During my trip to Amsterdam with friends this summer, I stumbled across a Banksy and Andy Warhol Exhibition at the Modern Contemporary (Moco) Museum, situated in Villa Alsberg, in the middle of the Amsterdam Museumplein.
My friends and I intended to visit the Van Gogh museum instead, but since the queue was too long we decided to have a wander round and found this unique exhibition by chance!
The museum itself is a private one, owned by Lionel and Kim Logchies. Interested in modern street art, they have collated over 100 pieces of artwork bought by collectors internationally. Some of the pieces of Banksy’s outdoor work have even been rescued from the rubble of torn down buildings. Amsterdam is an incredibly vibrant and lively city, and this colourful exhibition perfectly encapsulated the feel of the city for me.
Like many, I love the mystery surrounding the work of Banksy. As an anonymous artist, he is famous for his satirical, controversial and often politically-themed artwork. Most of us are familiar with Banksy’s outdoor street art, but what lots of people don’t realise is that Banksy also produces indoor art, including pieces on canvas, wood and paper.
Ever since Banksy came into the public eye during the early 2000’s, the media has attempted to uncover his identity. Earlier on this year a scientific study of heat maps, a method normally used to locate criminals, claimed to have identified Banksy. But will we ever know who the real Banksy is? For me, the speculation surrounding Banksy is part of his appeal as an artist, his anonymity allows us to enjoy his artwork without being influenced by our knowledge of him as a person.
The exhibition itself features around 50 pieces of Banksy’s original work, my personal favourite is the one pictured below. I find the image of the boy kneeling a very powerful one, I love the way that the bright colours of the graffiti contrast against the harsh, black frame. I thought the positioning of this piece next to the stained glass windows was ideal, as not only did they fit in with the message of the piece, but the entrance of light through the windows illuminated the image.
The ground floor is where the works of Andy Warhol were displayed. Warhol is one of the most influential figures in contemporary art. Best-known for his work in the pop-art movement, he is still widely celebrated 20 years on from his death.
In sharing an exhibition with Banksy, it is clear that Banksy has received inspiration from Warhol in his work, for example Warhol’s Campbell Soup is on display next to Banksy’s Tesco soup, demonstrating how both artists intend to glorify everyday subject matter.
Warhol was fascinated with celebrities and royals, as reflected in many of his works, such as the one below. Warhol’s work can be interpreted as simultaneously criticising and praising commercialised society and celebrity culture. His portrayal of distorted brand images and famous figures are largely ambiguous in the message they portray, is he encouraging popular culture or discouraging it? One thing that is clear, however, is that Warhol incorporated the world around him into his work and made his observations into art.
Visiting the Moco Museum was a fun, interesting and worthwhile experience which I would highly recommend to anyone, art-lover or otherwise. As a huge fan of Banksy, it was particularly special for me to view so many pieces of his original artwork in one place.
Although unfortunately this exhibition is only a temporary one in Amsterdam, the museum regularly hold different exhibitions and more artists’ work will be featured in the future, including Os Gemeos, KAWS and Maya Hayuk.
Image credits: Sophie Hunt