Marcel van Eeden

Marcel van Eeden. Photo: Lukas Giesler

 

In undertaking a project to represent the people, objects and events solely prior to the day of his birth, Marcel van Eeden (*1965) creates visual narratives that draw from disparate sources both visual and written. His oeuvre is divided into three main bodies of work: individual drawings, his various “narrative” series, which includes a cast of fictional characters, and the Category or Cat. series. Working primarily in monochrome on paper on a modest scale or, more recently, on a larger scale, he undertakes the endless and absurdly self-generating task of a desire to draw everything prior to his existence. Through the creation of semi-fictional protagonists and events, and by using material that pre-dates his own life, he questions the authenticity of autobiography and our broader experience of history and its documents.

 

Read more

Calling his overall project The Encyclopedia of My Death van Eeden considers the time before his birth to be as important as what will follow his death, illustrating the fact that each human existence constitutes only a tiny speck of time in the broader history of the world. The material he uses is meticulously copied from magazines, books, atlases and newspapers, all of which must also adhere to the temporal constraints, thus lending the work a particular historical and visual texture. As individual cells within a storyboard, somewhat akin to a graphic novel, the narrative and distinct characteristics of the cast develop. Fictional characters that may have names drawn from literature or history are ultimately given new identities and narratives; the recurring character Celia Coplestone from T.S. Eliot’s The Cocktail Party, for example, or the archaeologist assassin Dr. Oswald Sollmann, named after a little-known German pharmacologist and JFK’s killer. The work Zigmund’s Machine (2019) tells the story of Dr. MacIntosh and his boss Gert Zigmund and their successful attempts to create a special computer called the “Will Extractor”, with individual images presenting the laboratory and their surroundings, even encompassing technical drawings and views from their urban window, seemingly some time in the middle of the twentieth century.

As his works unfold as series, each distinct unit retains a collage aesthetic owing to the way he gathers and combines information. His medium of nero pencil, an oily compressed artificial charcoal, lend the works a certain drama from their nostalgia-infused film-noir aesthetic. Relying on tonal difference rather than strictly graphic line to create dense areas of shadow and contour, his drawings betray a painterly refinement. Yet he also brings a mood of historical certainty, either as a caption that looks to add authority to his narratives, or a facsimile from printed material such as a snippet of advertisement or a scientific annotation.

The networked discontinuity of his narratives has no strict center, with occasionally imperceptible links between image and caption. Often sentences are cut off mid-panel, or interrupted by ostensibly unrelated quotations. When combined as a number of identically framed artifacts, the series adopts a museological mood. His Cat. series expands on the archival paradigm, suggesting that each image has been carefully ordered and cataloged: Cat 2.4.1: Cream Cakes (2015) or Cat. 9: Explosions (2011), for example. By offering an obsessively personal perspective on history, and developing his ideas with his evocative and masterful draftsmanship, van Eeden has fashioned a vision that is unique in contemporary art.

 

Jenseits. Van Eeden. The Karlsruhe Sketchbook
Staatliche Kunsthalle Karlsruhe, November 30, 2019–March 13, 2020
© Meta Jülicher & Robert Schäfer

Works
Marcel van Eeden
Marcel van Eeden
Untitled, 2018

Marcel van Eeden
Untitled, 2018
Compressed charcoal on paper
19 × 28 cm
7 1/2 × 11 inches

Marcel van Eeden
Marcel van Eeden
Untitled, 2018

Marcel van Eeden
Untitled, 2018
Compressed charcoal on paper
19 × 28 cm
7 1/2 × 11 inches

Marcel van Eeden
Marcel van Eeden
Untitled (An Appearance), 2010

Marcel van Eeden
Untitled (An Appearance), 2010
Nero pencil on hand-made paper
19 × 28 cm
7 1/2 × 11 inches

Marcel van Eeden
Marcel van Eeden
Untitled, 2018

Marcel van Eeden
Untitled, 2018
Compressed charcoal on paper
19 × 28 cm
7 1/2 × 11 inches

Marcel van Eeden
Marcel van Eeden
Untitled, 1997–2006

Marcel van Eeden
Untitled, 1997–2006
Pencil and graphite on paper
19 × 28.5 cm
7 1/2 × 11 1/8 inches

Marcel van Eeden
Marcel van Eeden
Untitled, 2018

Marcel van Eeden
Untitled, 2018
Compressed charcoal on paper
19 × 28 cm
7 1/2 × 11 inches

Marcel van Eeden
Marcel van Eeden
Untitled, 2017

Marcel van Eeden
Untitled, 2017
Compressed charcoal on paper
130 × 291 cm
51 1/8 × 114 5/8 inches

Marcel van Eeden
Marcel van Eeden
The Karlsruhe Sketchbook, 2019

Marcel van Eeden
The Karlsruhe Sketchbook, 2019
25 drawings
Nero pencil on paper
each 35 × 50 cm
each 13 7/8 × 19 3/4 inches

Marcel van Eeden
Marcel van Eeden
The Karlsruhe Sketchbook, 2019

Marcel van Eeden
The Karlsruhe Sketchbook, 2019 (detail)

Marcel van Eeden
Marcel van Eeden
Untitled, 2020

Marcel van Eeden
Untitled, 2020
Nero pencil, crayon and watercolor on paper
28 × 38 cm
11 × 15 inches

Marcel van Eeden
Marcel van Eeden
Untitled, 2020

Marcel van Eeden
Untitled, 2020
Nero pencil, crayon and watercolor on paper
28 × 38 cm
11 × 15 inches

Marcel van Eeden
Marcel van Eeden
Untitled (Cat 2: Food), 2011

Marcel van Eeden
Untitled (Cat 2: Food), 2011
Nero pencil on hand-made paper
5 drawings: 19 × 28 cm / 7 1/2 × 11 inches
4 drawings: 28 × 38 cm / 11 × 15 inches

More views
Details
Marcel van Eeden

Marcel van Eeden
Untitled, 2018
Compressed charcoal on paper
19 × 28 cm
7 1/2 × 11 inches

Marcel van Eeden
Untitled, 2018
Marcel van Eeden

Marcel van Eeden
Untitled, 2018
Compressed charcoal on paper
19 × 28 cm
7 1/2 × 11 inches

Marcel van Eeden
Untitled, 2018
Marcel van Eeden

Marcel van Eeden
Untitled (An Appearance), 2010
Nero pencil on hand-made paper
19 × 28 cm
7 1/2 × 11 inches

Marcel van Eeden
Untitled (An Appearance), 2010
Marcel van Eeden

Marcel van Eeden
Untitled, 2018
Compressed charcoal on paper
19 × 28 cm
7 1/2 × 11 inches

Marcel van Eeden
Untitled, 2018
Marcel van Eeden

Marcel van Eeden
Untitled, 1997–2006
Pencil and graphite on paper
19 × 28.5 cm
7 1/2 × 11 1/8 inches

Marcel van Eeden
Untitled, 1997–2006
Marcel van Eeden

Marcel van Eeden
Untitled, 2018
Compressed charcoal on paper
19 × 28 cm
7 1/2 × 11 inches

Marcel van Eeden
Untitled, 2018
Marcel van Eeden

Marcel van Eeden
Untitled, 2017
Compressed charcoal on paper
130 × 291 cm
51 1/8 × 114 5/8 inches

Marcel van Eeden
Untitled, 2017
Marcel van Eeden

Marcel van Eeden
The Karlsruhe Sketchbook, 2019
25 drawings
Nero pencil on paper
each 35 × 50 cm
each 13 7/8 × 19 3/4 inches

Marcel van Eeden
The Karlsruhe Sketchbook, 2019
Marcel van Eeden

Marcel van Eeden
The Karlsruhe Sketchbook, 2019 (detail)

Marcel van Eeden
The Karlsruhe Sketchbook, 2019
Marcel van Eeden

Marcel van Eeden
Untitled, 2020
Nero pencil, crayon and watercolor on paper
28 × 38 cm
11 × 15 inches

Marcel van Eeden
Untitled, 2020
Marcel van Eeden

Marcel van Eeden
Untitled, 2020
Nero pencil, crayon and watercolor on paper
28 × 38 cm
11 × 15 inches

Marcel van Eeden
Untitled, 2020
Marcel van Eeden

Marcel van Eeden
Untitled (Cat 2: Food), 2011
Nero pencil on hand-made paper
5 drawings: 19 × 28 cm / 7 1/2 × 11 inches
4 drawings: 28 × 38 cm / 11 × 15 inches

Marcel van Eeden
Untitled (Cat 2: Food), 2011
Marcel van Eeden
Marcel van Eeden

Marcel van Eeden
Untitled (Cat 2: Food), 2011 (detail)

Marcel van Eeden
Untitled (Cat 2: Food), 2011
Marcel van Eeden
Marcel van Eeden

Marcel van Eeden
Untitled (Cat 2: Food), 2011 (detail)

Marcel van Eeden
Untitled (Cat 2: Food), 2011
Marcel van Eeden
Marcel van Eeden

Marcel van Eeden
Untitled (Cat 2: Food), 2011 (detail)

Marcel van Eeden
Untitled (Cat 2: Food), 2011
Marcel van Eeden
Marcel van Eeden

Marcel van Eeden
Untitled (Cat 2: Food), 2011 (detail)

Marcel van Eeden
Untitled (Cat 2: Food), 2011
Marcel van Eeden
Marcel van Eeden

Marcel van Eeden
Untitled (Cat 2: Food), 2011 (detail)

Marcel van Eeden
Untitled (Cat 2: Food), 2011
Marcel van Eeden
Marcel van Eeden

Marcel van Eeden
Untitled (Cat 2: Food), 2011 (detail)

Marcel van Eeden
Untitled (Cat 2: Food), 2011
Marcel van Eeden
Marcel van Eeden

Marcel van Eeden
Untitled (Cat 2: Food), 2011 (detail)

Marcel van Eeden
Untitled (Cat 2: Food), 2011
Marcel van Eeden
Marcel van Eeden

Marcel van Eeden
Untitled (Cat 2: Food), 2011 (detail)

Marcel van Eeden
Untitled (Cat 2: Food), 2011
Details
icon_fullscreen
1 of 12

 

Exhibitions at Sprüth Magers
Marcel van Eeden

Marcel van Eeden
The Symmetry Argument
May 2–August 29, 2015
Berlin

Marcel van Eeden’s practice of predominantly monochrome drawings is based exclusively on imagery that predates his 1965 birth. The drawings, which are executed in ‘nero’ pencil or black chalk, often evoke film noir or cells from graphic novels, generating a haunting mood of sparse, dark nostalgia. For The Symmetry Argument, his second exhibition at Sprüth Magers and his first at the Berlin gallery, van Eeden researched a wave of spiritualism that swept through his hometown of The Hague during the 1930s and 40s.

Read more

Marcel van Eeden
November 22, 1948
June 23–August 13, 2011
London

For this latest installment of his work van Eeden has created a new series of drawings that reveal the artist’s ongoing exploration of the concept of narration through the lives of a range of semi-fictional characters and their global exploits. Since 1993, van Eeden has almost exclusively worked in ‘nero’ pencil to articulate a series of events that are part of a continuous yet inherently unstable narrative in constant flux. The resultant predominantly monochromatic images are stylistically reminiscent of ‘film noir’, and the accompanying text within the drawings crosses into the territory of the graphic novel.

Read more
Marcel van Eeden
Press

Schönheit und Tod
Monopol Art Karlsruhe Special 2020, interview by Elke Buhr, February 2020

Different Strokes
Christie’s Magazine, article by Claire Wrathall, November – December 2018

artnet Asks: Master of Noir Marcel van Eeden
artnet, interview by Hili Perlson, April 24, 2015

Re-thinking Notions of Authority and Authenticity: November 22, 1948, Marcel van Eeden, Sprüth Magers, London.
Aesthetica, review by Emily Sack, July 4, 2011

Artist Marcel van Eeden on how he draws
The Guardian, interview by Dale Berning, September 19, 2009

Solang wir nicht am Leben sind
Frankfurter Allgemeine, article by Peter Richter, May 9, 2007

Marcel van Eeden: Kunstmuseum St. Gallen
Frieze, article by Aoife Rosenmeyer, June 1, 2011

Biography

Marcel van Eeden (*1965, The Hague) lives and works in Zurich and Karlsruhe. Selected solo exhibitions include Staatliche Kunsthalle, Karlsruhe (2019), Stedelijk Museum, Schiedam (2018), Centro de Arte Contemporaneo de Malaga (2017), Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, The Hague (2014), Tel Aviv Museum of Art (2014), Neue Galerie Gladbeck (2013), Mathildenhöhe Darmstadt (2011), Haus am Waldsee, Berlin (2011) and Kunstmuseum St. Gallen (2011). Seletced group exhibitions include Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, The Hague (2020), Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (2019), Hamburger Kunsthalle (2017), Centre Pompidou, Paris (2017), Gropius Bau, Berlin (2015, 2011), Museo de Arte de la Republica, Bogota (2014), Stockholm Konsthall (2014), Aargau Kunsthaus, Aarau (2014), Tate St. Ives (2013), ZKM Karlsruhe (2012), Museum Folkwang, Essen (2012) and Kunsthalle Emden (2011).

Education
1989–93 Koninklijke Academie van Beeldende Kunsten, The Hague
Public Collections
Centre Pompidou, Paris
ABN AMRO Kunststichting, Amsterdam
AEGON, The Hague
AKZO Nobel Art Foundation, Amsterdam
Centro Galego de Arte Contemporánea, Santiago de Compostela
De Nederlandsche Bank, Amsterdam
Glenbow Museum, Calgary
Haags Gemeentearchief, The Hague
Kunstmuseum St. Gallen
Kunstraum Köln-Deutz, Cologne
Kupferstichkabinett, Berlin
Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk
Magasin 3 Stockholm Konsthall, Sweden Ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken, The Hague
Museum Het Valkhof, Nijmegen
Museum of Modern Art, New York
Neues Museum, Nuremberg
Provinciale tekeningencollectie, Utrecht
Sammlung Goetz, Munich
Stadscollectie, Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, The Hague
Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam
Stedelijk Museum, Schiedam
Teylers Museum, Haarlem
Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN