, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Today is my birthday. And I am in good company, because today is also the 150th birthday of Henry van de Velde. Henry van de Velde was born on 3 April 1863 in Antwerp as the son of a pharmacist. He studied painting at the Art Academy in Antwerp and Paris between 1880 and 1884 but in 1892 he gave up painting to turn his attention to the Applied Arts. Even though he was only educated in painting, he excelled in practically every other project he took up.

Henry van de Velde design Henry van de Velde design Henry van de Velde design desk

In an effort to promote his concept of the Gesamtkunstwerk (a comprehensive work in which every artistic detail harmonises with its surroundings), Van de Velde ignored the boundaries separating “art” from “handicrafts” and helped shape practically every aspect of life: he constructed houses, designed interiors, clothing and jewellery, and transformed everyday objects into works of art – from lamps to furniture to walking sticks. Inspired by William Morris’ Arts and Crafts movement Van de Velde built the “Bloemenwerf House” for his family in Ukkel (a suburb of Brussels, Belgium) in 1896. It was his first attempt at architecture. He also designed interiors and furniture for the influential art gallery “L’Art Nouveau” of Siegfried Bing in Paris in 1895.

Henry van de Velde in his Atelier in Weimar 1910

Henry van de Velde in his Atelier in Weimar 1910

In 1902 he was appointed artistic advisor to the Grand Duke Wilhelm Ernst and moved to Weimar where he founded the Arts and Crafts Seminar and School of Arts and Crafts, collaborated closely with Count Harry Kessler and the Nietzsche Archive (conversion and expansion 1902/03), built the Art School (1904/11) and the School of Arts and Crafts (1905/06) now both part of a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Bloemenwerf, home of Henry van de Velde, 1896

Bloemenwerf, home of/designed by Henry van de Velde, 1896 (Ukkel, Belgium)

Between 1907 and 1913 Van de Velde built his second house “Hohe Pappeln” (1907/08), the Dürckheim Villa (1912/13) and the Henneberg Villa (1913/14) in Weimar, as well as numerous private and public commissions in Germany, Riga and Paris. When WWI escalated in 1914 Van de Velde was asked to resign due to his Belgian nationality. He recommended Walter Gropius as his successor, who later became one of the founders of the Bauhaus movement.

Haus Hohe Pappeln Henneberg Villa Dürckheim Villa

In 1917 Van de Velde settled in Switzerland, lending support to many emigrants and building a close friendship and collaboration with Ernst Ludwig Kirchner. In 1920 he was appointed architect for Anton Kröller and Helene Kröller-Müller in The Hague, to return to Belgium and take up a professorship in Ghent in 1925 and found the “La Cambre” design school in Brussels in 1926.

Between 1926–1936 Van de Velde had numerous private and public commissions in Belgium, Netherlands and Germany before he retired in 1937. After that, he designed the Kröller-Müller Museum in Otterlo (which houses the world’s largest private Van Gogh collection) and he designed the Belgian Pavilion for the World Exposition in Paris (1937) and New York (1939). After his wife Maria Sèthe (1867–1943) passed away Van de Velde withdrew from all posts and emigrated to Switzerland in 1947 to write his memoirs. He died on 25 October 1957 in Zürich after a short illness.

In 2013, the dynamic Erfurt-Weimar-Jena region is celebrating the 150th anniversary of Henry van de Velde’s birth by highlighting his achievements and those of his associates and students. On 3 April the celebrations at Villa Hohe Pappeln can be seen via Lifestream. (The progam for the events at Hohe Pappeln is posted here.) But the Germans are not the only ones celebrating this great designer. There are lots of activities planned in other regions/countries, and I am going to collect as much information as I possibly can on this blog. In case you come across something I have missed though, please feel free to fill us in. So, if you ever intended to find out more about Henry van de Velde’s legacy, now is the time to do it!


Exhibition Van de Velde at home Hagen 27/1 – 21/4 Osthausmuseum
Exhibition Jena 10/3 – 26/5 Stadtmuseum Jena
Exhibition Gera 17/3 – 3/11 Haus Schulenburg
Passion, Function and Beauty Weimar 24/3 – 23/6 Neues Museum
Guided tour Weimar Sundays 13:00 starting 24/3 Haus Hohe Pappeln
Exhibition Weimar 29/3 – 12/5 Bauhaus-University
Guided tour Weimar Saturdays 15:00 starting 30/3 Nietzsche Archive
Walk Weimar Sat & Sundays 11:00 Apr – Nov Bauhaus Atelier
Conference Weimar 4/4 – 7/4 Bauhaus-University
Exhibition Erfurt 5/5 – 8/9 Angermuseum
Total schön – im Banne des Designs Chemnitz 7/5 – 18/8 Neue Sächsische Galerie
Exhibition (Architecture) Chemnitz 23/5 – 1/9 Villa Esche
Exhibition (Pottery) Bürgel 25/5 – 22/9 Keramik Museum
Van de Velde & Schoder Gera 11/6 – 1/9 Gera Museum
Exhibition (Neoimpressionists) Jena 1/9 -24/11 Stadtmuseum Jena
Passion, Function and Beauty Brussel 13/9 – 12/1 KMKG (Jubelpark)
The résumé of a van de Velde design Chemnitz 20/9 – 19/1  ???
Guided Tour: Passion, Function and Beauty Brussels 22/9 KMKG (Jubelpark)
Lecture: Passion, Function and Beauty Brussels 22/9 KMKG (Jubelpark)
Exhibition: Letters of Architects Brussels 26/9 – 30/11 Royal Belgium Library
Guided Tour: Passion, Function and Beauty Brussels 5/10 Korei
Art Nouveau & Art Deco Biënnale Brussels Saturdays 5/10 – 27/10 Voire et Dire Bruxelles
Lecture: v.d. Velde and Modern Architecture Brussels 20/10 KMKG (Jubelpark)
Lecture: v.d. Velde, Pioneer in Abstract Art Brussels 15/12 KMKG (Jubelpark)
Seminar: Henry van de Velde Brussels 11/10 – 13/12 KMKG (Jubelpark)
Seminar: Passion, Function and Beauty Brussels 9-11 KMKG (Jubelpark)
Exhibition A table avec Henry van de Velde Elsene 5/12 – 28/12 Hôtel Van de Velde
Art Nouveau and Belgian Bookbinding Brussels end of 2010 Bibliotheca Wittockiana

The catalogue about the exhibition can be ordered in Dutch, French or English.

Henry van de Velde – Passie Functie Schoonheid









Koninklijke Musea voor Kunst en Geschiedenis
Podcast about Henry van de Velde
Vlaams Architectuur Instituut
Van de Velde Stamps
Wiki page on Henry van de Velde
Google Books: L’Oeuvre Architecturale de Henry Van de Velde
Books about Henry van de Velde @ DBNL