The international CoBrA Movement created waves in the 1940s and still shapes global art today, and the Cobra Museum of Modern Art (Sandbergplein 1, Amstelveen; www.cobra-museum.nl) celebrates its groundbreaking spirit of artistic experimentation. The core collection includes works by trailblazers such as Karel Appel, who was once seen as a rebel but is now considered one of the Netherlands' most influential artists.
Expect to be challenged and amused in equal measure at KochxBos (Eerste Anjeliersdwarsstraat 3-5; www.kochxbos.nl). Giving a cheeky punk-fingered salute to the establishment, this small gallery focuses on low-brow surrealism, a movement officially known as Contemporary Underground Art. This is a world where leading artists such as Ray Caesar and Mark Ryden use both shock tactics and humour to get their message across.
In a renovated canal house, Foam (Keizersgracht 609; www.foam.org) shows up to four photographic exhibitions at any one time. You may get to admire the work of Dutch camera stars such as Anton Corbijn, who made his name snapping moody black and white shots of New Wave musicians in the 1970s. Or you could find yourself browsing a retrospective of Helmut Newton, whose images on the pages of Vogue and other magazines redefined the world of fashion photography.
If you like your pictures to move, head to Amsterdam-Noord via the free ferry. In a wedge-shaped building that dominates the waterfront, the EYE Film institute (IJpromenade 1; www.eyefilm.nl) specialises in major cinematic retrospectives. It also displays some of its vast collection of movie stills, negatives and other memorabilia.
From pop to street
The Modern Contemporary Museum (Honthorststraat 20; www.mocomuseum.com), or MoCo for short, is in a grand early 20th-century townhouse opposite the Rijksmuseum, but you won’t find any Old Masters here. Instead, changing exhibitions focus on the stars of pop and street art, from Keith Haring to Damien Hirst and Banksy.
You’ll find more pop art at the nearby Stedelijk Museum (Museumplein 10; www.stedelijk.nl), which boasts works by luminaries of the scene such as Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol. You can also make an impression here with Cézanne and Matisse, or go modernist with Picasso and Chagall.
To see and buy works by up-and-coming names, the trendy Jordaan district is the place to look. Galleries such as Stigter van Doesburg (Elandsstraat 90; stigtervandoesburg.com) put on exhibitions by promising modern Dutch artists, while Galerie Fons Welters (Bloemstraat 140C; www.fonswelters.nl) - in a former garage - places its emphasis on installation art and sculpture.
Away from Jordaan, Reflex Gallery (Weteringschans 79A; www.reflex-art.nl) highlights the creations of both established and emerging talent, with themed exhibitions focused on photography, painting and sculpture. Near the Rijksmseum, Flatland Gallery (Lijnbaansgracht 314; www.flatlandgallery.com) showcases new works in many formats, from video installations to drawings.