Laurens van Kuik was a teacher before he, in 1911, fascinated by the arts, started working as an autodidact painter. In 1913 he became so enthralled and driven as artist that he became a teacher at the school in North Brabant, and went to live in Rotterdam. In 1917 he became one of the founders of the Rotterdam-based artistic movement known as "De Branding". Van Kuik's early works are to some extent influenced by cubism, tribal art but also theosophy and anthroposophy.
He made a series of works, similar to futurism, inspired by the sounds and movements in the city of Rotterdam. In the years 1916–1918 he worked together with Bernard Toon Gits; Together they created "synthetic" or "synthetic-psychologic" portraits, from themselves and from each other. Van Kuik named his work at that period "transcendent realism". The year 1918 he changed to a more figurative art. He made single pictures and started painting his well-known intense portraits and masks. These works are very similar to tribal art. Art critic Kasper Niehaus wrote: "If the negros would not only sculpt but also paint, They would probably do it in Laurens van Kuik's style." In 1927 he moves to Paris and later in Den Haag and Amsterdam. Except for "De Branding" did van Kuik associate with "De Volstrekt Modernenen", "De Onafhankelijken", "De Anderen" and "De Sphinx".