Artwork

Herman de Vries
From Earth, 1985

  • Soil on paper
  • 700 x 900 x 120 cm
  • Acquired in 1985

After Herman de Vries’ monochrome white pictures, reliefs and art objects made him one of the leading figures of the Dutch avant-garde (whose artistic goals were similar to those of the German group ‘Zero’) in the early 1960s, he started integrating nature into his artworks as an authentic and autonomous document of reality in the early 1970s. Sometimes the artist collects together all the varieties of plants that he finds growing in a meadow at a particular point in time together with developing a precise plan showing their original locations, and sometimes, as he has for this artwork from earth, he rubs 260 soil samples from all over the world on a single board in a precise regular arrangement. In either case, he is treating the actual state of things as a self-expressing reality. This virtual exclusion of the artistic subject – of art itself as an intermediary – belies de Vries’ understanding of art and nature. “Art is life and reality” is de Vries’ artistic motto.

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