Masters of light and colour. Amsterdam. Netherlands

As an art lover, I am especially intrigued by painting – both classical, modern and contemporary. Like in photography, what fascinates me most are the visual effects of light and colour. So I embarked on a special tour to Amsterdam to make a deep dive on that subject. Come and join me on my tour of light and colour.

The world reknowned Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam hosted a unique world sensation: the most extensive ever shown exhibition of 16th century painting master Jan Vermeer. Only 37 paintings are known of him, 28 of which were displayed in this exhibition. The organisation took a world record 8 years!

Vermeer was born and raised in the dutch town of Delft during the Dutch Golden Age. He started with landscape painting. Here a view of his home town. Interesting is the perspective of the viewer: from an elevated standpoint across a river.

Another of his rare city motives shows a street house in Delft (ca 1655). Besides the architecture it gives a glimpse of everyday life with the children playing in the street.

The famous painting “The Astronomer” brings the view of the universe into the intimate life of home. Noteworthy is Vermeer’s play with light: the sunlight glittering through the window is the brightest spot of the whole painting.

In “Officer and Laughing Girl” (1657/58) we can find some typical Vermeer characteristics: The bright light shining through the window, the girl at centerstage, the male protagonist turned with his back to the viewer, and a map on the wall. The painting nicely shows the principles of central perspectives.

After Vermeer I moved forward 2 centuries in art history. The ultra modern Van Gogh museum is unique of its kind: it permanently displays more than 200 works of this epoche-making artist.

Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890) is arguably one of the most influential painters of all time. In this museum dedicated solely to him, I saw a photo of him for the first time.

His series of self portraits is unparalleled. In total, he depicted himself in 43 portrait paintings. This one is dated 1889, and visualises how he was trying to stand firm in the turmoil of his mental illness.

“The Yellow House” is a late work from 1888 showing Van Gogh’s habitat in Arles, France. There he spent his last years of his far too short life.

The “Sunflowers” – one of Van Gogh’s most famous – is a painting of a series of two, in this case in a vase. The ways in which he plays with numerous shades of yellow and golden colours are amazing.

“The Harvest” is one of his finest landscapes, that he concluded in a single day. The panoramic view captures a patchwork of fields in Provence. It is one of my absolute favorite paintings overall: it beams me into that feeling of a hot midsummer day in romantic rural tranquility.

“Fields near Auvers-sur-Oise” is notable for its deep sense of space. The horizon is high and leaves only a norrow strip of sky. This reinforces the illusion of endless space.

In “Wheatfield under Thunderclouds” Van Gogh portrays all-encompassing nature in a very forceful manner. He believed that these canvases “will tell what I cannot express in words: what I consider healthy and fortifying about the countryside”.

Dr Gachet was a physician in Auvers near Paris, who treated Van Gogh up until his suicide in 1890. He was also an avid supporter of the impressionism style and its artists.  ” The Portrait of Dr Gachet” is testament to Van Gogh’s close relationship with him.

The “Church of Auvers” was created in Van Gogh’s last year. It shows in an impressive way the dichtonomy between heaven and earth. The dark blue sky with heavy paint strokes is in stark contrast to the brightly lit soil in the foreground. In between is the Church. A great metapher, as if Van Gogh has anticipated his soon death.

And on we go in our art time travel. The Moco is a small but fine Modern Art Museum in the Museum Quarter right next to its big siblings, the Van Gogh Museum and the Rijksmuseum.

This sci-fi like “body” creates various (optical) illusions. Is this a harbinger of a human robot controlled by AI ?

This black and white thing reminds me of a pumpkin.

Banksy has managed to work his way forward to well established Museums of Modern Art. This “Rude Copper” displays Banksy’s disdain for police, created in response to the controversial 2000 Terrorism Act increasing the force’s stop and search powers.

On this tombstone Banksy shows his satirical side: The famous quote “stolen” from Pablo Picasso literally implies that Banksy himself is a great artist.

I left the museums quarter and crossing the North Sea Canal I reached a unique part of Amsterdam. “NDSM” is a vast area where once one of the largest shipyards in the world was located. It was operational until the mid-1980s when…

…it was shut down and left idle for a couple of years. Then the City council decided to rejuvenate it. It has become an amazing global mecca for street art.

my slow Trip Masters of Light and Colour Amsterdam Straat graffiti museum selfie (5 von 1)

The STRAAT museum is the hotspot to visit when touring the revitalised NDSM.

The STRAAT resides in an 8000 m2 former warehouse on the NDSM wharf, both a national monument and the biggest outdoor playground for street art and graffiti in Amsterdam. 

The museum for street art and graffiti aims to share the passion for this radical art movement with the public, showcasing some of the biggest names and upcoming talent from all over the world.

The exhibition displays more than 160 artworks by 150+ artists. The artworks were created on-site and most of these mind blowing visual experiences are as big as outdoor walls. 

The complexity, details and play with contures and colours is mind boggling.

This idea gave me a wow effect: an old, rusty rolling beam, where visitors can put their thoughts and wishes on colourful post-it notes in rust holes.

Three dimensional multi-colour installations give an impression of blur between illusion and reality.

Back the the museum quarter, the Stedelijk  is a museum for modern art, contemporary art, and design, from the early 20th century up to the 21st century. It features amongst many others artists such as Marc Chagall, Wassily Kandinsky, Jackson Pollock, and Andy Warhol.

A giant sized “carpet” of small, flat aluminum capsules.

A nice imagination at the end of my memorable Amsterdam museum tour exploring light & colour: a rare chance of becoming the “Time Magazine” Person of the Year.