Constant Dutch, 1920-2005


Together with contemporaries, Corneille and Karel Appel, Constant (1920-2005) founds the Experimentele Groep Holland in July 1948. CoBrA is subsequently formed in Paris in November 1948. Constant becomes known as the theorist of CoBrA due to his many writings on the role of art and culture in relation to society. An exhibition in Liège in November 1951 sees the decision to disband the group. The spirit of CoBrA, however, has its followers among other artists until the end of the twentieth century. After a relatively brief CoBrA period Constant goes in search for the synthesis of the arts. He actively seeks collaboration with other artists from different disciplines. Between 1958 and 1960 Constant is an active member of the avant-garde Situationist International movement (SI), established by Guy Débord.


At one point this quest finds expression in his project New Babylon. Between 1956 and 1974 his designs as a visual artist include maquettes, constructions, sculptures, geographic maps with sectors, paintings and drawings. The design is for the future city that will encompass the whole world. According to the artist New Babylon is not a model that should be imitated, but rather an illustration of a way of life in a hypothesized society. This way of life is Nomadic in principle. People travel the world leaving tracks that can form a network, sectors of New Babylon. A city as a network of sectors. Man the player (Homo Ludens) and man the creator are at the centre. This city is not intended for a utilitarian, function-oriented society. Architects all over the world continue to regard the New Babylon project as a significant source of inspiration to this day.


After the completion of his New Babylon project Constant starts to paint again. He pursues his visual experiments to create space and depth using colour. This technique, known as colorism, has been used by artists such as Titian, Delacroix and Cézanne, all of whom Constant greatly admired.