Is Amsterdam reclaiming the title?
The Netherlands is known for it’s liberal laws amongst cannabis and prostitution but it might even have a stronger love connection with its art-scene. The works of artists like Rembrandt and Van Gogh are still highly visited by tourists on a daily basis but the old masters aren’t the only ones that are admired in museums. Imagine, you’re a graffiti-writer and you get handed the keys to a big warehouse. For the majority of us it’s only a dream but Peter Ernst Coolen is one of the lucky ones in this world. Currently the Dutchman is building one of the largest street-art museums (Street Art Today Museum) in the world and it is taking shape. If everything goes according to plan the Museum will open in 2018 and it’s going to be a must see attraction for art-lovers. Is Amsterdam reclaiming the title: “Graffiti capital of the world”?
– Written by Ard Doko
While “Graffiti capital of the world” might sound pretentious to some, the Dutch make a strong case in claiming that title. The first wave of graffiti in Amsterdam can be traced back to the late 70’s with artists like Hugo Kaagman and Ivar Vics (A.K.A Dr. RAT) who both originated from the Amsterdam Punk scene. With a stencil on request service, graffiti hotspots and pop-up galleries, the scene was creating a solid foundation for the future of urban-art in Amsterdam. The real claim to fame happened in 1983 when the Yaki Kornblit Gallery flew over US writers Blade, Dondi and Quick to exhibit their work, this was the first time that US graffiti was exhibited outside of America. One of the things the US writers admired was the major development in style shown by the local artists like, Calligraffiti legend, Niels “Shoe” Meulman.
The Street Art Today museum is taking a similar approach to his predecessor by flying in artists like Eduardo Kobra (who did a stunning portrait of Anne Frank that can be seen on the outside wall), Nils Westergard, Steve Locatelli and many more. Besides flying in world renowned artists, Coolen also picked up installations by Phibs, Base23 and Dan Leo that were made at the Roskilde festival in Denmark. If you expect to see painting sized canvases on a white wall you’re wrong. Already there are 100 pieces from all over the world with sizes of 30 feet by 16 feet and even a 90-foot canvas. If you read this and feel the urge to head over to one of the biggest graffiti shops, stack up all the material and squat a warehouse to do the same you’re in luck. The winner of the young talent award at the Dutch Street Art awards (you heard that right) is getting an amazing price. A full treatment at the biggest street art museum that includes: a canvas, material, food, drinks, a spot in the museum and 1 hotel night in Amsterdam.
And the winner is..
Forget about the Oscars, the real action is happening on June 2nd in the “Posthoorn Kerk” in Amsterdam with the second installment of the Dutch Street Art Awards (organized by Boomerang Create and Amsterdam Street Art). That night, artists in various categories (a few of them are: Young talent, Dutch mural, Global mural, Greatest Gallery) are competing for the greatest acknowledgement an artist can get. But that’s not all, among the prizes are: a year supply by MTN 94 and Henxs, a chance to curate their own exhibition at O.D Gallery, an all inclusive trip to Aruba Art Fair 2017 or like I wrote earlier a spot in the biggest Street Art museum of the world. It really shows that Amsterdam and the rest of The Netherlands (Don’t forget the various street-art festivals like Kings of Colors in Den Bosch) is aiming to get to reclaim the title of “Graffiti Capital of the world” and that is something I (as an artist and art-lover) only can admire.