GEER VAN VELDE (1898-1977)
Geer van Velde (born on the 5th of April 1898, Lisse, Netherlands - died on the 5th of March 1977 in Cachan, France) was a Dutch painter who was particularly present on the postwar Parisian art scene. After his military service as an officer of the Red Cross, in 1925 Geer moved to Paris where he stayed with his brother Bram and devoted himself to painting.
Whereas Geer’s first canvases were influenced by Fauvism and full of bright, vivid colours, the artist progressively gained interest in Cubism without ever falling into abstraction. His work always involved some representation, drawing its different themes from reality, may it be interior spaces, double portraits, feminine models or daily-life objects.
Between 1928 and 1932 Geer participates with his brother to the Salon des Artistes Indépendants, and then in 1938 shoes 45 paintings at the gallery Guggenheim Jeune in London. After a stay in Nice, Geer came back to Paris and in 1944 moved to Cacham where he will stay for the rest of his life. Thanks to Pierre Bonnard, Geer meets with Aimé Maeght who will organise the artist’s first solo show in 1946 and will present his work in many other group exhibitions.
The artist’s postwar compositions undoubtedly stem from Cubism with a colour palette made of subtle and neutral tones which Samuel Beckett described in 1946 as a “brushwork of extraordinary calm and tenderness”. This period was also influenced by Geer’s many trips to the Netherlands where he learns from the rigorous structures and agricultural fields’ delimitations found in his homeland’s countryside landscapes. Geer was also particularly stunned by the work of Mondrian which he discovered in a 1946 retrospective in Amsterdam. This will notably impact the way Geer dissociated surfaces from the background and worked with equivalent surfaces and intermediary spaces. While this compositional endeavour was less rigorous than that of Mondrian, Geer placed it at the core of his artistic approach by tracing volumes and surfaces with charcoal before coating his canvases with a thin layer of white paint that allowed the underlying composition to show through.
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