Art Nouveau, Berlage, Catharine Coleman, Copier, Ernst Haeckel, Jugendstil, Lanooy, Nature, Scheepvaarthuis, Sea Creatures, stained glass, Wallpaper
If you have the opportunity, you must go see this exhibition!
According to his Wikipage, Ernst Heinrich Philipp August Haeckel (1834–1919) was a German biologist, naturalist, philosopher, physician, professor and artist who discovered, described and named thousands of new species, mapped a genealogical tree relating all life forms, and coined many terms in biology.
Now, what’s interesting for us is the fact that in 1904 Haeckel published the book Kunstformen der Natur (Art Forms in Nature) that included over 100 detailed, multi-colour illustrations of animals and sea creatures. Moreover, these illustrations inspired many Art Nouveau artists like Émile Gallé, Hendrik Petrus Berlage and René Lalique, all of whom owned a copy of the book. Kunstformen der Natur bridged the gap between science and art.
The exhibition A Sea of Glass at the National Glass Museum includes a lot of large Haeckel posters as well as artworks inspired by these posters. A prominent example is Het Scheepvaarthuis, currently known as the Grand Hotel Amrath Amsterdam, that served as a modern office complex for six shipping companies. In 1912/1913 Johan Melchior van der Meij was asked to design the complex with references to the rich maritime tradition of the Netherlands.
With the idea of a ‘Gesamtkunstwerk’ in mind, Van der Meij invited many like-minded artists. Interior designer Theo Nieuwenhuis (1866-1951) used Haeckel’s forms almost literally when he designed a wallpaper with sea creatures. Willem Bogtman (1882-1955) designed the stained glass windows with seahorses, jellyfish and starfish, also inspired by Kunstformen illustrations. And Michel de Klerk (1884-1923) let Haeckels spiny brittle stars inspire him when he designed the pendant lights.
Other beautiful works of art featured in the exhibition are for instance below designs by Berlage (1856-1934). Berlage owned a copy of Kunstformen der Natur and saw endless possibilities for jewellery, tilepanels, wallpapers and lamps. Unfortunately none of his designs were executed until, in 1927, the Amsterdam wallpaper manufacturer ‘Rath & Doodeheefver’ got permission to take four of Berlage’s 1905 wallpaper designs into production. The Ciliata design for example was available in five colorways and also the Ophiodea was realised.
Pendant Lamp, Jewellery, Wallpaper and Tilepanel design by Berlage
Wallpaper Ciliata Wallpaper Ophiodea
Of course the exhibition wouldn’t be complete without the world famous Andries Dirk Copier (1901-1991) and Christiaan Johannes (Chris) Lanooy (1881-1948), but also contemporary artists like Catharine Coleman, Paula Arntzen and Eibert Draisma – who have clearly been inspired by Haeckel – contributed some interesting pieces.
I´ll say it one more time. If you have the opportunity, you must go see this exhibition! Haeckel’s posters are beautiful, fascinating and inspiring. And the artifacts based on his posters are just amazing!
Architectenweb – Het Scheepvaarthuis
Behang & Berlage
Kunstformen der Natur – download the complete book in PDF!
Kunstformen der Natur – view posters as zoomable images
National Glassmuseum Leerdam
Wikipage Ernst Haeckel
Wikipage Het Scheepvaarthuis
Rath en Doodeheefver
What a tempting review! I have always been a fan of Haeckel, and it is impressive to see how far-reaching his influence was…
I didn’t even show all objects; It was indeed very impressive. There was a lot more! I thought the stained glass windows of the ‘Scheepvaarthuis’ and the Berlage wallpapers were the best. What do you like most? Thanks for reading!
Jalf Flach said:
As usual a very, very informative post! Thank you.
And thanks for reading Jalf.
Fred Westen said:
I suggest you read the article about this exhibition in the dutch 2-annual magazine ART DECO nr. 8. You can find it easy on Google. On the site all issues are integral published. In the same issue nr. 8 you will find interesting articles about HENRY VAN DE VELDE and BERLAGE St. Hubertushouse.
I suggest you make a link on the blog to the website of this magnificent full color magazine about ART NOUVEAU and ART DECO.
Fred Westen – The Hague – Netherlands.
Dear Fred, thank you for the information.
( http://www.artdecomagazine.nl/magazine08.html )
and thanks for reading!
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