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UAL Research Online

Herman de Vries: chance and change

Gooding, Mel (2006) Herman de Vries: chance and change. Thames and Hudson. ISBN 978-0500093276

Type of Research: Book
Creators: Gooding, Mel

This is the first monograph on the work of the Dutch conceptual artist, ecologist and writer-publisher, also published in German. The purpose of the monograph is to map the coherence of every aspect of de Vries’ projects and activities, and to demonstrate the philosophical basis of an art that has ecological, political and metaphysical implications.

The prologue defines the artistic project of de Vries as pre-eminently concerned with the central problematic of human being within the natural world, and distinguishes it in critical terms from those of other artists who work with and in relation to nature. The first section of the book chronologically traces de Vries’ background as botanical scientist, and his development as a conceptual artist working with abstract mathematical issues of randomness and objectivity.

The following sections’, necessarily inter-related, arrangement is determined by de Vries’ modus operandi, and its connections with specific places and projects. ‘at eschenau’ deals with his life and work at his home in Northern Bavaria, close to the Steigerwald forest he describes as ‘his studio’. It describes and analyses the works made there: of found natural objects; earth rubbings; the cultivation, as a work of art, of his ‘meadow’, etc. It further discusses his philosophy and aesthetic in relation to historical precedents (Dürer, the Limbourg brothers, Thoreau, the poetics of Rilke etc.). ‘journeys and projects’ is concerned with the philosophical, historical and political discoveries of de Vries as traveller, photographer, publisher, creator of ‘the earth museum’, and as compiler of natural relations, his encyclopaedic treatment of ‘mind-moving’ plants and their derivatives. The final section describes and analyses his various interventions in the alpine country around Digne in Haute Provence, discussing his work there in relation to earlier methodologies of botany and geology, and to the seminal philosophical differences between Descartes and Gassendi.

Publisher/Broadcaster/Company: Thames and Hudson
Your affiliations with UAL: Other Affiliations > RAE 2008
Colleges > Wimbledon College of Arts
Date: 2006
Date Deposited: 27 Nov 2009 13:37
Last Modified: 20 Sep 2010 13:55
Item ID: 1828
URI: https://ualresearchonline.arts.ac.uk/id/eprint/1828

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