CURRENT PROJECTS THAT INSPIRE US.
Here are some of our favorite current projects - books, new research, exhibitions, renovations, and even commercial try-outs - that highlight how HVDV is still inspiring innovation and design thinking.
Cahier No. 17 Henry van de Velde - Herman Daled and the Hotel Wolfers - now available!
One of the objectives of the foundation is to make scientific material on Henry van de Velde easily accessible for the English speaking world.
We therefore supported the Fonds Henry van de Velde (La Cambre, Brussels) in its ambition to translate a special issue of the Cahiers Henry van de Velde dedicated to Herman Daled, who was the first president of the Fonds Henry van de Velde Association for a period of fifteen years, from 2004 to 2019.
Many people had known him as a radiologist, as a collector and friend of artists, and as a lover of architecture who happened to own one of the houses that Van de Velde built in Brussels: the Hotel Wolfers.
Anne van Loo, a Doctor of Architecture and a specialist in Henry van de Velde, dedicates this article to the Hotel Wolfers and shows how Herman Daled lived there, or 'how he was present' in the house.
This e-book is now available in English - for free - for the academic world and other interested parties.
New Catalogue published with van de Velde's drawings
A new catalogue with HvdV’s complete work of paintings and drawings has recently been published. Van de Velde is not as well-known as a painter and draughtsman, even though he started his career after graduating from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp in this field. His work consists of paintings and drawings of landscapes in Weimar and South Tyrol as well as of a few different places in Belgium.
This new catalogue contains van de Velde’s complete work, consisting of some 60 paintings and 230 drawings. The catalogue is compiled by Ronny Van de Velde. The introduction is written by Xavier Tricot.
More information on the catalogue can be found here.
Belgian historian Ruben Mantels to publish new Henry van de Velde biography
"A line in time. The life of Henry van de Velde (1863-1957)" is the working title of a new biography about Henry van de Velde. The Henry van de Velde Foundation is pleased to announce it will support the research and writing of this biography. Its author, Ruben Mantels (1979), is a well known Belgian historian. His interest in Van de Velde stems from his earlier work on the ‘Boekentoren' (of which Van de Velde was the architect), on the history of Ghent University (where Van de Velde taught between 1925 and 1936) and on August Vermeylen (a kindred spirit, with whom Van de Velde published the Flemish literary journal Van Nu & Straks during the 1890s).
Mantels says: "I am very excited the Henry van de Velde Foundation has agreed to support my work, together with Ghent University Library”. He adds: "It is precisely the multi-faceted aspect of Van de Velde’s art, his long life and the international dimension of his oeuvre that require biographical synthesis, which will simultaneously serve as European cultural history. In my book, I will strive to capture the ‘line’ in Van de Velde's life, and to portray him against the backdrop of political and cultural history of the 19th and 20th centuries".
Mr. Mantels will work several years on this biography, which is expected to be published before or by the occasion of the centennial of La Cambre in 2027.
Newly released "biography" of HVDV's iconic Booktower
The ‘Boekentoren’, designed by Henry van de Velde, has housed the Ghent University library since 1942. But this unusual library is much more than just an iconic building.
In Towers of books, the historian Ruben Mantels recounts the turbulent history of the library, that is much older than its tower. In 1797 the library was inaugurated. Mantels tells its history from the ‘liberation of the book’ to the ‘powerful thrust of Modernism’, from the French Revolution to the digital revolution and Google Books. Portraits of librarians, the reading public and the collections are all given a place, while innumerable illustrations and photos bring the story of the Tower of Books to life.
With regard to Henry van de Velde, Mantels devotes a whole new chapter on the building history of his ‘Boekentoren’. He reveals how August Vermeylen, an old friend of Van de Velde, intervened by King Albert I to grant the building of a new library to Van de Velde. 'On 22 February 1933, Vermeylen wrote in his diary: ‘Audience with the King: discussion about […] the mission of the Library to Van de Velde.’ The long building history would last until 1954. The war caused multiple problems and made the Boekentoren a splendid, but unfinished building. In a letter from 1 September 1940, Van de Velde wrote discouragingly and called the Boekentoren ‘one of the toughest assignments I have faced in my life’. In his in the 1960s published memoires, Van de Velde described the whole undertaking as ‘absolute agony’ and one that brought his firm ‘to the brink of ruin’.
Until its still ongoing restoration in the 2000s, Mantels has written the ‘biography’ of Van de Velde’s most important public building in Belgium, the Boekentoren.
Click here to get a hardcopy of “Towers of Books” (in Dutch only).
The book is also available as an ebook in English.
Photo: Collection Boekentoren Gent
Easel to Edifice - a comparative study
In 2019, Common Ground Research Networks published Judith E. Stone's comparative study of two Art Nouveau Masters, Charles Rennie Mackintosh and Henry van de Velde. Both Masters began their professional careers as studio, "easel" artists, but soon shifted their creative energies to the functional realms of architecture and design. However, their creative paths eventually diverged, Mackintosh returning to painting during the final years of his career, while van de Velde continued his work in architecture and the applied arts well into his eighth decade. Stone devotes considerable attention to van de Velde's dedication to the concept of Gesamtkunstwerk, according to which every element in an architectural structure - home, school, museum, performance venue - is executed in accordance with a single stylistic approach. In addition, as her research proceeded, Stone was increasingly impressed with van de Velde's cautious, selective acceptance of industrial "mass" production, as opposed to traditional hand craftsmanship. His caution leading ultimately to his historic feud with German architectural theorist Hermann Muthesius regarding the standardization inherent in industrial production. Finally, Stone found the high degree of streamlined, Bauhaus-derived modernism evident in van de Velde's later architectural projects especially striking, indeed unique in light of the conservatism of his architectural contemporaries.
Click here to purchase a copy of the book.
Dog on Booktower
Recenty, a full-size bronze statue of a smooth-haired fox terrier has been placed on top of the Book tower in Gent. It was part of the thorough renovation of the Book tower. Descendants of Van de Velde were immediately reminded of the fox terrier their great-grandfather had, seen in various photos. This was, however, never the starting point of photographer Michiel Hendryckx.
Click here to see a video about the wonderful story behind this dog on the Book tower.
Photo by Geert Roels