Geer Van Velde was born on April 5, 1898 in Lisse, a town in the Netherlands. He and his older brother Bram, who was also a painter of note, endured misery and abject poverty, when their father abandoned the family. After being apprenticed to the decorating firm Schaijk and Eduard H. Kramers, Geer moved to Paris to join his brother. Initially Geer was influenced by the Russian born French artist Marc Chagall, who was a pioneer in the art movement of modernism as well as one of the greatest figural painters of the 20th century. Geer van Velde at this juncture painted subjects from nature but then began to experiment with painting works that explored the relationship between abstract geometric shapes. Geer always remained very close to his older brother Bram. An exhibition at the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Lyon in 2010 explored how the two influenced each other in their different and diverging artistic pursuits. Together their art reflected the aesthetic issues that both confronted and revolutionized art in pre and post World War II Europe and formed a part of the École de Paris. Both brothers were intensively influenced by the Cubist movement, a style of painting from which Geer never deviated during his artistic career.
Abstraction is an exquisitely arranged work that personifies the Cubist movement that Geer van Velde embraced and made uniquely his own. By 1947 van Velde had moved from painting recognizable landscape imagery to abstract-geometric compositions in the tradition of the French Cubist painter and printmaker Jacques Villon (1875-1963). The softly modulated palette of grays, greens and whites, still reminiscent of his landscapes and figural studies, is punctuated by sharper oranges, yellows, and charcoals, all of which define the hard-edged triangles and geometric shapes precisely crafted by the assured hand of the former draughtsman who carefully studied and applied the lessons of Picasso and Braque. Additionally these cubist planes, fields, and arcs are beautifully synchronized and balanced and can be characterized as one of those canvases where “magic” happens. There is a lot of color in this work, but the different tonalities tie together cohesively in a seamless way. This carefully crafted balance of expertly positioned geometric shapes is matched only by the quality of these softly harmonized tones.
Collection of Piet Moget