It’s like the orange madness, only in primary colours. It is in every city in the Netherlands. Everywhere. You can’t turn a corner without bumping into a red-white-blue and yellow & black decoration or object. It’s what happened to me. I was in Leiden for my regularly city walk. Walked through the city centre, into one of the historical streets. Turned the corner and there it was: a De Stijl open air museum Leiden.
There’s a true Mondrian fever going on in the Netherlands this year. Shops, restaurants, office buildings. All decorated in red, white & blue. Ah, and black & yellow. – Which, if you mix the red and the yellow make orange. Mondriaan must have been a true Dutch fan himself J – The Netherlands is celebrating the 100 year anniversary of De Stijl, the art movement of Mondriaan, Van Doesburg, Rietveld and many other artists.
City of Surprises
Leiden is not as extravagant as let’s say The Hague when it comes to the Mondrian decoration. However, Leiden’s middle name is Discoveries, so be prepared for some surprises! I do love Leiden, especially on days when the weather isn’t great – or isn’t supposed to be great-. Then I head over to Leiden for a museum visit. Roll out of Leiden train station into the National Museum of Ethnology, then cross the road to the Mill museum de Valk, follow the canal untill the Lakenhal – not in this trip, ‘cause it’s renewing and closed till 2019- & the National Museum of Antiquities. I do realize that these are just a few museums in the city centre and do want to add you should also have a look at the Natural History Museum, Corpus, the American Pilgrim museum, Sieboldhuis and Wevershuis. Just to name a few. Leiden also calls itself capital city of museums. And trust me, to see all museums in this historical city you need at least a week.
The Artist’s House
Anyway, I was in for a surprise. I wandered through the historical city centre and hit the Gerecht, the Medieval Count’s Stone. A ray of light pierced through the De Stijl object and it was absolutely fabulous. What I like about art is that it makes you see the world from a different point of view. Now, the Maison d’artiste comes out really well on het Gerecht. Its shapes and lines are in line with the building behind it and every angle offers a different perspective. The story behind the Maison d’artiste or Artist’s House is quite intriguing. It was designed by founder of De Stijl, Theo van Doesburg and architect Cor van Eesteren in 1923. At that time, due to technical reasons, it couldn’t be constructed yet. Now, students from the Technical University in Delft made this reconstruction.
De Stijl Open Air Museum Leiden
Now comes the part where I –you- turn the corner and find another surprise. The Maison d’artiste is part of a temporary De Stijl open air museum Leiden by Lakenhal museum. Lakenhal has selected the Pieterskerkhof for an exposition by a contemporary art collective. Twenty wall paintings are placed on the square in such a way that they form part of Mondriaan’s painting Compositie in Lijn. Again, these pieces of art do really well in this setting. The De Stijl open air museum in Leiden is a homage to the art movement and showing that there still is a strong desire to find a universal language. It is an inspiring exposition highlighting the connection between the idiom of today’s artists and that of De Stijl artists. Best of all, for me at least, this De Stijl open air museum Leiden creates an energy, a creative vibe on a century old square. The exposition offers different perspectives, on the monuments and buildings surrounding it as well. That’s what makes it magical!
The De Stijl open air museum Leiden is an initiative by the Lakenhal and can only be enjoyed in summer. The exposition ends this Sunday, 27th of August. So, I would say, if you are in the Netherlands for the famous bike tour with Verita’s Visit this weekend, add a trip to Leiden and discover this temporary gem.
Leiden: location & travel info
Leiden is well knows as the birth city of painter Rembrandt van Rijn. American visitors like to see the many places where the Pilgrim Fathers left their traces. Leiden is a great base to make daytrips to other cities in the Netherlands and to explore Holland by bike. The sandy beaches of Noordwijk & Katwijk are just around the corner and the Keukenhof & the tulip fields are at a nice cycling distance from Leiden.
In the Netherlands it is easy to get around by public transport. Staying in Amsterdam area? There is a direct train from Amsterdam, Schiphol airport to Leiden which takes around half an hour. Direct trains also run from and to The Hague, Rotterdam and beyond or Utrecht and beyond.