Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Art Nouveau: Henry van de Velde

Yesterday I posted about Art Nouveau in Paris and I mentioned Henry van de Velde who designed furniture for Siegfried Bing’s art gallery. Van de Velde was not from France but rather Belgium. It is not surprising that Bing would choose a foreign artist to design for his art gallery; he was an importer/exporter of art, after all.
Van de Velde was born in 1863. He studied painting from 1881 to 1884 and was influenced by such artists as Georges Seurat and Vincent van Gogh. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a painting by van de Velde and the one shown below was all I could dig up on google. In 1892 he stopped painting altogether, turning his attention, instead, to interior design.
He designed and built his own house and several more prominent buildings, including the Kroller-Muller Museum in Otterlo. You can see pictures of many of these buildings by clicking here.

What is especially important about van de Velde (as far as Art Nouveau) is that he was the first designer to use curved lines in an abstract style. This style is basically the definition of Art Nouveau.
Van de Velde did not design in the Art Nouveau style for his whole life. Art Nouveau went out of fashion around 1910 and he lived for another 42 years. As he evolved, he taught art to others, thus spreading his vision to a new generation of artists.
The furniture shown throughout this post was designed by van de Velde. Notice the curving lines and the elements drawn from nature.

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Peter said...

Thanks for this post. van de Velde was unknown by me until last week when I also came to read about the Bing gallery. He was certainly a very great artist!

Jessica said...

Yes, I had seen some of his furniture but had never studied him before. I'm afraid I didn't treat him very thoroughly here but I really like his designs and wanted to say at least a little something.