What better way to spend a rainy day or bank holiday than by going to a museum? In Amsterdam there are plenty of museums, and there happen to be three exclusive exhibitions that you must go see now, as 2 of them are only here for one more week. I visited all three last month, and enjoyed them so much. (all photos were taken with my iPhone so might be of less quality than usual)
Catwalk in the Rijksmuseum
The exhibition Catwalk in the Rijksmuseum is near the end as it runs from from February 20 through May 22 2016. So this is really one to go see now, as in this week. The exhibition is designed by world-renowned Dutch photographer Erwin Olaf. Six galleries of the Philips Wing are dedicated to fashion of the Dutch from 1625 to 1960. Starting with garments worn by members of the Frisian branch of the house of Nassau in the Golden Age, the exhibits features vibrantly coloured French silk gowns and luxurious velvet gentlemen’s suits of the eighteenth century, classically-inspired Empire dresses and bustles of the Fin de Siècle culminating in twentieth-century French haute couture by Dior and Yves Saint Laurent.
What i loved most about the Catwalk exhibition was the room with the 18th century dresses, including a gorgeous white dress with train, called the ‘mantua’. The 22-year old Helena Slicher wore this dress on her wedding day in 1759. Besides the unusual shape and dimension ( 2 meters wide), it was also impressive due to its exquisite embroidery, the ruffled sleeves, and small details like pleats and folds. I can’t even imagine how much work went into this. True craftmanship. Just baffling!
Another highlight of the exhibition is how the dresses and garments are shown: on a real catwalk with a threadmill. You can literally take a frontrow seat and see the designs pass by. The Catwalk exhibition shows you the most beautiful items of clothing and accessories, and gives you an idea of the way in which fashion has developed over the centuries. More information here.
2. Easy Virtue: Prostitution in French Art in the Van Gogh Museum
Easy Virtue in the Van Gogh Museum will run from 19 February to 19 June 2016. The exhibition, organised in collaboration with the Musée d’Orsay, explores the depiction of prostitution in French art in the period of 1850-1910. It examines how the theme of prostitution was dealt with by a variety of artists. Over 100 paintings and illustrations can be admired, including works from Picasso, Van Gogh, Degas, and Toulouse-Lautrec.
Besides art, the exhibition also includes historical items like police records, photographs, a 19th century ornamental bed, and a whip belonging to a famous courtesan. Majority of the exhibition are loans from other museums and private collectors, that have never been shown before in the Netherlands. Easy Virtue is organized around 4 themed chapters; The exhibition begins with a wing dedicated to ‘Uncertainty and ambiguity‘. This was in fact my favourite part of the exhibition. It shows how painters visualized prostitution in the public space, as it was legalised in France in the early 19th century. Prostitutes were not always distinguishable from respectable women in the streets, so artists used subtle references in their paintings, certain colours, specific poses, and meaningful looks. Below my favourite painting: Waiting by Jean Beraud, 1885 from the Musee d’Orsay.
Another interesting theme that I loved, is the ‘Splendour of the Courtesans‘, depicting the flamboyant prostitutes who were expensive escorts and rose to prominence by sleeping with rich and influential men. Highlight for me is the painting below, Portrait of Julia Tahl, known as Mme Alice de Lancey, by Carolus Duran, 1876. Other themes are ‘At the brothel‘ which reveals the hidden world of the brothel, and ‘Debauchery in Colour and Form‘ that focuses on the modern era from the turn of the century till 1910. The exhibition is curated by Nienke Bakker. For more information go here.
3. Breitner: Girl in Kimono in the Rijksmuseum
For the first time ever, the Rijksmuseum brought together all the versions of Girl in a Kimono by George Hendrik Breitner. And since I’m obsessed with kimonos and Japanese fabrics, I just had to see this exhibition. There have been exhibitions in the past devoted to this beloved theme of Breitner’s, but the paintings of Girl in a Kimono have never been displayed all together. In total there are 20 paintings on display, including 13 Girl in Kimono works and one nude. Furthermore, 15 drawings and 15 photographs plus Japanese prints.
The countless versions of a girl in a kimono, which is considered an icon of Japonism, emerged between 1893 and 1896. Young model Geesje Kwak posed for almost all of his paintings, being immortalised in the process. Based on new research, the exhibition displays the full series of 14 paintings for the first time, including a hitherto unknown ‘Girl in a Red Kimono’ from a private collection. Besides the paintings, there are also drawings, sketches and photographs used by the artist in preparation. For more information go here.