Herman de Vries (1931), who prefers to have his name spelled ‘herman de vries’ to avoid hierarchy in capital and lower case letters, was trained as a gardener in the early 1950s. After a spell as an agricultural worker in France, De Vries worked in Wageningen at the Institute for Research Plant Diseases from 1952 to 1956. During that period he started his long and fertile practice as an artist. The monochrome and informal paintings from that initial period herald his later works, which ban all personal connotations and embrace chance as a formative principle. During a later spell at the Institute for Applied Biological Research in Nature, Arnhem (1961-68), De Vries became affiliated with the Dutch zero (nul) group, took part in the nul exhibition at Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, and co-founded the magazine nul=0. The focus of his work slightly shifted from zero principles to the relationship between man and nature in the 1980s. Always trying to achieve total objectivity, De Vries brings forward nature as truth and natural processes as beauty. Reduced to their essence, De Vries’s art, installations and serial works form lucid statements. The artist, currently living in Germany, represented The Netherlands at The Venice Biennale in 2015.
Slowscan’s vol. 39 is the third release in De Vries’s The Music of Sound series. The first LP, released in Switzerland in 1977, focused on water. The second LP from 2017 had ‘air’ for a theme and the third, now released on Slowscan, is a contrasting mix of urban sounds on one side (Humanae Vitae) and natural sounds on the other (Natura Artis Magistra). Both sides of the LP were recorded by De Vries in 1964 and 1962 respectively. Void of every personal, artistic or moral connotation these recordings function as meditations on life, humanity, nature and art itself. They are beyond field recordings. Colin Huizing of Stedelijk Museum Schiedam added liner notes to this LP, which were translated into English by Ed Veenstra. In line with his principles and previous releases in the series De Vries preferred a plain brown sleeve for this LP, but Jan van Toorn did well to add an obi strip with portraits of the artist by Joanna Schwender. The Music of Sound 3 has been released in a limited and hand numbered edition of 250.