herman de vries Dutch, b. 1931


The early work of herman de vries (*1931) consists of collages of found material, such as a layer of posters torn off the wall. He uses the denominator 'collages trouvés', referring to the 'objets trouvés' by Marcel Duchamp. Later in the 1950s he starts painting in white, gray and black tones. These loose, unimaginative works can be counted as material painting. Around 1960 de vries only works with white paint. His early work is therefore close to Informal art from the same period. In 1961 de vries, together with Armando and Henk Peeters from the Nul group, founded the magazine nul = 0. After two editions, however, the editors disintegrate and de vries continues the magazine two more issues alone. In the meantime, he has exchanged his job as a botanist for a job as a biological researcher at the Institute for Applied Biological Research in Nature (ITBON) in Arnhem. He now uses probability as an important visual tool in his work. This results in working with randomly placed blocks, dots and letters.


In 1970 de vries moved to the Bavarian village of Eschenau (near Knetzgau) and from that time nature and Eastern ways of thinking are important elements in his work. Change and temporary arrangements such as those prevailing in nature are expressed, for example, in works with fallen tree leaves or in a report of an investigation into plants found on a limited piece of grassland.


From the eighties onwards, the emphasis in his work has been on the disturbed relationship between man and nature, which, according to de vries, threatens to lose an important source of knowledge. In books he documents a large collection of herbs and crops, in works on paper he uses different types of soil as a pigment and he also exhibits grasses, fragrant rose petals and plants with a hallucinatory effect. In addition to a large number of artists' books, de vries also makes photos, films and text works.


In 2015, herman de vries represented the Netherlands at the Venice Biennale with the exhibition to be all ways to be.


"my work is very versatile. in all aspects it is about awareness, awareness processes. chance & change is such a pair of concepts that has a lot to offer. nature knows no repetition. a development never takes place under the same circumstances. for example, there is influence of temperature, light, radiation from the sun, ventilation, humidity, and so on. these differences can be clearly observed and experienced in a series. the work with all the leaves of one plant also shows how different a development of parts of an individual can end. chance and change connected with chance (= random). " herman de vries - eschenau, 1 december 2015