Les Artistes

"Resonance(s)" april - june 2014 

Born in 1920 in the Netherlands and died in 2005.

Dutch painter, printmaker and writer, Constant Nieuwenhuys, known simply as Constant, was one of the founding members of the movement Cobra (1948 – 1951) and Situationist International (1957), a political group whose combat focused on the criticism of the alienation of the capitalist society. During his Cobra period (1948-51), his paintings were inspired by children’s drawings and expressed the idea of an optimistic resumption after the war. After 1952, Constant's priority was no longer painting and he developed ideas about a playful living environment for the future with his multidisciplinary project, New Babylon. Elaborated in an endless series of models, sketches, collages, architectural drawings as well as in manifestos, lectures etc. New Babylon critiques conventional social structures, envisages a society of total automation in which the need to work is replaced with a nomadic life of creative play, in which traditional architecture has disintegrated along with the social institutions that it propped up. By 1960 Constant had resumed painting; for some time his work was devoted to frequently disturbing visions of life in the future. The extreme contradictions that the viewer confronts in Constant's work were explained by the painter in Marxist terms as an expression of the dialectic contrast that supposedly governs all life.