Cedar Lewisohn on the Jan van Eyck Academie, Maastricht, the Netherlands

The artist feels right at home at this utopian art and design institute, which also welcomes visitors for events and the best coffee in town

I first discovered the Jan Van Eyck when I was visiting Maastricht to do an exhibition. I just walked past this slightly mysterious looking building and wondered what was going on inside. It’s quite subtle, but beautiful: a modernist building designed by Frits Peutz – a cool, glass and concrete structure, very minimal. Once you’re inside it’s like a temple of light. Inside art production goes on; people make art and people think about making art. And they also think about design, which is taken very seriously in the Netherlands.

I’m eight months into a one year residency there. There are very few places like this in Europe – a post-academic place where you can just come and stay. There are no restrictions put on you. It’s quite utopian in a way, without wanting to be too overenthusiastic. But there’s a lot for day-to-day visitors too. It’s open to the public and if you feel like a bit of art theory then Thursday evening is a great time to pop by. Most weeks there’s a presentation where either the resident artists present their work or guest visitors (often theorists or thinkers) present their work or films and then hold discussions or debates.

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