Dutch Heroine

Madelon Vriesendorp co-founded one of world's best known architecture firms. So why haven't you heard of her?


Madelon Vriesendorp is primary a painter but also a sculptor and a great collector. She is described by Hans Ulrich Obrist (Serpentine Gallery Curator) as the creator of "exceptional and multidimensional drawings, a Gesamtkunstwerk - a total work of art"

Madelon Vriesendorp is a heroine-genius that moves freely from architecture to art, to urbanism, literature to collecting, her fluidity of practice contributes to so many disciplines; only lately her works have been recognised.

Definitely, a strong-minded woman, she was the daughter of a renowned Dutch feminist Harriët Freezer, she co-founded OMA, the Office for Metropolitan Architecturand and collaborated and married the internationally recognised architect, Rem Koolhaas.


Her dream-like drawings and paintings of New York been eaten by a monster and the Statue of Liberty half naked were used in Koolhaas book in 1978, "Delirium in New York" and described on the OMA website as "Polemical Investigation of Manhattan", but strangely enough her name has never been credited.

The tendency to appropriate and miscredit it was addressed only in 2008 when The Architectural Review's award that Vriesendorp almost didn't accept she told Nell Card of the Guardian. “I was going to refuse it. I thought: I didn’t do anything for architecture. But then I thought I could make it a bit political: I could make an argument for women who haven’t been recognised.”



MADELON VRIESENDORP (born in Holland, 1945, lives and works in London) co-founded the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) in New York in 1970s with her partner Rem Koolhaas. Her paintings have illustrated books and magazine covers – most notably Rem Koolhaas’s 1978 Delirious New York- and she has produced drawings and models in collaboration with architect Charles Jencks, the architectural publications Domus and Abitare and her daughter Charlie. Her work has been shown in New York at The Guggenheim and Max Protetch Gallery, Centre Pompidou in Paris, Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. She had solo exhibitions at the Architectural Association in London in 2008 and the Swiss Architecture Museum, Basel in 2009. Her work is also included in Making Worlds, at the 53rd Venice Biennale until November. The World of Madelon Vriesendorp was published in 2008 by AA, edited by Shumon Basar and Stephan Trueby.

Source: Madelon Vriesendorp