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Meet the Artist Delighting Amsterdam

In the spring of 2020, at the height of the pandemic, the always bustling Dam Square in Amsterdam was deserted, silent and surrounded by concrete counterterrorism blocks. The Dutch street artist Frank de Ruwe, who goes by the name of Frankey, decided these daunting studded blocks resembled something more innocent — giant Lego blocks — and that the city needed something to lighten the gloom.

The result? Later that summer, Frankey created and placed a giant yellow-and-black Lego figure of the Dutch folk singer André Hazes, whose songs have been pub favorites in the Netherlands for more than 40 years.

The Dutch folk singer André Hazes, in Lego form.Credit…Yvonne Mak

“It’s all about seeing the right thing,” Frankey said recently, over coffee in his Amsterdam neighborhood. “I think everyone was searching for a bit of bright news during these dark days.”

Frankey continues to delight Amsterdam with his whimsical, witty street art. Yes, every Saturday, he publishes a new piece in the Dutch newspaper Het Parool, as well on Instagram, but those are just the tip of the iceberg. He turns any unassuming spot in the city — a street sign, an oddly shaped brick, a ledge — into something more playful. You’re bound to run into his work on any trip to Amsterdam.

This conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity.

In the press, your street art pieces are called ‘urban interventions.’ What does that term mean to you?

Travelers are bound to run into Frankey’s work on any trip to Amsterdam.Credit…Yvonne Mak

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