Henry van de Velde, drawings en pastels (1884 - 1904)

13/10/2017 - 07/01/2018

We should not forget that the first twelve years of van de Velde’s career were spent in
painting and drawing.
At the start of the 1880s, he enrolled at the Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp and began to produce work which at that time was influenced by that distinctive artistic product of this part of the world—Impressionism. In 1887, however, he discovered Georges Seurat’s Grande Jatte, then on show at the Brussels exhibition of Les XX. Following this revelatory experience, van de Velde aligned his style to that of the Neo- Impressionists. Their characteristic dots began to appear in bold compositions which the artist, then in straitened circumstances and leading a voluntarily reclusive existence, was producing from a tiny village in the Campine region of Belgium—where his only companions were the farmworkers
and the writings of a few well-known authors such as Nietzsche and Kropotkin.
But van de Velde was not content with the highly restrictive technique of Seurat and his followers. He eagerly embraced the various revolutions underway in the painting of his day and in 1890 he was once again swept of his feet when he encountered the work of Van Gogh, an artist
then totally misunderstood by his contemporaries. In drawings that bring colours sharply up against each other via a subtle arrangement of
demarcating lines, Van de Velde succeeded in marrying together these two inherited strands—the ‘scientific’ art of the Neo-Impressionists and the expressionist touch of Van Gogh.
His themes are the labours of the country people and the arabesque-inscribing waves on the sea-shore. His style becomes more confident and his drawings begin to betray abstract-style curves, undulations, and arabesques. Finally, in 1893, van de Velde the painter made the move to arts and crafs: the focus now was not on paintings but on wall-coverings and typographical decoration.

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