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Amsterdam Superlatives of 2012
by Andrea Alessi

There was a lot to see in Amsterdam in 2012, but for this recap let’s forget about your Kings and Queens and Ultimate Grand Supremes. We’re not like our attention-seeking neighbors with their fancypants dOCUMENTAs and Manifestas. It’s the Most Photogenic and Miss Congeniality portion of the evening, folks, and while the following might not have been the best or worst of Amsterdam overall, they were the best or worst at something. So cheers for that.

Drumroll please! Herewith, our annual selection of lowland highs (and lows) from the past year:

2011’s winner for Long Sustained Teaser reinvents itself as Best Reward For a Ten Year Wait. We’re talking about the reopening of the Stedelijk Museum, of course! Its new addition, endearingly (?) nicknamed “The Bathtub”, is the best place to bathe yourself in modern and contemporary art.

Photo of new Stedelijk Museum building, designed by Mels Crouwel; Photo: John Lewis Marshall.

Most Disappointing Public Art: We found Steve McQueen’s Blues Before Sunrise in Vondelpark bor-ing.

Most Wondrous Show: Despite its dark themes, William Kentridge’s Black Box theater performance at the Jewish Historical Museum surprised and delighted with each mechanical turn.

Not that you need an excuse, but the screenings of Nicolas Provost’s films Plot Point and Star Dust at the Muziekgebouwaan ‘t IJ, provided the Best Reason to Bring Popcorn to an Art Exhibition.

While we’re making excuses, the Best Reason to Channel Seinfeld and Forget Where You Parked Your Car goes to FatForm’s Present Forever, which installed works by fifty-five Dutch artists in a Bijlmer parking garage.

NIMk is the Art Institution We’ll Miss Most in 2013, as well as the Clearest Reminder That We Are Only Just Beginning to Feel the Effects of theCultural Funding Cuts in the Netherlands.

But thankfully in its absence we’ve got The Next Big Thing: NIMk+SMART=NASA. Watch this space, people!

NIMk wasn’t the only thing we “lost” in 2012. Seven paintings from Rotterdam’s Kunsthal win Most Conspicuous Disappearance. First runner up is the art fair Art Amsterdam, which also went mysteriously missing this year.

Best Reason to Continue Thinking That Painting Is “Having A Moment”: Painters brought it at the annual Rjksakademie Open.

The Mike Kelley Retrospective at the Stedelijk was the Most Gratifying Trip Down Memory Lane (as well as the most awkward).

Most Daring Exhibition Concept: De Appel’s Three Artists Walk Into a Bar was hard to get a handle on, but had us bumping into art in the most unexpected places.

Giorgio Andreotta Calò08.09.2012 – 21.10.2012, installation view; Photos by Niels Vis / Courtesy of the artist and SMART Project Space, Amsterdam.


Giorgio Andreotta Calò’s installation at SMART was “an adventure in inspired solitude,” making it this year’s Best Gallery Experience.

Coolest Reason to Open a New Savings Account: RaboKunstzone, the dedicated exhibition space of the Rabobank Art Collection.

Least Appetizing Exhibition: Food Forward at Stroom explored the possibilities of food in the future. Let’s hope gastronomy in 2013 doesn’t look anything like this.


Andrea Alessi (with Nicola Bozzi and Manus Groenen)


(Image on top: William Kentridge, Installation view of Black Box/Chambre Noire, miniature theatre (detail); © William Kentridge / Photo: John Hodgkiss. Deutsche Guggenheim)

Posted by Andrea Alessi on 12/31/12

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