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Frans van Hilten

I am a freelance cultural journalist. Because I think an independent cultural voice is important, I enjoy writing for this platform.

The Rolling Stones in Milwaukee in 2015. Photo Jim Pietryga, source Wikimedia Commons

This should be the last time: 5 reasons not to go to see the Rolling Stones again

The Rolling Stones will play in the Netherlands again on 30 September and 15 October. NRC on Friday gave five reasons to go to their concerts. I have been a big fan for decades; for years I collected obscure recordings, read books and queued up for tickets before dawn. Now I no longer go, and here's why. 1. Slow... 

Cornelis de Vos, portrait of Abraham Grapheus (detail, author's photo)

Southern neighbours at the Mauritshuis: you'll never look at portraits the same again

You know that? That sometimes you look at the caption longer than at the painting? And then especially at who the artist is, because we don't usually know the person portrayed anyway? The Flemish portraits in the exhibition Zuiderburen at the Mauritshuis intelligently turn that around. But first, more on the Mauritshuis' extensive collaboration 

Entrance to the Gemeentemuseum. Photo Studio Vollaerszwart

How the citydresser gives everything Mondrian colours, and why the museum is fine with that

On Piet Mondrian's birthday, 7 March, the municipality of The Hague offered its residents a colossal decorated cake. It is part of a very active campaign around 100 years of De Stijl. While the Gemeentemuseum is presenting three substantive Stijl exhibitions this year, The Hague is going all out with Stijl imitations and plastered shop windows. A contradiction? Less than it seems, because this citydressing... 

Joris Smit in Tasso, photo Kurt van der Elst

Joris Smit on Tasso and Joan of Arc: no theatre that puts the audience to bed

The National Theatre plays Jeanne d'Arc by Friedrich Schiller and simultaneously retakes Johann Goethe's Tasso. Joris Smit plays in both plays, even the title role in Tasso. We talk to him about German romantics, Sallie Harmsen, the new-fangled National Theatre and the importance of going down on your face. Tasso and Jeanne, Goethe and Schiller. Is German romance... 

Gerrit Rietveld's Red and Blue Chair in original and later condition (source:

The Rietveld chair was brown - 10 things you didn't know about De Stijl #MTDD

Something with straight lines and planes and primary colours. We all get that far with De Stijl. But did you know that there was also Style music and that a mechanical figure danced to that, er, Style? Let's get things straight before the Mondrian to Dutch Design exhibition season begins. 1. Mondrian was not the big man of De Stijl Piet... 

Hippos on a temple wall

In Leiden, ancient Egypt feels pretty close

As a boy, I loved visiting the Egyptian department of the National Museum of Antiquities in Leiden. Half in the twilight, the mysterious mummy coffins there stared at me. We are now several decades and exhibits further on. Since this week, the newest Egypt display has been open. Even in brilliant light, the collection appears to retain its fascinating power. At the same time, the museum tells in Queens... 

Visitors at Vermeer's Lady at the virginal with a gentleman ('The Music Lesson')

Moral or good joke: Mauritshuis shows Dutch painters from British Royal Collection

Dutchers in huis is the name of the new exhibition at the Mauritshuis, which makes you scratch your head: surely the Mauritshuis always focuses on painting from the Netherlands? This time, however, it is about Dutch masters from the British Royal Collection. Top-quality genre pieces were chosen, including such famous ones as Johannes Vermeer's The Music Lesson. Their temporary arrival at... 

NDT 1 in top form with season opener 'Stage One', but end disappoints

Nederlands Dans Theater 1 opens the season with Stage One. A triptych without resident choreographers Léon & Lightfoot, but with three mostly young, adventurous dance makers. Music is an important factor in all three ballets. The evening opens with Thin Skin, choreographer Marco Goecke's ode to punk icon Patti Smith. Culture Press reviewed the piece last year (€). The now flemish,... 

Tomorrow's dance summit now on show in The Hague

Nederlands Dans Theater's summer course gives a glimpse of the future. At the top dancers of tomorrow, but also the choreographers: many of the company's dance makers created a first piece for this summer course. This year, the course also gives a look at the old stage of the half-demolished Lucent Danstheater in The Hague. You can catch a... 

Poubelle, fragment of cover

Poubelle by Pieter Waterdrinker: MH17 and the stench of Europe

The Netherlands is commemorating the MH17 disaster this month. Two years on, the question of guilt is still not unequivocally answered. The protagonist of Pieter Waterdrinker's novel Poubelle has less trouble with that: who holds himself mostly responsible. A conversation with correspondent novelist Waterdrinker: on modern European history, the Russian mentality, Great Literature and the shit of contemporary Europe.

Vik Muniz 'faked' Mona Lisa's buttocks

Once, Johan Maurits van Nassau-Siegen had the Mauritshuis built with money earned in Brazil, including in the slave trade. Now a Brazilian is exhibiting in that same Mauritshuis with perfect 3D replicas of the backs of famous paintings. He made five new ones especially for this exhibition. Four well-known masterpieces from the Mauritshuis, but also a painting relating to the Brazilian adventures of the time.

Vik Muniz is an amiable, extremely lively man who...

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Brazil expo in The Hague barely bothered by turbulence in Brasilia

Impeachment proceedings, social unrest, corruption: recent reports on Brazil paint a not very optimistic picture. Yet this very country is at the centre of the major annual major sculpture exhibition in The Hague. The reason: the Olympic Games, later this year in Rio. But does the suspension of President Roussef make Brazil a risky cooperation partner for an exhibition?

Podium Witteman has lost the stage, er, way

Throughout the year, the public broadcaster spends a lot of time on sports. For World Cup, Tour or Games, cultural broadcasts are cancelled for weeks without pardon. If you can't beat them, join them, Paul Witteman must have thought, or perhaps the viewing figures were disappointing, because on 1 May he devoted an entire Podium Witteman broadcast to cycling. Don't. The reason for the cycling special is... 

Modern panoramas at Mesdag do not dwarf the old

Although Panorama Mesdag always focuses on one painting, it is not a static museum. Changing exhibitions sometimes highlight Mesdag and his time, sometimes more modern artistic expressions. This time, the museum has approached artists to develop new visions on the concept of the panorama. A laudable decision. Whether the new panoramas are all equally convincing is a second. The main work in the exhibition is... 

Uitdehaags little foxes lack humanity

Lillian Hellman's The Little Foxes is not a rewarding play to direct or perform. For that, the image of man that the American (1905-1984) portrays is simply too morbid. The Nationale Toneel, directed by Antoine Uitdehaag, unfortunately fails to add sufficient psychological layering to it. In The Little Foxes, successfully filmed in 1941 with Bette Davis in... 

Edith and Judith after arrival. So that's not how they hang in the exhibition! Photo Gemeentemuseum The Hague

Magical girls by Klimt and Schiele

There are outside opportunities to be taken advantage of. Egon Schiele's Portrait of Edith by his wife Edith will be joined by Gustav Klimt's Judith I from Vienna for a one-off at the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag. Two fascinating works, both very rarely on loan. And although the artists knew and appreciated each other, there is almost no greater difference imaginable than... 

Dying Swan (Rinus Sprong), photo Studio Oostrum

Even with eyes closed, DEDJDD's Ballet Blanc is a beautiful evening

The Zuiderstrandtheater in The Hague premiered Ballet Blanc on 8 March. It is the new full-length performance by The Dutch Junior Dance Division. The young dancers tour the country with a collage of fifteen short pieces. Blanc is the unifying factor in a fresh mix of classical and modern ballet, with tragedy, poignancy and humour. The juniors... 

Stations of the Cross of St Bernulphus Church (author's photo)

Toorop and Berlage: good marriage at Gemeentemuseum

The Jugendstil curls of the famous 'salad oil poster' adorn the logo of the major Toorop exhibition at the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag. And while this choice is recognisable and appealing, there is something to be said against it. After all, the museum is so keen to show other sides of Toorop. And there are surprisingly many of them. The Gemeentemuseum has a history with... 

Rader works and rebellious emotions

Years ago, Nederlands Dans Theater profiled itself with the slogan "challenging dance". That applies well to Straight Around. This performance by youth company NDT2 premiered at Holland Dance Festival in The Hague on 18 February. The company does not immediately make things easy for its audience with the four danced pieces, but for those who know how to empathise, there is... 

Fragment of diptych by Nicholas Hlobo (photo author)

'Frankenstein' Hlobo wants to cure South Africa

Scattered through the main hall of museum Beelden aan Zee in The Hague are enormous works, mostly consisting of ribbon and used car inner tubes. There are also canvases hanging on the wall, again full of colourful ribbon embroidery. These canvases are more sculpture than painting. They are the work of South African Nicholas Hlobo. Images by the Sea, under the title Imilonji Yembali (Melodies... 

Depot Mauritshuis, The Hague, Photographer: Ivo Hoekstra

Mauritshuis reveals secrets of the depot

A mythical aura often surrounds a museum's depot. How many works of unparalleled value does a top collection like the Mauritshuis let gather dust on its shelves? And more importantly, why? And as a museum, wouldn't it be better to sell them? In the exhibition Highlights from the Depot, the Mauritshuis answers such questions. At the same time, new questions arise,... 

Stefan de Walle and Joris Smit (Kurt van der Elst photo)

The reviewer, for anyone whose flesh is occasionally weak

Anyone who wants to credibly transfer a historical play to the present had better be radical, director Theu Boermans must have thought. And anyone who sees his adaptation of Nikolaj Gogol's The Revisor at the Nationale Toneel cannot help but agree with him. With references to asylum seekers, cubicle snoopers, data espionage and subsidy fraud, the play seems written yesterday. Yet Boermans remains... 

Apple was not just messing around

Ten years after his death, Karel Appel turns out to be more timeless than you would think with only Cobra in mind. This can be seen at a large and impressive retrospective at the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag. It showcases the oeuvre of a highly versatile artist who continued to develop into an old age. An impression of the exhibition under construction. Drawings Next to... 

Firma Mes - BOT (photo by Joris Jan Bos)

BOT by Firma MES: delightful theatre for laughers and thinkers

'KUT TONEEL' has been spray-painted over BOT's poster. Another features penises and a clown's nose. Does Firma MES' new show arouse so much aggression? In any case, the young theatre company from The Hague promises us a play about "unkind people". But that doesn't quite pan out. On the flat floor of Theater aan... 

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