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‘Like a doctor, without either love or loathing'. The Work of Henry van de Velde
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‘Like a doctor, without either love or loathing'. The Work of Henry van de Velde

(Steven Jacobs) The Low Countries - 1994, № 2, pp. 244-250

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In his standard work, ‘The World of Van de Velde' (De wereld van Van de Velde), written in 1967, A.M. Hammacher advances the view that the term ‘Art Nouveau' ought to be suppressed as far as possible in writing about the Belgian master-of-all-trades (painter, architect and so much more) Henry van de Velde (1863-1957). Hammacher himself seems to have had difficulty remaining within the bounds of his own stricture, however. At any rate, it shows clearly that Van de Velde's work around the turn of the century cannot be easily classified. He assimilated disparate influences. Inspired principally by the Anglo-Saxons, yearning in vain for recognition in Paris and enthusiastically received in Germany: Van de Velde could not be other than an eclectic. But Van de Velde was to become an eclectic in the manner of Raphael or Picasso: through the assimilation and unconventional confrontation of different traditions he evolved unmistakably from epigone to authentic innovator.

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