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Davis Art
2014 Catalog
art education curriculum
Artist Biographies
Select a letter below to see the biographies for artists
whose last names start with that letter.
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Van Der Zee, James (United States, 1886-1983)
James Van Der Zee opened a portrait studio in Harlem, New York, where he produced an enormous range of photographs depicting life there. He photographed the leading political, religious, and cultural figures of the African-American population and community events and celebrations. His photographs represent the most important photographic archive of African-American life in Harlem and illustrate how photography attained an important stature among the visual arts in the twentieth century.

van Doesburg, Theo (C.E.M. Kupper) (The Netherlands, 1883-1931)
Van Doesburg gave many lectures and wrote extensively about the principles of abstraction and simplicity in art. Architecture and town planning became his main focus after 1916. His writings had and influence on the Bauhaus instructors.

van Dyck, Anthony (Flanders, 1599-1641)
Anthony van Dyck was an accomplished painter by the age of seventeen. He was one of the artists who worked in the workshop of the artist Peter Paul Rubens. Later, van Dyck became the official court painter for King Charles I of England. He is best known for portraits, in which he flattered his subjects. He also usually placed his figures in an outdoor setting, as in Portrait of Charles I in Hunting Dress.

van Eyck, Jan (Flanders, about 1390-1441)
Like other northern European Renaissance painters, van Eyck was fascinated by detail. His understanding of light was greater than that of the Italian painters of his time. In 1430, van Eyck settled in the important town of Bruges in Flanders. At this time, he also began to sign and date his work. Among his masterpieces are the Arnolfini Wedding and the Ghent Altarpiece (the latter was done in collaboration with his brother, Hubert). Both paintings are filled with realistic objects and details that are also important for their symbolism.

van Gogh, Vincent (The Netherlands, 1853-1890)
Van Gogh began painting when he was twenty-seven. He became the first great Dutch painter since the seventeenth century. His works, such as The Starry Night, are known for bright colors and swirling strokes of thick paint. The artist lived a troubled life, which ended tragically. Van Gogh sold only one painting in his lifetime, but today he is considered one of the world's most important artists.

van Ruisdael, Jacob (The Netherlands, 1629-1682)
The Dutch artist Jacob van Ruisdael was a master at painting landscapes. His works are often coastal scenes with dramatic skies. Because the Dutch countryside is very flat, van Ruisdael placed the horizon line low. He then filled the huge sky with powerful and superbly painted clouds. Among his best-known landscapes is The Mill at Wijk by Durstede, which is in the famed Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.

Vasarely, Victor (Hungary/France, 1908-1997)
Victor Vasarely is the Hungarian-born leader of the Op Art movement. He worked with geometric shapes and brilliant colors and created fantastic illusions of optical space and depth. His experiments formed the basis for an illusionistic movement in art. A museum in Aix-en-Provence, France, was built to hold his huge paintings, most of which are over twenty feet high. The effect of rooms filled with such gigantic images is overpowering for many viewers.

Velazquez, Diego Rodriguez de Silva y (Spain, 1599-1660)
Velazquez was one of Spain's great artists of the Baroque period. He became court painter to King Philip IV as a young man. And he painted the members of the royal family and court for more than thirty years. Unlike many other painters at the time, Velazquez was interested in what was real far more than what was not. His paintings also show the movement of light and the many ways it can be reflected. A painting called Las Meninas is his masterpiece.

Venturi, Robert (United States, b.1925) and Denise Scott Brown (United States, b.1931)
Claiming that 'Less is a bore,' Robert Venturi is the architect who led the way to the Post-Modern architectural movement. He and Denise Scott Brown fostered the notion that much of the great architecture of the past was not simple and classic, but elaborate and complex. Although criticized for their views, Venturi and Scott Brown succeeded in bringing their ideas to their commissions. In 1986, they won a major commission. It was the contract of the Sainsbury Wing of London's National Gallery. The extension to England's greatest museum is noteworthy for its restrained, yet distinctive appearance.

Vermeer, Jan (The Netherlands, 1632-1675)
Vermeer was one of the greatest Dutch artists and one of the finest painters of all time. Today, we know fewer than forty of his paintings. Most of these are portraits or interior views. Vermeer's works are carefully designed, and they are famous for their realistic color and depiction of light. In his paintings, not everything is in equal focus. This is different from the work of earlier northern European artists, who painted each object in perfect clarity.

Veronese (Italy, 1528-1588)
The Mannerist artist Paolo Caliari was called Veronese because he came from the town of Verona, Italy. In his paintings, Veronese emphasized the beauty of marble, gold, fabrics, and other expensive materials. He also used perspective to create surprising effects. His works are often full of moving figures and flowing colors. Among his best-known paintings are The Finding of Moses and Christ in the House of Levi.

Vigee-Lebrun, Elizabeth (France, 1755-1842)
Elizabeth Vigee-Lebrun was one of the most successful women painters. She studied art with her father and became an excellent portrait painter before she was twenty. She became painter for the French queen Marie Antoinette and was elected to the French Academy in 1783. When the French Revolution broke out, Vigee-Lebrun traveled around Europe. She remained busy all her life painting more than eight hundred works.

Vlaminck, Maurice de (France, 1876-1946)
Vlaminck is best known for his still life and landscape paintings with thick paint applied with energetic brushstrokes. His early paintings were dominated by bright colors. His work is realistic, but expressionistic in technique.

Vroman, Adam Clark (United States, 1856-1919)
Vroman became a photographer to record the culture and lives of the Hopi Indians. His photographs portrayed their sense of community and their connection with nature. Vroman used his photographs in slide lectures to teach others about the difficult living conditions of the Southwest Indians.


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