Amsterdam is a lively and vibrant city, defined by a distinctive lifestyle, which encompasses old traditions and integrates the new. I composed a photograph of a typical facade, carefully integrating the various elements that would make such a scene definitive of an Amsterdam moment. Ensuring I get a water canal in the foreground, layered by a houseboat, then a bit of the streets and the established greenery - and the last touch, a typical high architecture of the buildings' facade looking back at the viewer.
I then started working through the digital archives for the Rijks Museum, where artworks are freely downloadable. Even better, the museum encourages artists to use these digital files and take the art further, this is what I have done. By taking the art from back then, and making it contemporary.
With the integration of the masters into the photographs there are all kinds of naughty and wonderful things happening behind the windows, on the sidewalks, and in the cars.
And where the curtains are drawn, that is where the viewers imagination can step in.
I started filling the areas of my photograph with artworks that depict the lifestyle which I observed in Amsterdam. Relaxing on the side of the water canal was of course obvious, as locals and tourist enjoy sitting on the sides of the canal, eating, drinking, and smoking, a somewhat bohemian and “gezellig” lifestyle.
What happens behind the windows in Amsterdam is not always a mystery. Sometimes it might be, and hence some windows are kept empty, open, or closed. Yet some windows depict those aspects of the city which it is also very well known for, such as the Red Light District.
In another window we see the famous Milk Maid going about her daily chores, or a woman performing the simple act of putting on her stockings. We also see suited men discussing politics or business, there is fresh food on some people’s tables, and decaying perishables on others.
The modern artist is also explored in this work, here represented by the master himself, Vincent Van Gogh. In this case he sits and observes the streets of Amsterdam from inside his air-conditioned car, in a city that is mainly occupied by bicycles - but then again Van Gogh did always enjoy the unconventional.
Lastly, what would this entire artwork depicting Amsterdam be without the famous swans? In this case, the “The Threatened Swan” is caught in mid flight, possibly trying to escape this quirky stereotype...ironically he is still in the frame.
"Timeless Facades of Amsterdam"
Printed on museum quality archival Hahnemühle Paper