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Cabaret Voltaire ( 1916)

Hugo Ball

Cabaret Voltaire’s story begins at the start of World War I. Hugo Ball, a German actor, tried to enlist in the army but was refused entry. Any sense of patriotism that existed within him is said to have vanished after the invasion of Belgium, which he witnessed. “The war is founded on a glaring mistake, men have been confused with machines,” Ball said.

Ball fled to Switzerland – which remained neutral throughout World War I -, with Emmy Hennings, a fellow actress and poet who he would later marry. They both settled in Zurich.

Ball’s experience of the War and his penchant towards anarchist philosophy became the foundation for the Dadaist movement, which Ball launched in July 1916 – just four months before Cabaret Voltaire first opened its doors on February 5, 1916.

Hugo Ball reading “Karawane” at the Cabaret Voltaire in 1916 | Public Domain/ WikiCommons

Along with a host of other disillusioned artists and political agitators, Ball and Hennings were looking for a place to express their ideas and frustration. They found it at Spiegelgasse 1, which was already home to a cabaret at the time.

Ball and his fellow artists announced in a press release: “The Cabaret Voltaire. Under this name a group of young artists and writers has formed with the object of becoming a centre for artistic entertainment.”

So Cabaret Voltaire opened and nights there were filled with the bizarre and the wonderful, performances that sought to go to the extremes of art and push boundaries. These were artists who had seen the madness of War tearing Europe apart at the seams, and they expressed this madness through their art.

“Dada is anti-Dada”

On July 28, 1916, Dadaism was born. Ball read his Dada Manifesto in the Cabaret Voltaire, allegedly saying he did not want it to become an artistic movement (his followers agreed, supposedly crying “Dada is anti-Dada” on occasion). It’s said that the name Dada was chosen after one of the founders plunged a knife into a dictionary and picked the word that the point happened to strike.

www.ftn-books.com has on all the artists that were participating in Cabaret Voltaire publications available.

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Marianne von Werefkin (1860-1938)

Marianne von Werefkin

The following text comes from Wikipedia.

Marianne von Werefkin was born in the Russian town of Tula as the daughter of the commander of the Ekaterinaburg Regiment. She had her first private academic drawing lessons at the age of fourteen. In 1880, she became a student of Ilya Repin, the most important painter of Russian Realism. Her progress was dealt a setback by a hunting accident in 1888 in which she accidentally shot her right hand which remained crippled after a lengthy period of recovery. By practicing persistently she finally managed to use drawing and painting instruments with her right hand again.

In 1892 she met Alexej von Jawlensky, who desired to be her protégé, and in 1896 she, Jawlensky, and their servant moved to Munich. Werefkin studied with other Russians in Munich at an art school directed by the Slovenian Anton Ažbè.[1]

For the sake of Jawlensky’s painting, Werefkin interrupted her painting for almost ten years.

She began painting again in 1906. In 1907 she created her first expressionist works; in these she followed Paul Gauguin‘s and Louis Anquetin’s style of “surface painting”, while also showing the influence of Edvard Munch. She and Jawlensky spent in 1908 several periods working with Kandinsky and Münter after their discovery of the picturesque rural town of Murnau near Munich, where Gabriele Münter owned a house. The four artists frequently painted together in open air in and around Murnau.

At her Munich apartment, Werefkin initiated a Salon which soon became a center of lively artistic exchange between members of the German and Russian avant-garde who would later be founders of the Neue Künstlervereinigung München (New Association of Artists in Munich, NKVM) and Blaue Reiter.[1] The NKVM, founded in 1909, became a forum of exhibitions and programming. At the first touring exhibition of NKVM, Werefkin exhibited Washerwomen (1909) and The Storm (1907). The simplified form and psychological content of works relate to the sources Werefkin admired at this time including the artist Paul Gauguin, Japanese woodcuts and the expressive works of the Nabis in France.[2]

Werefkin also founded the “Lukasbruderschaft” of which also Kandinsky was a member.[3]

The two principals of Blaue Reiter, Kandinsky and Marc, met each other at Werefkin and Jawlensky’s home on New Year’s Eve in 1911.[1] After a few years Wassily Kandinsky and Franz Marc distanced themselves from NKVM and formed Der Blaue Reiter (Blue Rider). The group was founded by a number of Russian emigrants, including Wassily KandinskyAlexej von Jawlensky and a number of native German artists, such as Franz MarcAugust Macke and Gabriele Münter. Werefkin began exhibiting together with Blaue Reiter in 1913.

At the outbreak of the First World War, Werefkin and Jawlensky immigrated to Switzerland, near Geneva. They later moved to Zurich. By 1918, they had separated, and Werefkin moved alone to Ascona, on Lago Maggiore where she painted many colorful, landscapes in an expressionist style. In 1924 she founded the artist group “Großer Bär” (i.e., Big Bear, Ursa Major).

In her later years, she painted posters. Her friends “Carmen” and “Diego Hagmann” protected her from poverty.

Marianne von Werefkin died in Ascona on 6 February 1938. She was buried in the Russian graveyard in Ascona.

www.ftn-books.com has a scarce 1969 gallery catalogue available.

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Bram van Velde And Samuel Beckett / 1968

The reason to introduce these two great artist together is that they have known each other for a very long period of time. Books were published on their conversations and because of the importance of these conversations an excerpt was used for the 1968 Knoedler exhibition. A small , but very important Bram van Velde publication which is now available at www.ftn-books.com.

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Corrie de Boer (1932)

Corrie de Boer

She is not the most wellknown artist in the Netehrlands, but her work still fascinates me. At one time she started with Albert Waalkens a gallery in the Frysian town of Finsterwolde. The NRC called it the Small Pompidou, but it was also a venue in which she presented her art. A kind of minimal art and many times executed in textile. The catalogue which is now on offer is on her drawings and shows that she had beside her textile paintings many other talents. It is from an edition of only 250 copies and now available at www,ftn-books.com.

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Beelden inde Koepel II, 1987

Discovered the almost complete set of the important BEELDEN IN DE KOEPEL II exhibition at the Gemeentemuseum Arnhem and curated by Anneke Oele. A memorable exhibition series in which Dirkx and Lafontaine were presented. Artists were asked to fill and decorate DE KOEPEL room . The result some memorable installations. The series is now available at www.ftn-books.com

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Hubert Leyendeckers (1935)

Hubert Leyendeckers

To be honest….I never had heard of Hubert Leyendeckers until recently i found an ICC catalogue from 1973 where the typographic font was intriguing since I thought it to be by Wim Crouwel Still the catalog published by ICC was a typical and interesting 70’s catalog which included titles and prices of works on sale. From the mid eighties it became silent around Leyendeckers until in 2018 he received an exhibition ” TRUE BEAUTY” in which his works were in the centre of the exhibition. Maybe this is such an artist that looks to be forgotten, but will become in the coming years increasingly more important.

www.ftn-books.com has the ICC catalogue now available.

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Sam Drukker (1957)

Sam Drukker

Sam Drukker (Goes 1957) studied at the art academy Minerva in Groningen and at the teacher training college Ubbo Emmius. In addition to his work as an autonomous artist, Sam has been supervising graduate students at the Wackers Academy in Amsterdam since 1990 and regularly gives master classes and lectures. Sam Drukker exhibits in galleries and museums in the Netherlands and abroad such as the Drents Museum in Assen, museum Flehite in Amersfoort, the MEAM in Spain, museum BAC in Switzerland, Rembrandthuis in Amsterdam and in 2014 at the Jewish Historical Museum in Amsterdam with his Minje project.

Sam Drukker, artist of the year in 2011, is a gifted portraitist and autonomous artist. The expressive work of Sam Drukker is characterized by a smooth handwriting, a theatrical light/dark contrast and intense use of color. Almost every work of Sam Drukker shows the human figure and it expresses the intensity with which he wanted to capture their character, a gesture, an emotion and an interaction. He concentrates on the figure in such a way that the rest of the canvas often remains empty. Beauty and decay play an equal role in his work to create a captivating unity. Sometimes theatrical and at the same time romantic. In every brushstroke of the canvas Sam Drukker wants to lay down life: the budding, or stagnant life, the ecstatic or empty life. Drukker uses old used materials such as wooden panels found on the street or old tent canvas, surfaces that already have a story of it’s own. The artist explains: [I paint on] “surfaces that already have a life behind them, where the traces are visible. That life, those traces, that story, I respect them and add my part to it”. Drukker is a contemporary romantic and knows how to be compelling and moving through his psychological quest.

Sam Drukker often works in series, such as the series of paintings Boxers, Carriers and Ophelia. In his series of paintings called Minje, Sam gave face to an almost disappeared generation: ten Jewish men who lived through the war as adults. The project is a tribute to the Jewish tradition and to survival.

Sam Drukkers paintings are included in corporate- and private collections and museums.

www.ftn-books.com has now the VERZAMELD WERK book from 2004 available

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Rosemarie Trockel (1952)

Rosemarie Trockel

Rosemarie Trockel’s polyvalent art practice emerged in the 1980s as a part of a new, radically inventive artistic scene in Cologne. Her films and videos, “knitting pictures,” ceramics, drawings, collages, and projects for children are celebrated for their biting critique. Like other artists of her generation such as Barbara Kruger, Cindy Sherman, and Jenny Holzer, Trockel relays a subversive engagement with feminist discourse in her earliest works, calling into question the essentialisms of 1970s feminism through the use of industrial fabrication and commercial design. In the early 1980s, Trockel began making her wool “knitted pictures,” patterned skeins of yarns generated by a computerised knitting machine and then stretched over canvas like paintings.

These large-scale pieces express the artist’s sharp engage- ment with questions of “women’s work” and the devalued status of craft in the context of an increasingly mechanised society. Including repeating geometric motifs, logos, political symbols, and references to German history, these “knitting pictures” superficially ape the forms of Abstract paintings, while underscoring the clichéd connotations of gendered labour behind them. For The Milk of Dreams, Trockel presents a selection of existing and previously unseen wool works. Subtle variations in the wool works’ stitching – each knitted by Trockel’s long-time collaborator Helga Szentpétery – signal their hand-made quality and present a wry assessment of the subjectivity of visual representation and of art’s commodification. 

www.ftn-books.com has a few Trckel titles now available.

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Christopher Wool (1955)

Christopher Wool in his studio ca. 1982

Over a career that spans three decades, Christopher Wool has conducted a riveting investigation into the question of how to make a painting at a time when new possibilities for the medium might seem exhausted. Extending his practice to photographs, prints, artist’s books, and, most recently, sculpture, he has approached each new work as a site of open-ended experimentation in which images exist as volatile entities that are subject to an array of disruptive processes.

Wool was born in 1955 and grew up in Chicago. By the time that he turned eighteen he had moved to downtown New York City, where the anarchic energy of the punk and No Wave scenes were a defining influence on his creative development. At the outset of his mature career in the mid-1980s, Wool abstained from the seductive expressionism of color and the gestural brushstroke in favor of stark, monochrome compositions that employed commercial tools and imagery appropriated from mass culture. His breakthrough body of work used rollers and stamps to transfer decorative patterns in severe black enamel to a white ground. His “word paintings” from the same period focused on language as image, confronting the viewer with anxious, enigmatic imperatives even as the stenciled letters disintegrate into abstract geometries. In both cases, Wool used unexpected breakdowns in his formal systems—slips and glitches, fractured text and erratic spacing—to convey emotional states ranging from pathos to aggression.

The same tension between control and disorder runs through Wool’s work of the 1990s, when he adopted the silkscreen as a primary tool. Cartoonish flowers began to multiply in dense configurations across his paintings, at times interrupted by irreverent passages of overpainting or scribbles of spray-paint that evoke an act of vandalism on a city street. Wool’s practice has always had a porous relationship with the world outside the studio, channeling an abrasive urban vernacular. The scenes of alienation and decay collected in his photographic series make this connection explicit, their fugitive compositions resonating with the vocabulary of his paintings.

Since the early 2000s, Wool has worked almost entirely with abstract forms, at once mediating and renewing the expressive potential of painting through strategies of replication, erasure, and digital manipulation. His large-scale “gray paintings” emerge from a cycle of addition and subtraction, as tangles of black lines are repeatedly wiped into fields of hazy washes. The authority of the artist’s hand is similarly challenged when he reworks images of his own finished paintings, coolly considering them in digital form before screenprinting them to new canvases, either as deadpan reiterations or as ghostly traces collaged with other elements. For Wool, these acts of sabotage and self-negation express the position of doubt and insistent questioning that has underpinned his work from the beginning, and that continues to drive him forward in search of new ways to create a picture.

www.ftn-books.com has several important Christopher Wool publications now available.

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Ren Rong (1960)

Ren Rong

Ren Rong is an artist born in 1960 in China and living partially in Germany and partially in China.  He has been organising tenth of museum expositions in the last decades in China and Germany. He makes installations; iron and stainless steel sculptures; wood and paper cuts.

His themes are ‘Dialogue’ and ‘The Flowerpeople’

Most of his works are unique pieces. Rong wants to communicate via his art the relationship between people and between people and nature.

Reecntly Ren Rong has had an exhibition in the Netehrlands at Zandvoort. http://www.ftn-books.com has the SELK” POSITIV-NEGATIV ” artist book now available.