Letter from Holland

By | Category: Travel destinations
Prinsjesdag

Prinsjesdag

The 115th of September is Prince’s Day – Prinsjesdag, the day that the King of the Netherlands delivers the speech outlining government policy for the year ahead, there is as much pomp and circumstance as we have on the day of the Queen’s Speech. That draws visitors to see the coaches, the finery and the procession. But whilst you are in the Netherlands there are lots of things to see this autumn in their galleries and museums.

In Arnhem from the 26-27th of September there is the Living Statues Festival, really just one big street theatre when over 200 people stay as remarkably still as they can be. Unofficially this is the world championship for those people that we see in places like Trafalgar Square in London.

This year, the Panorama Mesdag in the Hague re-opened its doors after a 4-year renovation. They are holding an exhibition of thirty works of art from the family collection including those famous seascapes by H W Mesdag. That lasts until the 4th of October as does an exhibition about van Gogh at the Dutch Museum of Lithography in V alkenswaard. Few people know of van Gogh’s lithographs as they tend not to make the media or the prices that his paintings do. The exhibition also covers a number of surrounding themes, including Van Gogh the collector, his ambition to be a magazine illustrator and desire to become printmaker for the people, Van Gogh as his own advertising and his graphic experiments.

the Potato Eaters

the Potato Eaters

One Van Gogh piece in particular receives special attention: lithograph ‘The Potato Eaters’ was first printed in April 1885. As part of the exhibition, the Dutch Lithography Museum is also reprinting the ‘The Potato Eaters’ litho in collaboration with master lithographer, Gertjan Forrer. A small run of the print has been produced at the museum using an authentic lithography press from Van Gogh’s era. All of the processes involved in creating the original print will be re-enacted with meticulous precision, 130 years since it was produced.

This year, the University of Leiden is 440 years old. Looking forward rather than back, the Museum de Lakenhal has asked twenty artists from around the world to exhibit their work or to make a new piece that reflects their vision on today’s globalized world. The exhibition is hosted in De Meelfabriek in Leiden, an abandoned flour factory that reflects the city’s industrial past.

On until 18th of October at the Hortus Botanicus in Amsterdam is an exhibition that reveals the obsessive passion of Joséphine, (the first wife of Napoleon Bonaparte) for collecting and who created an impressive botanical collection. After her death, all of her plant collections disappeared. But the botanic illustrator, Pierre Joseph Redouté, made many drawings and these form the exhibition. Botanists accompanying Napoleon on his expeditions, as well as the emperor himself, would send hundreds of seeds to Paris. Even during the Napoleonic Wars, ships carrying specimens for Joséphine were allowed free passage.

Another exhibition reflecting Napoleon and Josephine but this time linked with Tsar Alexander I of Russia is on at the Hermitage until the 18th of October. More than two hundred paintings, sculptures, personal possessions, gowns and uniforms, objets d’art and impressive weapons are on display. The central themes are friendship, war and politics, as well as Joséphine’s great art collection, Napoleon’s death mask and a medallion with a lock of Alexander’s hair. A significant part of Joséphine’s collection eventually came into the possession of the Hermitage, and many of the highlights are on display in Holland for the first time.

tulips in spring is what the keukenhof means to most people. But go and buy bulbs in October as well

tulips in spring is what the keukenhof means to most people. But go and buy bulbs in October as well

For just two days, (9th and 10th of October) Keukenhof is open to the public. The bulb weekend provides the opportunity to see the park in its autumn colours but just as importantly, dozens of bulb growers will offer their products for sale, including many exclusive species. Information is also supplied first-hand about planting and nurturing different kinds of bulbs. Preparing for the main Keukenhof display next year, approximately 7 million flower bulbs will be planted in the gardens.

Attracting 150,000 visitors, the Dutch Design Week from 17th until the 25th of October in Eindhoven is a place where industrial design, concept design, graphic design, textile & fashion, spatial design, food design and design management and trends come together in over 300 events at 60 plus locations.

At the Onderzeebootloods (Submarine Wharf) in Heijplaat, Rotterdam there is an exhibition called The Attack Exhibition which tells the five day story in May 1940 of the bombing that was to leave the city in ruins. Running until October 25th, huge projections show the battle from three different perspectives: the confusion on the part of the residents, the resistance and the battle fought by the Dutch military, and the experience of the German military. The exhibition, which includes stunning images, personal stories and original artefacts, is dominated by the looming form of a Heinkel He 111, the bomber that destroyed the city.

The Rijksmuseum © Mohammed Reza Amirinia

The Rijksmuseum © Mohammed Reza Amirinia

It is the 60th birthday of Miffy this year and, at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam there are over 120 prints and drawings by Dick Bruna, the creator of Miffy along with and artists who influenced his work including Matisse and van der Leck. But there is more to Bruna’s work than just Miffy as he was prolific designer of book jackets including those for some of the Maigret detective stories. This exhibition runs until the middle of November.

Opening on the 9th of October with over 80 works by Joan Miró, is what is called an “experimental play in art” at the Cobra Museum in Amstelveen, this will be the first major exhibition of his work in Holland in over 50 years. It explores the relationship between Joan Miró (1893-1983) and CoBrA (1948-1951). There will also be 60 works by various Cobra artists including Karel Appel, Asger Jorn, Constant and Pierre Alechinsky. A central part of the exhibition will be the reconstruction of Miró’s Mallorca studio, consisting of more than 40 original objects and shown for the first time on such a large scale.

Next year, the big cultural event in the Netherlands will be the celebrations of the 500th anniversary of the death of Hieronymus Bosch. The Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam kicks off early with an exhibition opening on October 10th featuring Bosch as one of the artists that created paintings and drawings which make a mockery of respectability. Welcome to a world of brothels, skating parties, dancing peasants and quacks. Bosch is the first artist who we know painted scenes of this kind, though only a few have survived. ‘The Pedlar’ is the most famous, showing a vagabond with a brothel in the background. Bruegel’s works conclude the exhibition and also the period of the pioneers of genre painting

the Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Deijman

the Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Deijman

At the Hermitage in Amsterdam there is an exhibition of features more than 30 group portraits dating from the 17th and 18th centuries. These enormous paintings originate from the Amsterdam Museum and Rijksmuseum and are accompanied by other paintings and objects, including Rembrandt’s The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Deijman. Running until December, together they illustrate the story of collective citizenship that typifies Holland. These “brothers and sisters” of the Night Watch are unique in the world and rarely seen due to their size, some of which are as large as six metres by three.

Another exhibition (running until January) celebrating the 125th anniversary since the death of van Gogh is at the museum named after him. This takes a slightly different approach in that it features 23 Dutch and international contemporary artists and writers who have all created artworks in response to specific sections from letters by Vincent van Gogh who wrote more than 800 letters, the majority addressed to his brother Theo. The paintings, drawings, poems, videos and other items of the 23 show how Van Gogh still inspires today.

Also at the Van Gogh Museum is an exhibition running until mid-January which looks at the work of Van Gogh and the Norwegian artist, Edvard Munch. Both artists wished to modernise art, both artists largely chose existential and universal themes and both artists used highly expressive visual language. Despite the many parallels that can be found in the work of Van Gogh and Munch and their great significance, no exhibition has ever before attempted to bring together these two artists. The exhibition will consist of around 70 paintings (including one of Munch’s The Scream) and 30 works on paper.

At the EYE Filmmuseum in Amsterdam until the 17th of January, there is an exhibition about Antonioni who is largely thought of as a filmmaker. The exhibition contains film fragments, photos by press photographers from Magnum, set photos, letters from Marcello Mastroianni, Jeanne Moreau and Umberto Eco, and paintings by Antonioni. Antonioni’s films will be screened in the auditoriums and accompanied by special programmes.

rare Roman treasures at De Nieuwe Kerk

rare Roman treasures at De Nieuwe Kerk

An exhibition at De Nieuwe Kerk, Amsterdam which opens on the 8th of October and lasts until early February focuses on some amazing treasures of Roman art and architecture dating from the fourth century onwards. Objects of that era bear witness today to a success story that unfolded in slow motion: the transformation of Christianity in imperial Rome from a small religious community to a dominant world religion that would have unimaginable influence on the Western world.

“Selfies from the golden age” is the sub title of an exhibtion opening at the Mauritshuis in The Hague this October. It’s a modern explanation of what in days past would have been called self-portraits! Jan Steen, Rembrandt, Carel Fabritius and Gerrit Dou are among the many included in the 27 paintings.

typical Keith Haring

typical Keith Haring

The Kunsthal in Rotterdam will present a major exhibition until early February next year on the life and work of influential American artist and activist Keith Haring (1958-1990). ‘Keith Haring. The Political Line’ will be the first exhibition in Holland to highlight in detail the social and political aspects of his life’s work. One hundred and twenty artworks will reveal an underexposed side of this world-famous artist.

The Het Nieuwe Instituut in Rotterdam will become a temporary fashion museum until next May, with a varying programme of exhibitions, installations, performances and events. Many Dutch museums include fashion within their collections but there is no Dutch national fashion museum. Over a period of eight months Het Nieuwe Instituut will explore the possibilities of such an institution by transforming itself into a fashion museum.. It will give visitors an opportunity to engage with fashion in different ways: from debating about essential issues to trying on and buying.

For more about exhibitions in the Netherlands, click here.

 

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