Exhibition at the Royal Library of Belgium, 26 September – 30 November 2013
In 2013 it is exactly 150 years ago since Henry van de Velde (1863-1957) was born in Antwerp, Belgium. The Centre for Flemish Architectural Archives (Flemish Architecture Institute) and the Royal Library have compiled a selection of letters of the designer and his architectural correspondents. Van de Velde mainly received and wrote these letters during his so-called “second Belgian period” from c. 1926 until 1947 and during the last ten years of his life in Switzerland. Correspondents include Alvar Aalto, H.P. Berlage, Walter Gropius, Le Corbusier, Eric Mendelsohn and many others.
The major Henry Van de Velde retrospective which opened last month at the Cinquantenaire Museum (KMKG) in Brussels, offers a long-expected comprehensive overview of the artist’s work and career. The present exhibition Henry van de Velde. Letters of architects however, opens up other, more intimate perspectives on Henry van de Velde. The letters show a Van de Velde with great empathy and concern for his correspondents, who writes long and personal letters. Even at the most difficult times and almost until the last day of his life he continued, moreover, to be interested in contemporary developments in architecture and formulated strong opinions on this subject.
Henry van de Velde’s letters are a brilliant and amazingly authentic testimony of his sustained effort to pursue the mission which he had set himself at the end of the nineteenth century, to fundamentally renew architecture and the applied arts. His correspondents’ letters, in turn, point to the widespread recognition of Henry van de Velde as a key figure of great significance for the development of twentieth-century modern architecture. A copy of Le Corbusier’s Ville radieuse, with a dedication to Van de Velde as “pionnier”, is only one of many testimonies of respect and friendship of the architectural modernist avant-garde, on show in the Royal Library.
Entrance to the exhibition is free. The exhibition is open from Monday to Saturday, 9 am – 5 pm (closed on 1, 2, 11, 15 and 16 November).
Please find more information and the exhibition’s visitor’s guide on the English pages of www.vai.be, the website of the Flemish Architecture Institute: www.vai.be/en/event/exhibition-henry-van-de-velde-letters-of-architects
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