Born in Ottawa, Canada, Claire Van Vliet spent her early childhood in the Stonehenge area of England, where her father served in the Air Force. “We had an English nanny, and she took us on a long walk every day even if the weather was bad…so I was in the landscape a lot. I suspect that those walks were most formative,” remembers the artist. Such an early exposure to nature heightened Van Vliet’s interest in the great outdoors and influenced her desire to celebrate the landscape in her art.
The artist lost both parents before she reached the age fourteen. She was raised by an aunt in San Diego, California. An exceptionally gifted child, she graduated from high school at fifteen, then attended San Diego State College and received a Master of Fine Arts degree from Claremont Graduate University in 1954.
In 1958, she moved to Philadelphia to work as an apprentice with John Anderson at Pickering Press. Her first book of engravings, The Oxford Odyssey
, was published in 1955, the same year that Van Vliet began Janus Press. The Janus Press embodies the age-old tradition of book-making yet it also experiments with innovative book formats and structures. To date, the press has published more than one hundred limited-edition artists’ books and Van Vliet is currently working on a catalogue, Janus Press—50 Years
to accompany exhibitions of her work at the National Gallery of Art Library, Washington, DC and the Grolier Club, New York from 2006 to 2007.
In addition to creating and publishing artist books, Van Vliet has executed drawings, prints, watercolors, large paintings, and monotypes on pulp paper. She has lectured at universities and museums, led workshops, and received many honors, including a MacArthur Fellowship in 1989.
Biography courtesy of Claire Van Vliet
Claremont Graduate University, Claremont, CA, USA (1951-1954)
San Diego State University, San Diego, CA, USA (1950)
colleague of Warrington Colescott
apprentice of John Anderson
teacher of William Weege
Lifetime Achievement Award, Vermont Arts Council, Montpelier, VT, USA (1999)
Elected Member, National Academy of Design, New York, NY, USA (1995)
Fellowship, The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Chicago, IL, USA (1989)