Dutch gallery rewards artists for innovative interpretations

Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum is breaking the mold when it comes to copying artwork. The Rijksmuseum is host to a vast collection of works ranging from the Middle Ages to the present day and attracts visitors from all over the world. As Netherlands’ national museum, what stands out most about the institution is its Rijksstudio Award. An annual international design competition with a top prize of 10,000 euros, the Rijksstudio Award invites artists to produce works imitating those held in the museum. The award gives participants free digital access to the museum’s extraordinary collection: a database of over 250,000 images.

The award program places the museum firmly in a leading position in the world of digital image culture and open design. With importance placed on the interpretation of art and its individualized culture, the museum’s curator Femke Diercks said, “Reproduction of art has been part of the production of art since antiquity” and, “Copying old masters [is] the perfect way for young artists to develop their own style.”

The competition—which is open to anyone and everyone—is in its third year. Last year’s winning entry was inspired by Rembrandt van Rijn’s etchings. The work—created by Lyske Gais and Lia Duinker—showcased 1,400 illustrations from 303 works by the Dutch artist, sewn together using bookbinding techniques to create a bracelet.

The competition, according to Diercks, is looking for novel product designs and a diversity of interpretations, including dance, poetry, food, fragrance and films. It aims to represent the Dutch masterpieces in a new light.

In previous years, winners have included computer-generated images, a makeup line and wooden sculptures. In 2014, the winner created an original makeup line inspired by the color palettes in five portraits from the museum’s collection by Asnate Bockis and Rogier Arents.

A jury of museum staff, local arts editors and international art critics chooses the winner. Winning entries are then showcased at the Rijksmuseum, right alongside the original masterpieces. Entries can be viewed online using the hashtag #rijksstudio. The 2017 competition opened on Sept. 13, 2016 and the deadline is Jan. 15, 2017.

While Amsterdam is thousands of miles away from Geneseo, a handful of people from the community may get the chance to see the winner of the Rijksstudio Award in person. The college offers a study abroad program in the Netherlands at the University of Groningen, a cultural and economic center of the country. Trips to the national museum are feasible from the university with a journey of about two hours.

In any case, distance shouldn’t stop any budding artists from entering their work in the competition—the next winner could be right here in Geneseo.