.Bram Van Velde

Bram Van Velde, Composition, 1960, oil on canvas, 130 x192 cm.

Bram Van Velde, Composition, 1960, oil on canvas, 130 x192 cm.

“This light that we sometimes reach for, we don’t keep it in our pocket. We lose it immediately. You have to start looking for it each time. » Another autonomous work which follows the sole whims of its creator, that of Bram van Velde (1895-1981), brother of Geer who exhibited in 1947 at the Galerie Maeght. An interior and uncompromising work which obeys, if we must look for its origins, the post-cubist aesthetics of the two wars. We can also find its roots in Matisse or Munch. Colorful masses haunt his paintings and nothing remains in the face of the mystery of color.

Over the years Bram van Velde deepens, refines, makes sound the adventure of color. Its materials, all in clarified repentance, palpitate. With him everything is thought out, laid out, without precipitation.

The work lends itself wonderfully to the superposition of inks so he develops a superb engraved work, whether to illustrate the DLM or create a poster for Aimé Maeght. He participates in the adventure of the poetry magazine "Ephémère", illustrates large original editions including one with a text by Samuel Beckett, his friend.

“Everything Bram Van Velde painted
All he clothed in rains and corroded hearts
The night recognizes him
With its needles of hope
And its ashes wet with spit.”
Fernando Arrabal, Behind the Looking Glass, 1975

Bram Van Velde, Samuel Beckett and Aimé Maeght
Bram Van Velde, Samuel Beckett and Aimé Maeght
Bram van Velde Poster Maeght Barcelona
Geer Van Velde and his wife with Aimé Maeght, opening of the Tal Coat exhibition, Paris, 1972.
Geer Van Velde and his wife with Aimé Maeght, opening of the Tal Coat exhibition, Paris, 1972.


1895 - Bram van Velde was born on October 19 in Zoeterwoude, near Leiden. He is the second child of four siblings: his sister, Cornelia, was born in 1892; in 1898 Geer was born, who was also a painter, then, in 1903, Jacoba, who became a writer.

The father, a bankrupt entrepreneur, abandons his family who will fall into poverty.

1907 - At the end of primary school, Bram joined a painting and interior decoration firm in The Hague as an apprentice, whose bosses, the Kramers father and son, encouraged and supported his artistic talent.

1922 Financially supported by Kramers, Bram goes to Munich, then to Worpswede, north of Bremen, where a colony of artists, founded in 1890, with expressionist tendencies, introduced him to modernity.

1924 - Leaving Worpswede, Bram settles in Paris then, the following year, in Bellevue, near Meudon.

1927 - After exhibiting in Bremen, then in Berlin, Bram is admitted, with his brother Geer, for the first time to the Salon des Indépendants in Paris.

1928 - Bram marries Lilly [Sophie Caroline] Klöker, German painter. The couple's living conditions were difficult: after stays on the Côte d'Azur, in Corsica (in 1930), and a return to Paris (1931), they chose to settle in Spain in 1932.

1936 - The Spanish Civil War breaks out. His wife, Lilly, dies in hospital; he was repatriated to Marseille and returned to Paris in complete destitution. He was hosted for a time by his brother Geer, then moved to Montrouge in 1937, with a new partner, Marthe [Kuntz] Arnaud. In 1939, Bram painted the first of three large gouaches which would establish the autonomy of his visual language.

1947 - Bram signs a five-year contract with the Maeght gallery in Paris, an agreement which ends a difficult ten years. Despite the encouragement provided by friends such as Samuel Beckett, a Dutch collector named Regnault, Jean Bouret, Édouard Loeb, Christian Zervos, Marcel Michaud, his first solo exhibition at the gallery in Paris, had been a failure.

1949 - Bram van Velde meets Jacques Putman (1926-1994), the art publisher who will become his mentor and friend.

1952 - Another commercial failure during the exhibition at the Maeght gallery. However, Aimé chose to buy the entire exhibition from him.

1958 - Franz Meyer organizes Bram van Velde's first museum exhibition, a retrospective at the Kunsthalle Bern. Bram and Marthe leave Paris for Provence.

1959 - Hit by a car, Marthe dies in Paris on August 11. Bram moved to Tardais, with Jacques Putman, to prepare the retrospective offered to him by the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. Jan Krugier and his first wife, Vivette Spierer, invite Bram to stay with them. They will play an important role in this period of his life. Bram spent Christmas in Geneva where he met Madeleine Spierer, also a painter, who would become his companion.

1960 - Bram van Velde lives in Paris with Jacques Putman. Until 1965, when he decided to settle in Geneva, he made frequent trips between the two countries.

1964 - France named Bram van Velde a knight in the Order of Arts and Letters. First meeting between Bram van Velde and the writer Charles Juliet.

1965 - Bram moves in with Madeleine Spierer, in La Chapelle-sur-Carouge.

1967 - Bram van Velde is officially domiciled in Geneva. He undertook a lithographic production which would number four hundred issues at his death.

1969 - Bram creates a series of Indian ink washes. Holland awarded him the Order of Orange-Nassau.

1970 - After dividing himself between his workshop in Carouge and Madeleine's house, Bram chose to work in the garage of the villa in La Chapelle-sur-Carouge. The Paris Museum of Modern Art is organizing its first French retrospective (repeat at the Rath Museum, Geneva)

1975 - Bram van Velde receives the Prix de Belles-Lettres, awarded by the Academic Societies of Lausanne, Geneva and Neuchâtel. Its eightieth anniversary marks the release of a monograph written by Jacques Putman and Charles Juliet. The Geneva Museum of Art and History acquires six paintings.

1977 - Bram leaves Geneva, following a breakup with Madeleine. He moved to Paris with Jacques Putman, but spent the summer in Arles then in Grimaud, where he settled permanently in 1980, the year he was knighted in the Order of the Icelandic Falcon.

1981 - Bram van Velde died in Grimaud on December 28. On December 30, he was buried in the old cemetery of Arles, in the Béraud vault. Bram van Velde died the same year as Aimé, after 33 years of collaboration and friendship.

Bram van Velde Poster

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