Constant Nieuwenhuys



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Constant Nieuwenhuys Painter

Constant Nieuwenhuys pittore

Constant Nieuwenhuys, better known as Constant, was a Dutch painter and sculptor among the founders of the Cobra group. He was born in Amsterdam on 21 July 1920. Even as a child, Constant demonstrated great talent in drawing and music. At just sixteen, he painted his first work, De Emmaüsgangers , which depicts the revelation of Jesus to two of his followers at Emmaus. Unable to purchase drawing materials, Constant executed the work on a jute sugar bag with pigments that he had bought from a house painter. After a year of studies at the School of Arts and Crafts, from 1939 to 1941, Constant attended the State Academy of Fine Arts. From 1941 to 1943 he lived and worked in Bergen until that the city is not evacuated by the Germans forcing Constant and his family to return to Amsterdam. During this period, he leads a clandestine life to escape the Nazi occupation. After the war, he freely resumed his artistic activity and began to experiment with multiple techniques. In 1946 he went to Paris for the first time where he met the young Danish painter Asger Jorn with whom he formed a lasting friendship . In July 1948, Constant together with Corneille, Karel Appel and his brother Jan Nieuwenhuys founded the magazine Reflex in which he reiterated the importance of artistic research even more than the work itself. Also in 1948, on the terrace of the Notre Dame café in Paris, the founders of the magazine Reflex were joined by Christian Dotremont and Joseph Noiret from Belgium and Asger Jorn from Denmark to form the CoBrA group, a name created by Dotremont and deriving from the first letters of their hometowns: Copenhagen, Brussels and Amsterdam. The members of the group opposed aesthetics in painting and bourgeois art in general. The group exhibited in two large collective exhibitions: one in Amsterdam in 1949 and one in Liège in 1951 during which the group disbanded.
Returning to Amsterdam in the summer of 1952, Constant developed an interest in spatial architecture and three-dimensional works. In the same year, he received a scholarship from the Arts Council of Great Britain to study in London for three months. Back in Amsterdam he works on the creation of a utopian city: New Babylon , the condition of an "other" culture based on the possibility of creating in freedom. In the same period, Constant and Asger Jorn founded the Situationist International, a movement that brings together the International Movement for an Imagist Bauhaus and the Lettrist International.In 1969, Constant returned to painting, watercolor and graphics by applying the technique of colourism. Following this technique, the artist does not use charcoal or pencil sketches but applies the color directly to the canvas with the brush, building soft transitions instead of sharp outlines. The most important characteristic of this technique is the way in which light is expressed in the painting by integrating it into the color.
Constant passed away in Amsterdam on 1 August 2005.

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