Riet van Halder
Netherlands (born 1930)
“Riet van Halder is a Dutch housewife who began to draw and paint at the age of fifty-nine after a voice urged her to do so while she was vacuuming the house.”1 Her family found it strange to see her suddenly become absorbed in painting. In the Netherlands, she had easy access to a vast array of ink, paint, and other media, which she explored in her art. She preferred paint applied with a multitude of implements on a variety of high quality paper and linen. Fittingly, she used a varied color palette. Her paintings are often densely populated with swirling, free form human and animal figures, which have predominately benevolent expressions.
“Her drawings are a response to an imagined world that is revealed, dreamlike, in the act of drawing and painting.”2 She explained that after finishing a work she was as captured by its beauty and mystery as a first time viewer. In 2004, her ability to create was ended abruptly by chemotherapy, which she received for a melanoma on her ear.
Van Halder’s work may be seen as feminine counterpoint to the art of Jean Dubuffet, as well as that of many of the COBRA artists. Van Halder is completely unfamiliar with art history. “On being shown some reproductions of work by Dubuffet, van Halder was interested to discover how he had come to produce work similar to hers.”3
I have represented van Halder’s art since 2001 and finally met her at her home in 2007.
Van Halder's work has been exhibited in two exhibitions at the American Folk Art Museum, New York: Approaching Abstraction, October 6, 2009–September 12, 2010; and Obsessive Drawing, September 14, 2005–March 19, 2006. Her work was included in the INSITA triennial at the Slovak National Gallery, Bratislava, Slovakia, in 1997. Her paintings are in the permanent collections of the American Folk Art Museum, New York; the Dr. Guislain Museum, Ghent, Belgium (formerly the collection of the Museum De Stadshof, Zwolle, Netherlands); and the Museum Charlotte Zander, Bonningheim, Germany.
1 Colin Rhodes, Outsider Art: Spontaneous Alternatives, London; Thames & Hudson world of art, 2000, p. 164.
George Jacobs Self-Taught Art
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