When he died 70 years ago, the artist Walter Spies was known to only a few close friends. Now he is prized as one of the finest painters of the tropical landscape. In the turmoil of war and the turbulence of the post-war years, his fate remained for a time unknown and his life and deeds in Bali gradually took on mythic proportions. He was remembered almost as a founding figure, one who had taken the arts of Bali to unprecedented heights. What remains of Walter Spies, the lasting documents of his achievement, are a mere handful of works, if we compare them with the prodigious output of many painters. He completed no more than 80 major paintings, of which only about 40 are known to still exist.
Spies’s works have always been prized by their owners and in the main they have remained in private hands. This means they were for a long time not generally well known and it has proved hard to bring them together for exhibition. However, larger exhibitions were held in the Netherlands in 1964 and again in 1980, with many works in the latter exhibition also shown in Germany.
The result of our efforts is now presented in this Collectors Suite, a package limited to 150 sets. Each set consists of two books, one reproduction print on canvas and a DVD of a film made for Dutch television in 1983 documenting the artist’s life and work, all encased in a handsome wooden box.
The larger book, XXL size, 40 x 50cm (portrait), contains in its 400 pages high quality reproductions of all of Spies’s known paintings in colour, except for the lost works for which black and white versions exist. The paintings are arranged according to themes within the three distinct periods of his life, in Europe, in Java and in Bali. A separate section brings a collection of many of the surviving drawings, with pages from early sketchbooks, caricatures and wildlife illustrations. The 12,500-word text in this volume aims to place Spies within the context of the European art world and the very different context of his life in Java and Bali. An extensive photo gallery gives a visual impression of various phases of the artist’s life.
The 344 pages of the smaller book, 24 x 32cm (portrait), present a fully documented biography in an 80,000-word text. It places the works and related documents in chronological order and supplies a catalogue of all the known works, including mention of those that have been lost, and an analytical index. The biography, which is also available as a separate volume, traces the remarkable life of an exceptional individual whose career touched at many points the challenging issues of the first half of the twentieth century. In detention he kept up his music and painting as best he could, but lost his life when a ship taking civil internees to safety was sunk by a bomb from a ‘friendly’ reconnaissance plane. The drama of Spies’s life and the quality of his paintings are captured in the two publications of the Collectors Suite.
Cover: Clothbound hardcover with laminated dust jacket
Body: Matt coated 120gsm
Size: 32 x 24 cm (portrait)
Colors: Full color with grey and gold
Weight: 2.2 kg
Size: 60 x 70 cm
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