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Robert Zandvliet

Anatomy of Color

Essay

Robert Zandvliet in front of his painting Griis, 2020, at his studio in Haarlem, Netherlands, 2021

Peter Blum Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition of new paintings by Robert Zandvliet entitled, Anatomy of Color at 176 Grand Street, New York. This is the artist’s sixth solo exhibition with the gallery. There will be an opening reception on Saturday, March 20, from 10am - 6pm and it runs through May 15, 2021.

Throughout Robert Zandvliet’s oeuvre, his paintings created primarily in egg tempera have depicted subjects including abstracted landscapes and quotidian objects. Zandvliet’s characteristically muted and dense palette has largely been a result of his chosen imagery. To gain more insight into his own use of color, Zandvliet’s newest series of paintings entitled, Anatomy of Color probes the properties and essence of color itself. The artist began these investigations into color theory by concentrating on the lectures of Rudolf Steiner, and specifically the philosopher’s assertion that color is under no circumstances ever real, but always an image of something more tangible. Departing from Zandvliet’s usual approach, the artist now aims to find what he terms “the color’s body,” or the shape in which a particular color is optimally manifested.

In the seven new paintings of the exhibition, each one in the same large-format of 84 x 106 inches (213 x 270 cm), Zandvliet takes a single color as its starting point and develops a unique approach in finding its ideal form. In Tangerine, the artist visualizes the color orange through the form of a sun set adrift among clouds of unpainted linen, while in Bumblebee the blur of a speeding taxi creates a diagonal band of yellow in motion, and in Azure a vivid blue sky is crisscrossed with two condensation trails and a corner of architecture forming a distinctive perspective. These works intend to heighten the capacity to interpret and perceive the form of color.

CV

Robert Zandvliet's studio, Haarlem, Netherlands, 2021

Robert Zandvliet (b. Terband, Netherlands, 1970) lives and works in Haarlem, Netherlands. He received an MFA from De Ateliers, Amsterdam, Netherlands (1994). Solo exhibitions include Dordrechts Museum, Netherlands (2019); De Pont Museum, Tilburg, Netherlands (2014, 2005, 1997); Gemeentemuseum, The Hague, Netherlands (2012); Kunstmuseum Bonn, Germany (2005); Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, Netherlands (2001); Neues Kunstmuseum, Lucerne, Switzerland (2001); Musée d’art moderne et contemporain, Strasbourg, France (2000). Public collections include Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, Netherlands; Kunstmuseum Luzern, Switzerland; Musée d’art moderne et contemporain, Strasbourg, France; Gemeentemuseum, The Hague, Netherlands; Kunstmuseum Bonn, Germany; Museum Voorlinden, Wassenaar, Netherlands; Museum de Pont, Tilburg, Netherlands; Dordrechts Museum, Netherlands. He is a recipient of the Prix de Rome (1994).



"When I look at the past twenty years, my work is an ongoing investigation. I've ruled out things for myself because they might not be possible. But I always have to revise myself. See if I can't do anything with it. Whether I can possibly regain that excluded territory by re-exploring it. Then you sometimes run into your own limitations, inability, and dogmas."

— Robert Zandvliet

 

Robert Zandvliet Griis, 2020

Robert Zandvliet
Griis, 2020
Egg tempera on linen
83 7/8 x 106 1/4 inches (213 x 270 cm)

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Robert Zandvliet Linde, 2021

Robert Zandvliet
Linde, 2021
Egg tempera on cotton
83 7/8 x 106 1/4 inches (213 x 270 cm)

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Robert Zandvliet Ebony, 2020

Robert Zandvliet
Ebony, 2020
Egg tempera on linen
83 7/8 x 106 1/4 inches (213 x 270 cm)

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Robert Zandvliet Tangerine, 2019

Robert Zandvliet
Tangerine, 2019
Acrylic and egg tempera on linen
83 7/8 x 106 1/4 inches (213 x 270 cm)

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Robert Zandvliet Azure, 2020

Robert Zandvliet
Azure, 2020
Egg tempera, spray paint and oil stick on cotton
83 7/8 x 106 1/4 inches (213 x 270 cm)

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Robert Zandvliet Tan, 2020

Robert Zandvliet
Tan, 2020
Egg tempera and oil on linen
83 7/8 x 106 1/4 inches (213 x 270 cm)

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Robert Zandvliet Bumblebee, 2020

Robert Zandvliet
Bumblebee, 2020
Egg tempera on linen
83 7/8 x 106 1/4 inches (213 x 270 cm)

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Robert Zandvliet Untitled, 2019

Robert Zandvliet
Untitled, 2019
Egg tempera on linen
24 3/4 x 28 3/8 inches (63 x 72 cm)
(RZ2019/31)

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Robert Zandvliet Untitled, 2019

Robert Zandvliet
Untitled, 2019
Egg tempera on linen
24 3/4 x 28 3/8 inches (63 x 72 cm)
(RZ2019/30)

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Robert Zandvliet Untitled, 2020

Robert Zandvliet
Untitled, 2020
Egg tempera on linen
24 3/4 x 28 3/8 inches (63 x 72 cm)
(RZ2020/13)

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Robert Zandvliet Untitled, 2020

Robert Zandvliet
Untitled, 2020
Egg tempera on linen
24 3/4 x 28 3/8 inches (63 x 72 cm)
(RZ2020/29)

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Robert Zandvliet Untitled, 2020

Robert Zandvliet
Untitled, 2020
Egg tempera on linen
24 3/4 x 28 3/8 inches (63 x 72 cm)
(RZ2020/30)

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Robert Zandvliet Untitled, 2020

Robert Zandvliet
Untitled, 2020
Egg tempera on linen
24 3/4 x 28 3/8 inches (63 x 72 cm)
(RZ2020/16)

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Robert Zandvliet Untitled, 2020

Robert Zandvliet
Untitled, 2020
Egg tempera on linen
24 3/4 x 28 3/8 inches (63 x 72 cm)
(RZ2020/12)

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Robert Zandvliet Untitled, 2019

Robert Zandvliet
Untitled, 2019
Egg tempera and oil on paper
9 1/2 x 12 1/4 inches (24 x 31 cm)
(RZ19-05)

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Robert Zandvliet Untitled, 2019

Robert Zandvliet
Untitled, 2019
Egg tempera and oil on paper
9 1/2 x 12 1/4 inches (24 x 31 cm)
(RZ19-08)

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Robert Zandvliet Untitled, 2018

Robert Zandvliet
Untitled, 2018
Egg tempera and oil on paper
9 1/2 x 12 1/4 inches (24 x 31 cm)
(RZ18-09)

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Robert Zandvliet Untitled, 2019

Robert Zandvliet
Untitled, 2019
Egg tempera and oil on paper
9 1/2 x 12 1/4 inches (24 x 31 cm)
(RZ19-03)

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Griis

Robert Zandvliet
Griis, 2020
Egg tempera on linen
83 7/8 x 106 1/4 inches (213 x 270 cm)

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Griis Quote

Robert Zandvliet in his studio, Haarlem, Netherlands, 2021

Griis means ‘gray’ in Frisian. My motives for making this painting are more personal. I was born in the countryside of Friesland in the north of the Netherlands. When I was young, every morning we had to bike to school, and I remember the foggy gray sunrises. Everything disappeared in the fog and different grays were the illuminating light. I wanted to make a gray painting that is not depressing, but instead is colorful and uplifting. I tried to find the right balance between the different grays, the ultramarine-violet over sea green in the foreground, and ultramarine-pink over yellowish white in the background. By slowly painting over these colors many times, the image of the trees reflecting in the water disappears into a soft gray monochrome.”

— Robert Zandvliet on Griis

Linde

Robert Zandvliet
Linde, 2021
Egg tempera on cotton
83 7/8 x 106 1/4 inches (213 x 270 cm)

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Linde Quote

View of Linde in Robert Zandvliet's studio, Haarlem, Netherlands, 2021

"In my studio I have several African linden plants. In the spring they grow fresh leaves and I love the bright and sparkling color of them. For the painting, I offer a closeup of a single leaf without the edges of it visible, so instead the focus is on its veins. I like the idea that the veins also create the image of a tree. It was important to me to find the correct micro and macro structures in the green. In the Netherlands we have a color that is called linde groen, and a linde is also a tree."

— Robert Zandvliet on Linde

Ebony

Robert Zandvliet
Ebony, 2020
Egg tempera on linen
83 7/8 x 106 1/4 inches (213 x 270 cm)

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Ebony Quote

Notes in Robert Zandvliet's studio, Haarlem, Netherlands, 2021

“After painting the lighter-colored Inkarnaat, it was clear to me that I wanted to make a dark juxtaposition. I appreciate the hue of a very black surface, and especially when you can sometimes see a blueish shine in it, an almost metallic color. That is the reason why I chose to make the background shape in the middle of the painting with a metallic graphite pigment, to relate this feeling. It lightens up the blue and softens the main color of the image, black.”

— Robert Zandvliet on Ebony

Tangerine

Robert Zandvliet
Tangerine, 2019
Acrylic and egg tempera on linen
83 7/8 x 106 1/4 inches (213 x 270 cm)

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Tangerine Quote

Reference images in Robert Zandvliet's studio, Haarlem, Netherlands, 2021

“The image of Tangerine is influenced by the Milton Avery painting, Tangerine Moon and Wine Dark Sea. I love the idea that his moon is also the shape of a tangerine wedge, and that both are orange. For my painting since only a small part of it is orange, it took me a while to figure out how to find the correct background color. Eventually, it became very important that two-thirds of the painting remain unpainted linen, representing clouds. This area creates the correct tension for the painting; the non-color of the linen lets the orange drift and also emphasizes it.”

— Robert Zandvliet on Tangerine

Azure

Robert Zandvliet
Azure, 2020
Egg tempera, spray paint and oil stick on cotton
83 7/8 x 106 1/4 inches (213 x 270 cm)

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Azure Quote

Studies in Robert Zandvliet's studio, Haarlem, Netherlands, 2021

“In this work I wanted to paint an azure-colored sky. In order to make the sky visible and not an abstract, blue monochrome, I depicted condensation trails and a corner of architecture. The crossing of the condensation trails creates a particular perspective point and gives the viewer a direction to look above. The color is denser and more intense in the center of the painting and thenfades away to the edges.”

— Robert Zandvliet on Azure

Tan

Robert Zandvliet
Tan, 2020
Egg tempera and oil on linen
83 7/8 x 106 1/4 inches (213 x 270 cm)

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Tan Quote

Robert Zandvliet's studio, Haarlem, Netherlands, 2021

“I wanted to make a painting that visualized a tan hue, but it was particularly difficult to find the right image to represent it. When I researched oak bark, I found that it was used for tanning leather in the past. The word tanning in English is from the medieval Latin word tannum, or oak bark, and so I decided to use this as the image. The difficult part is that tan hues are dull and undefined. Thus, I painted the trunk in the center of the image with dark contours and the oak bark with oil paint to give the color more power and presence. The background with the vertical lines I painted with egg tempera because it has a softer and more translucent quality. I like the bold and unapproachable directness of the composition; it’s clear that it wasn’t painted to please the viewer.”

— Robert Zandvliet on Tan

Bumblebee

Robert Zandvliet
Bumblebee, 2020
Egg tempera on linen
83 7/8 x 106 1/4 inches (213 x 270 cm)

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Bumblebee Quote

Robert Zandvliet working on the mural, Aan 't Groothoofd, Dordrechts Museum, Dordrecht, Netherlands, 2019

"The color yellow always wants to leave the surface and it doesn’t like to be bordered by other colors. In this painting, I show the image of a yellow cab viewed from above that is crossing the painting diagonally. The cab is just at that point where your eye cannot grasp the yellow anymore because the whole image has this speed. For several weeks I worked on the different shades of yellow to make it either softer, brighter, more reddish-yellow, sharper, or more out of focus. Because of the reddish-yellow in combination with the black of the cab window and the idea of speed, I titled it Bumblebee."

— Robert Zandvliet on Bumblebee




“To Zandvliet, the history of art was not a great, obligatory model: it was simply everything that was there, to be used at his own discretion.”

— Rudi Fuchs, Robert Zandvliet - Brushwood, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, Netherlands, 2006

2019 31

Robert Zandvliet
Untitled, 2019
Egg tempera on linen
24 3/4 x 28 3/8 inches (63 x 72 cm)
(RZ2019/31)

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Quote

Installation of Robert Zandvliet - Brushwood, Neues Kunstmuseum Luzern, Switzerland, 2001

​“Zandvliet uses wide brushes to create the impulses towards movement and changes of direction in his paintings. By himself mixing the pigments with egg, water, and linseed oil, he controls the consistency of the tempera paint, which does not become tangible as material and mass but instead is applied in a quite liquid state, whether opaque or transparent. Thus it permits loose movements which bring together impressions of power and lightness.”

— Volker Adolphs, Beyond the Horizon, Kunstmuseum Bonn, Germany; De Pont Museum Tilburg, Netherlands, 2006

2019 30

Robert Zandvliet
Untitled, 2019
Egg tempera on linen
24 3/4 x 28 3/8 inches (63 x 72 cm)
(RZ2019/30)

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Quote

Installation of I owe you the truth in painting, Robert Zandvliet, Gemeentemuseum, The Hague, Netherlands, 2012

"His style leans heavily on the use of spalter brushes ranging from about eight inches to a foot wide, with which he makes short, sharp brushstrokes on the canvas. This signature 'Zandvliet stroke' is central to many of his works, keeping the composition airy and preventing the canvas from getting too crowded, as well as disrupting painterly illusion and thereby, at times allowing the artist to stake out a critical distance from his models."

— Hans den Hartog Jager, "Robert Zandvliet at Gemeentemuseum, The Hague," Artforum, October 2012

2020 13

Robert Zandvliet
Untitled, 2020
Egg tempera on linen
24 3/4 x 28 3/8 inches (63 x 72 cm)
(RZ2020/13)
 

Quote

Installation of Dawn to Dusk, Dordrechts Museum, Dordrecht, Netherlands, 2019

"Two conditions are fundamental to the conception of Robert Zandvliet’s work: ‘landscape’ is a topological concept that may look back onto a long tradition of landscape painting. Zandvliet starts from the topological concept and not from the topography of a landscape. But even outside the context of art, landscape today is an extremely determinate motif that appears as a fragment of rendered reality in quite different contexts and areas of life."

— Andreas Fiedler, Robert Zandvliet - Brushwood, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, 2006

2020 29

Robert Zandvliet
Untitled, 2020
Egg tempera on linen
24 3/4 x 28 3/8 inches (63 x 72 cm)
(RZ2020/29)
 

Quote

Installation of Robert Zandvliet - Brushwood, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, Netherlands, 2001

"I feel connected to the Dutch tradition: it’s part of my nature, it’s the language that I understand. And I do recognize it. In the use of white, for instance - the white of Vermeer, of Weissenbruch, of Mondriaan, and even of De Kooning - it’s a white that has a spatial quality. I can’t really describe it…. It’s a place where the air can get through."

— Robert Zandvliet

2020 30

Robert Zandvliet
Untitled, 2020
Egg tempera on linen
24 3/4 x 28 3/8 inches (63 x 72 cm)
(RZ2020/30)

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Small Painting Quote 1

Installation of Robert Zandvliet - Beyond the Horizon - Paintings 1994-2005, Kunstmuseum Bonn, Germany, 2005

“This is the reason why, when we apply the inanimate paint to a surface, we must, as it were, get the light behind the surface: we must spiritualize the whole surface and create a secret inner radiance. I mean, we must try to get the downward-streaming planetary influence behind the surface on which we paint the picture, so that the painting gives us organically the impression of the essential, not merely of the pictorial; and so it will depend on imparting the spiritual to the colors in order to paint inanimate nature.”

— Rudolf Steiner, lecture in Dornach, Switzerland, 1921

2020 16

Robert Zandvliet
Untitled, 2020
Egg tempera on linen
24 3/4 x 28 3/8 inches (63 x 72 cm)
(RZ2020/16)

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Quote

Mural by Robert Zandvliet, Aan 't Groothoofd, 2019-20, Dordrechts Museum, Dordrecht, Netherlands

Robert Zandvliet developed the mural Aan 't Groothoofd as a site-specific work for the Dordrechts Museum in the Netherlands. Created between 2019-2020, it extends over a convex wall of more than 50 meters (164 feet). After consulting paintings in the museum’s collection, Zandvliet continued his investigations into the medium’s history and possibilities, and sought to create a connection between it and the museum as well as the city. The resulting mural is a panoramic water scene with a progression of colors changing from the light of morning to the dark of evening as a viewer walks along its length.

2020 12

Robert Zandvliet
Untitled, 2020
Egg tempera on linen
24 3/4 x 28 3/8 inches (63 x 72 cm)
(RZ2020/12)

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Quote

Installation of Robert Zandvliet - Stones & Sketches, De Pont Museum, Tilburg, Netherlands, 2014

"In the end, I am always looking for that one image, that one form...I want to create a form that can tolerate any content, the perfect form, in a way. That may always remain my quest. And indeed, perhaps that is somewhere in objects such as a moon, a cloud or a stone, which on the one hand seem almost nothing, but can also encompass everything. I hope, of course, that my images become more and more bare, free of the irrelevant. That I'll keep on getting closer to the essence."

— Robert Zandvliet



"There is something magical about painting. The transformed image on the canvas is always both an illusion and an abstraction of reality."

— Robert Zandvliet

Text/Image Two Column

2

Robert Zandvliet
Untitled, 2019
Egg tempera and oil on paper
9 1/2 x 12 1/4 inches (24 x 31 cm)
(RZ19-05)

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2

Robert Zandvliet
Untitled, 2019
Egg tempera and oil on paper
9 1/2 x 12 1/4 inches (24 x 31 cm)
(RZ19-08)

Inquire

1

Robert Zandvliet
Untitled, 2018
Egg tempera and oil on paper
9 1/2 x 12 1/4 inches (24 x 31 cm)
(RZ18-09)

Inquire


 

1

Robert Zandvliet
Untitled, 2019
Egg tempera and oil on paper
9 1/2 x 12 1/4 inches (24 x 31 cm)
(RZ19-03)

Inquire


 



On the occasion of this exhibition, Robert Zandvliet has created four unique, bound books based on each of Rudolf Steiner’s four "image colors."

First, Zandvliet created four paintings on linen measuring 84 x 106 inches (213 x 270 cm).

Each one was then cut into 18 equal spreads measuring 13 ¾ x 35 ½ inches (35 x 90 cm), thus creating the pages for every unique book.

By fragmenting the original, large paintings, the books offer new viewpoints from which to engage in Zandvliet’s investigations into the essence of color, surface, and the painting medium.

Book Image 4

Robert Zandvliet
Albedo, 2021
Artist book, 36 painted linen pages
13 3/4 x 17 3/4 x 2 inches (35 x 45 x 5 cm)

Book Image 2

Robert Zandvliet
Inkarnaat, 2021
Artist book, 36 painted linen pages
13 3/4 x 17 3/4 x 2 inches (35 x 45 x 5 cm)
 

Book Image 1

Robert Zandvliet
Grēne, 2021
Artist book, 36 painted linen pages
13 3/4 x 17 3/4 x 2 inches (35 x 45 x 5 cm)
 

Book Image 3

Robert Zandvliet
Carbon, 2021
Artist book, 36 painted linen pages
13 3/4 x 17 3/4 x 2 inches (35 x 45 x 5 cm)

Video 2


                   Play the video to see inside each book.


 

Steiner Photo

Rudolf Steiner, c. 1905
 

"Black: represents the mind’s image of death
Green: represents the dead image of life
Peach blossom: represents the living image of the soul
White: represents the soul image of the spirit"

— Rudolf Steiner

 

Downloadable Media

*All works are subject to availability
© 2021 Blumarts, Inc.

Photographs of Robert Zandvliet's studio by Diever Zandvliet.

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