Henry van de Velde is a Belgian artist, architect, and interior designer who is considered one of the founders of the Art Nouveau style.
About his life
Van de Velde Henry Clemens, known as Henry Van de Velde, was born in Belgium, in Antwerp, in 1863 and died in Switzerland in 1957. He was first trained as an artist in Antwerp, Belgium. Influenced by the theories of William Morris and the English Arts and Crafts movement, Van de Velde abandoned painting and turned his attention to architecture and applied arts. The construction of his home, Bloemenwerf, in Uccle near Brussels (1895) marked the beginning of a new career. For this house, he designed all the furniture and equipment.
In 1902 he was invited to Weimar, where he founded the School of Arts and Crafts, which he headed from 1906 to 1914. It later became the famous Bauhaus, the center of the Modernist Movement in Germany. A forerunner and theorist of Modernism and Functionalism, Henry van de Velde was a leading artist of the Art Nouveau movement as he developed an original yet contemporary style in architecture, furniture design, and crafts. He was known as the first Art Nouveau painter who worked in an abstract style and developed the concept of the union of form and function.
What are his major works?
- Bloemenwerf, Van de Velde’s first private residence, in Uccle, Belgium, 1895–96;
- Interior of the Folkwang Museum in Hagen, Germany, 1900–02;
- Villa Esche in Chemnitz, Germany, 1902–03, 1911 (extension);
- Extension and interior decoration of the Nietzsche Archive in Weimar, Germany, 1903;
- Van de Velde Building in Weimar, home of the art faculty of the Bauhaus-University, 1905-06;
- Hohenhof, Mansion for Karl Ernst Osthaus in Hagen, Germany, 1907–08;
- Werkbund-Theater, Theatre at the Deutsche Werkbund exhibition in Cologne, Germany, 1913–14;
- Villa Schulenburg in Gera, Germany, 1913–14.
- Cover design of the 1908 Insel edition of Friedrich Nietzsche’s Ecce Homo;
He published several books and essays on his original art theories:
- Le Déblaiement d’Art (1895);
- Renaissance in Arts and Crafts (1901);
- Vom neuen Stil (1907).
About his stile
Henry van de Velde designed a vast range of items, such as architecture works and whole interior decorations, furniture, ceramics, metalwork, and jewelry. His furniture designs are linear, highly detailed by innovative decorations and expressive ornamental designs, tempered by strong traditional elements. A man of many talents, he believed in the symbiosis of the arts, whether it was the design of a building or interior design, jewelry, fashion, or product design. In his architecture and furniture, dynamic lines work in contrast with massive forms. His Art Nouveau projects are among the most typical of the period. He was reproached for building his houses as if it was furniture. However, Henry Van de Velde is one of the Art Nouveau masters whose architectural images evoke emotions.