top 5 inexpensive art galleries in Amsterdam
Amsterdam is not only about canals, boats, bicycles and coffee shops. Actually, the city is known to be a significant centre for art – both historical and contemporary, so if you’re after some aesthetic treasure hunt, you’re exactly where you should be. Let this short guide through top five inexpensive (and sometimes even free) be a source of useful knowledge during your stay in Venice of the North.
Vijzelstraat is a street that lets you cross the city directly from Bloemenmarkt through the picturesque Canal Belt to Weteringplantsoen. If you’re looking for some remarkable aesthetic experience, you might be interested in stopping at number 68, where you will find a magnificent former bank building, which is now a venue for many amazing scientific and cultural events organized by Mediamatic – a group of passionate supporters of innovative and historical art in any form. The huge exhibition space found inside creates a perfect setting to admire many fine collections of unique items, different in theme and display, ranging from those allocated purely for viewing pleasure to many interactive artefacts. Just to give you a general idea, Mediamatic has so far featured a number of diverse exhibitions, each offering a different take on art – lighting installations, audio-video displays, gaming items, photo collections, etc., but also some items of historic significance. The place alone is really extraordinary – the spirit of creativity floats in the air, feeding you with inspiration and exposing you to thought-provoking images. You better check it out yourself, but to have a general idea of the overall concept, visit Mediamatic’s website to browse through their past and ongoing projects. Admission prices vary depending on particular event. The place is open from Monday to Friday, from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. and through Saturday and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m., though the opening hours may also vary with each exhibition. Still, this is one of the best wallet-friendly spots to visit on the cultural map of Amsterdam.
If you happen to be wandering through the infamous Red Light District, your primary impressions of the neighborhood will be challenged and questioned by the presence of W139, a much-popular and ever-intriguing art gallery located on the border of the district, on Warmoesstraat 139 – hence the name. The place exudes a rather industrial, a bit austere vibe, but as you stroll deeper along the halls, you will soon appreciate the overall mood and discover that this setting is actually ideal for all sorts of exhibits you may come across, and these can range from asphalt sculptures through woven artefacts to interior design items – and this is only a small example of the 425 exhibitions organized so far, featuring works by about 1,700 artists! The site is also a venue for occasional lectures, meetings, workshops and other forms of cultural activities gathering many enthusiasts from all over the world, so if this is your cup of tea, then you know what to include in your travelling agenda. Some exhibitions are accessible free of charge, though the admission prices may differ depending on the actual event. The place is open from Monday to Sunday, usually from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m., although the best way to be fully up-to-date with the programme is to visit their website on a regular basis.
Altough Upstream Gallery is located in the ‘uptown’ district of De Pijp, it appears really inviting, casual and cool. The décor may seem slightly more ‘chic’ than ‘shabby’, but the content on display is what you’re there for, right? This place is devoted to top-shelf contemporary art, operating as a platform of communication between those into modern aesthetics and both domestic and international artists allowed to exhibit their – often really inventive – works. And the main theme? There is none. It’s all about mixture of influences, styles, shapes, forms and interplay of diverse artistic creations. For instance, some past exhibitions featured a collection of glass and concrete sculptures by Cristian Andersen, a photo-video installation by Katrina Daschner, paintings by Dennis Rudolph, stop-motion nightmares by Cristóbal León, or a remarkable collection of works by Marc Bijl with the highlight in the form of a life-sized black figure of Christ with arms outstretched and epoxy dripping from hands and face – one of the finest examples of the artist’s concept of dark symbolism. Whenever you visit this gallery, you can be sure that the experience offered inside will be just as intense as the instances described above. And to make things even more attractive, the entry is free of charge. The place is open from Wednesday to Saturday, from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m., though it is possible to arrange another time by appointment. The address is Van Ostadestraat 294 and any necessary contact information can be found here.
The name is just as intriguing as the works featured inside this art gallery located in Eastern Docklands, on Zeeburgerpad 53, quite close to Museum Perron Oost – arguably the smallest museum in the world. Coming back to the gallery, it focuses on contemporary art, lending its exhibition space to many different artists, who are encouraged to ‘go solo’ and deliver a broader spectrum of their creative output. Some of the works on display are designed in a very interactive way, like the 2010 installations by Frederik van Simaey, consisting of e.g. a memorable sculpture of folding beds, ladders and bikes, Gino Saccone’s huge canvases or Jean Bernard Koeman’s architectonic concepts. Every exhibition seeks to involve the public in the ‘mental space’ of the showcased artist, creating a ground for intellectual, non-verbal dialogue and bonding the audience and the creators through art. Also, the gallery provides art students and upcoming artists with unique opportunity to reach a broader target group with their works, some examples of which are really outstanding. Come and see for yourself – the admission is free of charge and the gallery is open from Thursday to Sunday, from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. To know what to expect, check out the gallery’s website and stay up to date.
The philosophy behind Radar is best described as a clash between dynamism and urgency, the outcome of which is authenticity and radicalism. It is a quite young spot on the cultural map of the city, as it was created in 2008. It was founded by Marco di Piaggi, an architect and music enthusiast, who devoted his life to Amsterdam, and a group of his close friends. The aim of the place is to remain genuine and up-to-date, that’s why it supports all forms of art which tend to combine these two key indicators. A good example of such approach is the year 2008, when the gallery displayed tranquil cityscapes by a Polish painter nicknamed Nisja set against frantic and expressive canvases by Marcel Ozymantra. As you might expect, the focus is on the ‘urban’ side of art, so video art, music and photography coexisting with sculptures and paintings should not surprise you if you decide to visit the place. The founders tend to call Radar as an ‘avant-garde monitor’ for real-time events, so if you’re curious to taste some less traditional interpretation of current affairs, you know where to head. The gallery can be found on Eerste Rozendwarsstraat 17hs, near the scenic street of Rozengracht and is open from Friday to Saturday, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. during exhibitions or in different times and on different days on appointment. Moreover, you can enter the place free of charge. Check out their website to learn more of the current programme and to explore the rich archives.