CONSTANT Dutch, 1920-2005
Constant (Constant A. Nieuwenhuys) is one of Holland's most important and innovative artists from the post-war period. He was co-founder of the international CoBrA movement, initiator and inventor of his visionary New Babylon projects in the fifties and sixties, a revolutionary artist in the seventies during the Vietnam war, but also a vibrant, almost romantic colourist in his major late paintings.
After his time as co-founder of the painters' movement CoBrA (1948-1952), in 1952 Constant leaves for London. Here he witnesses the urban development challenges and possible solutions for this war-ravaged city. He meets Henry Moore, Ben Nicholson, Barbara Hepworth and Victor Pasmore amongst others, whose influence changes his direction. His London residency remains crucial for his future work in which social architecture plays a key role.
Back in The Netherlands he works with the architects Aldo van Eyck and Gerrit Rietveld. He likewise fosters and maintains his many international contacts, which also include those with the Danish artist Asger Jorn. Constant becomes ever more convinced that a new social and cultural order will advance the cause of humanity. His visionary spirit anticipates that the automation of production will provide mankind with increasing amounts of free time (thereby creating scope for the "Homo Ludens", the man who is playful and creative) and that this futuristic view would become feasible in what, from 1960, is to be known as New Babylon. This vision is what will dominate his oeuvre from that moment on. He creates drawings, models, photo collages, plans, constructions and paintings. In addition, he substantiates New Babylon with numerous written works, talks and lectures in various countries. The social and political turbulence of the sixties threatens to turn New Babylon into a utopia: the New Babylon project stops in 1974.
Like so many artists worldwide, Constant was deeply affected by the Vietnam war, moving into a more revolutionary and political direction by creating an extraordinary group of collages. Likewise, in the early nineties he makes a series of paintings based on the horrors of the Balkan war.
'Radical Changes' could be Constant's life motto.
CONSTANTThe Bear Leader / De Berenleider , c. 1984Watercolour on paper21.5 x 28.7 cm
8 1/2 x 11 3/8 inches
CONSTANTLola de Valence, 2000Watercolour on paper55 x 40 cm
21 5/8 x 15 3/4 inches
CONSTANTThe Philosopher / De Filosoof, 1999Watercolour on paper51 x 42 cm
20 x 16 1/2 inches
CONSTANTJunkies, 1994Oil on linen185 x 194 cm
72 7/8 x 76 3/8 inches
CONSTANTOrpheus I, 1981Oil on linen105 x 100 cm
41 3/8 x 39 3/8 inches
CONSTANTThe Lion Tamer / La Dompteuse, 1981Watercolour on paper73 x 70 cm
28 3/4 x 27 1/2 inches
CONSTANTHappening, 1973Oil on canvas139.8 x 130 cm
55 1/8 x 51 1/8 inches
CONSTANTNixon Has to Do Something / Nixon musste etwas tun, 1972Newspaper clippings on paper63.5 x 46 cm
25 x 18 1/8 inches
CONSTANTAre You Next / Sind Sie bei der nächsten, 1972Newspaper clippings on paper41.9 x 30.3 cm
16 1/2 x 11 7/8 inches
CONSTANTBombs on Hospital / Bommen op ziekenhuis, 1972Paint, chalk and newspaper clippings on paper91 x 103 cm
35 7/8 x 40 1/2 inches
CONSTANTLife / Das Leben, 1972Newspaper clippings on paper38.8 x 26.8 cm
15 1/4 x 10 1/2 inches
CONSTANTThe Small Pleasures / Die kleinen Freuden, 1972Newspaper clippings on paper41.9 x 30.9 cm
16 1/2 x 12 1/8 inches
CONSTANTFigures in the Snow / Mensen in de sneeuw, 1971Washed ink on paper74.5 x 104 cm
29 3/8 x 41 inches
CONSTANTHomo Ludens, 1967Watercolour on paper109 x 132 cm
42 7/8 x 52 inches
CONSTANTObservatory / Observatorium (II) / Construction in green and white, 1956Construction of perspex and brass52 x 48.5 x 48.5 cm
20 1/2 x 19 1/8 x 19 1/8 inches
CONSTANTDe Stier II / Composition / Compositie , 1952Oil on linen130 x 97.5 cm
51 1/8 x 38 3/8 inches
CONSTANTCat / Kat, 1949Oil on linen99.7 x 60.5 cm
39 1/4 x 23 7/8 inches