Designing Modernism: Henry van de Velde from Neo-Impressionism to the Bauhaus


ACLS Fellowship Program


Art and Art History


This book examines the work of Henry van de Velde, a painter, designer and architect who worked in Belgium, France, and Germany. In the decades before World War I, van de Velde developed an abstract formal vocabulary that proved seminal to both painterly modernism and an activist, engaged avant-garde. Expanding modernist painterly aesthetics beyond Paris and beyond painting, he designed museums, schools, private homes, and theater buildings, and he worked with manufacturers to render their products more competitive in international markets. Fine and applied art schools that he designed and directed became sites of pedagogical reforms that helped shape the Bauhaus, which opened in 1919 in van de Velde's school buildings. This study examines individual projects in light of modernist debates surrounding individualism, consumer culture, national identity, and the Total Work of Art.