figures as one of the “victims.”

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Invader operates alone and has also inspired others to start similar projects, Space Invaders turning into an artistic movement. Raluca Dumitrache/ Staff Photographer

On his website, Invader explains his artistic process and how the game works. He focuses on populated urban areas and decorates each city with 20 to 50 tiles, distributed in one or more “invasion waves”, depending on how many times the artist visits the city.

Invader invading

Invader believes that the pixel characters are in strong correlation with the today’s world which is surrounded by technological developments. Thus, their names hold both a metaphoric and literal meaning, since they are actually invading spaces.

Invader works incognito, largely at night and masked, as urban art street is considered illegal. In search for artistic decontextualization, Invader hopes to “not only leave a print on the streets but also on the minds” (Invader-About, 2018).

Make it work

Invader gives each piece a score between 10 and 100, every city having their own score that can be seen on the Space Invaders map. Amsterdam has had one invasion wave in the summer of 1999, with 26 invaders and a score of 370 points. The FlashInvaders app can help you calculate your score and compare it with others internationally.

 

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FlashInvader App shows you the name and points for each piece. For example, piece 18 can be found on the intersection of Prinsengracht with Spiegelgracht. Raluca Dumitrache/ Staff Photographer

 

Visit their website for more: www.space-invaders.com/world/

Photographer at The Amsterdammer

Rijksmuseum, Home for Dutch Masters

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You do not have to search a lot about the Netherlands to find the monumental twin buildings designed by the renown Dutch architect Pierre Cuypers: Amsterdam Central Station and the Rijksmuseum, the National Museum. Both are fundamental to the city of Amsterdam.

The museum exhibits some of the best artistic works from the Dutch golden era, the 17th century.  One of the main differences between this and other big European museums is that here you can understand how the Netherlands became one of the biggest nations in the world. This place praises the Dutch society of the golden age and their former way of thinking, trading, and living.

Three big names are what attract most people: Johannes Vermeer, Frans Hals and, of course, Rembrandt. It’s important to say that painters in the time earned their living painting portraits for the wealthy people, this is why we can understand so much of the manner these people lived in because three influential painters were constantly producing art that reflected their reality.

A huge amount of Hals’ portraits can be found in the Rijksmuseum as well as his most famous paintings, like The Merry Drinker, The Meagre Company and the popular portrait of Isaac Abrahamsz Massa and Beatrix van der Laen.

Vermeer’s technique is recognizable from every angle of the museum. Most of his paintings show the interior of houses. He is known for the way he used light in his work. “The Milkmaid,” “The Love Letter,” and two rare townscape paintings can be appreciated in the museum.

Rembrandt van Rijn is the big shot of the Rijksmuseum. Rembrandt is one of the best painters that ever lived. Rembrandt’s most acclaimed work lays every day from the walls of the Rijksmuseum. We can see how a man can change in the course of 33 years with Rembrandt’s famous self-portraits, we can also find some biblical scenes like Jeremiah lamenting the fall of Jerusalem or The Denial of St. Peter.

“The Night Watch” is the climax of the visit. This painting from 1642 is Rembrandt’s largest and most famous work. It shows the Militia Company of District II ready to go into action. This is arguably the most important painting in the Netherlands and it stands out from every other artwork in the gallery.

Without a doubt, what makes the Rijksmuseum important is the mixture of society and art in the seventeenth century. Very few National Museums have as main attractions the best works of their local painters and in this globalized world where you can find anything, anywhere, the Rijksmuseum stands as one of the few places where you can find and understand everything about the Dutch golden era.

Avenue Reporter

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Van Gogh Museum, Life through Vincent’s Eyes

It is rare to find a museum dedicated to a single artist. It is a risky proposal, as it is common to see the best paintings in the history of art displayed in distinct countries, distributed to travel around the world.

The Van Gogh Museum, built in 1973, is the place where all the story about the famed Dutch painter lies. You can argue that his most significant work is not exhibited here, but what this museum will give you is a privileged perspective of how Vincent conceived the world.

This museum is a four-floor journey through the eyes of Vincent. The road starts when, after struggling with finding something to live for, Van Gogh decides to become a painter at the age of 27. His early years are full of very dark paintings from his time in the poor province of Neunen in The Netherlands. During this period, Van Gogh enjoyed painting weavers, cottages, and peasants. The most iconic painting of this era is The Potato Eaters.

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The Potato Eaters, Van Gogh, 1885.

Everything changes with his departure to France, in 1886. A sparkle of light struck Van Gogh and his paintings. He became good friends with the Impressionists and his work dramatically changed. His paintings, once with a very dark palette, turned very bright thanks to a lighter palette that would become constant and representative in his next works.

We cannot talk about Van Gogh without talking about his brother and his close friends. Friendship played a huge role in Van Gogh’s life and the museum seems to understand that. We can know how Vincent was thanks to the letters he sent to Theo, his brother, and his other artist friends.

When Vincent was at his lowest, his brother was his confidant, but he was also very thoughtful of his friends: he would send them letters when they were having a rough time.

His artist friends also inspired him. In every hall, apart from seeing Vincent’s evolution through the years, we can see what his friends were doing and we will instantly recognize some things that they took from Vincent and some that Vincent took from them. A perfect feedback.

A letter to Paul Signac sums up everything. Van Gogh writes: “The best consolation, if not the only remedy, is, it seems to me, profound friendships.”

Maybe we will never fully understand what is going on inside a troubled mind. We need to appreciate everything Theo van Gogh and family did in order to create all of this.  Thanks to them, we can have a very small glimpse of how it was to be Vincent van Gogh, with his genius and his troubles.

Avenue Reporter