Oil on canvas: 99 x 66 cm;
signed and dated ‘Willy Boers 1949’ (lower right);
signed, dated and titled on the reverse:
‘Willy Boers/Mei 1949/droom en daad’
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Willy Herman Friederich Boers was born in Amsterdam in 1905 into a Dutch-German banking environment. He finished his education at the trade school and became a painting restorer until he became a painter himself in 1928.
The experiences he gained thereby found a practical application in the preparation and handling of the canvases and papers for his innovative gouaches and collages.
Boers’ early years as a self-taught painter and theorist coincided with the rise of the New Objectivity, to which his realistic portraits and Mediterranean landscapes from that time are related.
During the war, Boers had experimented with kubo-futurism. The feelings of powerlessness and oppression in the Second World War made him one of the greatest champions of abstract painting.
Together with Ger Gerrits, Harry van Kruiningen and Frieda Hunziker, Boers unleashed a true revolution in Amsterdam at the Kunst In Vrijheid exhibition in 1945. After this revolt, he became co-founder of Vrij Beelden en Creatie, in which he played a pivotal role.
His abstract work from that period is related to that of Klee, Kandinsky and Miro. He himself called it absolute – or integral expressionism. Willy Boers visited France regularly and exhibited four times in the Salon des Réalités Nouvelles in Paris. This period is generally seen as a high point in his career.
During the 1960s he was less productive, but in 1970 a critic headlined ‘Boers knows nothing about bending’ in response to an exhibition of his second major series of material paintings and collages.