Despite the extent of Amsterdam’s 17th and 18th century heritage some modernity does emerge. However modern buildings do tend to be on the periphery for obvious reasons. It was not surprising therefore that our main encounter with contemporary, large-scale architecture was from a cruise boat as we passed into the main stretch of water alongside the central railway station, itself a modern structure of steel and glass. It was quite a surprise to find oneself move rapidly from the 17th century to the 21st century.
Not all of what we saw was particularly attractive either suggesting that if left to their own devices and not restricted by the fact of an existing city even the Dutch could well have created something not especially attractive. It would seem that the Dutch are just as susceptible to a bit of intercultural kitsch too as you can see from the copy of a famous floating restaurant the original of which can be found in Hong Kong.
Nevertheless there are some striking buildings, usually created for artistic or other cultural purposes such as the Bimhuis concert hall and the NEMO science museum.
Meanwhile back at the Museum Quarter we struggled to find the entrance to the Van Gogh Museum as a completely new entrance was being constructed that had to be negotiated before we could make our way inside past the long queues with our “I Amsterdam” red cards (I recommend these but be prepared to get a move on to make them an economic option). The Van Gogh was quite an eye opener as a detailed exposition of the artists career documented using primarily the collection left to his brother and sister-in-law who worked tirelessly to preserve and promote his work. Here is one of the most famous pieces from the great man’s oeuvre.
Adjacent to the Van Gogh Museum is the Stedelijk Museum, an international museum dedicated to modern and contemporary art and design. This is very impressive from outside and walking under the immense roof projection felt as if we were emerging from the Mother Ship.
Lucky for us the museum was presenting a substantial exhibition of Matisse work, especially of the cut-outs. I have to admit that I am not a great fan of these. They really are a bit too much like the work from a kids creative art class for me. Still if one has to have cut-outs then I guess these are pretty good ones.
After a hard day’s touristing and cultural consuming there is, of course, only one thing that one can do and even here the relentless Dutch had something to say about how one arrived in the “desperate for a cup of tea” state.
To close this post on the modern I feel I have to present to you my own piece of modern art created out of an entrance ticket and a cloakroom token. In my work I like to confront the dilemma of the alienated person in the airless space of modern conceptual art thereby freeing the mind to wander where it will go-oh-oh-oh.