15.03.2019 to 15.02.2020
The creative power of Henry van de Velde (1863-1957) is probably best epitomized in the wholistic piece of art – built around the dining room furniture of Paul Schulenburg, a textile tycoon in Gera, Schulenburg was so enthusiastic about the furniture that he contracted its creator Henry van de Velde to build a mansion for this furniture and his family. The building erected in 1913/14 is a masterpiece that greets its guests with cupola hall and a skylight that diffuses the light to an impressive staircase as the center of the building. The adjoining rooms, restored to its original condition, show how the universal artist designed everything from the doorknob to the desk, from the fireplace to the fancy windows and from the terrace to the textile pattern of the chairs and wall covering, conceived the building as a total work of art rather than a generic place to live in.
The exhibition illustrates Van de Velde's main life and work periods. From the neo-impressionist painter, who was trained in Antwerp and Paris, over the admirer and follower of the the English Arts & Crafts movement in 1892/93 through his admiration for Japanese art, which was just about to enchant Europe.
In numerous writings he formulated a canon of abstract artistic means with the principles of "rational design". The exhibition presents “incunabula” of modernism, like the magazines "Van Nu en Straks", "L´art décoratif" as well as rare examples of book design.
The contributions and graphics reveal tendencies in international art and convey an impression of the artistic debate in the Fin de Siècle.
Van de Velde's commitment to the training of architects and designers culminated in the founding of the La Cambre School in Brussels, which he himself described as the "third citadel of modernism" after his Weimar School of Arts and Crafts and Walter Gropius' Bauhaus, which later developed from it.
After leaving Weimar, Van de Velde planned and accomplished many important architectural projects in the Netherlands, Belgium, and at the World Expositions in Paris and New York. Architects such as Le Corbusier and Mendelsohn valued him as an extremely important visionary of modernism.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a publication.