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Overview 2014: the highlights of Dutch culture in the US of this year so far

The first six months of 2014 have seen lots of Dutch arts and cultural projects in the United States. The Press and Cultural Affairs Department at the Consulate General of the Netherlands in New York, which has a US-wide role in supporting Dutch arts and culture, assisted and promoted some of the best of Dutch culture that came to the U.S. Below is an overview of highlights of recent projects, as well as a preliminary overview of things to come in the next few months.

The first six months of 2014 have seen lots of Dutch arts and cultural projects in the United States. The Press and Cultural Affairs Department at the Consulate General of the Netherlands in New York, which has a US-wide role in supporting Dutch arts and culture, assisted and promoted some of the best of Dutch culture that came to the U.S. Below is an overview of highlights of recent projects, as well as a preliminary overview of things to come in the next few months. 


At the largest showcase festival in the world, South by Southwest (SXSW), the Dutch were represented with its largest ever presence at SXSW 2014 and a record-breaking number of artists: among them were KiTMonokinoBirth of Joy,traumahelikopterMr and Mississippi and Mozes and the Firstborn. For the first time ever at SXSW, the Amsterdam Dance Event was invited to showcase new Dutch EDM talent. Creating a Dutch hub at Bar 96 and hosting events daily, The Netherlands highlighted the country’s global creative alliances through art, technology, and music. Founders and artists from a wide array of disciplines descended upon Austin to highlight Dutch culture. Participants representing talent in the Netherlands included design star Daan RoosegaardeVanMoof bicycles, tech-fashion hybrid Wearable Solar, and the acclaimed Shapeways, which was founded by Dutch entrepreneurs.


The first half year of 2014 was heavily focused on Dutch Design, not only from a cultural point of view, but also on an educational and economic level. The successful exhibition Out of Hand: Materializing the Postdigital ran through April 1st at the Museum of Arts and Design, and featured ten Dutch designers, including DemakersvanJoris LaarmanLucas MaassenAlissia Melka-TeichroewMarloes ten BhömerUnfoldDaan van den Berg and Dirk Vander Kooij. The exhibition served as an inspiration to set up the Dutch Design Competition, a competition to design a new give-away for the Netherlands Embassy in Washington D.C. This proved to be an enormous success: more than 180 proposals were sent in, of which 14 were showcased at the Museum of Arts and Design in April, after which the Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs, Frans Timmermans, awarded the first prize to Friso Dijkstra for his bicycle bell in the shape of a ring.

SOMArts in San Francisco presented the group exhibition ‘All Possible Futures,’ exploring the potential of graphic design and celebrating a questioning of boundaries regarding concepts, processes, technologies, and form. Many Dutch graphic designers and design firms participated, including Peter Bil’akCatalogtreeJaan EvartDaniël MaarleveldExperimental JetsetHansje van Halem,Willem Henri LucasLUSTKarel MartensMetahavenMevis & van DeursenMoniker and Lesley Moore.

In May, many Dutch Designers were part of NYCxDESIGN, New York’s official design weeks. The celebrated Design Academy Eindhoven presented the exhibition ‘Self Unself’ at the second edition of the Collective Design Fair, featuring recent student work that explores the boundaries of design, and work that has moved beyond the production of objects to embrace other forms of expression. Hella Jongerius, whom some have called ‘the Grand Lady of design’, was presented by Moss Bureau at the fair as well, with a big solo exhibition. The show offered a highly personal selection of representative works by this internationally acclaimed designer, who for over twenty years has explored the crossovers between industrial design and crafts. 

Joris Laarman’s ‘Bits and Crafts’ solo show at Friedman Benda Gallery in NYC, on the theme of digital fabrication and generative design tools, received an unprecedented positive press coverage. Another well-known Dutch designer who had a solo exhibit during NYCxDESIGN was Aldo Bakker. The exhibition gave a comprehensive overview of the designer’s work in collaboration with master-craftsmen Jan Matthesius, Frans Ottink and Rutger Graas at Atelier Courbet.

Sustainable design was brought to New York by Robbert Zoon, who organized the ‘GoedNY‘ event, with ‘good stuff from Holland,’ including work by Bough BikesKazmokEnergy Floors, and others. 

Dutch contemporary jewelry design was heavily featured in the survey exhibition ‘Multiple Exposures: Jewelry & Photography‘ at the Museum of Arts and Design in NYC, with work by Gijs BakkerCelio BragaPeter DeckersJantje FleischutHerman HermsenIris NieuwenburgRuudt PetersGabriela Sanchez, Mecky van den BrinkTruike Verdegaal and Hilde de Decker. This exhibition will be on until September.

For the third time, the California College of the Arts in San Francisco hosted Seeing Orange: Dutch Design Week, with workshops and lectures by a.o. DUS ArchitectsMichiel SchwarzMoniker Studio, and Rene Knip. Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles followed suit by again hosting a group of experimental and forward-thinking Dutch graphic designers during its third Design week in June, including Niessen DeVriesLava Design and Type Radio.

Electronic Dance Music (EDM)

Dutch DJs like TiëstoHardwell and Afrojack, are among the most popular in the world and this year there were countless Dutch EDM activities in the United States, including the first instalment of Mysteryland on American soil. Mysteryland is the brainchild of the Dutch company ID&T, a Dutch pioneering electronic music experience company. The festival offers its guests a creative journey, combining music with theatre, movies, interactive installation art, street performers and spectacular shows at bizarre decorated stages. As a nomad Mysteryland travels across the globe to find international artists willing to work with the festival and to make it an even richer experience. ID&T was the first company allowed to organize a festival on the hallow ground of Bethelwoods, NY, home of the legendary Woodstock festival. 

Old Masters

Early January, an end came to the special exhibition ‘Vermeer, Rembrandt and Hals: Masterpieces of Dutch Painting from the Mauritshuis’ at the Frick. With record-breaking numbers, Johannes Vermeer’s ‘Girl With A Pearl Earring’ returned home to the newly reopened Mauritshuis in The Hague.

The National Gallery of Art debuted with an innovative digital initiative with the launch of Arthur K. Wheelock Jr.’s Dutch Paintings of the Seventeenth Century this April. This first release in NGA Online Editions is part of an ongoing effort to digitize and provide open access to the Gallery’s permanent collection catalogs and will eventually document more than 5,000 paintings, sculptures, and decorative arts. Users will be able to access the web-based, interactive book. Through September 7, lovers of Dutch arts can visit the National Gallery of Art to see a series of portraits by Vincent van Gogh.


During the first half of 2014 the New Netherland Institute in Albany was granted a contribution by the Consulate for their continuing efforts to educate the public on the Dutch history of New York. As part of the contribution, the New Netherland Institute is funding a New Netherland module for teachers and students as part of the “Consider the Source” Project from the New York State Archives, an online resource for educators. This New Netherland resource will incorporate primary sources from the 17th century, such as maps, artifacts, paintings, letters, wills, receipts and court records, providing a glimpse of what life was like in a colonial settlement for children and teachers alike.

In conjunction with the New Amsterdam History Center and the Anne Frank Center USA, Dutch Culture USA organized a lecture by Russell Shorto on his new book ‘Amsterdam: History of the World’s Most Liberal City’. In conversation with Rabbi Meir Soloveichik, Russell Shorto discussed his new book on the origins of New York and tolerance. 

Visual Arts

The past half year the Consulate supported a wide array of Dutch visual arts and photography. In January, the Philadelphia Museum of Art presented ‘Inventory,’ a multi-projection installation by Fiona Tan, inviting viewers to consider museum collections as well as the human compulsion to capture the transience of time and lived experience. ‘Buildering: Misbehaving the City,’ is a group exhibition curated by Steven Marijcio, including performance interventions by Dutch artist Allard van Hoorn at the Contemporary Arts Center, and is still on view until August 18. This spring Dutch artist Renzo Martens and Yael Bartana participated in ‘9 Artists’, an international multigenerational group exhibition that considers the changing role of the artist in contemporary culture, at MIT List Visual Arts Center. The Corcoran Gallery of Art presented ‘The Krazyhouse’, a solo exhibition featuring a four-channel videimpressive o installation by Dutch artist Rineke Dijkstra.

This June the exhibition of the ‘Sochi Project: An Atlas of War and Tourism in the Caucasus’ by Rob Hornstra and Arnold van Bruggen opened at Aperture Foundation. This extensive five-year photo research offers a thorough investigation into the region of Sochi, becoming the site for the Olympic Games.

Although the number of galleries in the Netherlands decreases according to the Netherlands Gallery Association (NGA), no less than twelve Dutch galleries in total were present at the most prestigious international art fairs in New York this spring. During the Armory Arts Week in March, Dutch galleries Grimm Gallery, Ron Mandos and Upstream Gallery were present at the Armory Fair. A month later Flatland Gallery, amongst others, participated in Paris Photo LA and in May Grimm Gallery presented a solo show at Frieze Art Fair, the largest international contemporary art fair in New York. Concurrently Livingstone Gallery presented a solo show by Dutch artist Raquel Maulwurf during PULSE NY.

Not only were there many Dutch galleries presented at the different art fairs in the US this spring, also a large number of Dutch artists had their solo shows in the US this year. Just to name a few: Joan van Barneveld at Paul Loya Gallery, Wijnanda Deroo at Robert Mann Gallery, Tiong Ang at LYNCH THAM, Hannah van Bart at Marianne Boesky Gallery, Adele Renault at White Walls, Carla Klein and Meschac Gaba’s first solo show at Tanya Bonakdar Gallery.

Next to all the projects and exhibitions the Consulate also supported the Marfa Summer School, a three week Summer School in Marfa, Texas for students of the Dutch Art Institute, the Sandberg Instiuut / Gerrit Rietveld Academie and the California College of Arts. This year’s edition of the annual project is organized by Amsterdam-based cultural platform TAAK, in close collaboration with instructors from each institute. A total of 20 students (seventeen nationalities) participated. The aim is to expand contemporary discourses, social practices and politics in art to create a unique experience and opportunity for students and to gain an understanding of the dynamics and social impact of art in public spaces. 


In an effort to promote resilience for the Sandy-affected region, U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan, launched a multi-stage regional design competition named Rebuild by Design. This competition was lead by Senior Advisor to Secretary Donovan, Henk Ovink (Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment in the Netherlands). The competition attracted world-class talent that strived to strengthen resilience in the Sandy-affected region. In the beginning of June, the six winning teams of this competition were announced, with four teams that involve Dutch experts, including: Bosch SlabbersDeltaresH+N+S Landscape ArchitectsIMG RebelPalmbout Urban LandscapesTU Delft, One ArchitectureArcadisOMARoyal HaskoningDHV,, MIT CAU + ZUS + URBANISTENDeltares75B, and Volker Infra. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced $930 million in federal funding to implement the team’s plans. 

Other Dutch architects have remained very popular in the US: lectures were held by Herman Hertzberger (Atelier Herman Hertzberger), Mathijs Bouw (One Architecture), Michelle Provoost (Crimson Architectural Historians), Winy Maas (MVRDV), and Ben van Berkel (UN Studio).

Building milestones were set by a.o. Concrete, with the opening of the CitizenM Hotel on Times Square in the heart of NYC, Piet Boon, with the opening of his much anticipated luxury condo building Huys on Park Avenue South in NYC, and West 8, with the official opening of the redesigned Governors Island. SO-IL broke ground on their new museum for UC Davis in Davis, CA, and started work on the NEW INC incubator for the New Museum in NYC. Concrete continues its work in NYC with a large mixed-use project for Ironstate on Staten Island, and Piet Boon announced ‘Oosten’, a large condominium project in Williamsburg, Brooklyn for XIN Development Group International, the U.S. branch of Chinese development giant Xinyuan Real Estate Company.

In June, CLOG magazine launched its issue ‘REM’, entirely dedicated to Rem Koolhaas, curator of the 2014 Venice Architecture Biennale.


From April 28 until May 4, the 10th Annual PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature took place in NYC. Dutch writers Geert MakJaap Scholten and Sanneke van Hassel were present, and gave various lectures. PEN Festival was followed by the launch of the May issue of Words Without Borders, the online magazine for international literature, entirely dedicated to Dutch and Flemish authors writing on taboos.

Herman Koch, author of the instant New York Times bestseller ‘The Dinner’ presented his newest book in the US: ‘Summer House with Swimming Pool’, published by Random House.


Miriam Kruishoop’s movie Greencard Warriors reached a bi-coastal audience with screenings in NYC, LA and San Diego in the end of March. The film shows the tragic struggle of an undocumented Latino family in Los Angeles after they have sent their eldest son to war. In April, Paste Magazine listed Miriam Kruishoop as one of the ten women directors to watch in 2014.

The weekend of June 25th marked the New York premiere of the full-length documentary film Clean Spirit (‘Nieuwe Helden’) on Dutch cycling team Argos-Shimano in the 100th edition of the Tour de France. The film was screened three times during the 14th edition of the Bicycle Film Festival and due to its success director Dirk Jan Roeleven is currently negotiating official distribution in the U.S. and Canada.

Performing Arts

Theatre for Young Audiences was well-represented with Theatergroep Kwatta and Arch8 during this year’s IPAY Showcase, which was held in Pittsburgh in January.

Additionally Amsterdam-based dance company ISH brought a week’s worth of performances in the New Victory Theatre with the US premiere of HyperISH. The New Victory plays a leading role in exclusively programming theatre and dance performances for younger audiences.

Make Music New York (a program of June’s River to River festival), featured ‘Walk with Me’ by Dutch composer duo Strijbos and Van Rijswijk, in Lower Manhattan. ‘Walk with Me’ is an iPhone app, that influences the way participants experience their environment and uses melodies, rhythmic patterns, chatter, and electronic sounds from American and Dutch composers, found from the archives of New York’s MATA Festival and Holland’s Gaudeamus Music Week.

The West Coast (Portland, OR and LA) saw the latest dance-theatre production of The International Choreographic Arts Center Amsterdam, ‘ROCCO,’ directed by choreographers Emio Greco and Pieter C. Scholten. In this production, inspired by Visconti’s classic film ‘Rocco and His Brothers,’ the audience is literally brought into the boxing ring, where dancers become boxers and boxers become dancers.

Afro Caribbean performance group Kuenta I Tambu (KiT) just completed a 4 week residency in LA as part of the Cultural Exchange International project consisting of a series of concerts and workshops on the arts and cultural traditions of the Dutch Antilles. Venues included the Levitt Pavillion MacArthur Park, the renowned Getty Center in LA and the Casbah in San Diego. Furthermore, KiT also played a gig during Fronteras at the River To River Festival, in New York.

Dutch-Flemish theater group Wunderbaum performed during the Fusebox Festival in Austin with ‘Looking for Paul’, an experimental piece in which reality and fiction are fused. Wunderbaum has been performing on American soil on a regular basis over the past years. Following a series of performances of ‘Hospital‘ in 2013, a collaboration with the Skid Row performance group Los Angeles Poverty Department (LAPD), Wunderbaum also performed in January 2014 in Minneapolis and at Dartmouth University.


Most recently, the Netherlands teamed up with Northside festival as the first guest country ever, to present a large group of Dutch innovators including Pauline van Dongen, Chordify and Surfly, and bands like I Am Oak, MTT and traumahelikopter. Northside Festival is Brooklyn’s largest annual discovery festival with more than 100,000 attendees. The festival featured more than 400 bands, 50 films, and 200 exhibitors. The partnership with Northside proved to be a great success, to be continued next year. 

The rest of 2014

And there’s more to come in 2014. In the next few months we are looking forward to many more projects, including the following highlights:

In July, the Henry Art Gallery in Seattle, WA will present work by Rineke Dijkstra alongside Thomas Struth. In the same month, Dutch calligraffiti artist Niels ‘Shoe’ Meulman will have his second solo exhibition at the White Walls Gallery in San Francisco. Street artist Joram Roukes will have his first solo exhibition at Thinkspace LA.

From August until November, Magnan Metz Gallery in New York, in collaboration with Art Affairs (Amsterdam), will present seven large scale sculptures by Ewerdt Hilgemann on Park Avenue, NYC. A first for an artist from the Netherlands!

In September, a pilot residency program will be launched in New Orleans by Dutch organization Deltaworkers (Maaike Gouwenberg and Joris Lindhout), which will bring various Dutch artists and performers to the South.

From September 18-28, Photoville NYC will again present a lot of Dutch photography in Brooklyn Bridge Park, in collaboration with Fotofestival NaardenFotofestival LeidenCorine Vermeulen, and others. In the same month, Danziger Gallery in NYC will present the first solo exhibition by Dutch photographer Carla van de Puttelaar

In the fall, Dutch theatre director Ivo van Hove will direct ‘Scenes from a Marriage’ at the New York Theatre Workshop

In the fall, the Illinois Institute of Technology, School of Architecture will host a symposium on artist Constant Nieuwenhuys.

From October 1 until January 7, 2015, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in NYC will present the exhibition ZERO: Countdown to Tomorrow, 1950s-60s, which will include work by Dutch Nul Groep artists such as Armando, Jan Henderikse, herman de vries, Jan Schoonhoven, and Henk Peeters. 

At the end of October, Toneelgroep Amsterdam will perform ‘Angels in America’ at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. The five-hour marathon edition will be discussed by director Ivo van Hove and Pullitzer Prize winning author Tony Kushner during a talk organized by the BAM prior to opening night.

In December, the Peabody Essex Museum will present a large-scale, outdoor presentation, performances and exhibition with Theo Jansen and his Strandbeesten during Art Basel Miami Beach

Also in Miami in December, the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden will present an outdoor solo exhibition with work by designer Satyendra Pakhale, which will run until May 2015. 

DutchCulture USA