Biography

1889
Nicolas Eekman is born in Brussels, Belgium.

1907
At 18, he gives his first lecture in Brussels on "Van Gogh, The Unknown".


Workhorse in Hilversum, 1910, watercolor, 7 x 10.2 in.

1912
He sees Van Gogh’s first exhibition in Cologne (Germany) that will remain for him
a shattering and decisive experience.

1913

Studies architecture at the Academy of Fine Arts in Brussels.
Turns towards Latin culture, but his Flemish roots remain vivacious.
He received his diploma in architecture while painting and engraving. A few months in the painting section
are enough to make him understand that academicism is not his way.

1914

Stays in the presbytery of Nuenen, in The Netherlands. (see Eekman by Eekman).

1915

First exhibition at the Audretsch Gallery at The Hague where he is discovered by the great essayist
and critic Bremmer. Among his first customers Mrs. Kröller-Müller
founder of the famous Kröller-Müller Museum.
Until the end of the war, he made a series of exhibitions in the country
and had many purchases by major Dutch museums
(in Amsterdam, Arnhem, Dordrecht, The Hague, Eindhoven).

1921

He settles permanently in Paris and is a part of all the artistic movements of the time.
He becomes a member of the "Independents" and the Society of Engravers "The Line".
He meets Armand Nakache which friendship will continue forever.
He sees regularly Paul Signac and Piet Mondrian, they meet in their respective workshops
or at the brasserie "La Rotonde" in the Montparnasse area in Paris.
International exhibitions and purchases follow one another (in Belgium, Scotland, Switzerland,
The Netherlands, Austria, the USA, etc...). He regularly is a part of the Venice Biennale in Italy.

1924
He become friends with galerist Jeanne Bucher in Paris.
She commissions and edits the engraving "The Library". Many woodcut prints are sold
in Stockholm, Brussels, Munich, Boston, Detroit , etc...

1925
Sudden death of his first wife Hetty (Hedwig van't Hoog) with whom he had a daughter, Henriette.
Throughout these years, Eekman binds friendship not only with Mondrian
but also with Jean Lurçat, Marcoussis, Max Jacob, Samuel Lipschitz,
and later with Moise Kisling and Frans Masereel. At the Jeanne Bucher Gallery, he also meets
Marc Chagall, Max Ernst and his wife Marie-Berthe who he portrays.


Accordion player, 1927, woodcut, 16.1 x 11 in.

1928

Eekman and Mondrian exhibit together at the Jeanne Bucher Gallery.
It is the only time that Mondrian will have an exhibition in Paris.
Many purchases of engravings by the Print Cabinet in Germany
(Hanover, Berlin, Hamburg, Dresden, Muhlheim, Munich, Essen, and even Basel and Budapest).
In relation with Andre Lhôte, Fernand Léger, Edouard Goerg, etc…
All these fruitful contacts assert, at 39 years old
and at the margins of all artistic movements, his mission as an artist.
He marries Jeanne Bucher’s librarian Andrée Herrenschmidt with whom he will have a daughter, Luce.

1930

He is a part of the Art Institute of Chicago
where there will be group exhibitions in 1932, 1934, 1937 and 1938.


Old Fisherman, 1930, nib drawing, 11 x 7 in.

1931
Tours in Indonesia.
Meets Edouard Pignon who he will often see.

1932
Hungarian sculptor Geiger makes an excellent mask of Eekman.


Faith, Strengh, Will, 1932, pencil drawing, 16.5 x 15.7 in.

1933
Exhibits in Paris at the Duncan Gallery where he opens a workshop for two years.
He writes and illustrates a children's book "The Motionless Traveller",
published by Berger-Levrault.
He illustrates the book "The Destinies" written by Alfred de Vigny (drypoints).
There are 60 copies of the book. Eekman is one of the sixty most popular artists at that time
that are chosen to illustrate each one a volume
(including Picasso, Chagall, Max Ernst, Dunoyer de Segonzac, Signac, and so on).

1934
At that time he makes about twenty bookplates.


Andrée Herrenschmidt, 1934, pencil drawing, 20 x 14.9 in.

1936
Paul Fierens, curator of the museums in Belgium, writes a monograph Eekman.
Solo and group exhibitions carry on in Paris, The Hague,
Amsterdam, Budapest, Prague, Chicago, Toronto, etc…

1937
The Print Cabinet of Brussels buys all Eekman’s existing engraved works..

1939
Draws his famous drawing of the injured Don Quixote which has been showed thereafter
in favour at the National Library in Paris during the exhibition
"Books and documents concerning Cervantès".

1940
Sought by the Nazis, he takes refuge in the Basque country in the South West of France
and signs his works momentarily "Ekma"..

1941
In Saint-Jean-de-Luz, he draws 22 drawings and befriends
with Maurice Bedel who will write related texts entitled "De Re Rustica" (never published).

1942
His bond of friendship with painter Fred Klein, Yves Klein’s father, will last a lifetime.

1944
Very important exhibition at the Palais des Beaux Arts in Brussels
wich will be visited by Queen Elizabeth of Belgium.

1945

Group exhibition in Casablanca (Morocco) and at the Denise René Gallery in Paris.
He illustrates the "Tales of a Beer Drinker" written by Charles Deulin,
published on the presses of Mr. Weissenbruch, printer of the King of Belgium
for publisher Guy Le Prat and for the Associated Authors Publishers in Brussels.
In contact with André Gide.


Beggars, 1945, watercolor, 11.8 x 8.2 in. (illustration of "The Tales of a Beer Drinker" )

1946

Tour in Brazil and Mexico organized by collector T. Garaï.
Engraves 25 drypoints for Charles de Coster’s Legend of Thyl Ulenspiegel.
Received at Laeken Castle in Brussels, Eekman gives
a copy of the book to Queen Elizabeth.
Major exhibition at the Durand-Ruel Gallery in Paris.

1948
Exhibition at Antwerp, Bruges, Ghent, Brussels, Strasbourg.
Publication of the second album devoted to the works of Eekman,
with an introduction by Maurice Fombeure.

1951
The Chalcography of the Louvre dedicates Eekman’s engraved works
and commissions a drypoint: "Turkeys".
In contact with Dr. J.-B. de la Faille, scholar and Van Gogh expert,
who will write an essay on Eekman in 1961.

1952
Invited by the League of cultural exchanges between The Netherlands
and Switzerland, he exhibits in Basel, at the Katz Gallery.

1955
Dr. Albert Schweitzer, his wife’s godfather, regularly visits him
at his workshop. Eekman made several sketches of him on the spot.

1956
Mons (Belgium) becomes a center where young artists can be found around Eekman
every time he visits. He is very respected.
International exhibition in Deauville where he received the price of the Nude.
Exhibitions abroad and in France.

1958
Losing the ties that binds him to the small harbour of Sanary-sur-Mer where he used to go
each year and make a trip to Italy, he buys a pied-à-terre at the Winter Palace in Menton
where he will make regular visits until his death.

1961

Commissioned for a major wall panel on wood (98.4 x 55 inches) on medicinal plants
in the world, theme given by Professor H. Griffon
and delivered to the pharmacy of the Air Base at Orly (Paris).


Dance of the Ribbons, 1962. Painting with inks,19.2 x 12.5 in.

1962

With some quite phantasmagoric works,
Eekman is a part of a surrealist exhibition in Mons (Belgium) at the Lucidel Gallery.

1964 à 1968
Exhibitions at a steady pace in Switzerland, Holland, Belgium and France.
With pride, and despite his success, Eekman is part of the "real cursed painters".


Little wooden horse, 1973. Painting with inks, 19.2 x 18.1 in.

1973

Great retrospective at the Reflets Gallery in Brussels a few weeks before his death.
He died suddenly at his home on November 13th in Paris, leaving a heritage
of approximately 3,000 works.
He is buried at the cemetery of Ivry, near Paris.


 

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