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dutch light

While on the subject of observing Holland, another interesting documentary is 'Dutch Light' ('Hollands Licht', 2003), investigating the myth of the unique quality of light in Holland. It is the dramatic, almost tangible light of 17th century landscape painters like Jan van Goyen, Jacob van Ruisdael and Johannes Vermeer (who took the light indoors), of the 19th century Hague School, and even of Mondrian's geometrical abstractions.

Dutch Light - 1

Dutch Light - 2

Though part of the film is concerned with whether this myth is based on a natural (physical, meteorological) phenomenon, most artists and critics interviewed agree it is best seen as an artistic construct, a phenomenon inseparable from the techniques used for its representation. The question is also answered implicitly: when looking at other places known for its peculiar light, the film does so through the eyes of artists, examining Vincent van Gogh's Provence and James Turrell's Arizona.

Dutch Light - 3

Dutch Light - 4

For all its theorizing, 'Dutch Light' is most convincing when it shows rather than talks about this elusive phenomenon. For a whole year, the filmmakers shot images on the same spot, on the dyke between Marken and Monnickendam. The resulting panoramas are stunning cinematic examples of Dutch light: slivers of land in a landscape dominated by water, with a low, open horizon giving room to vast skyscapes, and the ever changing, harsh, clear light creating spots of bright blue and green in the overall greyness.


woman holding a balance

On a rare loan from Washington DC, Johannes Vermeer 's ' Woman Holding a Balance ' ('Dame met weegschaal') is on display at the Rijksmuseum , along with ' The Milkmaid ' ('Het Melkmeisje') and ' Woman Reading a Letter ' ('De Brieflezend… Read the full post »

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