Theo Wolvecamp

Art on This Day


Wolvecamp was born in Hengelo in 1925. The discovery of German expressionism and Kandinsky’s book ‘Concerning the Spiritual in Art’ made a lasting impression on him and gave him artistic direction. Kandinsky wrote that each generation produces its own art, which cannot be repeated. It was important, just as in music, to find the essence, the inner self.


Both Kandinsky and Soutine spurred him on to experiment, ‘fuelling the urge to create’, as he called it. His new work did not go unnoticed. It caught the attention of painters Corneille, Karel Appel and Constant, who invited him to join the Dutch Experimental Group. This group merged later on into the international group of artists known as Cobra, its principle being that of freedom and spontaneity.


The first publication by the Dutch Experimental Group had barely seen the light of day before Visser, who designed furniture, exhibited work by Appel, Corneille, Constant and Wolvecamp in the Bijenkorf department store. And, in the winter of 1948-1949, they were shown again in the same department store. Just one year before the Stedelijk Museum offered them space to exhibit.


The fact that Wolvecamp’s work was liked proved to be more than evident when Eugène Brands and Wolvecamp were invited by photographer Melcher to show work in 1948. During the exhibition, a man who was known as a big art collector ran off with all of Wolvecamp’s gouaches. Neither hide nor hair of the man or the work was ever seen again.


Cobra disbanded in 1951. In the early 1950s, Wolvecamp followed in the footsteps of his colleagues Appel, Corneille and Constant and moved to Paris. But, unlike the other artists, the city did not have much appeal to Wolvecamp, in fact it was rather the opposite. The other artists were challenged to find new directions, whereas Wolvecamp became depressed and he took to the bottle. He took Appel’s advice and returned to Hengelo where he was finally able to pick up the pieces after a bout of depression and alcoholism. At last he could work in peace.


He died today in 1992.