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Erwin Olaf (1959-2023)

Erwin Olaf has passed away at the age of 64, his management informed the ANP news agency. He was one of the most famous photographers in the Netherlands. Olaf has been suffering from emphysema for many years and a few weeks ago he underwent a lung transplant.
Erwin Olaf started out as a documentary photographer, but he later focused on stage photography.

The family said in a statement that Wednesday morning’s death was unexpected. Although he recovered after a lung transplant, Olaf “suddenly became unwell and resuscitation efforts were unsuccessful.”

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Bernard Schultze (1915-2005)

Bernard Schultze was a German artist, considered part of the informal movement, a group of artists who placed great importance on intuition and the subconscious in the creation of art. In 1952 Karl He founded the artist collective Quadriga together with Otto Goetz and others, making informal art famous in Germany.
Schultz’s work is associative, expressive, and colorful, and poses strange questions to me as a viewer. Flipping through his monograph, Bright Breath, Sparkling Wind, we discover wonderful paintings, watercolours, and drawings, but also incredibly ugly paintings that leave an impression because they are completely formless. The photo was taken by a mentally handicapped person during a writing class, while the image on the other side is clearly of the same man.
Schulze lived from 1915 to 2005. Since Schulze was born in 2015, 100 years before him, a major retrospective exhibition has been held in Cologne, and several excellent books have been published, including this fascinating book which gives an excellent overview of his work. Published. Many of his paintings are truly breathtaking, his drawings are sophisticated and beautiful, but his papier-mache images continue to amaze me with their fantastical forms. Even if the same whimsical figures appear in the painting, it is still strange that they do not mind being there. This keeps the piece attractive. has several Schultze titles available

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Antoine Mortier (1908-1999)

The reality that lies at the basis, leads me to an “abstract” form, I abstract ‘form’. This form is imagined as a basic thought. She is the structure that gives strength to the form. My work is at first ‘form’, the color comes later. My visual language is constructed and is not to make with the ‘informal’.’ (Antoine Mortier, 1986) has some interesting Mortier titles available

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Gerco de Ruijter ( 1961 )

Gerco de Ruijter is a Rotterdam-based visual artist working in the field of photography and film. In the late 1980s he started using kites, balloons and fishing poles to create images of situations far removed from our own vantage point. Since 2012 he has been mining Google Earth as a source, resulting in films like CROPS (2012) and Playground (2014). His art explores how far presentation of the landscape can be reduced and yet still remain recognisable.

De Ruijter studied at the Academy for Visual Arts in Rotterdam, graduating with honours in 1993. Since then he has had numerous solo and group exhibitions both in the Netherlands and elsewhere, including at the Stedelijk Museum Schiedam, Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam, The Hirshhorn Museum, Washington DC, and The Harnett Museum of Art in Richmond. His work features in several important private and public collections. has the ALMOST NATURE now available .

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Laurie Simmons (1949)

Simmons’s understanding of American consumerism was shaped by the suburbs—full of mass-produced appliances, automobiles, and furniture—that sprung up after World War II. Born in 1949, Simmons’s formative years were spent on Long Island, surrounded by homes much like the one pictured in Walking House. This period saw economic expansion that ushered in unprecedented material prosperity for the middle class, but it also enforced a potent impulse to conformity. Imagine a familiar scene from any suburban tract house: a kitchen full of anodyne, impersonal surfaces. The woman of the house peers into an open refrigerator; behind her is a table laden with food. The scene has a nostalgic beauty, but its appeal is wholly simulated: the woman is a doll and the room around her a carefully constructed miniature environment. This is just one of many “interiors” that Simmons staged and shot in the late 1970s, only a few years after she graduated from the Tyler School of Art and settled in New York City. This body of work, which brought Simmons to public attention, reveals the uncanny superficiality of suburban life by using photography to deceive rather than accurately report the facts.

Simmons’s early work treats the domestic environment as a distinctly female space, but one where artificiality casts doubt on the reliability of conventional gender roles. A decade later, Simmons’s “Walking Objects,” with their elegant, bare or stocking-clad legs, similarly take aim at omnipresent media images of women transformed into sexualized objects. Her recent series titled How We See is no less incisive. Here, Simmons photographed fashion models that have been made up and attired to resemble dolls—in a particularly disquieting touch, the oversized, luminous eyes of these women are painted onto their closed eyelids. Simmons’s attention to male identity is equally sensitive to questions of convention and superficiality. One image from 1985 is barely legible as a person—using a microscope, Simmons and Allan McCollum photographed a tiny figurine used to populate model trains—but a shirt and tie, the most generic attire of an urban working man, is clearly visible.

Ultimately, however, Simmons is drawn to a different kind of artificial male figure: the ventriloquist’s dummy. In the mid 1980s and 1990s, she produced several series of photographs that use these articulated dolls to explore masculine experience and self-presentation. Years later, a film Simmons directed in 2006 would prominently feature the same dummies alongside a lead performance by Meryl Streep. Like the domestic interior, the motif of ventriloquism speaks to Simmons’s suburban childhood: “I kept returning to the image of an early, almost pre-memory Christmas present given to my older sister. It was a ventriloquist doll…. I feel as though we spent the better part of our childhood trying to talk without moving our lips.” This autobiographical subtext came to the fore in 1993, when Simmons commissioned a ventriloquist’s dummy in her own likeness. In photographs that depict this doll, the confusion of object and person, as well as reality and illusion, reaches new heights, suggesting that even Simmons’s artistic self-fashioning cannot fully escape the culture of artificiality and pretense we inhabit. has the , until this date, most important Simmons publication ” BIG CAMERA LITTLE CAMERA ” now available.

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Bertozzi & Casoni ( since 1980)

iampaolo Bertozzi and Stefano Del Monte Casoni, better known as Bertozzi & Casoni, stand out for their original and innovative ceramic sculptures. From their early studies at the Ceramic Art Institute of Faenza, their interests gravitated towards a dialogue with the great traditions in art and they nurtured an original vocation for experimenting with sculpture, seeing in ceramics the possibility of painted sculpture. Bertozzi & Casoni went on to attend the Academy of Fine Arts in Bologna, and participated in exhibitions that focused more on the artists and the motivations for a “new ceramics” in an effort to bridge the gap in support of an expressive medium viewed as a minor art with respect to other artistic forms. has now the Sperone Westwater book from 2005 available

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Joanne Greenbaum (1953)

Joanne Greenbaum studied at Bard College, where she worked under the direction of Elizabeth Murray (1940-2007). Her painting is based on experimentation and the hybridisation of various forms, and maintains close ties with drawing, which acts as a sort of outline or framework. It has been shown in many museums and institutions worldwide. Her work shown at the exhibition The Triumph of Painting at the Saatchi Gallery in 2007 exceeds and frees itself from the traditional rules of abstraction. The nature of the artistic gesture is fundamental in her work, distancing itself from the gestures of expressionist painting. Abstract elements are arranged following an acute sense of colour and rhythm: pictures such as Trend Report (2004) and Prom King (2006) associate outlines and systems based on utopian architectural forms, to which she adds multiple arabesques and colour blocks, forming complex and playful compositions. Along with her paintings, her drawings, for which she follows a process close to automatic writing, resemble labyrinths that alternate between balance and imbalance, between order and chaos.

In her oil paintings from the late 90s, the canvas is left almost entirely blank, its surface interspersed with repeated circular motifs or linear architectural shapes. Éric de Chassey described the imaginative and psychological logic that animates them in Peinture, trois regards (2000): “She [the artist] contrasts a stable, utopian construction with impossible places and temporary heterotopias, following a logic of inner questioning; she assigns to her current paintings an origin in the process she begun ten years ago – a process of ‘introspection, which ended with self-doubt becoming the subject [of the work] itself’ ”. While white is still present in her latest paintings, colour has tended to take over Greenbaum’s works lately, giving them strength and structure. has the Haus Konstruktiv book from 2008 now available.

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Han Klinkhamer (1950)

The paintings by Han Klinkhamer show landscape in two respects. First, the view of the land opens up, with the painting serving as a window that opens up the view of a horizon, a sky and contours of trees, shrubs or flowers.
At the same time, each painting has a very independent rough structure, the artist has put a lot of work into the texture – it often looks like the magnification of a surface or a cutout from nature. These two perspectives – far away and close – are combined without the focus being affected. Or, in other words, Klinkhamer’s works combine a spiritual image with a material, physical view of real landscapes.
The artist lives in a village directly behind a dike on the Meuse. He only has to climb this dike if he wants to see water, meadows or the moving sky. Nevertheless, one does not feel as if his paintings depict this outer world. Although his works deal with nature, his daily encounter with the elements undoubtedly serves as a framework for him. But the true landscape is created in the studio – “true” here means the landscape created with color, conjured up. Sometimes one gets the impression that plant stems or grains of sand are added to the colour. But the illusion arises from the thickness of the paint layer and scratching with a sharp tool, everything is painted.
Klinkhamer’s works are about the transformation of nature into paintings – and about making this transformation look authentic and credible. As far as the colour spectrum is concerned, Klinkhamer is limited. One almost gets the impression that he is hiding the colors in the motifs. Is this perhaps due to the limited colour diversity of the Dutch river landscape, where Klinkhamer is at home? Hardly. The colours are determined in the studio, in the painter’s head, in the image he wants to create, by the inner truth of the respective image. There is always a primer, often in black or white, and the potential for color, which, however, is reluctant to appear – as if the viewer witnessed the moment of the first rays of sunshine when things take on color. Then we can indeed see a hint of green in the black, and a hint of pink in white.
Do these images radiate a love of nature? Maybe, yes. On the other hand, however, there is also effort and struggle, a pulling and pulling. “With every picture,” says the artist, “you have to start from scratch as if it were the very first image.” Klinkhamer’s paintings thus address not only the outside world, but also the inner landscapes, moods and convictions – without words, and yet as an essential part of the paintings. has several books on Klinkhamer now available.


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10 great and iconic buildings, no. 8

This list is invented to make some quick and easy blogs for this month filled with festivities. I chose the buildings because i think they belong to the most important from all buildings realized in the last 100 years.

So here is no. 8. Villa Dirickz by Marcel Leborgne

As soon as you spot the building in the Belgium landscape you know that this is special. Multiple geometric patterns are included in the design of this building and it is said that the value of the house is over 10 million euro. The house was designed by Leborgne for the family Dirickz, therefore it is now called the VILLA DIRICKS. Diricks was fond of art and was not affraid to commission Leborgne for a Villa which has been one of the first Modernistic houses. The house was restored by the new owner in 2007 and has been sold after its restoration has some nice books on modernistic architecture available

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John Szarkowski (1925-2007)

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Perhaps Szarkowski was more know for being curator at MOMA then for being one of the greatest photographers from last century.  Here is part of the text the Guardian place shortly after he had passed away.

Szarkowski was a good photographer, a great critic and an extraordinary curator. One could argue that he was the single most important force in American post-war photography.

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Like all good critics and curators, Szarkowski was both visionary and catalyst. When he succeeded the esteemed photographer Edward Steichen as director of the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1962, he was just 36, and must have been acutely aware of the long shadow cast by his predecessor. Steichen had curated the monumental group exhibition, The Family of Man, at Moma in 1955, which he described as ‘the culmination of his career”. Featuring 503 images by 273 photographers, famous and unknown, it had aimed to show the universality of human experience: death, love, childhood. The show had drawn huge crowds to the gallery and then toured the world, attracting an estimated 9 million viewers.

It was, as Steichen had no doubt intended, a hard act to follow. “We were different people”, Szarkowski later said, “with different talents, characters, limitations, histories, problems and axes to grind. We held the same job at very different times, which means that it was not really the same job.”

More revealingly, Szarkowski also said that Steichen and his predecessor, Beaumont Newhall, “consciously or otherwise, felt more compelled than I to be advocates for photography, whereas I – largely because of their work – could assume a more analytic, less apostolic attitude.” That difference in approach would prove to be a crucial one, and it underpinned a new photographic aesthetic that continues to shape our view of the world to this day.

When Szarkowski took over at Moma, there was not a single commercial gallery exhibiting photography in New York and, despite Steichen and Newhall’s pioneering work, the form had still not been accepted by most curators or critics. Szarkowski changed all that. He was the right person in the right place at the right time: a forward thinker who was given control of a major art institution at a moment when his democratic vision chimed with the rapidly changing cultural tastes of the time.

Szarkowski insisted on the democracy of the image, whether it be a formally composed Ansel Adams landscape, a snatched shot that caught the frenetic cut-and-thrust of a modern city or a vernacular subject like a road sign or a parking lot. “A skillful photographer can photograph anything well,” he once insisted.

In his still-challenging book, The Photographer’s Eye (1964), Szarkowski included snapshots alongside images by great photographers, and argued – brilliantly – that photography differed from any other art form because its history had been “less a journey than a growth”. “Its movement has not been linear and consecutive but centrifugal,” he suggested. “Photography, and our understanding of it, has spread from a centre; it has, by infusion, penetrated our consciousness. Like an organism, photography was born whole. It is in our progressive discovery of it that its history lies.”

szarkowski a has the Szarkowski /Josef Albers Museum available