‘Botanischer Wahnsinn!’ verzucht kunstenaar Joseph Beuys als hij in 1976 vergeefs de vegetatie afspeurt op zoek naar een zeldzame Japanse dwergrododendron die in het Canadese Halifax te vinden zou zijn.

In recent years, artists from all over the world and from extremely diverse backgrounds have shown a remarkable interest in plants and trees. This interest cannot be seen separately from the revolution in our knowledge of plants that has been occurring in recent decades. Scientific research has revealed that plants are not ‘things’, but intelligent entities that are not only able to see, smell, feel, communicate and hear, but also to orientate themselves and to remember. Along with this new knowledge about plants, there is also increasing awareness of the defining role that plants play in the stability of ecosystems, as well as of the alarming loss of species.

Green in many colours
In the exhibition Botanischer Wahnsinn, the Kröller-Müller Museum presents a kaleidoscopic selection of works by artists who examine the fascinating world of plants from different perspectives. Botanischer Wahnsinn is divided into five themes: the Scientific plant (process and taxonomy), Ethnobotany (plants for human use, mystical plants and witchcraft), Ideological plants (plants in political, postcolonial an ecofeminist debate), Weeds (good and bad plants), Regeneration and ‘green remediation’ (cleaning contaminated soil with the help of plants). The exhibition includes works in a variety of media, including herbaria, photography, drawings and prints, sculptures and installations by Gemma Anderson, Joseph Beuys, Sjoerd Buisman, Mel Chin, Mark Dion, Ian Hamilton Finlay, Lili Fischer, Pierre Huyghe, Michael Landy, Candice Lin, Ana Mendieta, Otobong Nkanga, Giuseppe Penone, P Staff, Anaïs Tondeur, herman de vries and Lois Weinberger.

New series
The exhibition Botanischer Wahnsinn is the first in a new series. In this series, the Kröller-Müller Museum – deliberately located ‘in the midst of nature’ by its founder Helene Kröller-Müller – seeks to address relevant themes in the field of nature and ecology and to renew our relationship with the environment.

Nieuwe reeks De tentoonstelling Botanischer Wahnsinn is de eerste in een nieuwe reeks. Hiermee wil het Kröller-Müller Museum, door zijn stichter Helene Kröller-Müller heel bewust gevestigd ‘te midden van de natuur’, relevante thema’s op het gebied van natuur en ecologie aan de orde stellen en zijn relatie tot zijn omgeving actualiseren.

Botanischer Wahnsinn is curated by Roel Arkesteijn. Arkesteijn is curator and author, interested in art and ecology, ‘art for social change’ and forms of artistic activism.


Lois Weinberger (1947-2020), What is Beyond Plants is at one with Them, 1997 / Anaïs Tondeur, Chernobyl Herbarium, Circa 2011