Click for BBB rating See our Privacy Policy

Welcome to Spaightwood Galleries, Inc.

120 Main Street, Upton MA 01568-6193

For more information or to purchase, please call 1-800-809-3343 or email us at spaightwood@gmail.com

You can follow us on Facebook and Twitter!
We blog regularly on Facebook and announce special events and special sales on both sites.
Last updated: 1/25/2017
Home / Gallery Tour 1 / Womanshow 2006 / Gallery Tour 2 / Artists
Gallery News

Bram Van Velde (Dutch, 1895-1981): Original Prints

Bram van Velde / VanVelde2 / VanVelde3

Pierre Alechinsky / Karel Appel / Corneille / Henry Heerup / Asger Jorn / Bengt Lindstrom / Lucebert
Carl-Henning Pederson / Antonio Saura
Bram van Velde spent most of his artistic life in Paris, to which he moved in 1925 and which he left in 1965, when he settled in Switzerland for the remainder of his life. Van Velde served as a conduit, bringing expressionist abstraction to Paris, mixing it with existentialism, and passing it on to the COBRA group in turn. When the Pompidou in 1988 put on Les Cinquantes, a group retrospective of the 1950s in Europe and America, one entered the exhibit by passing through a room of paintings by Bram van Velde. In his History of Modern Art, H. H. Arnason called Van Velde "one of the most isolated and powerful of Art Informel painters" and suggests that he also serves to link American Abstract painting (and particularly his countryman Willem de Kooning) to the COBRA painters. Van Velde has been the subject of studies by painters such as Pierre Alechinsky (see "Words for Bram" in his Paintings and Writings, pp. 103-107 and in his etching, Ligne B V V), but the best well known commentary upon him is by his friend, Samuel Beckett, who wrote in 1949 that Bram van Velde is "the first to submit wholly to the incoercible absence of relation, in the absence of terms or, if you like, in the presence of unavailable terms, the first to admit that to be an artist is to fail, as no other dare fail, that failure is his world and to shrink from it desertion, art and craft, good housekeeping, living. I know that all that is required now, in order to bring this horrible matter to an acceptable conclusion, is to make of this submission, this admission, this fidelity to failure, a new occasion, a new term of relation, and of the act which, unable to act, obliged to act, he makes, an expressive act, even if only of itself, of its impossibility, of its obligation." For Beckett, Bram van Velde embodies the spirit expressed at the end of Beckett's play, Waiting for Godot, when tired of waiting, one of Beckett's tramps asserts, "I can't go on," but, having no alternatives, is forced to agree to return the next day to wait for Godot. Van Velde, who embodied for the artists of the 1950s this heroic stance towards life, became for them the model of what it would take for art to survive in the post-War world. In 1973, Bram van Velde was awarded the "Grand Prix National des Arts et Lettres"; in 1975 he was awarded the "prix des Belles Lettres" (awarded once every 3 years by the Sociétés de Genève, Lausanne, et Neuchâtel).

Major Exhibitions: retrospective organized by Franz Meyer (Chagall's son-in-law and the author of a major text on Chagall) at The Kunsthalle, Berne, 1958; retrospective at the Stedelijk Museum, 1959; Galerie Notizie, Turin, 1960; La Galerie l'Obelisco, Rome, 1961; Galerie Knoedler, Paris (texts by Jean Leymarie, Pierre Schneider, Christian Dotremont, Pierre Alechinsky), 1961; Galerie Knoedler, NY, 1962; Galerie Krugier, Geneva, 1962; Galerie Knoedler, NY, 1964; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, 1964; San Francisco Museum of Art, 1965; Colorado Fine Arts Center, Colorado Springs; retrospective at the Wallraf-Richartz Museum, Cologne (preface by Franz Meyer), 1966; Galerie Leonhart, Munich, 1966; Galerie Birch, Copenhagen,1966; Galerie La Balance, Brussels, 1966; retrospective Museo d'Arte Moderna, Turin (prefaces by Luigi Mallé and Franz Meyer), 1966; retrospective at the Kunstnerhus, Oslo (text by Asger Jorn, preface by F. Matheson), 1967; Galerie Knoedler, NY, 1968 (preface by Franz Meyer); Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo NY [this is actually a public museum], 1968; exhibition of his prints, Kunsthalle de Worpswede, preface by Jacques Putnam, 1969; Galerie Knoedler, Paris, 1969; exhibition of watercolors, Galerie Bérnador, Geneva (preface by Jean Leymarie (author of many books on the Impressionists, Post-Impressionists, and Moderns), 1969; Musée National d'art Moderne, Paris (text ed. Jean Leymarie and Gaetan Picon), 1970. By the end of the 1960s, van Velde had achieved classic status and his works began appearing in retrospectives regularly in Europe and the U.S., as signalled by the massive exhibition mounted by the Pompidou in 1989 and the massive large-format 260-page full-color text that accompanied it with extensive records of exhibitions, retrospectives, and a fairly full bibliography.

General Bibliography:
Samuel Beckett et al, ] Bram Van Velde (NY: Grove Press, 1960); Guy le Prat, Bram van Velde, Catalogue raisonné de l'oeuvre de peinture (Pars, Turin, NY: Harry N. Abrams, 1961; André de Bouchet, Bram van Velde (St. Paul-de-Vence: Fondation Maeght, 1973), Centre Georges Pompidou, Bram van Velde (Paris SPADEM/Eds. Center Pompidou, 1989); Charles Juliet, Rencontres avec Bram van Velde (Paris: Fata Morgana, 1980); Charles Juliet, Conversations with Samuel Beckett and Bram van Velde , trans. Janey Tucker, Morgaine Reinl, Aude Jeanson, Tracy Cooke, & Axel Nesme, Champaign IL, Dalkey Archive Edition, 2005); Jean-Hubert Martin, ed. Bram van Velde (Paris: Éditions du Centre Pompidou, 1989); Franz Meyer, Bram van Velde (Zurich: Maeght Zurich, 1976); Musée National d'Art Moderne, Bram van Velde (Paris: Musée National d'Art Moderne, 1971); Yves Peyré, Bram van Velde (Paris: Daniel Lelong Editeur, 1984: Repères 15); Georgina Oliver, Bram van Velde (Copenhagen: Borgen, 1983); Jacques Putnam and Charles Juliet, Bram van Velde (Paris: Maeght Editeur, 1975: this is a wonderful, highly-illustrated picture book with extensive text and many illustrations and bibliography); Bram Van Velde, Bram van Velde: Archives de l'art contemporain (Paris: Musée d'art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, 1970); Bram Van Velde, Bram van Velde: Catalogue Raisonné of the Paintings (NY: Abrams, 1961); Bram Van Velde et al., Bram van Velde (Paris: Beaux Arts, 1989); Bram van Velde (BeauxArts Hors Serie 1989—this is a special number outside of the normal subscription devoted completely to Bram van Velde's works and life).

Prints: Bram van Velde made 413 prints—almost all of them lithograph—of which 10 were made between 1923 and 1955 and the rest between 1959 and his death in 1981. It would seem that for an artist who painted remarkably slowly, prints offered him a new way to work out his ideas and to present himself to the world. As a Robert C. Morgan wrote in his review of van Velde's 1983 show at the Lefebre Gallery in NY City, "Van Velde's lithographs . . .  hold forth in a way that is more sinewy, cerebral and incongruous than the major Abstract Expressionists. Indeed, it is these qualities, along with his lack of stylistic pretension and his clear indifference to notions of formal cohesion, that are in large part responsible for the 'underground' nature of his reputation. Whereas de Kooning, for all his obvious fluidity, generally relies on the gradual attenuation of bold gesture to achieve formal resolution, van Velde has no comparable apparatus. Works like Le Bonheur de Matisse (1981) [unfortunately reproduced upside down on p. 177, but available to be seen correctly here] show the startling degree to which each of van Velde's gestures remains independent of the others. What's more, of course, is that in lithography each of the colors requires a separate plate, and the final composition is the product of their repeated layering. In van Velde's case, the medium thus adds to the consciously indeterminate appearance of the shapes, which collide and intertwine in weird configurations, never quite matching one another. They neither float in the manner of Gorky's shapes, nor ever entirely hold their ground. The surface shifts continuously, confounding our conceptions both of form and of composition" (Art in America, September 1983, pp. 175-76).

There is a 3-volume catalogue raisonné of Bram van Velde's lithographs edited by Charles Juliet & Georges Duthuit, Bram van Velde Lithographies (Paris: Maeght Editeur, 1993); Bram Van Velde, Les lithographies, 1923-1973 (Paris: Yves Riviere editeur, 1973) Bram Van Velde, Les lithographies II, 1974-1978 (Genève: Musée d'art et d'histoire, 1979); Bram Van Velde, Les lithographies III, 1979-1981 (Genève: Musée d'art et d'histoire, 1984). There is also a very much more affordable one-volume selection which prints 55 of the color lithographs in color, unlike the three-volume catalogue raisonné, where almost all of them are reproduced in black and white. See Charles Juliet and Georges Duthuit, Bram van Velde Lithographies (Paris: Maeght Editeur, 1993),
L'Unique II (BvV 95). Original 6-color lithograph, 1973. 125 signed impressions. Bram van Velde created 6 original lithographs to accompany André de Bouchet's tranlations of the three versions of Holderlin's poem. Our impression is from copy n. 109 (of 125) portfolios. Image size: 410x300mm. Price: $2000.
L'Unique IV(BvV 97). Original 3-color lithograph, 1973. 125 signed impressions. Bram van Velde created 6 original lithographs to accompany André de Bouchet's tranlations of the three versions of Holderlin's poem. Our impression is from copy n. 109 (of 125) portfolios. Image size: 410x300mm. Price: $2000.
L'Unique VI (BvV 99). Original 6-color lithograph, 1973. 125 signed impressions. Bram van Velde created 6 original lithographs to accompany André de Bouchet's tranlations of the three versions of Holderlin's poem. Our impression is from copy n. 109 (of 125) portfolios. Image size: 410x300mm. Price: $2250.
Etendue (BvV 118). Original 7-color lithograph, 1973. 150 signed and numbered impressions on Japon paper with lots of silk thread mixed in (of which ours is n. 26/150). Illustrated in Charles Juliet and Georges Duthuit, Bram van Velde Lithographies (Paris: Maeght Editeur, 1993), p. 48. Since most of the illustrations in the 3-volume catalogue raisonné of Bram van Velde's lithographs are reproduced in black and white , the Juliet-Duthuit volume is a nice companion to the big set. Unhappily, this volume only contains 56 of them. Image size: 210x420mm. Price: $2750
Equilibre (BvV 157). Original 7-color lithograph, 1975. 90 signed and numbered impressions, of which this is 29/90. Image size: 388x564mm. Price: $3750.
There is also a color variant printed for Derrière le Miroir with fewer colors, which you can see at BvV3.
Grise nuit (BvV 171). Original 5-color lithograph, 1975. 100 signed and numbered impressions on Japon nacre paper, of which our is n. 10/100. Illustrated Bram van Velde Lithographies, p. 50. Image size: 318x591mm. Price: $3000.
Untitled (BvV 177) . Original 2-color lithograph, 1975. 100 signed and numbered impressions on Japon Nacre paper, of which ours is n. 36/100. A very good impression with strong colors and full margins. There is another version of this with a printed text that served as the poster of BVV's 1974 retrospective at the Cabinet des estampes in Geneva in 1974. Image size: 199x170mm. Price: $1750.
Untitled (BvV 181) . Original 8-color lithograph, 1975. 100 signed and numbered impressions on Arches, of which ours is n. 42/100. A very good impression with strong colors. Image size: 450x380mm. Price: $3500.
En vol / In flight (BvV 184). Original color lithograph, 1975. 100 signed and numbered impression, of which ours is n. 32/100. Image size: 460x390mm. Price: $3500.
Vif (BvV 208). Original color lithograph, 1975. 90 signed and numbered impressions, of which this is n. 17/90. Illustrated Bram van Velde Lithographies, p. 52. Image size: 320x296mm. Mat size: 20x26 inches. Price: $2000.

There is also a slightly-trimmed unsigned impression printed on the front cover of a issue of Derrière le Miroir devoted to the works of Bram van Velde. Edition size: c. 1500 (many of which live in museums, art galleries, and libraries. Image size: 320x281mm. Mat size: 20x16 inches. Price: $350.
Souvenir Duthuit (BvV 210). Original 7-color lithograph, 1975. 90 signed and numbered impressions (of which ours is n. 23/90) plus c. 1500 unsigned impressions published in the deluxe art review, Derrière le Miroir. Illustrated Bram van Velde Lithographies, p. 54. Image size: 465x660mm. Price: $3750.

Spaightwood Galleries, Inc.

To purchase, call us at 1-800-809-3343 (1-508-529-2511 in Upton MA & vicinity) or send an email to spaightwood@gmail.com.
We accept AmericanExpress, DiscoverCard, MasterCard, and Visa.
We also accept wire transfers and paypal.

For directions and visiting information, please call. We are, of course, always available over the web and by telephone (see above for contact information). Click the following for links to past shows and artists. For a visual tour of the gallery, please click here. For information about Andy Weiner and Sonja Hansard-Weiner, please click here. For a list of special offers currently available, see Specials.

All works are sold with an unconditional guarantee of authenticity (as described in our website listing).

Go back to the top of this page.

Visiting hours: Saturday 10:00 am to 5:00 pm and Sunday noon to 6:00 pm and other times by arrangement.
Please call to confirm your visit. Browsers and guests are welcome.