10 must-see exhibitions in Amsterdam this Spring

in Inspiration / Travel & Culture

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Amsterdam has a wide and varied range of attractions. But you'd be a fool not to spend at least some of your trip checking out its amazing art.

It's not just about the permanent collections at the Van Gogh Museum and the Rijksmuseum, either. There are countless galleries, big and small, to check out, and lots of must-see temporary shows. But if you've only got limited time, how do you decide which ones to spend your precious hours visiting?

We recently spent time in Amsterdam – it's a short flight from the UK via KLM Royal Dutch Airlines – and checked out some of the coolest exhibitions of the moment. Here are our top picks.

Main image: Opening of the China exhibition at the Outsider Art Museum, Amsterdam. Photo: Nina Bergh

1. Banksy: Laugh Now

Banksy, Beanfield at Moco Museum

Banksy, Beanfield at Moco Museum

World-renowned street artist Banksy needs no introduction, and this exhibition by Moco Museum offers a chance to see his work in the more formal settings of a gallery. Around 50 original pieces are on show, including famous works such as Laugh Now, Barcode, Girl with Balloon, Kids on Guns, Pulp Fiction, Flower Thrower, Monkey Queen and Soup Can. The centrepiece is the huge painting ‘Beanfield’, depicting the infamous 1986 battle between travellers and the Wiltshire Police, which has not been on display since 2009.

Until March 29

2. Glenn Brown: Rembrandt After Life

Joseph Beuys, 2001, oil on panel

Joseph Beuys, 2001, oil on panel

Where does art become plagiarism? This show at the Rembrandt House Museum is devoted to Rembrandt’s considerable presence in the work of Glenn Brown, a Turner Prize nominee and one of the leading YBAs (Young British Artists). Brown is well known for his use of appropriation, and this latest exhibition, curated by David de Witt, highlights a recent graphic turn in his art. It includes drawings, paintings, and an entirely new series of prints based on work by Rembrandt, as well as other masters of the Renaissance and Baroque.

Until 23 April

3. El Anatsui: Meyina

El Anatsui, Untitled, 2016 (bottle caps)

El Anatsui, Untitled, 2016 (bottle caps)

Born in Ghana in 1944, sculptor El Anatsui is one of the most influential contemporary artists working today. Active for much of his career in Nigeria, he’s known for his iconic "bottle-top installations": large-scale assemblages of thousands of pieces of aluminium sourced from alcohol recycling stations and sewn together with wire and transformed into metallic cloth-like sculptures. This exhibition of his work at the Prince Claus Fund Gallery is curated by Bisi Silva, founding director of the Centre for Contemporary Art in Lagos.

Until 28 April

4. Constructing the New Man

Unknown artist, Potholes, 1927

Unknown artist, Potholes, 1927

The Stedelijk Museum has put on this exhibition to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the Russian revolution. Featuring some of the most impactful posters, printed matter, films and art from the Stedelijk’s collection, including films by Russian directors like Sergei Eisenstein and Dziga Vertov, and posters in the new Constructivist visual language, the show highlights how crucial artists were to the communists' attempts to recreate society.

Until 30 April

5. Béla Tarr: Till the End of the World

Installation shot of the work 'Muhamed (2016) in' Béla Tarr - Till the End of the World "by EYE Film Museum  ©  Studio Hans Wilschut, courtesy Béla Tarr

Installation shot of the work 'Muhamed (2016) in' Béla Tarr - Till the End of the World "by EYE Film Museum © Studio Hans Wilschut, courtesy Béla Tarr

Considered one of the most influential film-makers of the past 30 years, Hungarian director Béla Tarr decided not to make any more films after 2011’s The Turin Horse. But now Amsterdam’s EYE Film Museum has tempted him to pick up his camera one more time.

In response to Europe’s refugee crisis, Tarr has developed an exhibition that is a cross between a film, a theatre set and an installation. This draws on ‘found images’, images of war, fragments from his own films, props, and two new scenes specially filmed for the exhibition.

Until 7 May

6. Star-Vu Ten Years of Photo Acquisitions

Lichttekening, Herbert Matter, 1943. Purchase with the support of Baker McKenzie

Lichttekening, Herbert Matter, 1943. Purchase with the support of Baker McKenzie

In recent years, the Rijksmuseum has been able to buy a number of rare works of art photography due the support of the global law firm Baker McKenzie. A selection of these are currently on show in the museum’s Photo Gallery. They include an abstract black and white photo by László Moholy-Nagy, a graphic light drawing by Herbert Matter, an elegant street scene by Saul Leiter, and documentary photography by Helen Levitt.

Until 21 May

7. Ed van der Elsken: Camera in Love

Ed van der Elsken, Girl in the subway, Tokyo (1984) Nederlands Fotomuseum / © Ed van der Elsken / Collection Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam

Ed van der Elsken, Girl in the subway, Tokyo (1984) Nederlands Fotomuseum / © Ed van der Elsken / Collection Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam

Ed van der Elsken (1925-1990) was the first true Dutch street photographer, roaming cities like Paris, Amsterdam, Hong Kong and Tokyo to capture colourful personalities in urban settings. In 1956 he became a global sensation with Love on the Left Bank, a photographic novel inspired by his own life about a group of young bohemians leading an aimless life in post-war Paris. In this major exhibition curated by Hripsimé Visser, the Stedelijk presents an overview of his photographic and filmic work.

Until 21 May

8. Marijn van Kreij: Reclining Nude with Man Playing the Guitar

Marijn van Kreij: Reclining Nude with Man Playing the Guitar at the Hermitage

Marijn van Kreij: Reclining Nude with Man Playing the Guitar at the Hermitage

The winner of the sixth ABN AMRO Art Award, Marijn van Kreij is known for drawings, paintings, collages, videos and installations in which the process of duplication plays a key role. This latest show at the Hermitage has been composed around a new series of monumental paintings on paper, 'Picasso grids', in which the artist carefully chooses details from late paintings of Picasso to serve as his founding concept.

Until 28 May

9. China

China exhibition at the Outsider Art Museum, Amsterdam. Photo: Thijs Wolzak

China exhibition at the Outsider Art Museum, Amsterdam. Photo: Thijs Wolzak

'Outsider Art' is a term describing artists have little or no contact with the mainstream art world or art institutions. And if that wasn't offbeat enough for you, Amsterdam's Outsider Art Gallery is now hosting the very first exhibition of Chinese Outsider Art in the Netherlands. Curated by Chinese artist Guo Haiping, this arresting show is giving a voice to a group of people who are struggling to find their place in society.

Until 5 June

10. Leonardo da Vinci – Artist – Inventor – Genius

The genius Leonardo da Vinci at Beurs van Berlage

The genius Leonardo da Vinci at Beurs van Berlage

Most people know Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) as the painter of the Mona Lisa, but he was so much more than that. This travelling exhibition, currently in residence at the Beurs van Berlage, shows just how much this 15th Century artist was centuries ahead of his time. As well as reproductions of Da Vinci's most famous works, it includes more than dozens of his inventions, reconstructed from wood by Italian craftsmen based on his original drawings. Many of these contraptions can be touched and even operated by visitors, providing a tangible dimension that really brings this exhibition to life.

Until 20 Jun


If you want to travel to Amsterdam for some creative inspiration, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines runs flights from seventeen UK airports to Amsterdam daily. To find out more, visit www.klm.com. Or check out KLM's suggestions for Amsterdam.

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