Amsterdam Trip – Day Three

Another double helping of breakfast, cases packed then the tram to the Stedelijk Museum. In spite of reading on websites that the queues would be long we walked straight up to the ticket counter, €15.00 admission. The cloakroom facilities were excellent and the bags deposited, again without a wait.

Bad Thoughts  is contemporary art collected by Martijn and Jeannette Sanders. There is no deliberate flow to the rooms where the works by the following artist can be seen.

Mac Adams Jean le Gac Juan Munoz John Ahearn Giulio Galan Gabriel Orozco Armando Gilbert & George Marc Quinn David Askevold Johan Grimonprez Gregory Crewdson Georg Baselitz Douglas Gordon Walter Robinson Bill Beckley Keith Haring Allen Ruppersberg Rita McBride Anton Henning A.R. Penck Frank Van den Broeck Teresa Hubbard SALVO Sandro Chia Alexander Birchler Thomas Schütte David Claerbout Douglas Huebler Andres Serrano Francesco Clemente Peter Hutchinson Cindy Sherman George Condo Anselm Kiefer Hito Steyerl Enzo Cucchi Martin Kippenberger Peter Struycken Robert Cumming Jan Knap William Wegman Thomas Demand Guillermo Kuitca Maja Weyermann Jiři Georg Dokupil Alexandra Leykauf Christopher Wool Ger van Elk Robert Longo   Ed van der Elsken Gordon Matta-Clark

There are too many to show examples of the work and I realise I have come away with little recall of what I saw. The Sanders hadn’t seen much of their collection either for years as most of the pieces are too large to be displayed in their house. I’m unsure if this containment of the art has removed some element from it.

Here’s my selection of art works from the permanent collection of the museum.

Claes Oldeburg offers a wry commentary on capitalistic consumption by basing his sculptures on everyday objects. His recreations of these objects are usually farcically oversized and made with a touch of the absurd. In Soft ladder, Hammer, saw and Bucket household objects appear to have had the life sucked out of them; they have been stripped of their function, their industrial energy drained. Oldenburg has reduced them to flaccid fabric shapes and the once solid tools are now slouching, limp and deflated. In the hands of the artist, the factory sheen of mass production is replaced with a melancholic vulnerability. Oldenburg made this sculpture at a time when the polished surfaces and clean lines of Minimalist dominated art practice. His soft sculpture takes on human characteristics. They bend and lean, sigh and collapse, as they are barely able to survive on their own.

Claes Oldenburg Soft Ladder, Hammer, Saw and Bucket  1969. Wood, canvas and paint.

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These were costumes designed by  Eiko Ishioka for the production by the Dutch national Opera of Wagner’s Ring Cycle.

P1020876 P1020878 P1020879The graphics on this poster caught my eye.

Mousse Bissiere Moonlight 1946 appliqué of assembled textiles

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Ria Van Eyk Monochrome Blue 1980 woven wool

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Jean Tinguely Element Detache III 1954 Iron wire, copper wire, painted aluminium, electric motor

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With Charlene one of Robert Rauschenberg’s best known ‘combine paintings’, the artist has painted and inserted mundane objects into an otherwise abstract composition: a parasol, a light fixture, a mirror, and newspaper clippings are all incorporated, jutting out from the surface of the canvas, A letter from the artist’s mother has also been included, thus creating a link between Rauschenberg’s art and his personal life. The expressive, gestural painting methods shows a commonality with action  painters such as Willem de Kooning, but through the introduction of recognisable objects, Rauschenberg makes an important and highly influential link between Abstract Expressionism and Pop Art.



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Robert Rauschenberg Charlene 1954 Assembled on soft board

 The work of Lee Bontecou merges the disciplines of sculpture and painting, making use of a variety of media and techniques. The welded frame of this relief is covered with materials collected by the artist; scraps of leather and canvas bags were collected  from the Laundromat below her studio. Some of these items the artist has painted while others were blackened using a welding torch. Bontecou’s work has been interpreted in diverse ways. This piece, for example has been accused of having sexual undertones, while others have suggested it alludes to wartime. Bontecou has refrained from making explicit comments about her work, simply noting that her pieces contain ’as much as possible of life…without obstacles, without boundaries – total freedom in every sense’


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Lee Bontecou Untitled 1961. Steel, canvas, velour, leather, copper, wire, soot, paint.




Antoine Pevsner  Fresque en Ovale 1945 Brass and copper with oil and lacquer finish, paint

There were several points in the trip when things came together over the days; the etchings by Rembrandt echoed in the work by Salvatore Arancio; the video made by Tacita Dean of Claes Oldenburg then I saw his work; the cabinets of curiosities at the Appel Centre reflected in the cabinet of curiosities at the Stedelijk Museum (but where dust was sucked in rather than kept out).

We collected our bags from the cloakroom, made our way to the bus stop to catch the bus to the airport. Back home by 10.30 pm. A memorable trip!


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