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Barbara Kruger (1945)

Barbara Kruger

Barbara Kruger was born in 1945 in Newark, New Jersey. Kruger briefly attended Syracuse University, then Parsons School of Design in New York City, where she studied with artists and photographers Marvin Israel and Diane Arbus. Kruger worked in graphic design for Condé Nast Publications at Mademoiselle magazine, and was promoted to head designer within a year, at the age of twenty-two. Kruger has described her time in graphic design as “the biggest influence on my work…[it] became, with a few adjustments, my ‘work’ as an artist.”

In the early 1970s, Kruger started showing artwork in galleries in New York. At the time, she was mainly working in weaving and painting. However, she felt that her artwork lacked meaning, and in 1976, she quit creating art entirely for a year. She took a series of teaching positions, including at University of California, Berkeley. When she began making art again in 1977, she had moved away from her earlier style into photo and text collages. In 1979, Kruger developed her signature style using large-scale black-and-white images overlaid with text. She repurposed found images, juxtaposing them with short, pithy phrases printed in Futura Bold or Helvetica Extra Bold typeface in black, white, or red text bars. In addition to creating text and photographic works, Kruger has produced video and audio works, written criticism, taught classes, curated exhibitions, designed products, such as T-shirts and mugs, and developed public projects, such as billboards, bus wraps, and architectural interventions.
Kruger addresses media and politics in their native tongue: sensational, authoritative, and direct. Personal pronouns like “you” and “I” are staples of Kruger’s practice, bringing the viewer into each piece. “Direct address has motored my work from the very beginning,” Kruger said. “I like it because it cuts through the grease.” Kruger’s work prompts us to interrogate our own positions; in the artist’s words, “to question and change the systems that contain us.” She demands that we consider how our identities are formed within culture, through representation in language and image.

http://www.ftn-books.com has some iconic Kruger publications now available.

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Jean- Michel Folon (1934-2005)

Jean-Michel Folon

This time a personal story by Folon himself:

During the war, we lived in Genval.

My father owned a house beside the lake. We spent our days fishing, with my brother. We used to go out on an old boat, although we couldn’t swim. When our school wasn’t closed because of the war, we learned French. My father explained the complicated words to us. The word ‘rhododendron’, for example. “I’ll show you”, he said. So he drove us out to La Hulpe. Standing in front of a magnificent bush of pink and white flowers, he said, “This is the garden of a thousand rhododendrons. They protect the Château de La Hulpe”. We couldn’t go in because it wasn’t open to the public. How distant and inaccessible it seemed there on its hill. It was surrounded by seemingly endless grounds. It was a place we dreamed about. The garden of a thousand rhododendrons and its distant château became the eighth wonder of the world for us during our childhood.

And the years went by. I became an artist. My career took me to France. The museums of the world exhibited my works to large numbers of people. I crossed the globe.

One day in 1970, I was invited to meet Paul Delvaux. The meeting took place at the Château de La Hulpe. It was wonderful to relive a childhood memory after so many years and to finally discover this place that I remembered so fondly. And to find an unknown painting by Magritte on the wall. He’d painted an ordinary morning in the countryside on the ground. And in the sky, there was the ground, like something quite normal. Something very ordinary had become extraordinary.
This unknown Magritte masterpiece and being on the terrace in the company of Paul Delvaux made it a truly magical place for me. We enjoyed the evening so much that we were invited to stay the night there.

The next day, I spent the morning wandering around the park. It was one of the most beautiful mornings of my life. The classicism, the sense of proportion and the harmony of the place made a deep impression on me. The grounds and paths must have stuck a mysterious chord with me. When we left, we took the path which leads to the park entrance. It took me right back to my childhood.
From that moment on, the place became part of my life.

Jean-Michel Folon

www.ftn-books.com has some scarce publications available.

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gallery MIN / Tokyo / Japan

gallery Min in Tokyo / Japan was one of the first locations where modern and contemporary photography was presented in Japan. Callis , Dawson and Cowin among the photographers presented. www.ftn-books.com has acquired some important and beautiful Min publications from the Mid Eighties which are now available.

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Philippe Van Snick (1946-2019)

Philippe Van Snick

Born in Ghent, Belgium, in 1946, Philippe van Snick is the perfect example of what is referred to as an ‘artists’ artist’. He is smart, sensitive, multidisciplinary, apparently not yet recognized by the establishment, still admired and respected by the connoisseurs who are familiar with his work. This year he received the Flemish Culture Prize for Visual Arts. It came to him after his comprehensive retrospective exhibition at Grazer Kunstverein Graz and at De Hallen Haarlem (both in 2016), and at the M – Museum Leuven (2010). Through this interview, conducted in his Brussels’ studio, CFA shares a glimpse into the artist’s practice.

Were you trained as a painter?

I was trained as a painter in Ghent. Though ‘trained’ is a big word, because in 1965 the Royal Academy in Ghent was rather old-school and there wasn’t much dynamic in it. I had a teacher in the first year who was a drunk man. He didn’t teach anything. You had to do it all by yourself – even to research what was going on in the art world. In fact, it was the end of a 19th century academic system. In 1968, at the end of my studies, the entire system changed. At that time, when I was about 20 years old, I already had a connection with Antwerp, which was (and still is) a very interesting city in many ways. For example, there was a gallery called White Wide Space that was connected to Germany and to the international scene of Conceptual artists, like Carl Andre, Bruce Nauman and the American wave. I would go to openings in Antwerp and experience what was happening. Also in Ghent there was some kind of dynamic in the actual art movements.

How was the art scene in Belgium then?

Well, there were some people, just a few people, who really supported the contemporary art, which at that time was only showed by a few galleries. There were no contemporary art museums either. In 1970 Antwerp started with ICC (Internationaal Cultureel Centrum, as of 1987 incorporated to form M HKA) as a public centre for contemporary art. In 1975 Ghent opened its Museum for Contemporary Art (Museum voor Hedendaagse Kunst, later S.M.A.K). This was due to the pressure of cultural associations, art collectors and personal initiatives.

And after you left the Academy, in the late 1960s and throughout the next decade, you detached yourself from painting. What influenced you to experiment with other medias?

Belgian artists, especially Flemish artists, were very interested in Expressionism. We also had an Abstract school, but that was not considered as interesting or important. When I left school this Expressionism didn’t interested me at all. I was highly influenced by artists and movements from abroad, such as (Marcel) Duchamp, Minimal and Conceptual art. In Belgium we had the Surrealist movement as well. This mix of Abstract, Surrealist, Minimal art and Conceptual has been my matrix until nowadays. De Stijl was somehow an influence too, but particularly Georges Vantongerloo. If you do some research you will see that his work was part of De Stijl, but was completely unique. It was more poetic. And he used personal mathematic formulations to title his works. People at De Stijl were rather dogmatic but he wasn’t.

On the mathematic note, can you tell a bit about your 0 – 9 system?

I had a friend who was passionate about Mysticism, and we discussed a lot, amongst other things, about dualism. In dualism, there are two parts, one of which revolves around the other to finally coincide. After they are together they explode in a multiplicity. That was my view of the universe. The question was, ‘how can I make this complicity concrete?’. So I decided to look at numbers from zero to nine. Ten numbers and infinite possibilities of combination. That’s the base where I started from to create and develop my work. In 1979, I started using colours. Each number was assigned a colour: zero: red, one: yellow, two: blue, three: orange, four: green, five: violet, six: black, seven: white, eight: gold, nine: silver.

Then how did you came about to be majorly a painter? Was it a smooth shift, something like a long time coming, or was it an epiphany, to reconnect with canvases?

It was in the late seventies. At that time there was a new dynamic in the art world: the Italian Trans-avant-garde, the Neuer wilden in Germany, the Punk movement, the New wave… And I thought, ‘I want to work with colour’. My first series of works were made with gouache, due to the brightness of the material. After that I started looking at the real paints, which had that same brightness and colours. From that moment I started painting with the help of my internal engine of 0 – 9, a kind of infinite dynamic movement that grounds my practice.

It’s an interesting transition, because in the 1970s there were no colours involved. The numbers came before, correct?

Yes, the first things that came out with numbers were wire drawings, sculptures and photographs. The first experience with colour was in fact a physical experience. I was sitting underneath a sun-umbrella that was orange, and the atmosphere, from that point of view, looked orange. That was really fantastic. This physical experience was the start of my use of colour. Bringing colour into my system allowed me to go further in my investigation of possibilities. Another question was: ‘how things happen in nature? Is this a possibility?’. When you mix things to see what will emerge from it. Take the hybrids, for example. In the plant world hybridisation is common. I often try to make a parallel between nature and painting. Although this ‘orange’ experience drove me to paint, I never wanted to explore colour through projections or artificial props. My personality counted in that decision: not to expose myself too much. To be more a kind of researcher than exposer. I asked myself: ‘how can I use painting as an artist?’. My formal education came back and all the tradition with it.

What about the dualities, for instance in the series ‘Day and Night’?

The theme of Day and Night (duality) came in 1984. I asked myself how to frame the colours between day and night. Day and night is also a new interpretation on my first idea (hard and soft) about duality. In 1969, I made ‘Traditionele L-vormige kamer’, an example of hard and soft: a steel cage and a cotton cage one next to the other. The ‘Day and Night’ is an on-going series, always black and blue with variations on my ten colours between one installation and the other.

You have been photographing since the late 1960s – though your first comprehensive exhibition of photographs, with several never before seen pictures, only happened in 2006 (‘Undisclosed Recipients’ at De Garage, in Mechelen, Belgium). Do you continue to photograph? If so, what’s the role of this media in your practice?

Yes I do. Each time when I come to a city that I’ve never been, I visit first the Botanical garden. I like to make botanical series. Later in my studio I make colour compositions on top of the picture to produce a series.
I also register my studio activities, digitally and on Polaroid.

In the catalogue of this exhibition you are quoted as saying, ‘(my artistic practice) is fundamentally about the instability of the material (…) it is always about the agency of things’. Could you please expand on this affirmation?

Here we can go back to the explanation about dualism. It is a constant movement of attraction and repelling. My interest in the fundaments of nature brought me to read about quantum mechanics. Agency of things is to make proposals readable, is to put the object(s) of your proposal on the right spot in a given space.

You clearly have a long term interest in mathematics – as it can be seen first with the ellipse drawings, then the dual system and finally in the 0 – 9 system. Have you ever thought about becoming a mathematician?

I never had the idea to become a mathematician. The intention to make the ellipse drawings was to register the development of an object from scratch and this in a series of drawings. The best way to register was to use the mathematical language. The 0 – 9 system that I developed is essential for the dynamic in my practice. I use the mathematical language as a way to express my view on the fundaments of my practice.

You operate a lot in the space, with site-specific installations and projects. And it becomes not only about the work being in the space, but the space becoming the work and the visual experience of colour. A more sensorial dimension to the work. After exhibiting in so many places, is there a place where you would really love to exhibit and haven’t done so yet?

My work can be installed anywhere. www.ftn-books.com has currently de Lakenhal catalogue from 1994 available.

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Eric de Nie addition to the collection

Above is the painting i recently acquired for our collection. The painting has for me the same appeal as some of the great Rothko paintings. Of course you can ot compare it with Mark Rothko his works. But you can sit in from t of it and wander in your thoughts, meditate or just relax. It “shines” and when you focus it is impossible to have a sharp image. It is always out of focus, but it is there. Title : RICORDO DAL ESTATE, 1984

www.ftn-books.com has some nice Eric de Nie titles available.

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Dieter Mammel (1965)

Dieter Mammel

Dieter Mammel (1965) uses a special technique in his paintings. He paints with ink on raw canvas which is made wet, so that the colour runs out and branches whimsically. One can see clearly that the images have been painted from photographic examples. First, he used pictures from his own family album, which he later expanded with more general pictures from the 50’s and 60’s.

These Familienbilder (Family Works), almost all painted with green ink, are familiar and confronting at the same time, reminding of both childhood happiness and drama.

The Magenta Lovers series, is painted in red and have a warm, sensual atmosphere. Naked men and women lie on the bed lazily, or are entangled in a tight embrace. The recent Feeling Blue series show subjects of a more existential nature. By using restrained colours and his veiled way of painting Dieter Mammel touches upon the images we all carry with us in our memory. These are mental images that are shaped and coloured by the emotional meaning they have for us.

www.ftn-books.com has the NAH UND FERN publication now available

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Guy Vandenbranden (1926-2014)

Guy Vandenbranden

Guy Vandenbranden was an important artist of the Belgian post-war art scene, belonging to the second generation of Belgian constructivists. Following Piet Mondriaan and Victor Vasarely, he attained total geometrical abstraction.

www.ftn-books.com has some Vandenbranden titles available

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Pieter Geraedts (1940)

Pieter Geraedts and family

Pieter Geraedts makes abstract geometric 3D art and I found that his works are part of the collection of practically all dutch modern art museums. His works are executed almost always in white and if one studies his work you can see that his works were well ahead of their time. They now prove to be timeless and Geraedts needs to be re-discovered again for his quality works of art.

http://www.ftn-books.com has the 1992 Geraedts publication from the Rijksmuseum Kroller MUller available.

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Erwin Olaf (continued)

Marcel Wanders by Erwin Olaf

There is areason why i used this portrait of Marcel Wanders by Erwin Olaf. Wanders is the man behind MOOOI and both Wanders and Olaf contributed multipel times to the MOOOI year publications. For the 2006 edition, Erwin Olaf was commissioned to make a series of photographs of which 14 were selected and published in this MOOOI 2006 book. Great designs, excellent designed book and 14 memorable Olaf photographs makes this a publication to collect.

The book is now available at www.ftn-books.com

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Robin Rhode (1976)

Robin Rhode

Robin Rhode (1976) was born in Cape Town during the apartheid era and grew up in Johannesburg, where he attended the Technikon Witwatersrand (now the University of Johannesburg) and the South African School of Film, Television and Dramatic Art. In 2002, he moved to Berlin, where he continues to live and work. His work has been acquired by numerous collections, including those of the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York and Johannesburg Art Gallery in Johannesburg.

Over the past two decades, Robin has created an extensive and multi-faceted oeuvre with a strong individual signature. His work is playful and contains a wealth of references to music, poetry, art, and history. His oeuvre is characterised by a visual combination of street art, drawing, painting, sculpture, performance, film, and photography. His preferred materials are charcoal, chalk and paint and you can recognise his work by its simple and clear language of form. Over the years, Robin has transformed himself from a lone performer to the director of an artistic fellowship with whom he can realise more ambitious productions. While his artistic journey began in his homeland, South Africa, Robin and his interventions have since travelled to every corner of the globe.

http://www.ftn-books.com has the scarce first Rhode publication available. This publication was sponsored and partly funded by Marlene Dumas.