Wessel Couzijn

Wessel Couzijn

Wessel Couzijn was born in Amsterdam in 1912. From the age of three he lived in New York, where he received his first drawing lessons at the Art Students League. He returned to the Netherlands in 1929. In the following year he began to study painting at the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam, where his teachers included Jan Bronner, a respected but traditional sculptor. Couzijn re-enrolled in the sculpture department. In 1936 he won the Prix de Rome, allowing him to travel to Italy. Around 1939 he stayed briefly in Paris, where he met the sculptor Aristide Maillol and acquainted himself with the work of Auguste Rodin.

His Jewish background forced him to flee Europe in 1940. He spent the war years in New York and met many other exiled European artists including Ossip Zadkine and Jacques Lipchitz. He also met the sculptress Pearl Perlmutter, with whom

he married. After the war he returned to the Netherlands and developed a powerful expressionist style. His works immediately after the war were figurative, but gradually developed into abstract expressions of hope, despair, love, liberation and oppression, partly inspired by a visit to Auschwitz. His works became more open in form, the expression amplified by a sense of space and dynamism.

Couzijn lived and worked in Amsterdam until 1970, and thereafter in Amstelveen. He produced an impressive and highly respected oeuvre and won numerous prizes including the David Röell Prize in 1966 for his entire oeuvre and the Dutch State Prize for Sculpture in 1967. His work was exhibited at the Venice Biennale and is included in numerous public and private collections. Couzijn died in Haarlem in 1984 at the age of seventy-one.