Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Cultivating art in the Netherlands

This Saturday I was in Amsterdam with Mr. and Mrs. M to visit the Rijksakademie. No, not the Rijksmuseum (I was also confused at first). The Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten (National Academy of Fine Arts) is all but a museum, since it is dedicated to the development of artistic talent, not its conservation.

I was amazed and admired by this approach the Netherlands have to art. They are not just content with hanging old paintings on the wall, they also wish to promote new art. It is a much more modern, farsighted and constructive attitude than the Italian one, where modern art is often perceived as extravagant or difficult, and frowned upon by the vast public. The government is also reluctant to spend money on modern art, and so it becomes a prerogative of the élite of experts and intellectuals. In the Netherlands art is supported by the government: the Rijksakademie is in fact financed by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sciences, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Amsterdam City Council.

To better explain how it works, here is an introduction I found on the Rijksakademie website

The Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten in Amsterdam (founded by decree in 1870) selects exceptionally talented artists and offers them high quality artistic, technical and theoretical facilities, thus creating an environment in which approximately fifty talented artists from all over the world can, under optimum circumstances for a maximum of two years, work on deepening, broadening and accelerating their profession – individually and socially.

The resident artist can dispose over a world-wide network of contacts maintained by the Rijksakademie.  Amsterdam functions as a hub for the Dutch and international art field that continues to gain artistic, social and economic significance through existing connections and the fusing of new partnerships. 

Artists often experience a huge creative development during their residency at the Rijksakademie. As a result, it is common to find their works in important collections around the world and at international showcases like the Venice Biennale and Documenta in Kassel

The name Rijksakademie (1870) refers to the classical Akademia, a place where philosophers, academics and artists meet to test and exchange ideas and knowledge.  

The Rijksakademie don't just offer a place to work and other facilities, they also pay the artist a yearly wage of 12000 € and they offer low-priced apartments for rent.

This should be of inspiration to the Italian government, resting on the laurels of our glorious artistic past, not even willing to invest in the conservation of our heritage.

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