The Van Abbemuseum Collection consists of over 2800 artworks. We publish texts and images on an ongoing basis, but this record is currently in the process of being documented.
The painting 'Summer' by the Belgian artist Constant Permeke shows a field of corn shimmering in the summer heat. The air is almost as yellow as the field and a little bit of blue intensifies the heat, which is evoked by shades of yellow. The field of corn is a slightly heavier colour than the air, the yellow alternates with warm browns. The dark mark in the middle of the painting reveals a farmer on a cart. Permeke used a coarse brush and palette knife to paste the paint onto the canvas.
Together with his friends De Smet, and Van den Berghe, Permeke was a representative of Flemish Expressionism. These artists were well informed about the developments in modern art such as Cubism, Fauvism in France and German Expressionism, and under the influence of these movements they developed their own style. Permeke worked very directly on the basis of his own feelings and was not interested in formal aspects of painting or philosophical questions. He wanted to show the viewer the psychological and emotional experiences evoked by what he had seen. He was interested in the elementary forces of nature and in simple people who are subject to these forces to the greatest extent: the fisherman or the farmer. Permeke opted to live amongst them, first on the coast in Ostend and later in 1928 he had a house built with a studio in the countryside at Jabbeke, where he stayed until the end of his life.
This painting is not concerned with a detailed representation of the landscape with the farmer which Permeke could visualise, but with the atmosphere. He was trying to translate the experience of heat and sweltering intensity into paint and the thickly applied material gives the canvas a tangible and earthy character which corresponds to the subject. The horizontal wisps of blue in the sky and the small white clouds make the painting lighter further up without any loss of its robust quality. Permeke depicted the subject of summer and harvest several times. Although 'Summer' does not contain any large shapes that are sharply defined, the painting has a monumental quality because of the direct and robust way in which Permeke painted it.
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