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Archive of herman de vries transferred to RKD

The extensive archive of herman de vries, one of the leading artists of the ZERO group, has been transferred from his house in Eschenau, Bavaria, to the RKD – Netherlands Institute for Art History. Over the coming years the archive will be made available for research. 


Natural materials

herman de vries was one of the founding members of the ZERO movement, which was set up in 1961 by a group of Dutch artists who strove to distil the real world in their art, reducing it to its essence, and avoiding context. Their work was typically monochrome, featuring repeating patterns and made with unconventional art materials. Other exponents of the movement were Jan Schoonhoven, Henk Peeters and Armando. Originally a horticulturist by training, herman de vries, uses primarily natural materials – earth, grass, collections of plants with special properties – to make his art. In so doing he underlines the relationship between man and nature.


Drugs archive

The comprehensive 'drugs archive' – documentation on the hallucinogenic and mind-altering effects of plants – constitutes only a small part of de vries’s vast archive. From his notes, correspondence and project plans as well as his carefully documented research into nature and the natural environment we learn a great deal about his investigative and associative working method. He worked with numerous well-known colleagues; the papers include the correspondence with the American artist James Lee Byars (1932-1997). The archive presents a rich picture of de vries as a person, his interests and the development of his oeuvre.

Professor Chris Stolwijk, General Director of the RKD, comments: "By acquiring herman de vries’s archive and making it available to the public, we can give a huge boost to the research into his work in the context of the Zero group. The RKD is thrilled that the artist has entrusted this special archive to us."

André Smits, herman de vries, Eschenau 5 July 2016. © RKD