Contemporary art on royal soil
TEXT: ARNE ADRIAENSSENS | PHOTOS: PALEIS HET LOO
Paleis Het Loo is often referred to as the Versailles of the low countries and it isn’t hard to see why. The impressive palace and its picture-perfect Baroque garden bring the 17th century alive again. Now that the castle is closed for renovations, the garden has been spruced up with The Garden of Earthly Worries, the latest art project by Daniel Libeskind.
“This garden was a prestige project,” says Paul Rem, curator of Paleis Het Loo. “Where this region is the driest in all the Netherlands, this Garden of Eden flourishes and its fountains shoot their water metres-high. In fact, they were the highest fountains in the world and remained active all day long. The ones in Versailles, however, could only perform a few hours a day and were way humbler in size. This way, Willem the Third proved his supremacy: he could control nature.”
The Garden of Earthly Worries, Ozon.
Anno 2019, we know the consequences of deranging nature like this. The prosperity and plethora we consider normal today make us strip-mine the earth to dangerous extremes. “To highlight this, the renowned architect Daniel Libeskind (Jewish Museum in Berlin, One World Trade Centre in New York) created an artwork about this dark side of our world domination. The Garden of Earthly Worries shows a globe which has exploded into four pieces, each representing another greenhouse gas. Since they replace four heroic, Baroque statues, the garden no longer emphasises the king’s power, but the consequences of it on our fragile biotope.”
The Garden of Earthly Worries, Methane.
The Garden of Earthly Worries is the first contemporary artwork ever to be displayed in the garden and the timing is not coincidental. “The garden and the palace form a whole. The patterns and shapes you find in its interior, come back in the garden as well. We have always guarded this harmony, but now that the building is temporarily closed, we saw an opportunity to blow a fresh wind through the maze of hedges.” Whether the pieces of art will disappear upon the palace’s reopening in 2021 is, thus far, unclear. “Probably, the original statues will return. But, who knows? Libeskind’s work is always tailor-made for its location. So, the only good place to feature the piece is in our magnificent garden.”
Opening in the presence of Her Royal Highness Princess Beatrix and Daniel Libeskind.
Open, just not as usual
Even during Paleis Het Loo’s restoration, there is much to do. Besides its gardens, you should visit the impressive stables which house the royal old-timer collection. Afterwards, a trip to the palace’s roof shows you the garden’s Baroque shapes and patterns in all their glory. When the palace reopens in 2021, an underground museum will be added to the complex, exhibiting the royal family’s most enchanting artefacts.