Category Archives: Art

YOU HAVE TO LAUGH – public art in Bratislava

There's some lovely interaction going on between these two groups of visitors, but note the Napoleonic Soldier photobombing.

There’s some lovely interaction going on between these two groups of visitors, but note the Napoleonic Soldier photobombing.



City fathers, yes, city mothers too, have options when it comes to installing or authorising public art. Heroic statues of kings, emperors, politicians and generals have long been standard fare.

Bratislava has its fair share of national heroes gracing the streets. But it has also more recently installed public art with obvious appeal to locals and visitors alike, your correspondent included. Continue reading

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THE ARTIST WHO MADE VIENNA FUN

In a nondescript back street, one facade springs out is unmissable.

In a nondescript back street, one facade catches the eye.

At first I found Vienna and the Viennese a little intimidating. Too grand, too well-dressed, and possibly too expensive. The ATM dispensed 100 euro banknotes – it was the first time I’d seen them.

That Habsburg¬†architecture is impressive of course, though isn’t it also overblown and pompous? Fine for a palace or opera house but would you really want to live under all those cherubs in the cornices?

So it was welcome light relief to discover Friedensreich Hundertwasser, who revamped a Viennese city incinerator and later the public toilet block in Kawakawa, New Zealand, making them surely the world’s most enjoyable garbage disposal units. Continue reading

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ALEXANDER CALDER HANGS OUT IN AMSTERDAM

The entrance to the remodelled Rijksmuseum is worth a visit on its own, with Mr Calder as a bonus.

The entrance to the remodelled Rijksmuseum is worth a visit on its own, with Mr Calder as a bonus. And it’s free.

No time to queue for Rembrandt and Vermeer? Find the EUR15 entrance fee for the Rijksmuseum a bit steep? Hate crowds?

There is an alternative for cheapskate, agoraphobic art lovers. The gardens of the Rijksmuseum are a little treasure, and this year they’re graced by an exhibition of 14 large-scale works by an international superstar. Entry is free and there’s plenty of elbow room. Continue reading

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THREE ARTY REASONS TO LOVE AMSTERDAM

One of Peter Erftemeijer's   "Three figures in the the street".

One of Peter Erftemeijer’s “Three figures in the street”.

A gentleman plucks at my sleeve as we’re leaving the excellent NeighbourFood market by the Westergasfabriek. ‘Excuse me, sir, I’m a poet.’

My companions move on quickly, but he has me trapped. He’s polite, well-dressed and well-spoken. Seems ok.

‘I’ve written a poem about that statue over there, and I’d like to recite it to you.’

I know the statue, pictured above. The poet continues, reciting his short poem to an audience of one. He’s not a beggar, he’s a real poet, one of forty taking part in Juni Gedicht (June Poetry), an event sponsored by the local council. Continue reading

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ART, NATURE AND NUCLEAR MISSILES

The Ratekenstation (Rocket Station) Hombroich - a missile base no more.

The Ratekenstation (Rocket Station) Hombroich – a missile base no more.

Mr Karl-Heinrich Muller is now my favourite German real estate agent. Who else buys a NATO missile base and turns it into an art museum? Continue reading

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A HEAP OF HOCKNEY – Salt’s Mill, Yorkshire

Saltaire gets the colourful Hockney treatment.

Saltaire gets the colourful Hockney treatment.

Build a smart new museum and someone will complain that it lacks soul. Convert an old industrial site to a cultural facility and it immediately becomes a cool place.

Salt’s Mill was the thriving hub of Bradford’s booming textile industry in the 19th century. Now it’s an art centre, boasting the world’s largest permanent collection of work by Bradford-born and Yorkshire-resident David Hockney.

Thanks to what is turning out to be an inspired home exchange, Mevrouw T and I are spending the Easter break in Saltaire, West Yorkshire. Continue reading

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THE GUGGENHEIM IN HOLLAND – Cobra Museum

Karel Appel's playful sculpture outside the Cobra Museum, Amstelveen.

Karel Appel’s playful sculpture outside the Cobra Museum in Amstelveen.



I feel well disposed towards artists who admit they really don’t understand what they’re doing.

“I just mess around a bit,” said Dutch artist Karel Appel; and it became the most famous thing he ever said in his life.

Appel’s work and that of his 1950s contemporaries from COpenhagen, BRussels and Amsterdam is celebrated in the COBRA Museum in Amstelveen, just outside Amsterdam. The museum’s permanent collection is one of the Netherlands’ greatest treasures.

This year, Appel and his fellow Cobras have been joined in Amstelveen by work from New York’s Guggenheim. Pollack, Rothko, de Koning, Poliakoff and others splashed, dribbled and daubed colour onto canvas, apparently at random, yet by some magical process the effect is wonderful. We thought the exhibition was fabulous, and highly recommend it to anyone who’ll be in Amsterdam over the next few months. Continue reading

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