Rotterdam is a first-class city for contemporary art. Young and vibrant, the Netherlands’ second largest city is constantly adapting to the changing landscape of modern life and increasing urbanization. Unsurprisingly, that the city’s art scene mirrors this creative energy. There are many hidden gallery gems beneath the glittering skyline, each priding themselves on providing a fresh voice in the world of modern and postmodern artistry.
Galerie Kralingen boasts an airy and large exhibition space for the display of modern art, as well as a stage for theater and pervading music throughout the gallery. Kralingen is the height of merged artistry, re-establishing the orality of traditional storytelling on stage, while surrounded by works of art, encouraging members of the public to participate in the open platform. Film and music also collide in their screenings of films from the jazz era, recreating periods of high artistry. The physical presence of sculptural works by Valerie Simon sit among the photographs of Rob Verhorst, to create a stimulating and varied range of exhibitions that are constantly fresh and in tune with the public demand.
Nederlands Fotomuseum is dedicated to the pursuit of photographic beauty, exhibiting no other art forms than the captured moment. This is contemporary art at its most confronting: the museum displays numerous exhibitions including the evocative I Hear You by Antoinette De Jong, centered on candid shots of Afghan nationals in the midst of the War on Terror. Occasionally, contemporary and historical images collide in exhibitions such as Vrai ou Faux compiled by Veronique Bourgoin, moving towards a comprehensive understanding of a particular topic or theme. The Fotomuseum is a sumptuous feast of photographic history, with backed up files and rare daguerreotypes to juxtapose the modern, adulterated images that throw light on contemporary situations and events. Nederlands Fotomuseum, Wilhelminakade 332, Rotterdam, Netherlands, +31 10 203 0405
The impressive frontage of the Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art is testament to the exhibitions within. Since 1990, Witte de With has worked to constantly refresh and adjust its exhibitions to culturally reflect upon social and political predicament and change, innovative in its commitment to education and presentation of curated exhibitions, live events and copious publications. Featuring works by esteemed creators, such as narrative artist Christina Li and the work of Hans Van Dijk, popularizing Chinese art in the Netherlands, Witte de With is the go-to venue for cutting edge contemporary art.
Despite being one of the oldest museums in the Netherlands, the contemporary collections at Boijmans Van Benuingen brings themore traditional exhibits to life. There are frequent temporary and rotating exhibitions introduced to revitalize the permanent collections, younger generation artists such as Olafur Eliasson moving the artistry of Holland’s Golden Age toward Rietfield furniture and modernist Dutch design, assessing the role of contemporary art in the everyday.
Bringing visual artistry bang up to date is the MAMA Showroom, exhibiting cutting edge visual presentation, focusing on cultivating and encouraging artists and audiences in the 16-26 age bracket. MAMA coordinate live events alongside exhibitions and talks on popular culture, as well as publishing multiple books and magazines on techniques and basic understanding of manipulating tape, audio and visual culture.
TENT exhibits the most recent examples of contemporary art in the Netherlands, displaying the finished pieces from the students at the Postgraduate Institute of the Willem de Kooning Academy. Addressing familiar issues in the post-modern age, such as the tension between a desire to stay connected and being so constantly connected so as to lose individuality, TENT harnesses the talent of brilliant young minds and offers them to the public.
Kunsthal is famous for its eclectic and eccentric range of exhibitions, stretching from the vivid color of Marimekko design to displays of shoes and iconic photography. With beautiful grounds in which to take some time out between exhibitions – or even admire the building from afar, given that it is the creation of architect Rem Koolhaas – there is a feeling of abundant space in and around the gallery, allowing the artworks time to permeate. Priding itself on a frequent turnover of exhibitions, the Kunsthal sensitively displays works of sculpture and canvas artistry, interspersed with artifacts and unusual exhibitions such as the clothing and design of Jean Paul Gaultier.
Gallery Delta is considered to be one of the first galleries in the area constructed entirely for the purpose of exhibiting modern art. Delta provides a platform for young artists from the Netherlands, inspiring their creations by displaying their work alongside abstract, figurative expressionism from the school of Berlin art and the Italian Trans avant-garde.
Cokkie Snoei’s unique gallery specializes in 20th century vintage photography and canvas works that spotlight both renowned and relatively unknown artists in equal measure. The delirium of works by Sands Murray-Wassink complement the neat sculptural creations of Tracey Snelling, who reduces the buildings and structures familiar with mankind to a microcosmic level. Cokkie Snoei strives towards the unusual and the provocative in both her own art and that which she chooses to display, resulting in her gallery space being amongst the most innovative and fresh in Rotterdam.
Galerie Phoebus is a dynamic and effortlessly stylish space, with a large main gallery, projection rooms and additional exhibition space in the basement. In an attempt to keep the artworks stimulating and maintain the position of contemporary art as present and relevant in Rotterdam, Phoebus is liberal with commissioning lecture-series, informal discussions and even occasional excursions. While featuring a wealth of international artists, Phoebus champions art of the Netherlands, displaying the abstractions of Charl van Ark and the intensely patterned, almost optically illusionary works of Bernadette Beunk.