Piet Oudolf: Rotterdam Piet Oudolf

Print on Fine Art Paper. Courtesy of the Artist, photography: Walter Herfst. Photo: Aad Hoogendoorn.

Oudolf’s designs and plant compositions are well-known with radical concepts of a naturalistic approach to gardening. In his projects, Oudolf prioritizes the seasonal life cycle of a plant over decorative considerations like flower or color. In this regard, he argues that "a garden is exciting when it looks good through the year, not just at one particular time." Oudolf’s gardens may look wild especially in specific seasons, but they are not. Maintenance, such as cutting plants back in spring, and occasional editing out of any plants that become aggressive is necessary for any garden. His plant installations thus become metaphors not only for human life and its cycles but also for the design of modern surroundings and contemporary societies.

In Oudolf's projects, he always starts with maps and drawings on paper on which he visualizes a two-dimensional garden, its seasonal shapes and colors. Therefore, his draft blueprints resemble paintings that give bird’s-eye perspectives on how his gardens look like. The colors on the drawings don’t represent the plant colors but give direction and insight on balance and proportion between the plants.

Presented in this exhibition is a selection of drawings and photographs for his Rotterdam projects, including Leuvehoofd (2010), Ichtushof (2010-2011), Westerkade (2010-2011) and Boompjeskade (2011). These projects went hand in hand with the urban development of these areas. As in his other metropolitan gardens, Oudolf here emphasizes structure, light and movement that are attractive all year round.

The photographs in the installation are taken by Walter Herfst in 2010 and 2011.

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