‘Dutch Light is a documentary about the light in Holland. Is it unique, as people say, or is that simply a myth? It’s about the light celebrated in paintings – in landscapes by Jan van Goyen and Jacob van Ruisdael, and in interiors and still lifes by Johannes Vermeer, Pieter Saenredam and Willem Claesz Heda. It’s also in the works of later artists such as Jan Weissenbruch, Willem Roelofs, Paul Gabriël and Piet Mondriaan. The myth goes back a long way. It’s the idea that light and observation were the cornerstones of a visual culture dating back to the 17th century. The German artist Joseph Beuys, however, says that the culture of observation came to an end in the 1950s.
Dutch Light breaks new ground by exploring that myth and capturing it in images. Distinguished artists, art historians and scientists from different countries address the questions raised by Beuys’s theory. What is Dutch light? Is it different from light anywhere else in the world? Has it really had a significant impact on art and science? And is it true that it has changed or disappeared? Dutch Light is an extraordinary film about a phenomenon that is as ordinary as it is unique.