press release

The Kröller-Müller Museum is displaying its extensive collection of works by the Dutch artist herman de vries (1931) in the exhibition unity. The exhibition offers an overview of de vries' wide-ranging approaches and diverse media but also highlights the conceptual unity in his oeuvre spanning more than fifty years. The relationships between individual works are explored using universal themes such as 'order and chaos', 'nature and culture' and 'individuality and unity'. Recent acquisitions complement the museum's existing collection of de vries' work, including drawings, paintings, prints, reliefs, collages, earth rubbings, installations, films and numerous artist's books.

In the 1950s and '60s de vries gradually exchanged his work as a biological researcher to become an artist. In his early work de vries displayed an affinity with Informal and Zero art, but he developed a highly personal artistic vision fusing nature, art and science. For example, the works on a roadside near restinga (1978) and from earth (2007) comprise respectively collections of plants and earth samples presented with a seemingly scientific objectivity. This literal use of natural materials stems from de vries' great love and knowledge of nature, and his concept of concrete presentation. In 1993 de vries wrote: 'Nature itself is enough, and should be enough for people' thus emphasising his belief that nature requires nothing additional in order to be art.

During his many travels de vries has recorded nature and its processes and has collected earth samples and psychoactive plants. He uses these for his work on a comprehensive document bringing together knowledge about nature that would otherwise be lost. This philosophy fits with society's increasing awareness of nature and ecological issues. The thematic scope of de vries' oeuvre invites connections with such diverse subjects as quantum mechanics, Western philosophy and Buddhism.

unity affords the first opportunity to see the major work mesa (1997-2008). This collage of dozens of objects from various continents is inspired by the collections of magical objects used by South American shamans in their rituals. This extraordinary work is accompanied by a new artist's book by de vries, available from the museum shop.

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unity - herman de vries
Herman de Vries