on August 11, 2012
We were late for the trip to the Van Gogh Museum, and were starting to dread how busy the place was going to be, when we passed an interesting looking exhibition of an artist I admire – Isaac Israels, known as an Amsterdam Impressionist. His work has become more in vogue in recent years with paintings fetching around the half million Euro mark.The entrance to the museum Stadsarchief wasn’t particularly inspiring with a large entrance hall and a reception to one side; they almost didn't want to boast the charge or entrance to the exhibition. Also in the reception hall was a heap of very attractive photos of art deco and arts and crafts styled apartments. We weren't sure whether these images were of some of the upper floors of the grand building of the museum. I discovered later that it was not, but it gives an idea of the haphazard directions that it wasn't obvious during our visit. The building the Stadsarchief is in is a former bank, and apparently there is a further display of artefacts within the old vaults. Again, this wasn't clearly displayed in English inside the former bank (or what the artefacts were), so they missed a couple of extra admission fees there. The entrance to the Isaac Israels exhibition was 6 Euros, and I really enjoyed the display, although as it was a very mixed media of pastels, pencil and oils, the lighting must have been a curator's nightmare. As it was, it didn't always succeed with visitors peering at light flashed paintings.. Within the exhibition, the rough sketches and examples of the finished article gave a good idea of how the artist built up his work. A lot of Israels' work was done on the hoof, so a lot of the sketches are hurried with his attention on the people in the foreground rather than the static buildings which he could complete at his leisure. Israel was also fascinated by the working classes and people, and he paid maids and factory girls a few pennies to pose for him in their working garb on their way home. The display narration was particularly good, taking time to explain the artist's time in Amsterdam, and to place some perspective to the scenes. Overall, I thought the gallery offered good value and I particularly enjoyed the quiet atmosphere of the place, rather than that of the more famous Van Gogh were everyone is tripping over each other.We also enjoyed a browse around the museum shop although most of the wares were art books written in Dutch. However we did manage to find some lovely cards of Israels' work which looked a little unusual and good value at 9 Euros for 10. Obviously, the display we saw was a temporary exhibit, but I can recommend any visitor to Amsterdam taking a little time out to check out what's on in this gallery at the Stadsarchief, even if it doesn't particularly advertise how to visit easily. The Stadsarchief is quite close to the Van Gogh and Rembrant museums in any case, so is easy to wander past to see whats on.
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