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H. van de Velde

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H. van de Velde

*  1863 Amsterdam
† 1957 Zürich


The Belgian designer and architect Henry van de Velde was born in Antwerp 1863, the son of an apothecary. Beyond a shadow of a doubt, Henry van de Velde was one of the greatest artists of both Art nouveau and New Objectivity. From 1881 until 1884, Henry van de Velde studied painting at the Académie des Beaux-Arts in Antwerp. While working on painting, Henry van de Velde stayed in Paris and Barbizon in 1884/85. In Brussels, van de Velde joined the Neo-Impressionist group of artists known as "Les Vingts" in 1887 and exhibited work at their group shows. Inspired by the British Arts and Crafts movement, the work of William Morris and the reforming theories advocated by John Ruskin, Henry van de Velde began to design furniture and interiors in 1890. For Samuel Bing's Paris gallery, "Maison de l'Art Nouveau", Henry van de Velde designed four sample rooms in 1895. In 1899 Henry van de Velde designed both the façade and the interior of the showrooms at "La Maison Moderne", which the German art dealer Julius Meier-Graefe had opened in Paris. In 1897 and 1898, Henry van de Velde founded firms for making and marketing the furniture and objects he designed in Brussels and Berlin, respectively. In 1899 a van de Velde catalogue was issued in French and German editions. The years following 1903 mark the pinnacle of Henry van de Velde's productive design career. In 1900 Henry van de Velde moved to Berlin. In 1902 he became a teacher in Weimar Lehrer at the recently founded Crafts Seminar, which grew into a School for the Applied Arts in 1907 (in 1919 it merged with the Kunsthochschule to form the Staatliches Bauhaus Weimar). In 1907 Henry van de Velde's book "On the New Style" was published. During the first world war, the School for the Applied Arts shut down and Henry van de Velde had to stop teaching In 1917 he moved to Switzerland. As a teacher, Henry van de Velde aimed, with his students, at "... developing functional forms and organic elements with which the industries can attract the attention of an apathetic public ... ." However, Henry van de Velde always gave priority to the one-off art work over type pieces. In 1926 Henry van de Velde became a professor of architecture at the university in Ghent while also founding director of the Institut Supérieur des Arts Décoratifs in Brussels, where he taught until 1936. From 1947 until his death, Henry van de Velde again lived in Switzerland, on Lake Ägeri, south of Zurich. Henry van de Velde's memoirs, "The Story of My Life", were published posthumously in 1962.