Gardens have appealed to our imagination for centuries. We associate them with harmonious bliss, a place to witness the cycle of life and death, a place of contemplation, and a refuge from the worries and cares of daily life. And certainly in these times of being cooped up at home, there is a strong desire to have one’s own bit of greenery.

The botanical revolution, on the necessity of art and gardening is the story of the garden as a fertile source of inspiration for artists. Throughout the centuries, artists, writers, poets and philosophers have described, depicted and defined the garden in constantly changing ways. Gerrit Komrij – whose 1990 Huizinga lecture is the source of the exhibition title – described how, for much of history, the idea of the garden was closely interrelated with changing mentalities and intellectual controversies. Gardens remain a rich source of inspiration for contemporary art, though the prevailing theme is no longer romantic longing but a call to reshape our relationship with the earth. How do today’s artists reflect on themes such as primeval paradise, vegetable gardens, botany and climate change? Surprising classic and modern examples reveal the deep roots of the exhibition’s themes.

Photo: Sara Sejin Chang (Sara van der Heide) The Garden, 2014, film, 56’