When I, Rotterdam girl and museum freak pur sang, am in the capitol, I want to see top museums. That is how I tried the impossible: absorb all the unforgettable art in the Rijksmuseum and trying to get the same result in Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam at the same day. If your are thinking to do the same because you are in Amsterdam for just one day, remember this: it is an insult to those museums and to your brain (and your feet). But if you must, you have a chance of running into some impressive paintings that you will actually still be able to remember.
If you visit a museum like ‘the bath tub’ (as they call the Stedelijk Museum since its renovation) after seeing the art bombing of ‘the Rijks’, your memory only has space left for two or three paintings more. You are just full of impressions. The benefit of going anyway, is that you pick your favorites very fast. You just don’t have capacity for more, so you only pay attention to the paintings that really touch you. I do not even care about Kandinsky, Warhol, and Constantso much anymore. I pass Daan Roosegaarde’s forest of lights fairly quick. I would have much more attention for it if I had more time and energy.
But this is what I did see in Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam: an unforgettable impression of Bal Tabarin by Jan Sluijters. One of my favorite paintings I have seen so far. Large, moving, colorful, happy and energetic. And I spent well of my 15 minutes in front of it.
Museum Singer Laren has a study of this painting. I liked it when I saw it the first time. But it is not as impressive and detailed as this final piece. More than half of the space in this painting is covered with strings of colorful bulbs. Sluijters created the painting in 1907. Electrical light was still a novelty in nightlife. This painting must have looked super modern to contemporaries. Something like Daan Roosegaarde’s responsive dune grass that reacts to touch and temperature. Looking at the dresses and suits it also shows contemporary fashion. Something that wasn’t shown in art that often yet. Ad the ‘ordinary’ setting of a dance hall, totally new in art. And here I am, still amazed by it. I would have loved it even if it was painted yesterday. Not a bad catch for 15 minutes in Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam.