Amsterdam’s Hottest Ticket Is a Johannes Vermeer Retrospective

The man's work has staying power

Vermeer exhibit
Visitors look at the painting "Mistress and Maid" during the opening of the Johannes Vermeer exhibition in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.
KOEN VAN WEEL/ANP/AFP via Getty Images

A chance to experience the work of one of the most revered artists of their time sells out way in advance, with tickets selling on the secondary market for thousands of dollars. No, we’re not talking about Bruce Springsteen or Taylor Swift; instead, the event that’s drawn so many attendees and ticket buyers is a Johannes Vermeer show at Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum.

As Jonathan Jones wrote for The Guardian in 2017, Vermeer’s work “haunts modern culture.” Jones went on to argue that Vermeer’s aesthetic distance from the prevailing trends of his time has served him well in retrospect. “Vermeer is not only a great artist,” Jones wrote. “He is a great modern artist.”

All of this might explain why, when you visit the Rijksmuseum’s website, you’ll see a very straightforward message: “The Vermeer exhibition is definitively sold out. It is not possible to buy tickets via e-mail or by phone.”

Writing at Hyperallergic, Hakim Bishara delved into the specifics of the demand for Vermeer tickets. As Bishara notes, tickets would normally cost $24. In the last week, however, three different pairs of tickets each sold for more than $1,000 — one of the pairs exceeded $2,000, in fact.

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It’s a testament to Vermeer’s continuing appeal to modern audiences. It’s also a reflection of the scope of the exhibit, which touts that it contains the greatest number of works by Vermeer ever assembled. Nearly 400 years after his birth, Vermeer’s art remains a draw — that’s an impressive accomplishment if ever there was one.

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