On my return trip from South Asia, I decided to extend my transit stop in Frankfurt by visiting Amsterdam, the city of canals and excellent museums. Here are my recommendations for some interesting museums and artists currently on view in Amsterdam’s Museum Square:
Banksy at the Moco Museum
The Moco Museum, housed in a villa built in 1904 to resemble an English country house, presents Banksy Laugh Now. This not-to-be-missed exhibition presents works from Banksy, an anonymous satirical English artist, who caught my attention when he orchestrated an amazing feat: his painting, The Girl with A Balloon, slid out of its frame into shreds while being auctioned at Sotheby’s for $1.4 million. Banksy, who carried out this audacious stunt posted on Instagram an image of the artwork with the phrase ‘Going, going, gone….’
The show exhibits Banksy’s street art, paintings and sculptures in a museum set-up and has received high attendance from millennials. It is on view till the end of September and offers a humorous and often mocking commentary through quizzical epigrams, pictures and sculptures on subjects like capitalism, war, the Catholic Church and art.
One sculpture of a cardinal with his mouth plastered like a criminal depicts the current scandal facing the Catholic church who preach abstinence from sins like wrath, sloth, gluttony, greed, envy, pride and lust while simultaneously indulging in pedophilia. Another idyllic oil painting defaced by the words ‘Home Sweet Home,’ portrays the world today being vandalized by crime.
Bansy’s Laugh Now, a stenciled design of ten monkeys displaying a board message, ‘Laugh now, but one day we’ll be in charge,’ is a humorous take on the future where monkeys rule the world.
His iconic graffiti work, The Girl with a Balloon, originally discovered in South Bank, London, in 2002 on the wall of a stairway features a girl reaching for a heart-shaped balloon that is just out of reach, with the words ‘there is always hope.’ The image evokes the idea that hope is essential in any endeavor, it is the motivation for one to continue living despite awful circumstances. The balloon symbolizes love, a fundamental human need, that must be cherished and chased.
Another art-work features a stenciled Jesus, crucified not by nails but by dripping shopping bags which reflects the demise of Christian values of charity and giving with consumerism that has today overtaken Christmas; a popular national holiday. The image appears to be melting, an indication of the transient joys of material goods.
Banksy’s work requires interpretation as it is contextual but Moco’s communication department report that Banksy is one of their favorite artists. This exhibition features artwork on loan from private collectors and is not authorized by Banksy although Banksy does give certificates of authenticity given out by Pest Control (on behalf of Banksy). All Banksy works at Moco have this certificate.
The Van Gogh Museum
A visit to Vincent Van Gogh Museum ’s is a must to admire paintings of a creative genius who lived a very tortured life. On view are some of Van Gogh’s most famous paintings including the ‘Potato Eaters,’ Starry Night and his beautiful sunflowers. Van Gogh found solace and peace, during his fits of madness, by painting the beauty existing in nature. While there, I visited the bookshop to browse books related to Van Gogh’s life and picked up a book of letters he wrote to Theo, his brother, to further understand the mind of a genius.
Anne Frank House
Another impressive and stirring museum is the Anne Frank House which housed the Otto Frank family in 1942 for two years from the Nazi’s during their occupation of the Netherlands. It was in this house, and in a secret annex, that Ann Frank wrote her eponymous diary about life in hiding which became a literary sensation and bestseller. The museum presents her story sequentially through photos, quotes, videos and original items. It is fascinating to walk through the house, through the movable bookcase and into the secret annex while
simultaneously reliving her story.
Finally, while in the Netherlands sample a favorite Dutch dish: In roomboter gebakken sliptongetjes met salade en frites translated to ‘Two fried soles, seared in butter with salad and fries’. The dish is light, simple and flavorful and will provide the necessary energy for the above museum visits.
Ramaa Reddy is a writer, photographer, food and travel specialist who blogs at venturetraveller.com