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Memphis…no not the city in the US!

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This is a blog on Memphis as a design and art form. Memphis was born in 1982 in Italy in Milano and founded by ao Ettore Sottsass. They designed Postmodern furniture, fabrics, ceramics, glass, and metal objects from 1981 to 1988. and were of great influence to many designers started their careers in those days. The design ideas by Memphis spread all over the world and culminated possibly in one building ….the Groninger Museum. Memphis designs are known for us dutch by one gallery shop in Den Haag who presented all these artists and had many specials an limited editions from the Memphis group. The COPI shop in the Prinsenstraat / Den Haag does not exist any longer but ask any dutch collector interested in Memphis, they know the name for sure. Because of the blog i finally know the origin of the name and found it on Wikipedia and want to share this information with you:

On December 11, 1980, Ettore Sottsass organized a meeting with designers, and in 1981 formed a design collaborative named Memphis. The name was taken after the Bob Dylan song “Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again” which had been played repeatedly throughout the evening’s meeting. They drew inspiration from such movements as Art Deco and Pop Art, including styles such as the 1950s Kitsch and futuristic themes. available at www.ftn-books.com are the following Memphis publications.

 

 

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Kenneth Martin (1905-1984)

 

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Kenneth Martin was for me one of the grand old masters of Constructivism. Outside England hardly known, but considered by many of great influence and importance. His best works for me are his prints in which he excels. His wife Mary was a gifted artist too and from both www.ftn-books.com has some nice publications. I only know of one exhibition outside Great Britain, which is the Bottrop exhibition but when you see one announced , i strongly recommend a visit to discover yourself the importance of Kenneth Martin.

 

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Ossip, Winter and Chezhin

There different artists, 3 different backgrounds, 3 different era’s, but somehow their works have a resemblance with each other. The source is with all three an old photographs, which is worked over in a way the scene becomes surreal.

Above are some of the examples i found in my inventory of www.ftn-books.com , which has pubications of all three artists available.

From left to right: Ossip, Julie Winter and right Chezhin.

Chronologically and artistically there is for me no doubt who is the most original of these three……by far it is my friend OSSIP, who’s art is still developing . His “sculptures”are literally on the move nowadays.

 

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Vladimir Tatlin (1885-1953)

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I always have liked the works by Tatlin. Being one of the first true constructivist artists he has always interested me as an artist. Inspired by Pablo Picasso he soon began to experiment with cubistic patterns, but eventually ended making pure abstract constructions. One of this constructions is only realized as a maquette because the actual work was never executed.  He began creating objects that sometimes seem poised between sculpture and architecture. Initially trained as an icon painter, he soon abandoned the traditionally pictorial concerns of painting and instead concentrated on the possibilities inherent in the materials he used – often metal, glass, and wood. He wanted above all to bend art to modern purposes and, ultimately, to tasks suited to the goals of Russia’s Communist revolution. He is remembered most for his Monument to the Third International (1919-20).

A design for the Communist International headquarters, as said it was realized as a model but never built. It crystallized his desire to bring about a synthesis of art and technology, and has remained a touchstone of that utopian goal for generations of artists since. The arc of his career has come to define the spirit of avant-gardism in the 20th century, the attempt to bring art to the service of everyday life.

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

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Hoogspanningslijnen / 340 KV trace

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Is art? Yes perhaps it is ….. It is landscape architecture at the largest scale possible.

We noticed from early May the steady progress of the Trace of the high voltage lines between Nieuwe wetering and Rijpwetering. We can follow this progress, because we sail frequently the Ringvaart which is crossed by this Trace of high voltage lines. It is part of the new ring of voltage lines between the largest cities in the Netherlands. They stand like large sculptures in a landscape and are very impressive. Height is on average 55 meters, and they surely can not be missed. You see them from a large distance and they alter the landscape in a unlikely way.

The Netherlands has a long history with these immense masts in the landscape and this was recognized by Arij de Bode who made a beautiful publication on just these large masts which look like large sculptures. The book contains great photography by the best in dutch landscape photography and is available at www.ftn-books.com

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Piet Stockmans (1940)

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Stockmans worked for Koninklijke Mosa in Maastricht as an industrial designer for a great part of his artistic life, but since 1989 he is a free lance designer and became very well known for his extremely fragile ceramics and his cooperation with the great culinary chefs of Europe.

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If you look at the eyes of Stockmans you discover where he found his favorite color beside the white of his ceramics. He frequently uses the color of pale blue on the edge of his egg shell ceramics. windlights , coffee cups and small vases have in many cases a blue edge. The edge together with the use of the fragile material is the signature of Piet Stockmans. Nice to know is that his products are fully handmade, all unique because all are made and finished by hand and still affordable. A true ceramic artist on whom www.ftn-books.com has some nice publications available.

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Furniture catalogues…. impressive and highly collectable

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Many of you have sometime in their lives took home a furniture catalogue. No, not the one from IKEA  or Habitat, but one from one of the more prestigious designers like Vitra, Herman Miller, Alessi, Foscarelli or Cassina. These are the ones that matter and because they have almost unlimited funds for promotion at their sisposal their catalogues belong to the very best. The best photographers, designers and printers are selected and with them they make beautiful timeless books/catalogues/editions for their products. Even better….because they are just promotional material many of these are lost or replaced making them scarce and highly collectable items. To start a collection ….just visit your local furnituer mall, selct the best store with the most prestigious furniture name and ask them for some product catalogues so you can do your choosing at home. My guess is you will leave the store with a bundle of catalogues and have started your own collection. Beside these free publications some of these companies have their own line of publications. One of them is Cassina who have produced several prestigious books on their products and designers over the decades. www.ftn-books.com has the ones on Le Corbusier and Mackintosh now for sale.

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Rudolf Steiner …. art & architecture

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Yesterday my wife an i visited the ‘ DE PARADE ” a cultural fair with music and performances. a great evening and great fun on the fairground and at the time we left it was still light enough to distinguish the buildings in the surroundings. We took a shortcut to the tramstop and ….there it was …. a great building used nowadays as a care home for older people. architecture by J.W.E. Buijs en J.B. Lursen from 1924, commissioned by the dutch anthroposophic society and heavily inspired by the architecture of Rudolf Steiner.

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This was a great building and for me a total surprise, because i never had seen it before nor heard about it. It brought back memories and i remembered the large inventory we had during the Spiritual in Art exhibition which was organized by the Haags Gemeentemuseum together with the Los Angeles County Museum which catalogues are still available at www.ftn-books.com. The exhibition showed the importance of the iedeas of rudolf Steiner and the influence these ideas had on the art and artist of the Interbellum and shortly after.

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Piet Dirkx….and now for something completely….special.

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Readers following the “Piet Dirkx daily” know of my admiration for Piet’s his work.

We now have had over 600 cigarboxes and another 300 works to come. Among them cigarboxes, large paintings on wood and works on paper. Within the last category you will find the special of today. Piet made in 2005 some drawings/ gouaches to be sold in the shop of the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag and yes….i bought 3 of them and because i can only hang 2 from those three, i decided to sell the one that is still in one of my drawers.

Piet Dirkx, compositie, 2005
Piet Dirkx, compositie, 2005

It is certainly not the least out of those three and because if had first pick from the set which was to be sold i chose what i think were the best. Here it is …..A drawing like a series of open books and buildings, with a typical Piet Dirks mouth drawn in pencil upon them. Colorful, detailed and executed on perfectly square paper . It is the ideal Piet Dirkx composition upon a limited surface. (29,8 x 29,8 cm.)

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Pol Bury (1922-2005) and kinetic art

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Pol Bury, painter and sculptor, but his importance comes from his early participation in the Kinetic arts mouvement. It has been a long time before i appreciated Pol Bury art., but since i collected some of his Derniere Le Miroir publications by Maeght i started to know his works a little better and the time i saw one of his sculptures at Bottrop , i was convinced of the importance of Pol Bury for Modern Art. The sculpture i refer to is in the permanent collection of Bottrop and  acquired at the time of my visit the signed poster for the Bury exhibition in 1990. The poster shows the sculpture of the Bury kinetic sculpture. Like a giant flying saucer it stand in the middle of a pond , water coming out its opening. Mouvement and form , making it into a giant kinetic sculpture. This signed poster is available at www.ftn-books.com

Pol Bury about his own work:

Pol Bury: I see no point in revealing the technical details of the mechanism that drives the movement [in my sculptures]. We are too quick, nowadays, in this particular art form, to equip ourselves with the engineer’s compasses and slide rule. For me movement is a medium, like colour and line for painters. No one asks a painter for a chemical analysis of his chosen medium. The perception of movement should be immediate and obvious to the viewer; most importantly, the means used to create the animation should be invisible, and readily forgotten.

While making this blog on Bury i encountered an excellent site with many quotes on Bury and his importance. For those interested please visit:

https://www.christies.com/features/The-master-of-slowness-An-oral-history-of-Pol-Bury-6848-1.aspx

and the ones that want to inform themselves on Bury. There is a nice selection of publications available at www.ftn-books.com