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Yayoi Kusama… a zero artist

Kusama stands for me as “ZERO”.

Being one of the first to have participated as a Zero artist Dancing together with Jan Schoonhoven (in the nude)

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and after that building an oeuvre on just one pattern…the Polka dot.

i love these artist that stay true to their belief. Kusama is not the only one. Leblanc, Peeters and Schoonhoven ,all from this generation , stayed true to their art ” inventions” developing it into something very perosmnal , recognizable and in many cases a beautiful and impressive work of art.

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Kusama participated in the first ZERO/Nul exhibition in the Stedelijk Museum, but beside that she had her Retrospektives held all over the world including the Tate Modern where a large rRetrospektive was held in 2012. Now she has turned into a grand old lady of  Contemporary Art and perhaps together with Louise Bourgeois  and Georgia O’Keefe she has given a feminine touch to Modern Art. www.ftn-books.com holds some excellent Kusama titles in its inventory.

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Tomitaro Nachi (1924-2007)

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Tomitaro Nachi was one of the first japanese artist ever to have an exhibition in the Stedelijk Museum. Wim Crouwel designed the catalogue for his exhibition and what makes it extra special is that the catalogue included a rare and beautiful multiple. There is wonderful short movie about this artist which was made at the time of his exhibition at the Stedelijk Museum in 1974.

The catalogue shines. It is like a minimal artist book and reflects the spirit of “Zero” and Kinetic art and was forgotten by most until recently it was sold at a local book auction and fetched a steep price of euro 120,– because it had the original multiple included. www.ftn-books.com has both copies available. The one with and the one without the multiple. Both are worth collecting, but as lng as it is there i would chose the one with the multiple included.

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Piet Mondriaan / Mondrian’s studio

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The studio of Piet Mondrian were works of art of them selves. They acted like a true work “in situ” where every item had its proper place . Because of this, the studio itself became a work of art. This was recognized by many and one of the greatest photographers from last centur even made a series of photo from the Paris studio. The same with the NY studio which was photographed by Arnold Newman.

Kertesz and Newman , two great photographers who realized that Mondrian was a very special painter and made these photographs with one purpose….. so we could see the extraordinary qualities Mondrian had when he approached a painting or an object.

There is onegreat article on Artsy where the studio’s of Mondrian are described.

https://www.artsy.net/article/artsy-editorial-mondrian-turned-studios-giant-abstract-paintings

There are some excellent publications on Mondrian and his studios available at www.ftn-books.com including a paper model kit

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Gerrit Benner (1897-1981)

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One of my first blogs was devoted to the museum Belvedere where i encountered some wonderful paintings by Gerrit Benner. This blog is solely devoted to Benner because he deserves it. His paintings are among the first abstract paintings which still hold a link with realism in the Netherlands . These paintings are definitely inspired by nature. Skies, meadows and even an abstract cow can be determined in the compositions. Benner is a painter “pur sang” who’s works are rooted in the dutch tradition of abstract paintings. For instance Mondrian used these abstracted landscapes in his own painting from the early 20th century.

on the left a painting by Benner with Red cloud on the right Landscape with Red cloud by Piet Mondriaan

Benner is a great painter who deserves to be known outside the Netherlands and for those visiting the Netherlands. When you visit the Stedelijk, Gemeentemuseum, Belvedere and Museum Twente you surely will encounter a Benner painting in their permanent collections.

There are some very nice Benner publications available at www.ftn-books.com

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Manfred Mohr (1938)

 

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Another discovery from the Josef Albers Museum/Quadrat Bottrop is the artist Manfred MOhf of whom i had not heard until 8 years ago, but who i discovered at the Quadrat Museum, because they had some very nice limited prints available. Later i remembered that he also featured within the Blank Page set which i acquired some 25 years ago for my personal collection.

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Mohr is a digital Art pioneer and strangely enough this has no relation at all with his early years as an artist in which he was a jazz musician and action painter. I really love the works by Mohr, because they look simple compositions and almost the same , but when you look at the closely you will notice the difference and subtle changes which result in a completely different composition.

The publications by MOhr have all the same qualities. Oblong sized and showing these little differences in sequence resulting in a different composition. I love these kind of books. Small editions, artist like books, in most cases designed by the artist and really showing what the art is about and www.ftn-books.com has some of these books by Mohr available.

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Auguste Rodin (1840-1917)

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Here si a classic sculptor who paved the way for modern sculpture. You just have to visit the Rodin museum in Paris to find the most beautiful Rodin sculptures all assembled into one place and find the “studies” among them. Look at them closely …travel in time some 50 years ahead and find parts of Henri Moore and Brancusi in them. Rodin was a genius and the dutch are lucky to have some great Rodin sculptures in public collections. There are statues in the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag and the Stedelijk Museum and there are 7 sculptures by Rodin collected by Mr. and Mrs Singer which are frequently on show at the Singer Museum in Laren. The most important one is a smaller sized “THINKER” statue.

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Beside the statues , Rodin made some very impressive  (erotic) watercolors. Studies of bodies which also have an abstract quality.

Rodin erotic

There are publications on Rodin available at www.ftn-books.com

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Jean Cocteau (1889-1963)…author or painter?

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NO doubt in my mind. For me Jean Cocteau was a painter/photographer. Surely he was a multitalented artist, but in his drawings he shines. Personal, bold and typical Cocteau styled. These drawings are timeless and have at one time been published by Taschen in highly affordable, but beautiful executed publication.

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But beside this great introduction to his ( erotic) drawings there are many other publications worth collecting on this artist. www.ftn-books.com has some of them available, but it is well worth to search for these small but excellent publications on book markets and at garage sales. Cocteau was a great and original artist.

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Stang Gubbels …. a dutch designer

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It was at the time Wim van Krimpen was the director for the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag that i met Stang Gubbels. Stang had worked with van Krimpen before on some projects he did with the KUNSTHAL/ Rotterdam. His style and designs are truly original , highly recognizable and together with the designs by Irma Boom and Gracia Lebbink, belons to the best dutch designs produced during the last 2 decades in the Netherlands.

Stang has an excellent internet site which can be reached at www.stang.nl and for those looking for his scarce publications…..www.ftn-boooks.com has two nice STANG titles available.

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Piet Dirkx….the publications (1)

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During the time i filled my Piet Dirkx daily in the last 2 years, i frequently looked into the publications that i have on and by Piet Dirkx and each time it struck me that these were all quite special. Covers out of the ordinary, special binding and one even one resembling the famous Moleskine notebooks that Piet uses for his notes and drawings nowadays.

Some of these are still available at www.ftn-books.com. Not all are listed… so inquire for the ones in store, but if not in the inventory of www.ftn-books.com keep looking and searching for them , they really are still out there to be picked up.

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William Klein (1928) a master of abstract photography

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I found an excellent biography on Artnet on William Klein, but for me the importance of Klein is the fact that William Klein made a stunning catalogue together with Wim Crouwel for his 1967 exhibition in the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. The catalogue has some very bold typography and the use of the bright yellow in contrast with the black and white photograph in the back makes it for me a classic. Here is the Artnet bio.

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William Klein is an American artist known for his unconventional style of abstract photography depicting city scenes. Although similar in subject matter to other street photographers such as Diane Arbus and Saul Leiter, as well as fashion photographers Irving Penn and Richard Avedon, Klein’s images break from established modes. “I came from the outside, the rules of photography didn’t interest me. There were things you could do with a camera that you couldn’t do with any other medium—grain, contrast, blur, cock-eyed framing, eliminating or exaggerating grey tones and so on,” he reflected. “I thought it would be good to show what’s possible, to say that this is as valid of a way of using the camera as conventional approaches.” Born on April 19, 1928 in New York, NY, Klein studied painting and worked briefly as Fernand Léger’s assistant in Paris, but never received formal training in photography. His fashion work has been featured prominently in Vogue magazine, and has also been the subject of several iconic photo books, including Life is Good and Good for You In New York (1957) and Tokyo (1964). In the 1980s, he turned to film projects and has produced many memorable documentary and feature films, such as Muhammed Ali, The Greatest (1969). Klein currently lives and works in Paris, France. His works are held in the collections of The Museum of Modern Art in New York, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., and the Art Institute of Chicago, among others.

There are more titles on or with contributions by William Klein available at www.ftn-books.com

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Mel Ramos ( 1935 )

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Mel Ramos made hyperrealistic paintings , but if i had to decide what kind of artist he was , i would rather say he was first and foremost a Pop Art artist.

Ramos is best known for his paintings of superheroes and voluptuous female nudes emerging from cornstalks or Chiquita bananas, popping up from candy wrappers or lounging in martini glasses.

Ramos was among the first wave of Pop Art artists who gained recognition for their art. His art was hidden for a long time for us dutch. No publications were available and the nude paintings/illustrations we had in magazines over here were practically all done by Alberto Vargas, the famous Playboy illustrator, but none by Mel Ramos

Ramos received his first important recognition in the early 1960s; since 1959 he has participated in more than 120 group shows. Along with Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol, he was one of the first artists to do paintings of images from comic books, and works of the three were exhibited together at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 1963. Along with Claes Oldenburg, James Rosenquist, Tom Wesselman and Wayne Thiebaud, Ramos produced art works that celebrated aspects of popular culture as represented in mass media. His paintings have been shown in major exhibitions of Pop art in the U.S. and in Europe, and reproduced in books, catalogs, and periodicals throughout the world.

PS. i started to write this blog knowing for sure i had a great publication on Ramos in my stock, but unfortunately it was sold some years ago and it is not available any longer at www.ftn-books.com

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Giovanni Nicolai (continued)

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Here is my 3rd input to my FTN blogs on Giovanni Nicolai. We developed a very more than friendly contact and this time we helped each other. Giovanni paid with some of his drawings part part of his invoice with 3 new drawings to our collection. 3 beautiful drawings were added. I learned to appreciate his drawings and paintings over the last year. Since he expressed his interest in his fellow artist Massimo Rao (1950-1996), who we both admire, i traced his works and found them interesting, original and classic  all at the same time with a very personal approach to drawing. His classic men’s heads look to be rooted in the 17th century, but they are not , these drawings are classic drawing of  modern perhaps a little androgyn men. If you are interested please let me know and i will gladly supply you with the information i have on this contemporary young italian artist… and now the 3 new drawings.

nicolai x