Capturing the changing city
The interaction between nature, industry and urban growth was a theme that engaged Van Gogh and his contemporaries Seurat, Signac, Bernard and Angrand. At the end of the 19th century, they regularly ventured outside Paris to paint in the suburbs along the Seine. Their work can be seen in the exhibition Van Gogh on along the Seine (13 October 2023 - 14 January 2024).

The Amsterdam Ferry Festival, in collaboration with the Van Gogh Museum, shows how the changing city is still a subject that fascinates artists. Six contemporary photographers who capture today's Amsterdam with their cameras have been invited to create new work. The ferry between CS and the NDSM Wharf will be their 'canvas' from 4 November till 14 January. For this presentation they are not only inspired by the areas along the IJ, but also by the paintings that Van Gogh and contemporaries made of the outskirts of Paris.

The thousands of people who take the ferry across the IJ every day see the city and the water through the large windows of the ferry. This view of the city, and the exhibition of the photographers' work, invites travelers to look with a new perspective at their surroundings. And to ponder about how the city is in constant change.

During the opening, Luna Wicks will give a spoken word performance inspired by the themes portrayed by the artists.

During the duration of the exhibition, three photographers will give a workshop. With your camera, you will trek into the city together and learn more about their way of looking, making and capturing. For anyone interested in photography, art and the changing city.
Sem Langendijk, Nieuwe Houthaven, Amsterdam, 2023
Sem Langendijk Nieuwe Houthavens, 2023

A yellow and black mooring post interrupts the Houthaven (Timber Dock) skyline. We see new offices that look out towards the old industrial area, from where this photograph was taken. A solitary boat is moored in this last remaining piece of the Amsterdam docks.

Sem Langendijk saw the paintings by Van Gogh and his contemporaries, and was drawn to the use of colour: intense blue shades and the occasional bright red detail. Striking compositional choices also caught his eye: ‘Some paintings have a tree or post dissecting the image, cut off by the edges of the picture. The painters may have been influenced by early photography, or by Japanese prints that were highly popular at the end of the 19th century. They also had conspicuous details like this in the foreground. Painters can make the choice to either depict or ignore a post in their field of vision, but that’s more difficult with photography. But painters like Signac and Bernard still decided to allow a vertical element like this to dominate the composition’.

Sem: ‘I used tungsten film for this photograph. This film was developed for flashlight photography, but when you use it outside, some colours change intensity. It was an experiment, an analogue attempt at intensifying the blue and red colours in the picture’.


Sem Langendijk was inspired by this work:

Paul Signac, Railway Junction near Bois-Colombes, 1885-1886Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam

Paul Signac, Railway Junction near Bois-Colombes, 1885-1886. Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam

Hans Boddeke, Het stenen hoofd, 2023
Hans Boddeke Het Stenen Hoofd, 2023

Hans Boddeke is a street photographer who captures the interaction between people and the city at the most everyday moments. His photographs often feature a (tragi)comical element. For this project, Hans was inspired by leisure activities in Van Gogh’s time. Back then, at the end of the 19th century, recreation was a relatively new phenomenon. People enjoyed spending their day off in nature, just outside of the city. Nature that was surrounded by the urbanised landscape.

The painting A Sunday on La Grande Jatte by Seurat shows us day-trippers on an island in the Seine just outside Paris, but it could have just as easily been made in our time, at Het Stenen Hoofd in Amsterdam. This undeveloped area was once part of the port, but as the city centre expanded, it became a place for recreation. Hans: ‘In the photograph of the sunbathers on Het Stenen Hoofd, there are a few things that I think give that characteristic Amsterdam vibe: the red Canta car, the recognisable view and the cargo ship sailing by. In Amsterdam, everything intertwines; cargo transport merges with recreation in and next to the water. This image made me think of the sketches that George Seurat made in preparation for his large masterpiece La Grande Jatte, in which he was clearly trying to find a good composition’.


Hans Boddeke was inspired by this work:

Georges Seurat, Oil Sketch for “La Grande Jatte”, 1884The Art Institute of Chicago

Georges Seurat, Oil Sketch for “La Grande Jatte”, 1884. The Art Institute of Chicago

Simone Peerdeman, Bos en Lommer, 2023
Simone Peerdeman Huizenblok in Bos en Lommer, 2023

Simone Peerdeman uses photography to express her surprise at the everyday. This allows her to create order for herself, to feel connection and keep a grip on life.

For this project, Simone was inspired by a work by Paul Signac, Gasometers at Clichy (1886). Simone: ‘I saw this painting in the exhibition Van Gogh Along the Seine. It instantly grabbed me, and refused to let go. “A serene depiction of the modern world”, I read in the exhibition catalogue. I couldn’t have put it better myself. This row of houses in the Bos en Lommer neighbourhood will soon be demolished to make way for new housing that is better suited to current requirements. I see a red canvas upon which we can read the remains of the word ‘Revolution’ in graffiti. Other houses in the area have also been renovated or demolished. In short: this row of houses is surrounded by a modern world, where there is no longer space for this type of – in my opinion – pure beauty and nostalgia’.


Simone Peerdeman was inspired by this work:

Paul Signac, Gasometers at Clichy, 1886National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne Felton Bequest, 1948

Paul Signac, Gasometers at Clichy, 1886. National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne Felton Bequest, 1948




Anna Swagerman, Water mirrors, 2023
Anna Swagerman Water Mirrors, 2023

Anna Swagerman explores the potential relationship between people and the landscape. She believes that everyone has an inner landscape, which you see reflected in nature. Anna uses her camera to connect these inner and outer worlds. She uses deep colours to show the ‘soul of the landscape’ in her photographs, and is often inspired by painting.

For this project, Anna was inspired by the paintings of Charles Angrand. This artist painted using little dots of different colours, which optically blended into a whole. In one of his paintings, Angrand captured the hush of a river landscape just outside Paris. Anna was touched by this work, and she couldn’t shake the feeling. She wanted to capture the same atmosphere in the outskirts of Amsterdam. Anna returned to the same place dozens of times, waiting for the moment that water and air blended in the lens of her camera, and she was able to capture this picturesque photograph.


Anna Swagerman was inspired by this work:

Charles Angrand, The Seine at Dawn, 1889Association des Amis du Petit Palais, Genève

Charles Angrand, The Seine at Dawn, 1889. Association des Amis du Petit Palais, Genève

Hanane El Ouardani '40 - '45, 2023

Hanane El Ouardani is a documentary photographer who uses an analogue camera to capture a particular environment. For this project, she photographed Plein 40-45 in Amsterdam Nieuw-West in a triptych. Hanane: ‘I liked the idea of taking photographs in a part of Amsterdam that is often written off due to its reputation. It intrigues me precisely because it is so different to what the ‘liveable’ Amsterdam is for me. I am always looking for contradictions in my photography, and I explore social constructions in public spaces, how these come about. I have captured this part of Amsterdam, which I always see and observe from a distance, in a triptych. Just like Van Gogh, I looked at the colours and the interplay of lines in this environment. This helped me to understand this unique market’.


Hanane El Ouardani was inspired by this work:

Vincent van Gogh, Clichy Triptych (2 parts)

Vincent van Gogh, Clichy Triptych, 1887 (2 parts)- Fishing in Spring, the Pont de Clichy (Asnières), The Art Institute of Chicago - River Bank in Springtime, Dallas Museum of Art

Vincent van Gogh, Clichy Triptych, 1887 (2 parts). – Fishing in Spring, the Pont de Clichy (Asnières), The Art Institute of Chicago – River Bank in Springtime, Dallas Museum of Art


Sanja Marusic Singles, 2023

Sanja Marusic uses her photograph as a starting point: in black and white, like an empty colouring page. She then colours in the areas by hand or digitally, meticulously selecting the colours. She also omits many details. This allows Sanja to create an abstract location, a moment and a place that do not (really) exist. For this project, Sanja was inspired by the graphic lines and areas of colour in Émile Bernard’s work. The diagonals in Sanja’s work can also be found in the paintings in the exhibition. For Sanja, the hard lines and how the areas are coloured clearly indicate that this is an industrial environment, constructed by people. Sanja: ‘I like that this makes it somewhat vague. The woman lays leisurely on the ‘quayside’, looking pensively at the view. But there’s obviously something odd about how she is laying; there’s tension in her body, as if she is about to take a dive. We’re therefore not completely sure what is happening’.


Sanja Marusic was inspired by this work:

Émile Bernard, Two Women on the Asnières Footbridge, 1887Musée des Beaux-Arts de Brest métropole

Émile Bernard, Two Women on the Asnières Footbridge, 1887. Musée des Beaux-Arts de Brest métropole