Authentic Landscapes at Large: Dutch Globalization and Environmental Imagination


The landscape north of Amsterdam is typically Dutch. Black and white milk cows graze peacefully in green pastures interlaced by small ditches; an occasional windmill on the horizon. It is May and I am sitting in the train to Alkmaar, a town forty miles north of Amsterdam, reading the newspaper and occasionally glancing at the familiar landscapes. The green polder-pasture landscape turns into another proto-typically Dutch one: vast geometrical tulip fields. Some fields are blooming: their bright colors bleeding into the mist of a grey horizon. This grey and the tulip fields made it into a coffee-table book of the most renowned contemporary architect of the Netherlands, Rem Koolhaas. The book is a mosaic of architectural associations and quotations. Under the entry “Dutch Grey” the American architect John Hejduk states: “When we rode along the roads, which moved through the tulip fields I began to understand Mondrian. I always thought him to be an international painter; I found him to be a Dutch painter” (Hejduk, 302-312).

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