Museumplein (Museum Quarter), Amsterdam, Netherlands

Side view of the imposing Rijksmuseum which chronicles Dutch history through art and artifacts from 1200 to the present day, including Rembrandt's career-defining civic guard portrait "The Night Watch", Museumplein, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Side view of the imposing Rijksmuseum which chronicles Dutch history through art and artifacts from 1200 to the present day, including Rembrandt’s career-defining civic guard portrait “The Night Watch”, Museumplein, Amsterdam, Netherlands

 

Amsterdam’s Museumplein (Museum Quarter) is the heart of the city’s cultural center, comparable to London’s South Kensington and New York’s Muesum Mile.  “Some 130 years ago, a stinky wax candle factory and marshy meadows made way for what’s become the city’s most affluent area.  Construction began following the completion of the Rijksmuseum, with a street plan based on the design of P.J.H. Cuypers, the museum’s celebrated architect.  Unsurprisingly, the quarter’s name comes from the presence of the city’s three major museums on Museumplein, all of which have recently been refurbished, adding a layer of lustre to the area.  In addition to the aforementioned Rijksmuseum, there’s the Stedelijk Museum of modern art and the Van Gogh Museum.  Also overlooking Museumplein is the Royal Concertgebouw, Amsterdam’s most important orchestral concert venue, internationally renowned for its acoustics and its house orchestra, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra.  The vast open space of Museumplein itself plays host to major events each year, from screenings of Dutch football matches to large concerts and events, plus a picturesque ice rink in the winter.  While the ‘I amsterdam‘ letters in front of the Rijksmueum have become the city’s most photographed attraction.” – http://www.iamsterdam.com

 

The front entrance to the Rijksmuseum, just beyond the modern, iconic “I amsterdam” white and red “letter” sculpture at the northern edge of the Museumplein, Amsterdam, Netherlands

The front entrance to the Rijksmuseum, just beyond the modern, iconic “I amsterdam” white and red “letter” sculpture at the northern edge of the Museumplein, Amsterdam, Netherlands

 

The very modern architecture extension to the Stedelijk Museum of modern art, with the original museum building (founded in 1874) on the right rear side of the photograph, Museumplein, Amsterdam, Netherlands

The very modern architecture extension to the Stedelijk Museum of modern art, with the original museum building (founded in 1874) on the right rear side of the photograph, Museumplein, Amsterdam, Netherlands

 

Van Gogh Museum, Museumplein, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Van Gogh Museum, Museumplein, Amsterdam, Netherlands

 

“Vincent Willem van Gogh (30 March 1853 – 29 July 1890) was a Dutch post-impressionist painter whose work had far-reaching influence on 20-century art.  Most of his best-known works were completed during the last two years of his life.  They include portraits, self-portraits, landscapes, still lifes, olive trees and cypresses, wheat fields and sunflowers.  Critics largely ignored his work until after his presumed suicide in 1890.  His short life, expressive and spontaneous use of vivid colours, broad oil brushstrokes and emotive subject matter, have led to his position in the public imagination as the quintessential misunderstood genius.

“Van Gogh was born to upper middle class parents. He was thoughtful and intellectual as a child, and as an adult aware of modernist trends in art, music and literature.  He was well traveled and spent several years in the Hague, London and Paris.  He drew as a child, but spent years drifting in ill health and solitude, and did not paint until his late twenties. Deeply religious as a younger man, he worked from 1879 as a missionary in a mining region in Belgium where he sketched people from the local community.  His first major work was 1885’s The Potato Eaters, characterized by somber earth tones, and showing little sign of the vivid colouration that distinguished his later paintings.  In March 1886, he moved to Paris and discovered the French Impressionists.  Later, he moved to the south of France and was inspired by the region’s strong sunlight.  His paintings grew brighter in colour, and he developed the unique and highly recognizable style that became fully realized during his stay in Arles in 1888.  In just over a decade, he produced more than 2,100 artworks, including around 860 oil paintings.  After years of anxiety and frequent bouts of mental illness he died aged 37 from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.  The extent to which his mental health affected his painting has been widely debated.

“The widespread and popular realization of his significance in the history of modern art began after his adoption by the early 20th-century German Expressionists and Fauves.  Despite a popular tendency to romanticize his ill health, art historians see an artist deeply frustrated by the inactivity and incoherence caused by frequent mental sickness.  His posthumous reputation grew steadily; a romanticized version developed in the 20 years after his death when seen as an important but overlooked artist compared to other members of his generation.  His reputation advanced with the emergence of the Fauvist movement in Europe and post WWII American respect for symbols of “heroic individualism” that was attractive to early US modernists and especially to the highly successful abstract expressionists of the 1950s; New York’s MOMA launched major retrospectives early in the rehabilitation of his reputation, and made large acquisitions.  By this stage his standing as a great artist and the romanticism of his life were firmly established.” — Wikipedia

 

Vincent van Gogh, “Wheatfield with Crows”, 1890, Van Gogh Museum, Museumplein, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Vincent van Gogh, “Wheatfield with Crows”, 1890, Van Gogh Museum, Museumplein, Amsterdam, Netherlands

 

Vincent van Gogh, “Irises”, 1889, Van Gogh Museum, Museumplein, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Vincent van Gogh, “Irises”, 1889, Van Gogh Museum, Museumplein, Amsterdam, Netherlands

 

At the southern end of the Museumplein is the world-renowned Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra House, Amsterdam, Netherlands

At the southern end of the Museumplein is the world-renowned Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra House, Amsterdam, Netherlands

 

Close-up of the music inspired, Greek-style pediment (and rooftop harp) of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra House, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Close-up of the music inspired, Greek-style pediment (and rooftop harp) of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra House, Amsterdam, Netherlands

 

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