Travel In Style

In an effort to bring world famous art to the masses, SNCF — France’s national state-owned rail service — has applied renowned works to one of the most heavily trafficked locations in the country: its public train system. In collaboration with 3M, the interior of a commuter train has been covered with graphic film that mimics impressionist art from the Musée d’Orsay; an imitation of the architecture of the palace of Versailles; and images from Cinema Gaumont — the oldest film company in the world. During their commute, passengers can admire ‘Morning, sun’ by Camille Pissarro, Claude Monet’s ‘Blue water lilies’, or the vibrant stained glass wall of the Musée d’Orsay.

While serving as a simple method to add beauty to an ordinary ride, the project also reflects the close ties between railroads and art. For example, the J line — which links Paris’ Gare Saint-Lazare and Vernon stations — travels through landscapes that served as inspiration to many artists. Similarly, the Musée d’Orsay began life as a railway station before it became a museum. as a result of the creative intervention, the artwork has dramatically decreased the amount of graffiti and criminal damage on trains, giving passengers greater peace of mind as they travel from one part of the city to another.

Somewhere Small

As a prop builder, illustrator and painter in Los Angeles, Jedediah Corwyn Voltz always seems to find himself surrounded by plants and half-finished sculptures. For his latest series of work titled ‘somewhere small’, Voltz has crafted tiny treehouses around succulents and cacti. ‘Building miniatures for stop motion always leaves me with a huge bin of scrap balsa, basswood, and various fabrics,’ Voltz says. ‘I found myself making little fantasy constructions out of that stuff during my downtime, which led to me building some more serious ones in little diorama settings. Last year, I built my first living treehouse and since then, I’ve made almost 25 of them — from tiny watchtowers in secluded forests, to quiet treetop meditation platforms, and giant bustling windmills and waterwheels.’ Visit his site here.

94 Drawings

Drawing from the side of Shipping House with detailed drawings for the artisans. This will be also on display from May 27 at the exhibition: City Illustrators of Amsterdam at the Amsterdam City Archives

Drawing from the side of Shipping House with detailed drawings for the artisans. This will be also on display from May 27 at the exhibition: City Illustrators of Amsterdam at the Amsterdam City Archives

During research for the exhibition ‘Living in the Amsterdam School’ curators of the Stedelijk Museum did extensive research into the City Archives. A folder with 94 drawings of Scheepvaarthuis (Shipping House) sheds a new light on the origins of the architecture. The Shipping House was the first major building in the Amsterdam School style, which was ‘born’ exactly one hundred years ago, and on that occasion the style got its name. The drawings give more insight into the roles of architects Joan Melchior van der Mey, Piet Kramer and Michel de Klerk.

Early last century, six leading shipping companies were about to give a very prestigious order for a large communal building near Amsterdam Central Station. The contract was awarded in August 1912 to the relatively young architect Joan Melchior van der Mey, then 34 years old. For this great job, he put together a team at a later stage, with among others the architects Piet Kramer and Michel de Klerk, who were younger than himself, and whose drawing talents he gratefully took in advantage.

In the folder with 94 drawings it is easy to read and the cooperation of the triumvirate and the role that each had in it. In addition, the folder contains designs for interior components, and there were virtually no examples known. On the majority of the drawings an indication or sketch by Van der Mey, while the working drawings can usually be attributed to De Klerk. On one study sheet one can find furniture sketches of both De Klerk and Van der Mey, with instructions on a floorplan and detailed sketches. This indicates that the designers did not take a separate component on their behalf, but really the three of them worked together to the total project.

Design drawing for a rug in the boardroom Scheepvaarthuis (Shipping House)

Design drawing for a rug in the boardroom of Scheepvaarthuis (Shipping House)

Unique in the folder is the design for a large carpet with a striking design, for the boardroom of Stoomvaart-Maatschappij Nederland (SMN) on the second floor of The Shipping House. Until now, there was nothing known about this remarkable design, and since its completion in 1916 no author has written a thing about it. Initially it was thought that perhaps it was a design by Michel de Klerk, as he also designed furniture for the space. A drawing in the ‘weaving notebook’ of Mrs Van der Mey however, shows that this carpet design is by her husband. Sarah van der Mey followed her first weaving lessons in Copenhagen in 1908, and then she wove on commission many rugs. On the found drawing, which will be included in the exhibition at the Stedelijk Museum, shows that Van der Mey consulted Sarah to explain how this particular carpet had to be practically translated. The fact that Van der Mey worked on the design of the carpet shows once again the close cooperation with De Klerk and Kramer, in particular, this specific space in The Shipping House, for which the two other architects made designs.

A study sheet attributed with design sketches to Michel de Klerk shows a colored round table. This may have been the basis for a very good table from circa 1918 possibly designed by De Klerk and was made by furniture manufactory ‘t Woonhuys. Both the study sheet and the oval table will be in the exhibition at Stedelijk Museum.

Very different is the addition of a female portrait in profile at the right part of a page of drawings. This is probably the great love of De Klerk, Lea Jessurun who, just as he, worked in the architectural firm of Eduard Cuypers, where Leah worked until her marriage with De Klerk in 1910.

Prayer Temple in Amsterdam West

In the Jan Maijenstraat in Amsterdam West sits a large brick building on the square, that doesn’t at first sight equals the reminiscent of a church. The letters above the entrance indicates that it is indeed a church; the Jerusalem Church. It is the only church from the period of the Amsterdam School, both outside and inside have been remained intact. Reason enough to declare this monument to Amsterdam School Monument of the Month.

Jerusalem Church - photo Albert Palsgraaf

Jerusalem Church – photo Albert Palsgraaf

At the beginning of the 20th century was like decades before a big shortage of housing in the city. After the famous Plan South by architect Berlage in 1917, the city presented in 1922, Plan West. The plan was also known as the 6,000-houses plan called for the number of laborers housing who would appear west of the Admiralengracht. The Jerusalem Church was one of the three churches built in this area. Under the motto ‘City without temple’ Dutch Reformed churches collected money for years to pay for the construction.

The Jerusalem Church was designed by architect F.B. Jantzen and built in 1928-1929. The church, in tight Amsterdam School style, pops out of a block of social housing and fits harmoniously into the other buildings in Amsterdam School style in the forecourt. Connecting the church with the underlying housing blocks had been a deliberate choice of the architect to express that God will dwell with men. The design is clearly influenced by the buildings of the American architect Frank Lloyd Wright, with the characteristic cubic shapes and flat roofs. The terrace structured building looks reminiscent of a temple from the Middle East.

Interior Jerusalem Church

Interior Jerusalem Church

The interior is designed as a unit, largely by Jantzen itself. Previously, he was guided by numbers and colors that had a Biblical sense. For example, the stained-glass windows are rich in biblical symbolism. But this is also reflected in the chandeliers, the central headlight symbol of Jesus surrounded by twelve smaller lights, the apostles. The dark furniture from tropical wood contrasts with the white walls. The 42-voice Furtwängler & Hammer organ in the church, has like the building a monumental status and was restored in 2014. Incidentally the church, which is still, as such, is in use as a branch of pop temple Paradiso.

This year’s Open Heritage Day Amsterdam celebrates its 30th birthday and as a tribute 100 years Amsterdam School will be celebrated. In addition to the regular weekend in September, it will open doors of a special Amsterdam School building, from April on every second Sunday of the month. The Jerusalem Church is the first to open its doors, and on Sunday, April 10th from 12:00 to 17:00 you can visit the building. Admission is free, during the tours they will tell you more about the building and from 14:00 the organ will be played occasionally.

Already curious? Look ahead to local broadcasting AT5 and its item Streets of Amsterdam from this week while visiting Jan Maijenstraat. Spoken text is in Dutch.

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Brain-bending Images

Self-taught Swedish photographer and retoucher Erik Johansson makes the implausible possible, turning outrageous scenarios into surreal yet familiar fragments of reality. His ongoing portfolio of photo manipulations sees landscapes unzip from the earth, human body parts shattered like porcelain, and buildings bent in half. Johansson describes his style as ‘photo realistic surrealism — surreal ideas realized in a realistic way with a touch of humor. I can’t really say that I’ve decided what I want my style to look like,’ he continues, but ‘it becomes what it becomes, I just realize the ideas that come to my mind and I don’t choose to develop a specific style to make that happen.’

Johansson’s recent compositions like ‘Impact’, ‘The architect’ and ‘Soundscapes’ continue his distortion of the natural world by morphing multiple images into one. For example, ‘Impact’ illustrates a lake, breaking apart into pieces of a mirror. the effect has been created through the use of 17 square meters of mirrors and a small boat, which has been carefully overlaid atop a photo of the surrounding landscape. ‘The architect’ is a brain-bending piece that plays with perspective and the distortion of space by forming an architectural optical illusion. Johansson documents much of his process in a series of videos, which you can see here.


New Painting by Piet Mondriaan – Part Two

April-Fool-2016Yes, I tried to trick you in believing that Piet Mondrian (Mondriaan in Dutch) painted Wall Street Boogie Woogie in acrylics. It was April Fools Day after all. The painting I showed was Broadway Boogie-Woogie tipped at an 45 degrees angle. He never could have painted it in acrylics by Permanent Pigments, the good man died in 1944, and the paints came available to the larger public in 1954.

Victory Boogie-Woogie wasn’t painted in leftover oils, it was not finished because Piet Mondrian died before he could do that. It can be seen in The Hague @ Gemeentemuseum.


Commercial acrylate dispersions, was invented by Otto Röhm in the early 20th century, from 1931 it wass sold by the German Rohm & Haas as metal, wood and wall paint. In 1954, the American company  Permanent Pigments came with the first acrylic paint for the artist, based on an aqueous dispersion named Liquitex, which as the name already indicates, was targeted on the textile artist. Liquitex was first sold in very thin form in vials, as a so-called low body acrylic with a fairly high concentration of pigment. In 1962 a thicker form in tubing came on the market

Broadway Boogie-Woogie is a painting by Piet Mondrian completed in 1943, shortly after he moved to New York in 1940. Compared to his earlier work, the canvas is divided into a much larger number of squares. Although he spent most of his career creating abstract work, this painting is inspired by clear real-world examples: the city grid of Manhattan, and the Broadway boogie woogie music to which Mondrian loved to dance. The painting was bought by the Brazilian sculptor Maria Martins for the price of $800 at the Valentine Gallery in New York City, after Martins and Mondrian both exhibited there in 1943. Martins later donated the painting to the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

New Painting by Piet Mondrian Discovered

In the depot of Stedelijk Museum (Museum of Modern Art) in Amsterdam a long-lost masterpiece by Piet Mondriaan was discovered. Specialists could trace it back in their books to 1945, when it came from Mondrian’s estate in New York to Amsterdam. It is known by its name Wall Street Boogie Woogie, a painting in the style of Victory Boogie Woogie, but in this case it is finished.

Piet Mondrian – Wall Street Boogie Woogie 1942

Piet Mondrian – Victory Boogie Woogie 1942-1944

It will be on show for a short time only, because the art specialists need to do more research on this unique painting. For all they know it’s one of the first painted panels with acrylic paint. US company Permanent Pigments (nowadays know as Liquitex) came especially for the artist with this paint on the market.

The other well known painting, Victory Boogie Woogie was still done in leftover oils. Wall Street Boogie Woogie can be seen in the main hall of the Amsterdam Stock Exchange on Damrak, tomorrow, doors open at 9 o’clock  (AM).


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