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Tabula Rasa: Amsterdam Art Tour

What’s truly amazing to me is that how such a small country like Holland or The Netherlands can have so many world class artists – REMBRANDT, VERMEER, the other Dutch old masters, and the modern impressionist VAN GOGH. Their cup runneth over – with art. And Amsterdam honors their memories.

There is a large statue of Rembrandt at (what else?) the REMBRANDT SQUARE downtown. At the Museum Plein, there are 4 museums featuring the Dutch artists along with other European masters: the RIJKS, the STED, the VAN GOGH, and the MOCO which are all within walking distance of each other. At the time me visited, the featured English street artist – BANKSY, was at the MOCO museum. The museum – a repurposed townhouse – was jam-packed! The Rijks is their traditionalist museum – iconic like Paris’ Louvre and Madrid’s Prado.

The MOCO museum stands for Modern Contemporary Museum. It is located at the former Villa Alsberg, a 1904 townhouse that has been repurposed and renovated as a Museum of Contemporary Art. During our visit, the featured artist was the mysterious British street artist BANKSY who has achieved worldwide fame (or notoriety?). In the basement of MOCO, there is an art installation of Roy Lichtenstein, the American Pop-Art icon called “Van Gogh’s Bedroom at Arles”.

The STEDELLIJK museum is an 1895 building – renovated to house a collection of contemporary art and design – paintings, household objects, furniture, etc. The artists featured are Mondrian, Koons, Basquiat, Picasso and Chagall.

The VAN GOGH MUSEUM is a new, modern building devoted entirely to the Dutch post – Impressionist master. Unlike other museums, it is open daily, 365 days. It showcases about 700 of Van Gogh’s body of work which total about 800. Did you know that VG sold only 1 painting in his lifetime? No wonder he cut off an ear– in frustration! Van Gogh, like Picasso, was an admirer of Japanese wood block artists like Hiroshige. And both COPIED their style in some of their paintings.

The RIJKS Museum is Amsterdam’s version of the Louvre and the Prado in a much smaller scale. It was founded in 1817 – about the same time as the Louvre. The building has 4 floors and each floor showcases the art and artifacts of different eras. It features the works of Goya, Vermeer and Rembrandt. Thanks to Dutch urban planners, the four museums are located in one city-square easily accessible by tram or bus.

Compared to Barcelona, Paris, Madrid or Lisbon, Amsterdam is a relatively small city which means a visitor can practically WALK to many of the city’s attractions. Of course, the city has excellent trams and buses – and BICYCLES. Aside from ART, Amsterdam offers many unique attractions: COFFEE houses where the distinct smell of Marijuana permeates; the boat-ride on their esteros (very CLEAN!) which offers an unusual view of their vintage buildings. And then there is their world-famed “RED-LIGHT DISTRICT” which features nude and near-nude women on glass showcases. I thought they were mannequins – until they motioned for me to enter the club, I was SHOCKED – shocked, I tell ya! Maybe, when I get to be a little older…

After a week in Amsterdam, we flew via KLM to LISBON, Portugal. From Lisbon, we took a plane to SEVILLA, Spain – which I’ll write about next time.

By Dinky Munda, Jr.

Top photos from clockwise: The Rijks Museum behind the Amsterdam sign. The Rembrandt Plein. Dinky Munda, Jr. viewing Banksy’s work at the  MOCO Museum. Sunflower painting by Vincent Van Gogh at the Van Gogh Museum.

Photos to the right: Dinky in front of the Rijks Museum at the Museum Plein. Queenie Munda at the Van Gogh Museum also situated at the Museum Plein.


Daryl Descallar


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