2023 Amsterdam Museum Trip

Jack and I took a much-needed, far too brief, trip to Amsterdam in September 2023, during a break between L7 tours. Our plan was simple: capitalize on the off-season’s affordable airfare and hotel rates, and leisurely stroll through Vondelpark. When the inevitable cold and rain set in (which it did), our idea was to seek refuge in a museum or two. Despite our trip lasting only four days, during which we even managed to enjoy two different dinners with two sets of friends, our museum explorations were worth the hustle and hassle. I’m excited to share some of the highlights with you.

First and foremost, and undoubtedly not the weirdest ideas I have ever had, was our attempt to figure out the Van Gogh Museum’s collaboration with Pokémon, titled ‘Van Gogh x Pokémon.’ As someone who is not particularly a fan of either, I imagined (yes, I still engage my imagination) that I could launch my Pokémon app and catch a Van Gogh-inspired Pikachu, along with other neglected characters I haven’t paid attention to since 2013. Unfortunately or fortunately, that was not how it worked (though I still think that would have been a fantastic marketing strategy). The collaboration was actually a card named “Pikachu with a Grey Felt Hat” and the museum bailed on distributing the card a few days before our arrival due to “overwhelming frenzied” crowds. So lowering our expectations, we moved on.

Nan Goldin and Martin Wong

Two exhibitions at the Stedelijk Museum were the next port o’ call and unlike the Van Gough, they did not disappoint (although the day ended weird). A full expo of Martin Wong’s life work called Malicious Mischief was a truly amazing collection of this artist work, room after room. I had seen Wong’s work before but never these many pieces in one place. That would have been enough to fill the day but also featured just one floor below was a collection of five Nan Goldin’s works called, “This Will Not End Well.” I had seen two of the works, which for those that doesn’t know – Nan is a photographer that curates her work as slide shows that are projected accompanied my music and voice over. As a viewer you sit and watch, usually in a dark room. In this case five unique spaces were created in a large warehouse like room. Each presentation is about 20 minutes long, and although their is a story arch, people can come and go throughout the showings.

As a long-time fan, seeing Wong’s expansive collection was way more then expected and blew my mind. Meanwhile, I knew going into a space to see five Nan Goldin installation would blow my mind. As we moved between floors, rooms and collections we were getting herded around security guards in suits because the museum was slowing transiting into a private party and the guests were showing up extremely well dressed. The museum workers would politely ask us if we were “in the group” I would nod yes and Jack (unable to lie – even for art – would stare, until we were politely escorted to the exit – which was kinda the real “performance.”

MOCO Museum – A Contemporary Art From A Private Collection and Jammed Into A Cool Old House.

On the contrary the MOCO stayed open late and was actually kinda refreshing in its approach to putting the most well known contemporary artists into one dusty (feeling-not actual dust) old house. Even the wood stair creaked as we ascended the three flights. If one were to build out a check list of not just which artists would be featured, but whats kinda of art – the MOCO is oddly perfect in its curation. It is the Fantasy Football of contemporary art. Between infinity mirrors, spraypaint canvases, pop-culture parody sculptures, VR interactive works – it was almost too perfect. And like me, most of the attendees were there because of the later hours, and others (even more so like me) were very much down to insert themselves into the “experience of seeing art” via the constantly action selfies and image making of the image making (of the image making).

Rijksmuseum – An Ode to the Dutch Masters and one Mistress (?)

The Rijks is a great summery to the trip – not so much in the art, it is all the great masters and well it is pretty cool seeing the Rembrandts” that are on every art history PBS style special I have seen since I was a kid, but more so the people collection seeing the art. Where the Stedelijk was full of finance bros and MOCO filled with zesty young 30s creating content, The Rijks is full of family and tourist, people from all countries, all shapes and expressions. It was loud. It was crowded. We could barley get through the crowds to see The Night Watch (1642), but it was by far the most fun experience, being with the world, being with art. No one was crowding arounf the Juidith Leyster painting

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