On a scale of being hip I always rate myself around a 6/10. Just cool enough to know what’s “hot”, but too lazy to actually care (and a little too busy with more important stuff than wondering if chai seeds are still magical). So when I got invited for a street art tour through Amsterdam, I did hesitate for a moment. But curiosity got the best of me: I definitely value some cool street art, and I wanted to know more about the background of the phenomenon.
And so I went on an organized street art tour through Amsterdam, which showed us all the coolest street art spots. (Check out my recommendation for tours below!) These were my 5 favorites.
De Blauwe Vioolspeler (“The blue violin player”)
Do I really like this one? Not really, but the story behind this statue is really cool. As it turns out, no one knows exactly who created it – one day it was just there. And since it was in no one’s way, it just stayed there. Throughout the years the ‘Jordanezen’ (inhabitants of the Amsterdam area The Jordaan) started loving the little man, and on cold winter days they often even gave him a little scarf. So when the municipality planned on removing the statue a few years later, the whole community started protesting. Rumour has it that it’s been created by a doctor who lives a few blocks down the road.
No, for me it’s not about the coffee shop (which apparently played a big part in Oceans Twelve – I’ve never seen it). I actually haven’t been to a coffee shop – ever. Hey ho, what a rebel I am, right?! But anyway, street art: if you look above the coffee shop you will see a typical Amsterdam scenery full of canals and warehouses stuck to the window. With Duct tape. Cut in such a way that when the light shines through, beautiful images come to life. Really impressive. What’s even cooler is that the artist (Max Zoro) creates everything by heart, so he doesn’t use any photographs. Everything is created purely from his fantasy, really impressive. I can’t wait to see what it looks like at night.
Adress: Handboogstraat 29
If you’re from an older generation than I am, you might remember the arcade game ‘Space Invaders’. It’s a game where you play a tank and you have to shoot little rows of aliens that keep on getting closer. Nowadays there’s also a street artist called ‘Invader’, from France, who perks up the streets with his colored mosaic art (yep, he “invades” “space”). The cool thing about the happy images is that the artist hangs them in different cities, including Amsterdam, which makes it into some sort of scavenger hunt. I think it’s a really cool idea – I’ve already spotted his art in different cities, including Paris.
Adress: All throughout Amsterdam
Wijdesteeg + Spuistraat
The original HQ of Amsterdam street art, obviously. As time has passed, it has more or less turned into a sad collection of abandoned and demolished buildings, with a few colorful gems that are still standing in all the wreckage. The municipality would rather see a Starbucks here than happy colored buildings with art on it. My heart cries a little when I see images on Google of happy colored bricks which now have turned pale. My favorite building in this street is Vrankrijk, a really cool bright blue building with street art.
Adress: Wijdesteeg & Spuistraat
Confession: I rarely visit galleries. Not because I’m not really culturally literate (well, actually, I’m not) but because I always find it… well… a bit intimidating. You walk into this sterile, empty space where someone with square glasses and a turtleneck sweater looks at you like “That one doesn’t have the money to buy anything in here” (which is true). I won’t randomly just walk into a Gucci store as well, you know what I mean? But I didn’t feel this way at all at the GO Gallery. The street art they have here is so cool! Street art is really the gallery’s focus, and they even offer printers for artists with no money so they still can create their own art. The owners were talking so passionately about their love of art that I almost grabbed my wallet to take home a few pieces. Damn, that was cool!