The Vibrant Paintings of Bram van Velde, the “Perfect Example of Abstract Expressionism”
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Even though he lived amidst the active artistic life at the time, Prazan describes Van Velde as a “seldom character,” a shy and somewhat isolated figure who painted in a style that, contrastingly, was very vibrant and alive. Several movements emerged in France after the Second World War, such as Lyrical Abstraction, Tachism, and a continuation of Surrealism, but Van Velde did not fully find his place among these specific artists. He was a “pure gestural Abstract Expressionist, one of the very few among that group of painters,” shares Prazan. “His life centered more around his own seldom, isolated character, and his work as an artist.”
While Van Velde was less close with other painters affiliated with the second school of Paris, he developed a strong bond with writers, musicians, and music lovers instead. He was very faithful to a small, limited group of friends, including the writer Samuel Beckett, editor and collector Jacques Putman, and publisher and art dealer Aimé Maeght, who would provide him opportunities to exhibit, as well as moral and financial support. Van Velde remained unable to make a living from his art for the longest time and was no stranger to struggle coming from a modest family that fell into hardship. Not until Van Velde was in his sixties did he gain recognition and reach a peak in his career. Confirming Van Velde’s talent, according to Prazan, “it was quite late. He started as a young man, so he had lived an entire life already. He was not the person to promote his work; this took meeting the right people at the right time.” The painting Untitled (1964) was created during the highpoint of the artist’s career and presents another exceptional feature of Van Velde’s work by being one of the very few large-sized paintings— to Prazan’s knowledge the artist created only four paintings of such dimensions.