International and diverse art scene
In addition to a rich history in fine arts, a contributing factor to Amsterdam’s vibrant artist community is the international aspect of the city itself. Almost half of Amsterdam’s inhabitants are foreigners, a number that is reflected in the diverse art scene. Reasons for this could be that it’s relatively cheap to live here and it’s fairly easy to find studios to work in. But, for many, it’s really down to the educational institutions of Amsterdam; they attract artists from all over the world. Many international artists have fallen in love with the city and ended up staying long after their graduation.
Gerrit Rietveld Academie
Amsterdam’s internationally renowned art and design school is not only a great source of fresh talent in the local scene, but its graduates also tend to make waves internationally as they transition from ‘art student’ to ‘young professionals’. Previously a breeding ground for De Stijl and the Bauhaus movement, the academy is known for providing a broad artistic education, be it in fine arts, photography, fashion or graphic design, allowing the students to take inspiration from not only their teachers but their surrounding peers. Annual shows, such as the Rietveld UnCut (De Brakke Grond, every November) and the GRA Graduates (every July) generate much buzz among art lovers and gallery curators alike.
Rietveld Academy’s “basic year” allows beginner students to test the waters and get a taste of the school’s many different departments. After an introductory year you choose your direction and study for a further three more years before graduating with a Bachelor Degree in Fine Arts (BFA).
Master your skill
Many follow up a BFA with a masters programme (MFA) at the Sandberg Institute. The Sandberg Institute is affiliated with the Rietveld Academy and is the only institution in Amsterdam to offer master programmes in Fine Arts, Applied Arts and Design.
An atelier of your own
Contrary to the extrovert profile of the Sandberg Institute, the artist initiative-turned-institution Atelier was once a very closed environment. Students were encouraged to not show their work outside the school walls while enrolled. Fortunately this has changed in recent years, and a very important aspect of your development as an artist is to exhibit publicly.
Last but not least, the Rijksacademie. Don’t be fooled by it’s name, this is not a school but a post-graduate residency programme - one of the most prestigious in the world. Word is: its alumni boast the highest percentage of museum, gallery and institutional shows compared to any other post-grad programme. These four institutions all provide very different approaches to artistic enterprise and by doing so they help create the diversity of Amsterdam’s art scene.