Art Rotterdam Week

Every February, Rotterdam stages art and design fairs, plus events, and exhibitions as part of its Art Rotterdam Week. Rupert Parker takes a look and recommends some ongoing highlights

Art Rotterdam Week Poster

Art Rotterdam Week Poster

Rotterdam Art Fair

Rotterdam Art Fair

Van Nelle Factory

Van Nelle Factory

Van Nelle Factory w Sign

Van Nelle Factory with Sign

Van Nelle Factory w canal

Van Nelle Factory with Canal

Brass Section SS Rotterdam

Brass Section SS Rotterdam

OBJECT  Grey Chair Engine Room SS Rotterdam

OBJECT Grey Chair Engine Room SS Rotterdam

OBJECT Chair Engine Room SS Rotterdam

OBJECT Chair Engine Room SS Rotterdam

OBJECT Chairs Engine Room SS Rotterdam

OBJECT Chairs Engine Room SS Rotterdam

OBJECT Swimming Pool SS Rotterdam

OBJECT Swimming Pool SS Rotterdam

Rotterdam Haute Photography

Rotterdam Haute Photography

Photo Exhibition

Photo Exhibition

AVL Mundo

AVL Mundo

Dali White Telephone

Dali White Telephone

Dali Picture

Dali Picture

Sculpture Garden

Sculpture Garden

Rotterdam is the ideal place to display ground breaking art and artefacts as the city itself has an iconic skyline, boasting some of the most modern architectural structures. Sadly WW2 destroyed most of the centre but the planners responded to the challenge of creating a brand new city by looking forward rather than back. Every time I come here it seems there’s a new building bustling with modernity.

Art Rotterdam

The exception to the rule is the Van Nelle Factory, built to process tobacco, tea and coffee at the end of the 1920’s and now a UNESCO World Heritage site. It makes a fitting place for Art Rotterdam, one of the top five winter fairs, with over seventy leading galleries showing the latest developments in the field of contemporary art. Spanning the entire ground floor, as well as regular booths there’s a video and film section, with 12 projections on huge five metre screens.

The New Art Section, put together by curator Natasha Hoare from the Witte de With Centre for Contemporary Art, includes work by 21 of the youngest artists from international galleries. In another part of the factory, Prospects & Concepts presents cutting edge works from around 60 artists who’ve been beneficiaries of the Mondriaan Fund. This is the place to see installation and performance art, and you may well encounter the unexpected.

Object Design Fair

Another famous Rotterdam icon is the retired cruise ship the SS Rotterdam, now moored permanently in its new role as a luxury hotel. The interior is all elegant 1950’s style so it makes the perfect venue for the Object Rotterdam, with over 75 established and upcoming designers on show. In the dining rooms, decks and cabins of the ship, over a dozen of recent Dutch graduates present their furniture designs, textile installations, lighting and fashion accessories. I like the coffee bricks by Rietveld Academy student Mayra Sérgio and the furniture made from recycled paper by WooJai Lee from the Design Academy.

Below decks, in the old engine rooms, is a spectacular exhibition of 100 years of Dutch chairs. It’s been put together by Workshop of Wonders and over 100 chairs, starting with one from Gerrit Rietveld’s ‘De Stijl’ period and ending with Scholten & Baijings latest Japanese creations, are tastefully arranged among the machinery. Another interesting space is the empty indoor swimming pool where design label Tuttobene has arranged objects by Mae Engelgeer, Rick Tegelaar, Mieke Meijer and others.

Haute Photographie

Haute Photographie is a photography fair held in the LP2 space in the Las Palmas building, near the cruise terminal. It takes museum quality group exhibitions as its starting point and brings together a select group of international galleries. Participants include Esther Woerdehoff (Paris), Grundemark/Nilsson (Stockholm/Berlin), Howard Greenberg Gallery (New York), Ibasho Gallery (Antwerp) and Kahmann Gallery (Amsterdam).

There are 50 featured photographers showing over 250 pictures including famous names like Hiroshi Sugimoto, Antoine d’Agata, William Klein and Albert Watson. The younger generation of photographers includes Inka and Niclas, Martin Essl, Hideyuki Ishibashi and Ester Vonplon. There are also two dedicated exhibitions, one featuring rare vintage pieces by artists such as Leonard Freed, Ruth Orkin, Sanne Sannes and Christer Strömholm, and the second presenting young Dutch photographers.

AVL-Mundo

Atelier Van Lieshout´s workshop, AVL-Mundo, is situated in a large warehouse in the harbour area and outside is a sculpture park with hot Glühwein on tap. Inside an installation composed of a labyrinth of raw, industrial, interactive sculptures. These machines, including presses, rollers, and shredders, are used to recycle old washing machines, televisions and even artworks. Daily events feature spectacular live performances and I see a huge weight descending from the ceiling to crush a supermarket trolley. Not for the faint of heart

Although Art Rotterdam has now finished, a number of new exhibitions opened during the week. They include

Kunsthal Rotterdam

Human/Digital: a symbiotic love affair Digital, Post Internet and Virtual Reality Art from the Hugo Brown Family Collection.
9 February to 2 April 2017
Human/Digital presents the work of artists on the cutting edge of digital art from the collection of Hugo, Carla and Mark Brown. Over thirty pieces including photography, video art, websites and installations by 25 different national and international artists are on display. Giant screens host video projections and the artworks in this exhibition concern the digital world and how we relate to it. Whilst you’re here pop upstairs to see their extensive collection of Bakelite objects.

Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen

Mad About Surrealism
11 February to 28 May 2017
Mad About Surrealism is an unprecedented overview of Surrealism, bringing together over 300 masterpieces by artists including Salvador Dalí, René Magritte and Max Ernst. The exhibits come from the collections of four legendary private collectors: the British aristocratic poet Edward James (1907-1984), British artist Roland Penrose (1900-1984), British collector Gabrielle Keiller (1908-1995) and the German entrepreneurs Ulla and Heiner Pietzsch. Don’t miss two examples of Dali’s famous Lobster Telephone.

Netherlands Photo Museum

Europa. What Else?
28 January to 17 May 2017
The Photo Museum joins the debate on Europe, with an exhibition by photographers Nico Bick and Otto Snoek who’ve set out to record aspects of contemporary Europe. Bick has systematically documented the interior of every parliament in the European Union, while Snoek has mingled with the crowds in European cities in order to photograph ordinary people on public occasions. The museum adds an extra dimension to the exhibition by showing French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson’s renowned 1955 photo series The Europeans.

The next Art Rotterdam Week takes place in early February 2018.

Rotterdam Info has information about the city.

Holland has information about the country.

The nhow Rotterdam makes a comfortable base near the cruise terminal.

Both British Airways and Cityjet fly direct to Rotterdam from London City Airport.

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