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Gilbert & George/ Naked shit paintings

The blog of yesterday reminded me that Piero Manzoni was not the only artist who used faeces as a subject in their art. Gilbert & George is another example who used the subject in a far more explicit way than Manzoni did. With the canned Manzoni multiple it is still uncertain if the contents is the same as the label indicates , however with Gilbert & George it is no question at all, because the pictures show the subjects as they are.

Still the composition and execution are 100% recognizable Gilbert & George, but personally i like the more society and critical related subjects better and far more pleasing to look at, but just to show that many more artists used the subject it is nice to devote a blog on these 2 great artists.

 

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Books on Gilbert & George are available at www.ftn-books.com

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Piero Manzoni…artist’s shit (1961)

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In May 1961, while he was living in Milan, Piero Manzoni produced ninety cans of Artist’s Shit. Each was numbered on the lid 001 to 090.  A label on each can, printed in Italian, English, French and German, identified the contents as ‘”Artist’s Shit”, contents 30gr net freshly preserved, produced and tinned in May 1961.’ In December 1961 Manzoni wrote in a letter to the artist Ben Vautier: ‘I should like all artists to sell their fingerprints, or else stage competitions to see who can draw the longest line or sell their shit in tins. The fingerprint is the only sign of the personality that can be accepted: if collectors want something intimate, really personal to the artist, there’s the artist’s own shit, that is really his.’ (Letter reprinted in Battino and Palazzoli p.144.)

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It is not known exactly how many cans of Artist’s Shit were sold within Manzoni’s lifetime, but a receipt dated 23 August 1962 certifies that Manzoni sold one to Alberto Lùcia for 30 grams of 18-carat gold (reproduced in Battino and Palazzoli p.154). Manzoni’s decision to value his excrement on a par with the price of gold made clear reference to the tradition of the artist as alchemist already forged by Marcel Duchamp and Yves Klein among others. As the artist and critic Jon Thompson has written:

Manzoni’s critical and metaphorical reification of the artist’s body, its processes and products, pointed the way towards an understanding of the persona of the artist and the product of the artist’s body as a consumable object. The Merda d’artista, the artist’s shit, dried naturally and canned ‘with no added preservatives’, was the perfect metaphor for the bodied and disembodied nature of artistic labour: the work of art as fully incorporated raw material, and its violent expulsion as commodity. Manzoni understood the creative act as part of the cycle of consumption: as a constant reprocessing, packaging, marketing, consuming, reprocessing, packaging, ad infinitum. (Piero Manzoni, 1998, p.45)

Artist’s Shit was made at a time when Manzoni was producing a variety of works involving the fetishisation and commodification of his own body substances. These included marking eggs with his thumbprints before eating them, and selling balloons filled with his own breath. Of these works, the cans of Artist’s Shit have become the most notorious, in part because of a lingering uncertainty about whether they do indeed contain Manzoni’s faeces. At times when Manzoni’s reputation has seen the market value of these works increase, such uncertainties have imbued them with an additional level of irony. ( text on this subject comes from the Tate site : http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/manzoni-artists-shit-t07667)

www.ftn-books.com has some nice publications on Manzoni

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George Hendrik Breitner (1857-1923)

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What makes this painter so special for me?… Possibly because he made one of the paintings i truly admired when i was young.

One of the first times i visited the Rijskmuseum and the Stedelijk Museum i encountered this beautiful woman, lying on a couch, wearing nothing but a red japanese kimono. Everything is the paintings was new to me. Dutch impressionism, the loose touch with the brush, the high details and the sensuality in the painting made it beautiful to me. What i did not know at that time, is that Breitner was one of the first to use photography as a start for his paintings and this girl in a red kimono ( name was Geesje Kwak , a famous model at that time) would be painted in many versions and depicted on many paintings. There are “Red Kimono” paintings in the collections of the Rijksmuseum, Stedelijk Museum, Museum Twenthe, Teylers Museum. A few years ago there was this exhibition in the Rijksmuseum on all these versions of the girl in the red kimono. Unfortunately i did not visit it , but i still have some excellent catalogues on Breitner available at www. ftn-books.com and study this wonderful painting.

 

These and other titles on Breitner are available at www. ftn-books.com

 

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Guido Lippens (1939).. ever changing style

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Guido Lippens has made paintings and drawings in so many styles. Sometimes with a free hand like the drawings by Jan Schoonhoven and other times painted, like a super realistic painting,…. with grids and patterns. Paintings for the art of painting, but without any depth or feeling. Lippens , born in Zeeland is not very known outside this province, but has had his moments and exhibitions during the last 5 decades. He even had one time an exhibition in the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, but his most famous one was the one in the Noordbarabants Museum, which catalogue is available at www.ftn-books.com

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Eva Besnyö (1910-2003)

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Born in Hungary, educated by Pecsi and advized to continue her education in Berlin she met John Fernhout, the son of Charley Toorop and married him and became a dutch citizen. She worked and lived practically her entire life in the Netherlands and because of the contacts she made through her husband she became one of the most important artist photographers of her time. She contributed to many publications with her excellent photographs and for the DOLLE MINA movement ( Womens Liberation movement) she was the house photographer. Personally i find her 50’s and early sixties photographs the most intriguing . They stand out from the rest. I was surprised to find so many books with her photographs in my inventory but one has to be mentioned separately. Eva Besnyö in Bergen is special.

For more Eva Besnyö search at www.ftn-books.com on Besnyo and find more

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Japanese posters ( 1977 )…catalogue by Wim Crouwel

The Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam has a history with posters and specially the posters from Japan were presented on multiple occasions within exhibitions on the subject. In 1977 , the “Japanse Poster” exhibition catalogue was designed by Wim Crouwel, who designed a very special catalogue for the exhibition . The catalogue is one of the best from the seventies and instead of the typical Crouwel typography

on the cover there are Japanese letters drawing your attention. Red lettering on a silver background let this one stand out from the rest.

Stedelijk Museum#JAPANSE AFFICHES# Crouwel, 1977, NM

This catalogue was published with number 617 within the series of published Stedelijk Museum catalogues.

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Greg Gorman (1949)

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If ever there was a celebrity photographer with a personal approach to his subjects Gorman is for me second best after Koos Breukel. To get an impression of his many excellent and sometimes even superb photographs please visit his site first and then continue reading.

http://www.gormanphotography.com

Greg Gorman’s work documents that peculiar obsession of the 20th century celebrity. Each shot, a testament to the individual character, gives a picture of human nature in its infinite range. For me a photograph is most successful when it doesn’t answer all the questions, Somewhere it must be an enigma . Breukel excels in that area and for me Gorman has the same qualities .

For over three decades, Greg Gorman has continued to master the art of photography. From personality portraits and advertising campaigns to magazine layouts and fine art work, Gorman has developed and showcased a discriminating and unique style in his profession. There are several books by Gorman available at www.ftn-books.com

, including the special edition of INSIDE LIFE, which contains an original signed photograph of a male nude body.

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Charlotte Schleiffert (1967)

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For me Charlotte Schleiffert has the same qualities as Jean-Michel Basquiat. She creates a world of Hybrid creatures, part human an part animal, dressed in strange fashion and executed in a very large size. She paints, draws and makes sculptures and with these elements she creates installations. The result …… a typical Schleiffert world made by Charlotte Schleiffert and unique in the world of art. Charlotte Schleiffert is represented by galerie Akinci . / http://www.akinci.nl/schleiffert.html

www.ftn-books.com has 2 titles on Schleiffert available

Within the series of Hollandse Meesters there is a 15 minutes documentary on Charlotte Schleiffert available:

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James Lee Byars (1932-1997) sculptor and performance artist

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James Lee Byars was both. An excellent sculptor and a performance artist in the US, much like Joseph Beuys was in Germany. They knew eachother very well and became friends in the late Seventies, resulting in a fascination correspondence between them of which part was published.

Obsessed by the idea of perfection, Byars produced a remarkable body of work that strove to give form to his search for beauty and truth. Pursuing what he called “the first totally interrogative philosophy,” he made and proposed art at scales ranging from the vastness of outer space to the microscopic level of subatomic particles, in an attempt to delineate the limits of our knowledge while enacting a desire for something more.

Here is the performance of THE PERFECT LOVE LETTER in Stockholm.

Byars was one of a kind and his art stands out from that of his contemporary artists. www.ftn-books.com is lucky to have some excellent publications on James Lee Byars.

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Maria Lassnig ( 1919-2014 )

Tate Modern announced her last year show as follows….The first UK retrospective of one of the twentieth century’s most original painters… and she definitely is. The Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam held a retrospective 23 years ago and she proved to be a highly original artist with a completely different approach to her subjects, sometimes very personal, making her own body the subject of a painting. Lassnig made informal paintings, abstract expressionist paintings was educated in and made animation art and showed her paintings during the Documenta which was curated by Rudi Fuchs in Kassel. During his first years of his directorship of the Stedelijk Museum, Fuchs invited her for a large retrospective in 1994 in the Stedelijk. More than 23 years before the Tate the STedelijk Museum recognized her qualities as an artist. Time after time i come to realize that the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam is possibly the most trend setting museum in the world of Modern Art. The Maria Lassnig catalogue is available at www.ftn-books.com

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