Exploring the photographic side of Amsterdam at FOAM Gallery

Amsterdam is a buzzing city. Not like Paris or Barcelona or Berlin. Not even Venice. Despite the hundreds of canals, there’s a constant relaxed, steadfast pace of life in Amsterdam. I've recently spent several days sipping coffee on its many picturesque canal banks, as well as trying local delicacies such as their fried rice balls. The Dutch have a spring in their step (or bicycle wheels). I mean imagine having to go about your daily work and chores passing through the umpteen number of beautiful waterways and spectacular buildings.

Having been here before we know of the high quality of the museums and art galleries in Amsterdam - the Van Gogh, Stediljck, Rijksmuseum, Anne Frank. So this time we opted for the lesser known contemporary photography gallery called Foam. 

Established in 2001, Foam exhibits all facets of the photographic medium from contemporary to historical work and from fine art to applied photography. Whilst there we discovered three main exhibitions… established and renowned photographer Jacques Henri Lartigue, a brilliant retrospective of the work by Francesca Woodman and the meditative ‘Blanco’ series by landscape photographer Awoiska van der Molen.

Francesca Woodman

Focusing on the latter two, American photographer Woodman’s exhibition is a strikingly personal retrospective. Taking her own life at the age of 22, these highly biographic images are of herself and her body. Shot in different positions and poses, partially obscured and censored. She’s squeezed into a cupboard, behind wallpaper, wrapped in plastic or material, or in a shroud of movement. She photographs herself in interiors punctuated by evidence of decay. Deeply poignant and sensitive, the images highlight a surrealist edge to her vision and is inspiring legions of artists today.

The large format, gelatin silver prints by Awoiska van der Molen are a result of long periods of isolation, in which Van der Molen penetrates deep into the essence of the remote world. Another highly introspective exhibition, a far cry from the nude body of Woodman’s but an inward look at the quiet peace of the landscape. Moving beyond first appearances.

A surprising, yet enlightening gallery visit at Foam which has opened my eyes to the wondrous quality of silver gelatin photographic prints. Van der Molen’s eerie landscapes and long exposure work by Woodman exemplifies the complex makeup of contemporary photography.

Here's a few of my own images of Amsterdam, followed by some show images...

Francesca Woodman

Awoiska van der Molen

Keizersgracht 609
1017 DS Amsterdam
The Netherlands

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