Art, animals and icons: 11 great things to do in October

William Wegman, Looking Right, 2015, Courtesy Sperone Westwater, New York
William Wegman, Looking Right, 2015, Courtesy Sperone Westwater, New

Discover your inner beast
October kicks off with a great day out for children and adults alike at the Kunsthal in Rotterdam. We Are Animals is an often joyful but also critical look at our relationship with animals seen through the eyes of some thirty artists. The weird and the wonderful are equally represented: those cute pussycats on YouTube will never look the same again. On Sunday October 3 families are welcome to enjoy lots of activities related to the show, workshops and special tours. The exhibition itself runs until October 24. Website

Ask an awkward question
The Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam is putting expressionist artists Emil Nolde and Ernst Ludwig Kirchner in the dock – sorry, the spotlights – for their use of colonialist imagery. Appropriation, stereotyping and the power relationship between painter and subject are taking precedence in this exhibition. It is certain to prompt some to say that ‘you can’t just like stuff for its own sake anymore’, as one critic said, but ‘asking questions, including awkward ones, keeps art alive.’  Kirchner and Nolde: Expressionisme. Kolonialisme is on until December 5. Website

Meet the icons
The National Portrait Gallery in London has handed over some 100 of its most iconic paintings, drawings and photographs of the great and the good to the Fries Museum so it could get the painters in. For the next couple of months Rubens and Van Dyck rub shoulders with Marlene Dumas and Andy Warhol in Leeuwarden. Subjects include queen Elizabeth II, Shakespeare and such modern day icons as Audrey Hepburn and Malala Yousafzai. Icons is on until January 9. Website

Re-acquaint yourself with the Renaissance
The Rijksmuseum too is focusing on faces. Don’t forget me is a fabulous showcase of over 100 Renaissance portraits from the 15th and 16th centuries, by artists such as Dürer, Holbein, Memling, Titian and many more.

Piero di Cosimo, Portraits of Giuliano and Francesco Giamberti da Sangallo, 1482 – 1485. Rijksmusuem, on loan from the Koninklijk Kabinet van Schilderijen Mauritshuis

Ambition, longing and loss all have their place in these beguiling messages to later generations. Until January 16. Website

Find out how they do it
And we’re not done with keeping up appearances yet because the Mauritshuis in The Hague explains how the paintings of Rembrandt, Vermeer and Rubens have kept their bloom. It’s all down to the craft of the unsung heroes toiling away in the attic of the museum:  the restorers. Facelifts & Makeovers reveals their contribution to the continued enjoyment of the nation’s masterpieces. Until January 9. Website

See the light
The Orange Theatre Company in Amsterdam is back with Lux, an original production which dives into a dystopian world of darkness peopled by what society has labelled losers and where light is the currency. Don’t worry, there are rays of hope. October 8 to 16. Website

Catch the ‘new’ Van Gogh
Lovers of Vincent van Gogh will not want to miss the opportunity to go and see a rare addition to the artist’s oeuvre. The Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam recently authenticated a study he made for ‘Worn Out’, a drawing depicting an exhausted old man which he made whilst studying in The Hague in the early 1880s.

Study for Worn Out: private collection

Along with the study and the final drawing more work by Van Gogh from the same period will be on show. Until January 2. Website

Join the Botanical Revolution
The Botanical Revolution is about artists and how gardens inspire them, from a rose in a tin in a refugee camp to balcony kitchen gardens in times of corona. Context is all: South African artist Lungiswa Gqunta pictures the ‘lawn’ of the townships as a shard ridden wasteland while Tetsumi Kudo’s (1935 –1990) flourishing waste garden acts as a warning. Until January 9. Website

This old thing? See fashion history in Amsterdam
Amsterdam may not be mentioned in the same breath as Milan and Paris as a fashion mecca but many designers flourished here once upon a time and the city is still fostering new talent.

A catwalk of fashion past and present features at the heart of the exhibition. Credit: Evert Elzinga

The title of the exhibition Maison Amsterdam (a wink to the somewhat staid pioneers of Amsterdam fashion such as Max Heymans) – the town, the fashion, the freedom at the capital’s Nieuwe Kerk, seems to suggest that a colourful designer such as Fong Leng might not have bloomed anywhere else. Read all about it in the review. Until April 3. Website

Let them make art
The Groninger Museum Kinderbiënnale is a great opportunity to get rid of the kids for a while, all for their own good of course and they’ll thank you later, during the autumn break. They can dive into art installations, make art, present art, anything except eat art. It’s on until January 9. Website

Go Belgian
Granted, it’s not in the Netherlands, and we won’t do it again but this just looks like the best chance to combine art, a walk on the beach and mussels and fries. The beach between Knokke-Heist and De Panne in Belgium, a hop skip and a jump away, is the backdrop to a number of art installations exploring our relationship with nature. Artists include Michael Rakowitz, Laure Provost, Heidi Voet and many others.  Beaufort 21 in on until November 7. Website 

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