Must-see exhibitions opening this autumn in the Netherlands

Must-see exhibitions opening this autumn in the Netherlands

In the Netherlands, when the weather cools down, the cultural season heats up. Especially in the world of museums, this autumn is loaded with enough major openings, retrospectives, solo shows and cultural surveys to get you over those post-holiday blues.

While small in population, the Netherlands is big in art: the pressing question is never "if" to attend an opening, but rather "which".

To help you make the most of that precious free time, we've made an overview of the exhibitions that we consider the true must-sees!

Legendary artists open September

Marlene Dumas - The Image as Burden

-Dates: September 6 - January 4
-Location: Stedelijk Museum
-City: Amsterdam

This is the big one. Years in the making, the Stedelijk Museum will be hosting South African-born, Amsterdam-based artist Marlene Dumas’ largest European retrospective to date: over 100 paintings and drawings from public institutions and private collections spanning 20 years of her illustrious career.

Recognised as one of the most successful female artists of all-time, Dumas’ work delves into a multitude of contemporary issues from the spheres of gender, sexuality, race and ethnicity by confronting the viewer with emotionally loaded brush strokes and ghostly, expressionist representations of the human face and form.

Curated by Leontine Coelewij, The Image as Burden will be an homage to an artist who single-handedly reasserted the importance of painting as a medium for addressing modes of depiction, intersections of identity and questioning society’s relationship with the image.

Mark Rothko

-Dates: September 20 - January 3
-Location: Gemeentemuseum Den Haag
-City: The Hague

For the first time in more than 40 years the works of abstract expressionist painter Mark Rothko will be on display in the Netherlands.

Born to Russian-Jewish parents in present day Latvia, Rothko emigrated to the US when he was 10 and, in the company of fellow New York School painters Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning, went on to become one of the most influential artists of the post-war generation.

With a steadfast belief in the spirituality of art, Rothko gained international recognition for his trademark multiforms. Composed of adjacent rectangular blocks of colour, the blends, contrasts and subtle transitions evoke a reticent drama that communicates a transcendent mix of emotion.

In conjunction with lesser known works, the exhibition at the Gemeentemuseum will use the multiforms as an entry point into a wider analysis of his artistic progression, showing developments in influence and style while critically juxtaposing the works with those of Piet Mondrian.

October reframes fashion

The Future of Fashion is Now 

-Dates: October 11 - January 18
-Location: Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen
-City: Rotterdam

A truly global endeavour, The Future of Fashion is Now is a result of a massive scouting effort by renown fashion industry influencers including Viktor&Rolf, Karin Swerink (Dutch Vogue), Han Nefkens (art broker) and José Teunissen (curator).

The fruits of their labour are astounding: more than fifty fashion designers from the margins of Europe, Asia and Africa will be contributing pieces that question the trajectory of the fashion industry.

While Carole Collet investigates the potential of eco-friendly materials in lace grown from strawberry plant roots, Viktor&Rolf beg designers to slow down with a "moment of Zen" in a tranquil pavilion that questions fast fashion.

Issues of wearable tech and the body’s relationship with textiles are also subjects of inquiry; from charging a mobile phone through an outfit to the knitted pieces of Pyuupiru that propose designs beyond the human form.

Designing 007: 50 Years of Bond Style

-Dates: October 12 - February 8
-Location: Kunsthal
-City: Rotterdam

From Sean Connery and Roger Moore to Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig, the British Secret Service agent known by code number "007" is an international icon.

Originally a series of novels by Ian Fleming, the big budget film adaptations have been wowing audiences since 1962. Working together with EON Productions, the Barbican Centre exhibition will travel to Kunsthal where the Bond character and brand will be critically dissected.

Along with the costumes, props, weapons and storyboards, the exhibition will include behind the set elements and a multi-sensory look into the thought process and effort of creating all that is Bond.

Magical Africa: Masks and Sculptures from the Ivory Coast. The Artists Revealed.

-Dates: October 25 - February 15
-Location: De Nieuwe Kerk
-City: Amsterdam

The title is a bit dubious, but the approach to the subject at hand makes this exhibition worthwhile. 

Focusing on African figurines and masks from the Ivory Coast and areas of Mali, Burkina Faso and Ghana, the show reveals how aesthetic principle can be traced to distinct master artists who developed styles and applied artistic practice.

The quality of the work is incredible and the assemblage of nearly 200 masterpieces from 40 sculptors of the Guro, Baule, Dan, Senufo, Lobi and Lagoon tribes in one exhibition is unheard of.

More than just a display of African art, this show is an anthropological study that rectifies the idea of how craftsmanship in the region was disseminated over the course of the 19th and 20th centuries.

Tip! Don’t miss the accompanying lecture series Africa Out Loud! programmed by the Prince Claus Fund which will see some of Africa’s leading creative voices and influencers discussing their work.

November welcomes Maier 

Vivian Maier – Street Photographer

-Dates: November 7 - January 28
-Location: Foam
-City: Amsterdam  

One of the cases where talent is only recognised after their passing, the profound photographs of Vivian Maier were discovered in 2009 by John Maloof after the negatives of her work had been sold during a storage unit auction.

After Maier’s parents died at an early age, she became a nanny to make a living. Along with caring for the children, Maier constantly carried a camera to document life as she saw it.

Her remarkable photos (and some videos) have now been developed and the composition, subject matter and immense empathy make for an outstanding body of work portraying various segments of urban life in Chicago, New York and Los Angeles in the 1950s, 60s and 70s.

Foam will be mounting this exhibition to give audiences a chance to admire the visually stunning black and white photographs taken by the underappreciated eye of a master.

Benjamin Garstka


Benjamin Garstka

Raised in Massachusetts. University years in New York City. Graduate school in Utrecht. Amsterdammer by choice. Cultuurliefhebber. Urbanist. Affinity for sarcasm, craft beers, art criticism, stand-up comedy and the Dutch...

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