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.
Ceramics exhibition at Keramik-Museum Bürgel
Currently on display at Keramik-Museum Bürgel: Ceramics from the Weimar School of Applied Arts by Henry van de Velde: May 13 – September 17, 2023
Henry van de Velde paved the way for modernism when he founded his Seminar for Decorative Arts and the Grand Ducal Saxon School of Decorative Arts. The latter emerged in 1908 and was the basis for the State Bauhaus in Weimar. The former premises of van de Velde‘s school are still used for the teaching of art and design and follow van de Velde's tradition.
The ceramics department was one of the most productive workshops of the Weimar School of Decorative Arts. The exhibition focuses on its products as well as its relationships with Bürgel factory owners, who were important partners for Henry van de Velde, but also for the students of the Weimar school. Thus, there was a close cooperation with the manufacturers Carl Gebauer, Franz Eberstein, Max Hohenstein, Karl Otto Hermann Schack as well as Max and Otto Neumann from Bürgel. These producers not only executed a large number of Henry van de Velde's student works and ceramics, they also supported the school in many technical and professional matters, assisted with firings in the school's own kiln, helped with the composition of new glazes, participated in exhibitions and sometimes even sat in on classes at the school themselves.
Both the School of Decorative Arts and the Bürgel manufacturers benefited from the congenial and intensive cooperation. Through Henry van de Velde and the students, new forms, but also colorful and lead-free glazes came to Bürgel.
On display for the first time are works by the forgotten students Sissi Brentano, Charlotte Veit, Agnes Peters and Käte Goldschmidt. The exhibition thus can provide an important impulse for further research on the Weimar School of Decorative Arts as a forerunner of the Bauhaus. An accompanying exhibition catalog is available at a price of 12€.
[text by Antje Neumann]
More information can be found on the website of Keramik-Museum Bürgel.
New Autobiography published this Spring
In 2023, a critical edition of van de Velde's autobiography for the years 1917-1957 has been published. Anne van Loo, Doctor of Architecture and a specialist in Henry van de Velde, has devoted several decades to this critical work which is presented as a two-volume set including 1000 illustrations. The work is in French, as is the original language of the manuscript.
Henry van de Velde describes his and his family's journey through forty turbulent years of European history (1917-1957), from Switzerland, where he became friends with Kirchner and Romain Rolland, to the Netherlands, where he planned a museum for the Kröller-Müller family, and to Belgium, where he was called upon in 1926 to direct a new Institute of Decorative Arts, which was to repeat in Brussels the experience of his school in Weimar, the predecessor of the Bauhaus.
In spite of the polemics stirred up by Victor Horta, the school opened in Brussels in 1927, in the former abbey of La Cambre. It brought together an elite teaching staff and students from all over the world on the strength of van de Velde's reputation alone, and quickly became the only alternative to the Bauhaus, which was closed in 1933. His teaching methods, centred on studio practice, had a lasting influence on the country's production and gained international recognition with the Belgian pavilions at the 1937 Paris Exhibition and the 1939 New York World's Fair.
At the same time, he built the library of the University of Ghent (1933-1940), with its "tower of books", and became an artistic advisor to the Belgian Ferries Ostend Dover. He also played this role at the Ministry of Public Works before accepting a similar mission in 1940 at the General Commission for the Restoration of the Country, placed under the authority of the German military administration.
After the war, depressed by investigations and prosecutions that were dismissed, he moved to Oberägeri in Switzerland, where Alfred Roth and Max Bill looked after him. There he wrote his memoirs and received personalities such as Giedion, Neutra, Aalto, Philip Johnson or Richard Rogers, all of whom were interested in this self-taught protagonist of Art Nouveau, who is now recognised as one of the fathers of 20th century modern architecture.
We book is available for purchase via this link.
Right picture: Henry van de Velde in front of the plans for the large museum in Hoenderloo, ca. 1922. KBR, AML, Brussels.
Newly published dissertation
This book explores the different aspects of Henry van de Velde’s creative activity through the study of his writings and works, specifically during the German period.
The primary task of this study was to cast light on van de Velde’s writings and realized works, and to establish their place in the development of his aesthetic theory, as well as to explore the major themes that recur throughout his writings, themes such as ‘rational conception’, ‘empathy’ and ‘line-force’; and their role within his overall conception of the aesthetic work. The investigation focused on the German period of Henry van de Velde, as it constituted the period of his greatest activity as a designer, teacher, and architect.
The principal hypothesis of this study is that van de Velde’s aesthetic theory was based on the resolution of the dialectic of rational conception and empathic will, a resolution that is set into work through the ornamental function, within an ‘organic’ conception of the artwork. This ‘organic’ conception provides the background that allows for a better understanding of Henry van de Velde’s design work and pedagogy, and his dedication to an aesthetic theory that would resist the elimination of the role of the human being in the process of creation.
To purchase a copy of this book, click here.
Now available! - "Selected essays, 1889-1914 by Katherine M. Kuenzli
Katherine Kuenzli, associate professor of art history, received a Scholarly Editions and Translations grant, which she has used to prepare a critical edition and translation of a selection of writings by Henry van de Velde. These writings, which include a selection of twenty-six essays, have been translated from French and German and cover van de Velde’s writings on William Morris and the English Arts and Crafts movement, Neo-Impressionist painting, and relationships between ornament, line, and abstraction in German aesthetics. The texts trace the evolution of van de Velde’s thoughts during his most productive period as a theorist in the artistic debates in France, Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands.
Katherine M. Kuenzli expertly guides readers to see how van de Velde’s writings reconcile themes of aesthetics and function, and expression and reason, throughout the artistic periods and regions represented by these texts. With introductory discussions of each essay and full annotations, this is an essential volume for a broad range of scholars and students of the history of fine and applied arts and ideas.
The book can be ordered here.
Villa Esche develops app
The HvdV museum in Villa Esche in Chemnitz, Germany, can now be explored with an interactive app. The app is designed as a game with exciting augmented reality experiences and is geared towards all people young at heart. The game can be played alone, as a team or with a school class. In the game the user will be guided through the villa by Henry van de Velde and the Esche family. There are 16 stations throughout the villa with exciting games and quizzes. The goal of the game is to collect as many points as possible and to unlock bonus surprises.
The villa offers rental devices on site to play the app. You can also download the app on your own smartphone. Simply go to Villa Esche and play!
More information about Villa Esche can be found here.
Completing Catalogue Raisonné
The Henry van de Velde foundation is a proud partner of the Klassik Stiftung Weimar in the creation of the last three volumes of the complete Catalogue Raisonné. The first three volumes were created with the funding of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation). A catalogue raisonné is a complete, comprehensive and detailed overview of an artist’s work.
There has been a disconnect between today’s appreciation of Henry van de Velde’s work and the current state of research. Although his objects are highly valued in trade and at international auctions, there is no knowledge of the context in which his furniture, ceramics, or silver work was created, the dating, and the background of his work. With the creation of this Catalogue Raisonné, the Klassik Stiftung Weimar is closing this deficit in response to the clear wishes of cultural science and numerous collectors, while simultaneously demonstrating the crucial connections between art and society in the European context.
The project will be finalised in 2024 and will comprise HvdV’s furniture (volume 4 and 5) and interior design (volume 6). The first 3 volumes contain his metal works (volume 1), textiles (volume 2) and ceramics (volume 3).
Photo: Henry van de Velde (design), Société anonyme, Brussels (manufacturer): Armchair, designed 1895, made 1897/98, paddock wood and leather, Klassik Stiftung Weimar DKg-2017/57
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.