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Piet van der Hem

Piet van der Hem - Lyklema Fine Art
Piet van der Hem (Wirdum 1885 - The Hague 1962) 'belonged' to the group of 'moderns' at the beginning of the 20th century, including Leo Gestel and Jan Sluijters. After the Rijks-HBS in Leeuwarden, his art teacher encouraged him to go to the National School for Applied Arts in Amsterdam. Van der Hem also follows a drawing course at the Rijksakademie. With a royal grant, he will work at Montmatre in Paris for a year. He mainly found his subjects in the fashionable nightlife and life on the streets and in the cabarets, dance palaces and music halls as Henri de Toulouse Lautrec, Kees van Dongen and Jan Sluijters did before. He liked to travel a lot to Rome, Madrid, Moscow and Volendam, among others. Not only the theme, but also the style of his work from this period is directly reminiscent of French art from the fin de siècle.
Pieter van der Hem door Willy Sluijter
Portrait Piet van der Hem by Willy Sluijter

In addition to being a painter, he also worked as an illustrator and political cartoonist for 'De Nieuwe Amsterdammer', 'De Haagsche Post' and 'De Haagsche Courant' until the outbreak of the Second World War, which may have inspired his anecdotal way of painting or vice versa. His ability to provide quick and accurate characterizations made him very popular in this genre. In his own words, he had always followed a 'fixed course', with the common thread in his career being the depiction of humanity.
Hem, Piet van der – Vereniging Vrienden Nieuwe Kunst 1900

Back in Amsterdam, he was often found in working-class neighborhoods and made his debut in 1909 at the exhibition of the artists' association Sint-Lucas in the Stedelijk Museum. There hangs the innovative work of the Amsterdam luminists Jan Sluijters, Leo Gestel and Piet Mondriaan with bright colors and loose brushstrokes. Inspired by this, his painting style and use of color are less extreme than his more avant-garde contemporaries. It was mainly the content, the unusual and daring choice of subject for that time, that earned Van der Hem this place among the innovators, because as far as his way of painting and drawing was concerned, he was in fact not a true modernist. His shapes and colors always remained too tied to reality for that. It is not entirely coincidental that he also works with Willy Sluiter.
Hartjesdag - Collectie Singer Laren
After the first World War, his attention shifted from painting and drawing light-hearted, elegant scenes to powerful portraits. His style does not fit in with the avant-garde of art. He is becoming more and more a painter. He does this on behalf of wealthy Americans and Dutch people, including the Royal Family. He made, among other things, the state portrait of the Royal Family from 1925/1926 and the Wedding Blessing of Princess Juliana and Prince Bernhard from 1937. He also made hunting scenes (his hobby), book illustrations, posters, advertising plates and political cartoons on commission to avoid financial worries.Piet van der Hem- Staatsieportret Julian - RKD
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