herman de vries

herman de vries is a true natural philosopher. Born in the Netherlands, now he lives and works in the Steigerwald region in southern Germany.

herman de vries trained originally as a biologist and his art creates a rigorous sense of order while at the same time reflecting a curiosity about every aspect of nature. The artist always wants his name spelt in lower case letters.

on the stony path on show at GroundWork Gallery, March-June 2017

on the stony path, spring 2017

The first exhibition in the UK of the work of herman de vries occupied GroundWork gallery’s first spring season in 2017. herman de vries, then 85, is a grand figure in the world of art and environment, renowned for his sensitive attention to nature. This exhibition presented the artist’s assemblages of the world’s natural resources.

herman de vries from Biel, earth rubbings

herman collected remarkably varied soil samples from the Seychelles Islands and the Jura Mountains. He created rubbed drawings from these, revealing the range of colours otherwise hidden beneath the undergrowth. Above is the

herman de vries, lapis

A framed lapidarium on the wall transformed what began as a seemingly random collection of the world’s pebbles into a little display of wondrous order and variety.

“These stones helped me find myself mentally”

A young gallery visitor

A floor installation of precisely cut stones from the Steigerwald became a museum for a landscape which has since disappeared, lost to development.

herman de vries, Stone table and Lapis
This installation of stones ‘lapis’ , on the wall, was exhibited in ‘sculptures trouvées’ a solo exhibition at Hans Barlach Haus in Hamburg, January – May 2016, and was on display at GroundWork Gallery, March to July 2017. herman collects stones and plants and discovers as he walks in order to experience nature.

A true poet and natural philosopher

herman de vries is a poet both with words and images. He began as a scientist and has retained some of the attitudes from that profession: an investigative attitude to the world, an attention to experiment and clarity of presentation. He was a member of the zero group in the 1960s, originally making pure white works with measured geometry and precision.

herman de vries Zero is the gate

The two works on show at GroundWork above, are examples of the artist’s close attention to his local landscape. On the wall are soil rubbings from his region, the Steigerwald. As ever, he reveals the extraordinary variety of colours which we otherwise ignore. The collection of stones on the floor also come from the Steigerwald. Many of these have since gone, lost to development. So, as with many of his works, he has created a kind of natural museum.


‘to be all ways to be’, was herman’s exhibition in the Dutch pavilion in the Venice giardini in 2015. He was the artist chosen to represent the Netherlands that year. Cees de Boer and Colin Huizing curated it.

Venice Biennale 2015
This image shows the exhibition entitled ‘to be all ways to be’, which was held in the Dutch pavilion in the Venice giardini, curated by Cees de Boer and Colin Huizing.

Since 2017, herman has been constantly in demand all over Europe. Recent exhibitions include the Picasso Museum in Münster, the Kröller-Müller museum, Otterlo, the FRAC, Provence-Alpes-Côte d, Azur. Co and Lilian Seegers maintain his archive and website, and you will find all the latest information there. https://www.hermandevries.org/

Co Seegers talking about herman
Here is Co Seegers at GroundWork talking about herman de vries’s work