Amsterdam: Save our Art

Posted on July 4, 2006


by katie lips

Problems with “Art Vandals” – unfortunately not the name of a chic artists’ collective (as far as I’m aware) – are growing in Amsterdam. The latest this week is the news that a  69 year old man has confessed to the attempting to destroy ‘Celebration of the peace of Munster’ (1648) by Bartholomeus van der Helsta, in Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum.

Amsterdam’s art scene: the old school elegance of Vermeer; the crowd pleasing Van Goghs; the independent galleries around the canal ring;  emerging artists’ video installations or street art (stickers + graffiti) offer opportunities for all to enjoy the art of their choice;  whatever that may be.  Why is it then that Amsterdam seems to suffer more than its fair share of art vandalism?

Perhaps it’s hard to achieve “shock value” here?  You can walk down a street doing plenty of things that’d get you arrested elsewhere and no one will bat an eyelid. You can have your say on any topic and be tolerated, so how do you shout above the rest?

It seems the attack on the ‘Celebration of the peace of Munster’ is just the latest in a line of attacks on works including Rembrandt’s Nightwatch. Thankfully, it seems “museum patrons saw the incident and alerted security officers who apprehended the man. The museum was closed as a precaution.”  The full story is at

What is going on? Is art vandalism the only way to get noticed in this town, and what’s next?   What if the ‘art vandal’ starts cleaning up street graffiti?

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