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 Dirk Van Driest  (1889 - 1989)

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Lived/Active: New Mexico      Known for: portrait, landscape, Indian portrait

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Ad Code: 4
Dirk Van Driest
from Auction House Records.
New Mexico Architecture
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
This biography is based on "Moccasins and Wooden Shoes: American Indians and Dutch Artists", a manuscript-in-progress by Pieter Hovens, curator at the National Museum of Ethnology, P.O. Box 212, 2300 AE Leiden, the Netherlands. The author appreciates any additional information on Van Driest.

DIRK VAN DRIEST (1889-1989)

Dirk van Driest was born on October 4, 1889 in the city of Palembang on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, at that time a Dutch colony. His father was a civil servant from the Netherlands, then in the employ of the colonial government.

To assure a good education, the young Van Driest was sent to the Netherlands at the age of eight, where he lived with his maternal grandparents. Having developed an interest in photography, he trained as such and turned professional. However, his career in this field was interrupted by his mandatory training at the Royal Dutch Military Academy in Breda (1912), and service in the Dutch East Indian Army (1918-1919).

For many years he travelled internationally with a theatrical company as actor and singer. Another outlet for his creative talent was painting, on which he started seriously in 1927 on his return to the Netherlands, combining painting and sculpture. However, he never finished a formal academic or other formal art program. His application for art training in Paris was rejected by the school because he was deemed too old at the age of forty.

In the Second World War, Van Driest served in the Dutch army. In 1948 he settled in Morocco where he worked for eight years, often exhibiting his work in France. Village and harbor scenes, and portraits predominate. In 1956 he emigrated to the United States, entering through New Orleans. After a long journey through the country he chose Taos, New Mexico, to settle and spent the remainder of his life there. The Indians of New Mexico from then on became a prominent subject in his work, and he painted a series of portraits of Native people, concentrating on bringing out their character rather than their physical likeness. Van Driest received American citizenship in 1981, and died in 1989 at the age of 100.

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