Tag Archives: MAtisse

AMSTERDAM’S GREAT ART – for a limited time only…

It’s a particularly brilliant time for art exhibitions in Dutch galleries at the moment. Mevrouw T and I are fans of art – maybe we don’t know as much about it as we should, but we know what we like, and we very much like what we are seeing right now.

Of course in Amsterdam there are always the Rembrandts and Vermeers in the Rijksmuseum. It is being renovated at the moment, with work set to drag on till at least 2013, but I regard that as a plus. Like the Louvre in Paris, the Rijksmuseum is simply too big to take in at a sitting (or rather, a wandering) so for first time visitors a tour of the highlights which are on display may well be a better option.

The Van Gogh Museum is brimming with Van Goghs any time of year, and people queue to get in to see them. The Van Gogh has a new Gaugin exhibition at the moment. http://www.vangoghmuseum.nl/vgm/index.jsp

On the Amstel canal in the newly-opened (2009) Hermitage Museum there are some of the best works of Matisse (notably his very famous ‘Dance’) as well as Picasso, Kandinsky, Malevich and others. If the Hermitage can keep presenting work as good as this, it is a worthy rival to the big two above.

It’s only on until May 16, but we highly recommend the exhibition in the Jewish Historic Museum Gedurfte Verzamelen or “Daring Patronage”.  This was an unexpected treat. The collections of three wonderful Jewish art patrons from the 19th and the first half of the 20th centuries are on show. The highlights are three superb Chagalls, including his green-faced violinist, and a selection of Piet Mondriaan’s paintings, proving he could do more than just rule a few black lines and colour in the boxes. http://www.jhm.nl/current/exhibitions/daring-patronage

The Rembrandthuis, the house where Rembrandt lived, has an exhibition of early photography: http://www.rembrandthuis.nl/cms_pages/index_sub.php?url=actueel_en.php&path=1,0,0&nav_lang=en

Meanwhile down in Den Haag (the Hague), a 40 minute train ride away, the Gemeentemuseum has a superb Kandinsky retrospective.
http://www.gemeentemuseum.nl/index.php?id=1&langId=en

Tip: For anybody planning to visit four or more museums in Holland, a museumkaart (museum card) is excellent value. It is valid for most museums in the country, good for a year, and can be bought at most major museums. We are wearing out our museum cards by having them swiped so often. Cost: EUR35 plus EUR4.95 ”handling costs”. Why don’t they just say they cost EUR40? Since individual museum entry is EUR7.50 to EUR12.50, that’s still a very good deal.

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HERMITAGE AMSTERDAM – from Russia with love

Hermitage and Amstel River

The Dutch and the Russians go way back as allies. In 1813 Peter the Great sent some Cossacks to help the kick the French out of Holland. The royals on both sides got matey and Prince William of Orange married Anna Pavlovna Romanova in 1816. Hitler’s mistake in invading Russia hastened the end of German occupation of the Netherlands. Dutch supercoach Guus Hiddink now trains the Russian World Cup soccer team.

Now there’s an art gallery connection. Last year the famous Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg opened a regional branch in Amsterdarn. The Hermitage has more paintings lying around in the dusty cellars than it has walls to hang them on, so it was a sensible idea to lend some of their surplus pics to their Dutch pals.

Amstel River

Amsterdam had a nice big building on a spectacular site on the Amstel River. For three hundred years it had been a home for old people, but with the rising standards of care demanded in modern Holland, it was no longer considered suitable for housing anybody. So in 2007 the last old person moved out, and the redevelopment team under architect Luuk Kramer moved in.

They did a beautiful job. The fabulous Matisse to Malevich exhibition has just opened and will be in Amsterdam till September. It features some of Matisse’s masterpieces, including the stunning Red Room and his famous Dance II (those girls holding hands and dancing in a circle), as well as some of the best work of his fellow “fauves”, Derain and de Vlaminck. Then there’s a room of full of great Picassos, and another of Kandinsky’s bright-coloured landscape period as he moved towards abstraction.

The view of the Amstel from the gents’ toilet is lovely too.

The displaced old people are not entirely forgotten in this museum. Downstairs in the cellar is a reconstruction of a 1725 kitchen, to show how the old people used to live, on a diet of artificial potatoes, apparently. Upstairs is a super modern Luuk Kramer designed café – so smart that we assumed we couldn’t afford coffee there.

I suspect most visitors go to St Petersburg for one main attraction – the Hermitage. Shame it’s so complicated and so expensive to get there. It’s much cheaper and easier to get to the Amsterdam branch.

TIP: A Dutch ‘museumkaart’ (museum card) gives unlimited access to most museums in the country. It is valid for a year, costs 40 Euros and is good value if you’re planning to visit five museums or more. You can buy a museumkaart at all major museums.

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