Xiaoyu Weng on “Amsterdam, the Magic Center: Art and Counterculture 1967–1970”

A light show by Adri Hazevoet at the nightclub Paradiso, Amsterdam, ca. 1970.


As part of the Annual Guide to Galleries, Museums and Artists (A.i.A.’s August issue), we preview the 2018-19 season of museum exhibitions worldwide. In addition to offering their own top picks, our editors asked select artists, curators, and other experts to identify the shows they are looking forward to. Here, Xiaoyu Weng talks about “Amsterdam, the Magic Center: Art and Counterculture 1967–1970.”

“I’m intrigued by the chance to compare this exhibition with its US precedent, ‘Hippie Modernism: The Struggle for Utopia’ [shown at the Walker Art Center and the UC Berkeley Art Museum in 2015–17]. The two shows reflect an increased institutional regard for the importance of this tumultuous cultural period. The openness, enthusiasm, and optimism shared by intellectuals and creative practitioners in the 1960s stand in sharp contrast to what we are experiencing today. What’s more, in keeping with the growing search for multiple modernisms, the era offers possibilities that go beyond such canonized art movements as Pop, conceptualism, Land art, and Minimalism. These two aspects of the survey can, perhaps, give us renewed hope and space for imagination. 

“‘Amsterdam, the Magic Center: 1967–1970’ has a narrower time frame and a more specific locality than its US counterpart. But it is not just a regional show. Its temporal and spatial parameters may, in fact, turn out to be very helpful in recasting current debates about the local-global relationship. 

“In addition, the exhibition—looking back on a socially volatile milieu—makes no separation between mainstream and ‘alternative’ practices, instead investigating their many overlaps and cross-fertilizations. I am very curious to see how the artwork and ephemera, combined with an inclusive exhibition narrative and design, will complement and energize each other.”


Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, through Jan. 6, 2019.

XIAOYU WENG is an associate curator of Chinese art at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, where she has recently co-organized the group shows “Tales of Our Time” (2016–17) and “One Hand Clapping,” on view through Oct. 21, 2018.