I love seeing art in the cities I travel through. I was fascinated by the city information panels created by wrought iron in Georgetown, Malaysia. Ghent limits its artists mostly to two graffiti alleys. Berlin has the Westbank murals, and you certainly can’t miss finding Banksy paintings in Bristol, England.
The street art in Rotterdam has a whole team of artists behind it and the pieces are fantastic! Some of the more prominent artists include Ramon Martins, Mark Goss, Ox-Aliens, Tymon, Lastplak and Michel Corver. Each has their own distinctive style, and many have worked on collaborations together.
One of my favorites is just off the famous Witte de Withstraat (Whitey-White Street). Painted by Tymon and Robert Rost, it depicts a Magpie holding a ring in its beak opposite a muster of storks. Above are the words “Sam, will you marry me,” which was Tymon’s proposal to his partner.
Another one I really like features a boy with his head in a box. I’m not sure who the artist is, but it’s a three-story painting on the side of a small neighborhood park, and to me, it’s a representation of the new generation that’s not willing to look at the real world around them.
The same neighborhood has several more masterpieces, including a long black-and-white mural along the side of a building. The painters of this one are Bier and Brood, another pair of famous artists.
Perhaps the most detailed work of art is one which shows all the famous structures throughout Rotterdam, such as the Cube Houses, the Markthal (Central Market), The Rotterdam Building, the Euromast, the SS Rotterdam, etc. I was told it was a collaboration between several of the artists, but I believe Lastplak was prominent among them.
Not all street art in Rotterdam are paintings and murals. Statues can be found all around town too. By far the most unique is a statue presented to Rotterdam by Paul McCarthy in 2001. The official name is Santa Clause and shows him holding a Christmas tree, but it resembles something a lot more risque. Locals quickly took to calling it the Butt Plug Gnome. They also rejected it initially, and the statue subsequently moved five times before finding a permanent home at Eendrachtsplein next to the Coffee Company.
The final piece of street art in Rotterdam worth mentioning isn’t really street art but is the world’s largest mural. It’s 36,000 square feet and covers the entire interior of the Markthal, the central market building which is shaped like a Swiss roll and has accommodations built into the structure with the markets in the center.
For every piece of street art in Rotterdam mentioned in this article, there are a hundred more paintings, sculptures and other works of art. Rather than writing a full novel to cover them, I’ll just let you come to the city and see them all for yourselves. I’m sure you’ll fall in love with Rotterdam just as much as I have.