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Amsterdam Art: Museums, Galleries & Graffiti
By on June 9, 2010

Amsterdam's got so much more in terms of art than just Rembrandt or Van Gogh.  What with the prewar architecture, a rampant counter-culture that keeps it’s canal-house walls consistently covered in fresh layer of spray paint, and makeshift galleries popping up all over town, this city has got inspiration of all varieties.

You can’t talk Amsterdam Art without mentioning Museumplein, what with the trifecta of the Rijksmuseum, the Stedelijk Museum, and the Van Gogh Museum – by far our favorite.  The way in which the museum lays out the pieces – in chronological order –allows you to see the moods and emotional phases Van Gogh experienced throughout his life. The difference in them is pretty clear when you can see all the paintings right next to each other. For example, he has a lot of very grey, depressing paintings from his time in the Dutch countryside, his work then brightens when he goes to Paris, and finally takes on a darker tone when he ends up at the mental institution in Arles.

While the classic museums of Museumplein are certainly worth visiting, just a few blocks away on Nieuwe Spiegelstraat is a wide array history and culture at the streets antique shops, picturesque cafes and contemporary galleries. The Jaski Gallery has some really great modern art and the Smelik and Stokking Galerie boasts beautiful sculpture, but if you only have time for one, it has to be the Delaive Gallery. The beauty of the Delaive Gallery is its wide selection of different periods and trends in art.  You can view some of the most famous artists in the world here alongside some of their lesser-known contemporaries. From Francis’ Abstract Expressionist canvasses to Picasso’s abstract masterpieces and Warhol’s pop prints to contemporary Dutch art, it is impossible to avoid being enchanted by some of the world’s most provocative styles of painting.

More of a photography fan? Then head to the Jordaan neighborhood where rock legends live on along the Prinsengracht at Rockarchive. Jimi Hendrix is in one corner, the Beatles in the next, and Bob Dylan’s out in front gathering a crowd at this gallery-slash-print shop that features one of the coolest collection in town. Of course, a city's artistic spirit can hardly be summarized in galleries alone.

As one of the few major European cities spared during WWII, Amsterdam boasts beautiful, prewar architecture along every canal. And just as omnipresent as it's architecture is it's street art. Alongside seemingly every building is colorful graffiti and tags that turn Amsterdam into a city-wide gallery of counter culture and street art. For a glimpse at some of the city’s edgiest work, trek out to Club 8.  This club, pool hall and art installation in one features graffiti on the walls, fresh chalk on the tables, and a different crowd every night, depending on the theme. Of course, clubs aren’t the only place that makeshift galleries can be found. Take The Winston hotel, for example. This former haven for the city’s bohemians holds true to its roots as an art hotel with each room doubling as a contemporary art installation. Think walls covered in photographs or your room flush with the glowing neon lights… even the bathroom doubles as the city’s smallest art exhibit.

With all this inspiration, you’re going to want something to remember it by. While you would never think so as you stumble around Rembrandtplein at 4am, this square hosts local artists plying their latest work during the day. There might not be any Van Goghs, but these paintings make great a souvenir well worthwhile the 20 euro price tag.  After all, do you really need that shirt that reads, 'Wish you were her'?  

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