The 150th anniversary of Henry van de Velde’s birth
In the turbulent years around 1895 the European art world enthusiastically embraced a Flemish painter, who, like no other, seemed able by his words and deeds to open the door to the modern era: Henry van de Velde. He saw himself as an apostle of this future shift towards aestheticism, and as a driving force in the departure from the jaded era of Historicism to a new style consistent with Nietzsche’s “new man”. Assuredly turning his back on tradition, van de Velde disregarded the conventional boundaries between “arts” and “crafts”, and applied his philosophy to the design of almost every area of life: the structure of buildings, the layout of rooms, the styling of clothing and jewellery, but also the design of everyday objects from furniture to lighting and even letter openers. In doing so, he stayed true to his belief that accomplished design should reflect the intended function of an object. He always followed the principle that “beautiful” things which blend into their surroundings would have an inspiring and uplifting effect on people.
From 1902 to 1917, van de Velde was based in Weimar but was engaged throughout Europe, and it was during his time in Weimar that he created some of his greatest works. The dynamic Erfurt-Weimar-Jena region is celebrating the 150th anniversary of Henry van de Velde’s birth in 2013 by highlighting his achievements and those of his associates. Visitors will have the opportunity to acquaint themselves with all aspects of early modern art at a whole series of exhibitions and other events – a unique venture that has not been done in this way before.