Innovative and versatile
Between around 1885 and 1915 Dutch art was highly regarded internationally. During the World Exhibitions in Paris (1900), Milan (1906) and Brussels (1910) Dutch visual arts and crafts met with great appreciation and Dutch painters and graphic artists received much praise when they were discussed in leading international journals. German-speaking countries, in particular, greatly appreciated the peace and austerity characterising Dutch arts and crafts from around 1900.
Art around 1900
The works of W.O.J. Nieuwenkamp clearly belonged to this period of Art around 1900.
Nieuwenkamp, a child of his time, was inspired by contemporary artists and movements. His graphic ornamental work clearly shows an infusion of Art Nouveau and Art Deco styles. He was one of the innovators of Dutch graphic art, and particularly of wood cuts. His graphic works are distinguished by their clarity of composition and their clear, pure linear style, which is perfectly consistent with the technique.
Nieuwenkamp designed his everyday environment and designed and built his own homes, including the interior design.
. He had his cutlery made from a design of his own, and had tiles fired, painted with his own designs. There were even motifs sewn on underwear and the letters WOJN carved in their wooden bed (but then he was a bit vain of course…)
The renovation of their Italian villa included arranging typical Nieuwenkamp-style elements, such as tiles, gutters, fireplaces, window frames and fountains. In other words, everything Nieuwenkamp designed was total design!
Regretting his private clearance sale
Nieuwenkamp always preferred to keep his own works. In October 1902, Goupil, an art dealer from The Hague bought all the pen and ink drawings on board the De Zwerver that Nieuwenkamp had in stock. Nieuwenkamp was to regret this for the rest of his life; he actually rather disliked having to part with his creations and it was this feeling that led him to make reproducible works: etchings, wood cuts, books, so that he could always keep a print of each of his works (see anecdote).
Through his keen, experienced eye, he excelled not only as an artist but also as a connoisseur. He was known as a connoisseur of indigenous art. His eyes would settle on certain features and details that others would pass over carelessly or that others might unquestioningly assume were already known in detail. Nowadays many of the works of art (he usually purchased on commission) during his journeys, are located in museums.