The Royal Palace in Amsterdam: Trailblazers and Modern painting

The prize for young painters instituted by King Willem III, 150 years ago, is now one of the oldest awards for artists in the Netherlands. The institute is celebrating the 150th anniversary with a special exhibition Trailblazers in the galleries and rooms of the palace (until 3 October 2021).

Guest curators Mirjam Westen and Richard Kofi invited seventeen former participants in the Award (1980–2020) to exhibit their work. The works have been selected with a view to entering into dialogue with the building: to respond to the architecture, the interior, the history or the present-day function of this important palace. Some of the artists went so far as to create a new work especially for the exhibition. The artworks thus challenge you to see the palace with fresh eyes.

In the accompanying audio guide, you can hear the artists themselves discuss their work and the Award.

Participating artists: Ansuya Blom, Mattijs van den Bosch, Isabel Cordeiro, Suzan Drummen, Esiri Erheriene-Essi, Hadassah Emmerich, Melissa Gordon, Raquel van Haver, Niek Hendrix, Iris Kensmil, Natasja Kensmil, Rabi Koria, Kim van Norren, Navid Nuur, Sara Sejin Chang (Sara van der Heide), Helen Verhoeven and Ina van Zyl.

It must have been a joy to put together this exhibition. Recommended !


On the 14th of July, His Majesty the King presented the Royal Award for Modern Painting 2021 at the Royal Palace Amsterdam to three talented young painters. This is also the venue for the annual exhibition that accompanies the presentation. This show includes the work by the nominees, highlighting the work by the winners. The Royal Award for Modern Painting is an incentive award that was created to encourage talented young painters who are active in the Netherlands in their artistic development. The list of nominees for the Royal Award of Modern Painting 2021: Kenneth Aidoo, Rinella Alfonso, Dewy Elsinga, Ricardo van Eyk, Maxime Favre, Philipp Gufler, Mariska Koolen, Alexandra Phillips, Axel Roy, Hend Samir, Thijs Segers, Kaili Smith, Clemence de La Tour du Pin, Cyrill Rafael Vasilyev en Lotte Wieringa.

A re- or overview in pictures:

The Palace

The Palace is the largest and most prestigious building from the seventeenth century making it one of the Netherlands’ most important monuments. It was originally built, not as a palace, but as Amsterdam’s town hall. Architect Jan van Campen designed a building which would reflect the power and wealth of Amsterdam in the 17th century. Sculptures and paintings by famous artists—such as Rembrandt’s students, Govert Flinck and Ferdinand Bol—tell the story of Amsterdam as the centre of the universe. 

That’s all folks

About me:

In 2008 I was guest curator of the exhibition Black is beautiful. Rubens to Dumas. Important advisors Elizabeth McGrath (Rubens and colleagues, Warburg institute Image of the Black in Western Art collection), Carl Haarnack (slavery in books), Elmer Kolfin (slavery in prints and paintings) en Adi Martis (contemporary art). Gary Schwartz made his research for The Image of the Black in Western Art available to me.

Black beautiful Rubens to Dumas cover

In 2012 my Anniversary book: 100 years Schiller 1912-2012 was published. Initiative, idea, text and editing (ES). Design and photography Monica Schokkenbroek.

Schiller in Parool boekje 26-11-2012 Paul Arnoldussen
Schiller in Parool boekje 26-11-2012 Paul Arnoldussen

In 2013 my book Cobra aan de gracht / Cobra on the Canal was published by Samsara publications.

In 2014 my essay ‘Painted Blacks and Radical Imagery in the Netherlands (1900-1940)’ was published in The Image of the Black in Western Art Volume V (I). (ed. David Bindman, Henry Louis Gates jr.)

(About f.i. On the terras, by Nola Hatterman but also Jan Sluijters, Kees van Dongen, Irma Stern and more)

In 2017 I published a book about the black servants at the Court of the Royal Van Oranje family. More than a thousand documents have been found about their lives. (only in Dutch)

Cupido en Sideron Cover 30-8-2017

All photos on this site are not intended for any commercial purpose. I have tried to trace all the rules and rights of all images. As far as I know, these images can be used in this way. If you ar a copyright holder and would like a piece of your work removed or the creditline changed then please do not hesitate to contact me.

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