During the Tefaf fair (March 8-18 this year) the local institutions are particularly active. Larger institutions, such as the Bonnefantenmuseum on the eastern bank of the Meuse River in Maastricht and the Ludwig Forum about 30 minutes away in Aachen, Germany, organize exhibitions, talks and other events to coincide with Tefaf.
A tour of Maastricht’s art spots might start at the center of the periphery and work its way out to the circumference.
The radial axis might begin within easy strolling distance from the MECC (where Tefaf takes place), at the Bonnefantenmuseum, with its signature building that seems to have a rocket ship at its center. Designed by the Italian architect Aldo Rossi, the museum is built in the heart of the former ceramics district and contains a vast collection of Dutch and Flemish old masters, but recent programming has enlivened the older work by presenting it “in dialogue” with contemporary art — often new commissions.
While the permanent galleries have a particular focus on Early Italian and Netherlandish painting and 14th- to 16th-century medieval sculpture, during Tefaf, it hosts three semi-solo exhibitions called “Beating around the bush Episode #5: Old masters never die. Starring Edward Lipski, Johan Tahon, Helen Verhoeven,” the three artists on view.
Also within the city of Maastricht, the Van Ecyk Academy, a postgraduate institute that provides residencies for artists, designers, architects and curators, hosts Open Studio days for art lovers on March 9 and 10 (also by invitation on March 8), allowing visitors to glimpse projects the residents are busy with in the labs, gardens and gallery spaces.
One of the more exciting new art locations in the region is SCHUNCK*, a multidisciplinary cultural center and architectural institute with a museum and collection of Dutch art, situated in a glass tower (the Glaspaleis) in Herleen, about a 35-minute drive northwest of Maastricht. Until June 10, it’s exhibiting the “False Memory Archive,” an installation by the artist Alasdair Hopwood, who has collaborated with Maastricht University to present art and a unique collection of lively personal memories that never took place, like a set of digitally manipulated photographs of U.F.O. sightings.
SCHUNCK* is simultaneously presenting “Punk+Dans+Kunst: Angry movements,” an exhibition that takes as its starting point the 1986 punk ballet film “Hail the New Puritan,” a fictionalized documentary about Scottish dancer Michael Clark, directed by Charles Atlas. Karin Post, a guest curator and choreographer, creates a contemporary collage of responses to the movie, with images, sound and dance, until May 13.
About 30 minutes northeast of Maastricht, in Sittard, another one of the more recent additions to the local scene, De Domijnen Museum, is also a mixed-use arts center with a library, cinema and contemporary art museum founded in 2015. It is known for its progressive exhibitions that explore realms of art and nature.
Until April 1, true to form, it delivers “The Dutch Savannah: An exhibition about water, energy and the infrastructure of the cloud.” With contemporary art by the Irish artist Yuri Pattison and others, as well as lectures and research projects, the show reflects on the Netherlands role as one of the world’s largest global hubs for digital data traffic.
Slightly farther afield is the more established Ludwig Forum für Internationale Kunst, in Aachen, one of the 26 international art institutions founded by the Germany private collectors Peter and Irene Ludwig (also of the Suermondt-Ludwig-Museum and Couven Museum in Aachen and the Ludwig Museum in Cologne;), which includes works of American Pop Art, Photo Realism and European postwar art.
Along with a continuing exhibition of local design products, the Ludwig Forum presents (until April 15) the exhibition “Digital Games: Art and Computer Games,” exploring the evolution of artistic modes of play and interactive art games that have been part of screen culture since the mid-1990s.
The European Fine Art Foundation, which runs the annual Tefaf art fair in Maastricht, has in recent years been debating the idea of relocating to a larger city, such as Amsterdam or Rotterdam, but the board of trustees in December announced that it would instead make an official 10-year commitment to Maastricht.
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