Amsterdam’s Newest Art Work

I was playing tour guide on Sunday and we wandered up Rokin, the area between Muntplein and the Dam, this area is being redeveloped and is full of restaurants with terraces where people were eating lunch in the sun. At the top of Rokin, just before you get to the Dam is this wonderful sculpture/fountain.

It features two heads facing in opposite directions and water seeps from the top of the heads down their shoulders, across the plinth and spills onto the ground. It was 24 degrees (75F) so it had a pleasant cooling effect, it might be less fun on subzero winter days!

It’s a stunning work of art and the courtyard around it is a peaceful oasis despite being right on a tram route.

The sculpture is by Mark Manders, a Dutch/Belgian sculptor and it was installed on the 31 July 2017.So brand new.

You can see a short movie about the installation from Gemeente Amsterdam (Amsterdam City Council) sorry it’s only in Dutch but the pictures are cool.


Rijksmuseum Summer Garden

Every summer the Rijksmuseum garden turns into a sculpture exhibit. This year the works are by Jean Dubuffet and from the Stedelijk Museum’s collection. The sculptures are bold, colourful, playful perfect for summer. Here are my two favourites from the gardens this year.

Arbre Biplan (version III)

“Tree Biplane”, this is the first large scale sculpture he made and he was still experimenting with the epoxy materials to find ways to make large scale sculpture. I walked around this several times, because there’s no symmetry the view changes, I love the contrast of the random shape of the sculpture against the formal architecture of the museum.

Le Deviseur I (The Chatterer)

He looks like he’s ready to chat, but there’s also something throne like about his chair. This is a sculpture I would love to have – in the fantasy garden of my fantasy mansion.

The exhibition is in the gardens until the 1 October 2017. There are also daily workshops for kids in a marquee in the garden (probably in Dutch, but hey it’s a craft project kids can figure out instructions). If you want to see more Dubuffet Stedelijk Museum is also exhibiting paintings from its collection (until 24 Sept).



The Amsterdam lights festival starts tomorrow and some of the exhibits are already set up, I spotted two on my cycle ride along Herengracht today.

Amsterdam Lights festival When I saw this in the distance I thought it was swim lanes which changed colour, even though it’s a little chilly for swimming. The colours change every few seconds and go through the colours of the rainbow. When I got closer I could see that it was rows of floating water lilies.

lights-1In fact it’s called Flower Strip, and on a calm night the reflections will be fabulous.


This is Bridge of the Rainbow, I guess there’ll be a full rainbow by tomorrow night, but once again the reflections on this are great.

The location of all the artworks is listed on the Amsterdam Light Festival website, they’re all outside so you can wander (or cycle) the route for free. Alternatively there are boat cruises which are worth doing, as a lot of the artworks are oriented for viewing from a boat. There’s also a free walking route in the Hortus Botanicus area and guided tours. It’s one of the cool things in the city – I like finding the sculptures “accidentally”. It’s the perfect way to take advantage of the long winter nights.

Summer Sculpture at the Rijksmuseum

The gardens of the Rijksmuseum have their own exhibition in summer, this year the sculptures are by Giuseppe Penone, who uses natural elements in unexpected ways – rocks land in trees, gold glints from within a tree, and marble reveals veins.

it’s it’s free to enter and wander around. I arrived before 10 and the garden was fairly empty, there’s a small espresso bar in the old summerhouse if you need some caffeine before going into the museum. Here are my highlights from the garden sculptures. (Scroll down for video).

The water sculpture is called “Hide and See(k)” and it’s by Jeppe Hein, it’s a series of water jets arrayed in a square within a circle and programmed to release water in a sequence. At times you can walk through it, so I did, and took this 360 degree view from within.

ARTZUID; a sculpture exhibition

Artzuid is on again this year, 70 sculptures have been placed along Apollolaan, Minervalaan, Zuidas, Vondelpark and Museumplein and they’ll stay there until the 22 September.

There’s more information on the Artzuid site, along with information about some of the artworks from previous years. This year there’s also an app – but only for iphone.

If we end up with another sunny weekend it’d be fun to spend an afternoon wandering between the artworks.

ArtZuid – Outdoor Sculpture

These wasps are about the size of a pig, and the fruit is about the height of a human – it’s part of the sculpture route set up along Apollolaan and Minervalaan from 16 August to 26 October. (Take tram 5 or 24 and get off at Apollolaan – where you’ll see these wasps)
I took these images today of some of the sculptures.
Rotting Fruit and Wasps by Florentijn Hofman,At first sight Amsterdam Zuid looks like a quiet, shadowy part of Amsterdam. And still danger is lurking around the corner. As long as you’re hidden behind the high fences in the cool air-conditioned bunker nothing can happen to you. Once on the sidewalk or lawn you’ll imagine yourself in a jungle where wasps as big as pigs and angles as big as machetes have it in for you. Will you be their feast meal or will they prefer the rotting fruit?” is the question for Hofman


Bikini Bar by Joep van Lieshout

A meeting point for elderly people: beautiful, cruel and sensual, with a nice interior space. Both art and architecture, BikiniBar represents a building as a sculpture and a sculpture as a building. There is a place to rest inside, where people can withdraw from the busy beach life or bad weather. BikiniBar is the only female body you can enter without permission.

I found this sculpture disconcerting – a dismembered woman’s body, with a door in one leg so that people can enter? It screams misogyny. Having looked at the artist’s website I think I’m meant to be disconcerted – I guess that makes it more “art”, but I still don’t like it.


Translucide – Antoine Poncet

“The movement is essential in my quest. Everything is moving in nature, in life. Qe must go all the way, faith in search of balance. Maintaining this balance is essential for the sculpture, when you press too hard with your palm everything could fall. Although it is difficult to shape the material in the last phase to perfect satisfaction, this very complex exercise is at the same time the challenge I find my passion for sculpture in. To be able to make a sculpture, you need to bring the material to life, underastand and love it” Antoine Poncet.

This is the piece I could most live with of all the exhibits, but, although it’s one of the smaller pieces on display it’d still dwarf my tiny terrace.


Wachter 1 by Shinkichi Tajiri

After the war Tajiri left America to study with Ossip Zadkine in Paris. There he makes his first series of warriors. Tajiri “All my Warriors and Ronin are three dimensional icons remainders of certain war experiences which have left me with psychological scars. On inspecting the sculpture parts of the torso easily prove to be a suggestion. What we can make out are just fragments of feet, legs, arms, torsos and heads. “Since time immemorial a defensive sentinel day and night, vigilance and power to resist they protect communities against dangers. In their tightly compacted militant force exists a positive mental drive” says Tajiri.


The Thinker (Le Penseur) by Auguste Rodin

Le Penseur shows a man in sober meditation struggling with a powerful internal issue. The work shows Dante sitting at the gates of Hell, pondering over a poem on the hellish fate of those under him. The sculpture creates a philosophical mood. Rodin chose a heroic nude figure, in the tradition of Michelangelo. More than any other sculpture by Rodin Le Penseur was an instantly recognisable icon for intellect and poetry.

I’m sure all of that was true when it was built, but it’s become too iconic to hold much in the way of a philosophical mood now.


Did you see this in Amsterdam?

The books cover

The book's cover

I picked up a guidebook published in 1978 with sites in Amsterdam – some of the more obscure sites – and the history. It’s called Zag u dit in Amsterdam? “Did you see this in Amsterdam”, by J.H. Kruizinga with photos by Joop Steussy. Apparently there are 2 more volumes to find.

I’m fascinated. I’ve been visiting some of the sites to see if they’re still there, I’m going to try and work my way through the book between now and the end of the year. Starting today.

Sculpture of Vondel, where his house once stood

This sculpture is of Joost van den Vondel, for whom Vondelpark is named, it’s set on a building on Warmoesstraat, and indicates where his house once stood.
He lived from 1587 – 1679, and was a writer and playwright, his plays are still performed today.

The legend beneath the sculpture refers to his most famous play “Gijsbrecht van Aemstel” a historical play based on a siege of Amsterdam in 1304.

The play was performed every year on New Year’s Day from 1638 to 1968, but the building on which the sculpture is placed was built in 1911. They must have thought the play would run forever.