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Dutch art and literature

Parent categories: Europe - Netherlands - literature - art

People (20th century): Dutch Provo movement - Dick Bruna - WF Hermans - Alex van Warmerdam -

People (pre-20th century): Hendrik Goltzius (1558 - 1617) - Desiderius Erasmus (1466 1536) - Rembrandt (c. 1606 1669) - Benedictus de Spinoza (1632 - 1677)

Dutch society has enjoyed a reputation, or notoriety, for permissiveness from the sixteenth century to present times. The Dutch Republic in the Golden Age was the only society that tolerated religious dissenters of all persuasions in early modern Europe, despite being committed to a strictly Calvinist public Church. [Sept 2006]

One of the main characteristics of the Dutch culture is their commitment to equality, compromise and avoiding conflict. They are open for new ideas and are very tolerant. Dutch obsession with equality and keeping everything "normal" is reflected in one of the most famous Dutch sayings which says: "Doe maar gewoon, dan doe je al gek genoeg" (acting normally is crazy enough). [Sept 2006]

Dutch culture or culture of the Netherlands is diverse, reflecting regional differences as well as the foreign influences thanks to the merchant and exploring spirit of the Dutch. The Netherlands and Dutch people have played an important role for centuries as a cultural center, with the Dutch Golden Age as its absolute zenith. [Sept 2006]

De Koppelaarster/The Procuress (1656) - Johannes Vermeer

Great painters

The Netherlands has a history of many great painters. The 17th century, when the Dutch republic was prosperous, was the age of the "Dutch Masters" such as Rembrandt van Rijn, Johannes Vermeer, Jan Steen and many others. Famous Dutch painters of the 19th and 20th century are Vincent van Gogh and Piet Mondriaan. M. C. Escher is a well-known graphics artist.Willem de Kooning was born and trained in Rotterdam, although he is considered to have reached acclaim as an American artist. A (in)famous Dutch master art forger is Han van Meegeren.

Philosophy and science

The Netherlands is the country of philosophers Erasmus of Rotterdam and Spinoza, and all of Descartes' major work was done there. Christiaan Huygens(1629-1695) is a famous astronomer and mathematician. He discovered Saturn's moon Titan and invented an accurate clock.


In the Dutch Golden Age, literature flowered as well, with Joost van den Vondel and P. C. Hooft as the two most famous writers. In the 19th century, Multatuli wrote about the bad treatment of the natives in Dutch colonies. Important 20th century authors include Harry Mulisch, Jan Wolkers, Simon Vestdijk, Cees Nooteboom, Gerard van het Reve and Willem Frederik Hermans. The Diary of Anne Frank was also written in the Netherlands.


Windmills, tulips, wooden shoes, cheese and Delftware pottery are amongst the numerous items associated with the Netherlands.


Dutch policies on recreational drugs, prostitution, same-sex marriage and euthanasia are amongst the most liberal in the world.

Adapted from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Netherlands#Culture [Jun 2005]

Liberal drug laws [...]

It's no secret that Holland has the most liberal drug laws in the world, especially when it comes to cannabis. What you may not realize, however, is that these laws were enacted thanks to the efforts of the Dutch Provos. The Provos set the stage for the creation of the Merry Pranksters, Diggers, and Yippies. They were the first to combine non-violence and absurd humor to create social change. They created the first "Happenings" and "Be-Ins." They were also the first to actively campaign against marijuana prohibition. Even so, they remain relatively unknown outside of Holland. Now, for the first time, their true story is told. --Teun Voeten 'High Times', http://www.hightimes.com/, January 1990

Artists awaiting classification

Joost Swarte

Joost Swarte (born 24 December 1947, Heemstede, the Netherlands) is a Dutch comic artist and graphical designer. He is best known for his ligne claire or clear line style of drawing, and in fact coined the term. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joost_Swarte [Aug 2005]

see also: comics - illustration - Netherlands

Erwin Olaf

Silver - Erwin Olaf [Amazon US] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Erwin Olaf, one of the best know and most over-the-top Dutch photographers of today--think David LaChapelle crossed with Playboy)--lives a passionate, lusty affair with life, enjoying it to the fullest extent, a true gastronome of the art of living. His oeuvre stands as a manifestation of this very passion and of his very genuine engagement with his subjects. Over the last 25 years, he has evolved from a photographer who captures reality to a director who creates it; either way, the depicted reality is one filled with humor, imagination, sexuality, and exuberance, raising issues of freedom, beauty, loneliness, and difference. A master who can generate his own, perverse world through autonomous photographic series, grandiose parties, and film projects alike, he is also hypercritical, an artist from whom nothing escapes. Thus his fictions are convincing, his images full of bygone days, fairytales, and dreams, populated by historical figures, elves, dwarves, lunatics, and creatures that defy easy description.--Book Description

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