Best independent art galleries in Amsterdam
Amsterdam’s contemporary art scene is one of the most thriving in Europe, thanks to the array of independent galleries dotted across the city. These smaller commercial spaces provide young artists with an essential platform in their early careers whilst introducing international and established names to the Dutch art market. There are always new exhibitions to discover and art events that are open to all, so here’s a handy round-up of the best spaces to start exploring. Be sure to check gallery websites before visiting in case you need to make a booking.
Galerie Ron Mandos
This well-loved gallery first opened its doors over 20 years ago in Rotterdam but has since moved to a spacious location on the Prinsengracht, for which the Amsterdam art scene couldn’t be more grateful. With an impressive line-up of Dutch and international artists on the books, their welcoming public programme encompasses screenings, talks and openings to help you get to grips with some of the most exciting work being produced today.
Housed in the palatial surroundings of a 17th canal house, Upstream Gallery has a particular focus on radical, conceptual and post-internet art. The contrast between the elegant, classical architecture and cutting-edge, contemporary work always makes for a fascinating viewing experience - quite different from your average ‘White Cube’ space.
In 2020, Amsterdam’s photography fans were thrilled to welcome one of the most well-respected Swiss galleries to their new space in the Jordaan. Bildhalle curates an expert selection of established names from the 20th century alongside a host of emerging international talents. Delve into exhibitions celebrating a fantastic range of photographic styles, from street photography to conceptual figurative shots and genre-smashing abstract work.
The Ravestijn Gallery
With a luminous exhibition space at the docklands just to the West of Central Station, The Ravestijn Gallery is a rich addition to Amsterdam's thriving contemporary photography scene. Spread through the spacious halls, you’ll find solo presentations by some of the most curious and provocative international photographers working today. The gallery puts on several exhibitions a year to explore ambitious new perspectives in image-taking and the multifaceted forms the medium can take.
Galerie Fons Welters
What started 30 years ago in an old garage in the Jordaan has since evolved into one of the city’s most important galleries, with an international presence. The iconic front door by artist Joep van Lieshout still gives a nod to the building’s humble beginnings. Fons Welters built its reputation by finding young, unknown talents and bringing them to the art world’s attention. The gallery has both a front and back exhibition space, allowing them to display two exhibitions at once, ensuring a visit here is always double the fun.
With an exciting roster of up-and-coming and mid-career artists, two spaces in Amsterdam and one in New York, GRIMM has firmly secured the Dutch capital a prominent position on the international stage. Expect to see works in various mediums, including sprawling figurative paintings, intricate installations constructed from reclaimed electrical wires or animal pelts transformed into breathtaking ceramics and bronzes.
Established in the late 1980s, AKINCI represents a diverse array of contemporary artists engaging with socio-political, ecological and gender questions in their work. On the programme, you’ll find exhibitions in various media including cross-overs between sound, architecture, painting, sculpture, film and installation. The gallery functions as both a solid home base for the artists who joined in the founding year and a career–building platform for newer generations.
Stevenson is a cosy gallery tucked away down a hidden alleyway in the Nine Streets with a focus on contemporary art from South Africa and the African Diaspora. Since 2003, the gallery has developed a highly respected programme, helping African artists gain access to the international market and promoting exchange with artists from around the world. The gallery has spaces in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Amsterdam and is regularly visible at the biggest art fairs.
Always on the hunt for artists with a playful sense of humour, Galerie Bart represents both established and emerging names who have graduated in the Netherlands. Expect to see exhibitions of painting, drawing, photography, sculpture and installation or a merging of media - always presented in an open-to-all way. On the agenda, you'll occasionally find other disciplines such as film, word art, music and performance represented through small-scale events.
Annet Gellink Galerie
With a focus on Dutch and international art, Annet Gellink has been showcasing groundbreaking work in central Amsterdam for over two decades. You can expect to see exhibitions of everything from drawing, painting and photography to installation and video art spread across the main gallery and The Bakery project space. The latter functions as a springboard for up-and-coming local talent.
With a unique emphasis on artists that work from abstraction, Gerhard Hofland has grown to be one of the most prominent galleries in Amsterdam. Over the years, the gallery has introduced an array of international names to Dutch audiences and has kickstarted the career of various young artists. Along with a variety of abstract and figurative art, the exhibition programme is often focused on large-scale installations and Photo Brut artists.
Ellen de Bruijne Projects
Concentrating on art that is feminist, socially engaged and performative, Ellen de Bruijne supports a diverse roster of international artists working across a myriad of mediums. The gallery, situated at the edge of the Jordaan, organises the Dolores Project Space, where installations and works in progress are showcased. Visitors are guaranteed encounters with challenging themes and conceptual pieces related to the present day.