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Richard Mortensen (1910-1993)

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Richard Strange Mortensen was born in Copenhagen, Denmark. He studied between 1931 and 1932 at the Royal Danish Academy of Art in Copenhagen. Influenced by the works of Wassily Kandinsky, he developed an abstract art style. In Copenhagen, Mortensen was joint founder of the “Linien” school of abstract painters.

In 1937, he undertook a study trip to Paris, where he met pioneers of surrealism, such as Roger Vitrac, Gala Éluard, Michel Leiris, Antonin Artaud, Raymond Queneau and André Masson. During the Second World War, Mortensen’s works reflected the violence of Europe. After the death of his wife Sonja Hauberg, in 1947 moved to Paris remaining there until 1964. Together with Robert Jacobsen, Mortensen became connected to the Galerie Denise René in Paris, which became famous for concrete art. His later works are concrete works of art characterised by large, clear, bright colour surfaces. After his return to Denmark in 1964, he received a professorship at the Royal Danish Academy of Art in Copenhagen, which he held until 1980.

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Mortensen was awarded the Edvard Munch Prize (1946), the Kandinsky prize (1950), the Prince Eugen Medal (1967) and the Thorvaldsen Medal (1968). In 1945, he married author and poet Sonja Hauberg (1918–1947). They were the parents of literary researcher and professor Finn Hauberg Mortensen (1946–2013). Richard Mortensen died at Ejby in Lejre Municipality

The works by Mortensen were presented in the last two decades of his life at gallery Willy Schooots, bu unfortunately the gallery in Eindhoven and the foloow up in Antwerpen closed recently. However ….somne of the catalogues are available at www.ftn-books.com

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Joost Swarte and HUMO (continued)

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Joost Swarte has been drawinh and designing covers for well repected magazines for over four decades now. Drawing covers for Vrij Nederland, The New Yorker, Raw magazine and many more, but one contribution which has been continuing for over 30 years now,stands out and is for the Flemish magazine HUMO.

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He made dozens and dozens of covers over the years and many of these were published in small portfolio’s. A collection well worth starting now. http://www.ftn-books.com has the portfolio “TWEE POLEN” now available. A beautiful start or addition for your Joost Swarte collection.

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Cor van Dijk (1952)

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I recently acquired a drawing by Cor van Dijk from 1993. I am very happy with my purchase, since i consider Cor van Dijk as one of the true dutch minimal artists.

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I have encountered many sculptures by van Dijk at gallery exhibitions and auctions, but never had the funds to buy  a larger work. This was a chance i had to take and bought the drawing.  A graphie filled in shape of two rectangles intertwined and very much a drawing which is typically van Dijk. The drawing is now available at www.ftn-books.com

To explain the attractions of van Dijk i found this text on his site. It gives a rather accurate description of the way Cor van Dijk constructs his sculptures, which is also applicable on his drawings

The steel sculptures of Cor van Dijk (Pernis, 1952) are characterised by clear lines and geometric shapes. From first stages of their design, the material used for these works – steel – and their realisation are inextricably linked. To create his work, the artist uses separate sheets of solid steel, which he joins together with extreme precision. Van Dijk bases the dimensions of his sculptures on the standard gauge of the sheet metal. As a result, the mill scale found on the rolled steel is left intact in the finished works.

Viewing Van Dijk’s sculptures, one’s eyes constantly move across their surface and one’s attention keeps shifting from areas of open space to sections that take up space. The seams between the different segments play a key role in the works, since they lend a sense of scale to the mass of steel and define its different volumes. The artist strives to show interior space – its layout, possible compartments, the spaces between the segments and the massive quality of the steel itself. The different dimensions all interact with one another. Ultimately, this is also what gives the sculptures their specific presence: the precise handling of volumes and the perfect connection of individual sections in space.
Each newly-realised concept is intended to bring even greater clarity to the context of the preceding work – while also pointing ahead, suggesting new concepts that are still waiting to be developed.

Viewed head-on, Van Dijk’s sculptures seem quite unambiguous. But when you observe them from a variety of angles, this clear-cut quality makes way for a new complexity that takes more time to fathom. The seams created by the careful positioning of the individual metal sheets form a two- and three-dimensional drawing – both across the sculpture’s surface and within it.

Over time, the artist’s explorations and realised projects have yielded a unique generative system in which each evolution, each addition and each realisation charts its own course, fulfils its objectives and ensures that the whole ‘makes sense’ – for the moment, at least.

A sculpture’s realisation is the final stage of a long process. The artist needs to wait until the entire design process has been rounded off and the concept is fully developed. The different dimensions all need to be determined with millimetre accuracy. In this method of working, any further interference during or after the sculpture’s production is out of the question. This puts considerable pressure on Van Dijk’s work process – which he sees as a good thing, incidentally.

Van Dijk’s most recent sculptures comprise a single segment. The location of the open space and its dimensions determine the scale of the work as a whole. The result is an object in which mass (matter) and open space interact more intensively than ever before. In technical terms, the steel used for the sculptures shows no traces of machining or processing. Thanks to their mass, the open space and the interaction of these two elements, these tranquil objects seem to speak directly to the viewer.

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Robert Mapplethorpe… an assignment

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Before Robert Mapplethorpe became worldfamous for his photographs he made a living as a portrait photographer and in 1986 he brought in an assigment for  a book which is now sought after because of his brilliant photography. The book? ….. 50 NEW YORK ARTISTS … edited and written by Richard Marshall and all portrait photography done by Robert Mapplethorpe. Among the artists depiceted some famous names like Isamu Noguchi, Kenny Scharff, Donald Judd, Roy Lichtenstein, Keith Haring, Eric Fischl and many many more. It reads like a WHO IS WHO from the art scene in New York in the mid Eighties. A great collectable book and now available at www.ftn-books.com

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Pierre Poiret ….King of Fashion

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The following text was originally published in the New York Times.
Poiret’s achievement is not as visible today as that of Coco Chanel, who built on some of his ideas and discarded others. His fashion house closed in 1929, and he spent his remaining years impoverished. But Poiret was for a while a revolutionary in revolutionary times and also a canny impresario. His radically streamlined, unstructured, often stridently colored clothes freed women from corsets while evoking exotic, non-Western cultures and a fierce disregard for social convention.

He introduced these corset-free garments in 1906, the year before Picasso committed his decidedly uninhibited (and unstaid) “Demoiselles d’Avignon” to canvas. But with his love of the exotic, his brilliant use of color and pattern, and his penchant for simplified, almost rudimentary form, Poiret most resembles Matisse.

Poiret functioned as a kind of one-man cultural scene. He collected art, gave lavish costume parties and made astute use of the press while laying the groundwork for fashion design as a modern art and a modern business. His clients included Sarah Bernhardt, Nancy Cunard, Isadora Duncan, Colette and Helena Rubinstein. Man Ray photographed Peggy Guggenheim in a Poiret gown and turban. Edward Steichen’s first fashion photographs were taken of models in Poiret’s atelier.

He was the first designer to understand the value of designing for well-known actresses both onstage and off. He was also the first to create his own line of perfume, named Rosine, for his eldest daughter, and the first to open an interior design store, Atelier Martine, named for his second daughter but inspired by the Weiner Werkstätte. His innovations included the chemise, harem pants and pantaloons and the popular lampshade skirt. When he visited the United States in 1913, he found himself called the king of fashion and discovered the underside of modern fashion success: His lampshade skirt was being copied far and wide.

Organized by Harold Koda and Andrew Bolton, who are curator in charge and curator of the Met’s Costume Institute, “Poiret: King of Fashion” conveys quite a bit of his complex genius and his contradictory relationship with modernity. It displays 50 garments on mannequins (by Beyond Design) whose ovoid faces and cryptic features evoke Brancusi and Modigliani. The silk backdrops, which are the work of Jean-Hugues de Chatillon, a French set designer who served as the exhibition’s creative consultant, accent the show’s spaciousness with indelibly Parisian vistas of leafy parks, chic theaters and luxurious drawing rooms. All told you may have the sensation of drifting through a series of extraordinarily beautiful fashion illustrations, an art that Poiret cultivated to his advantage.

 

Poiret’s liberation of the female body was in part inspired by the gamine build and independent spirit of his wife and muse, Denise, whom he married in 1905. In other ways it was born of necessity. Although he was initiated into the couturier business between 1898 and 1903, working as a designer for Jacques Doucet and then the House of Worth, Poiret never trained in the exacting crafts of couture tailoring or dressmaking.

His design ideas began with the flat, rectangle of the fabric itself, as did the Japanese kimonos and North African caftans he admired. They then evolved through draping, not tailoring, into garments with a minimum of seams that pretty much hung from the shoulders.

Poiret drew from a broad range of sources. Early in the show there is a trio of nightgowns, based on the Classical Greek gown known as the chiton, that are precursors to the 1950s negligee and the early 21st-century socialite party dress. To one side of these are two white high-waisted dresses that hark back to the severe yet demure gowns of post-Revolution France, displayed with an Atelier Martine chair that has bubbly hand-painted fabric.

Nearby is evidence of Poiret’s attraction to a more ornate form of non-Western dress: a gauzy harem outfit studded with enormous beads of turquoise celluloid that Denise might have worn to their most famous fete, “The Thousand and Second Night” costume party on June 24, 1911.

But turn around and you will see a stark simplicity that may take you aback: a gown that resembles nothing so much as a 1960s abstract painting. Wrapped gracefully around a mannequin, it has no sleeves or collar to speak of, just four broad, alternating bands of stylishly darkened red and blue.

Poiret’s best clothes were abstract in a very real sense, with a kind of self-evident structure that is a precursor of Minimalism, as well as of clothing designs as different as those of Rei Kawakubo, Hussein Chalayan and Andrea Zittel. His basic form was a cylinder, with or without sleeves attached. It appeared in his work as early as 1905 in his Révérend Coat embellished with Chinese roundels. The first garment in the show, it is worn over a white, lacy, high-necked, pinch-waisted Edwardian gown, like those Poiret designed at the beginning of his career. The sartorial conflict accents the shock of the newness of his sense of form, structure and color.

His best known and most audacious designs are a series of full-length columnar opera coats that begin in 1911 and culminate in the 1919 Paris Evening Coat, merely a swath of uncut fabric with a single seam. In a wonderful bit of exhibition magic this Möbius-like feat is demonstrated in a brief digital animation projected on a scrim that then turns transparent, revealing the actual coat behind it.

But even without digital aids you can see how his garments are built, step by step. A day coat began as a black satin jacket based on a Chinese robe. To this he added four strips of cream-colored wool jacquard striped horizontally with thin lines of brown for two cuffs, a simple folded-over collar and a slightly gathered skirt that reaches almost to the floor.

The contrast of fabrics joined in this single form is elegantly harsh, like a combination of Hudson Bay blanket and black tie. A similar contrast is drawn more closely in a jumperlike dress made of gold-lamé twill.

Poiret followed modernity only so far. By the mid 1920s Chanel was designing convenient, understated clothes for women enjoying an increased sense of physical and social freedom in the wake of World War I. But Poiret ignored the shorter skirts and trimmer lines and continued enveloping women in luxurious garments that began to look cumbersome.

the following books on Poiret are available at www.ftn-books.com

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Chris Ware (1967)

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Last week i have withdrawn all my Chris Ware items ( except for a Beau Hunks cd) from http://www.ftn-books.com.

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Not because of any controversial text or offending drawing , but because i had  so many beautiful publications collected over the years that it was time to start my own Chris Ware collection(again). My first encounter with Ware his drawings was at the galerie Lambiek in Amsterdam . At that occasion Ware was presented together with Henk Kuijpers. Of course no funds to buy, but from that moment i admired and started collecting Ware his publications. Some 15 years ago i decided to sell all, but now i have changed my mind and will start collecting again. Chris Ware is truly one of the greatest of them all.

 

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Geurt van Dijk (1941)

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Maybe not as known as many of his contemporaries, but still known by those who specialize in small and scarce publications. I stumbled upon van Dijk and his publications some 10 years ago when i discovered 2 small publications published by the Brummelse Uitgeverij voort luxe werkjes. Both titled ” VARKENSLAPPEN ” but with a difference.

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One published as a small book. the other in an envelope containig the illustrations as postcards. I tried to find moer information on bot of these publications , but only found that the van Dijk publications are publisehd in very small editrions of around 30 copies.

Both are published by the BRUMMELSE UITGEVERIJ VOOR LUXE WERKJES in 1977 and both are now for sale at www.ftn-books.com

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Niek Kemps (1952)

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Niek Kemps has been a part of the international art scene since the eighties. The artist wants to stimulate the spectator with his conceptual work, to process images in a different way; a statement about the attention span of modern day society and the accompanying image culture. Kemps’ work is like a laboratory, wherein he does both substantial as visual research to the social and cultural context, and how this relates to image, space, contemporary art and the concept of ‘museum’.

Sculpture becomes space, space becomes museum. A museological space can take diverse appearances: whether it’s static, collapsed, moving, hidden or even virtual. In his work, the artist questions, among other things, the more traditional configuration of the museum. From the need for a funded complexity, he analyses the different connotations, and this from a philosophical and visual stand point. In doing so, Kemps researches the impact of a full virtualization of the museological existence, wherein a virtual (read: fictional) museum merely displays digital work.

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Also in this imaginary constellation, the focus remains on the perception of context and space. An intertwining between fiction and reality is created. Virtual work is easily translated into a physical construction, a spaciousness, a sculpture, and vice versa. Kemps’ images never stand alone; they consistently show a sensitivity in relation to their surroundings, they interact so to speak with the space wherein they are located.

‘The narrow line between sight and seeing’, a work from 1986, is a speaking example of this. Until now, this illustrates the essence of his oeuvre. Originally it seems to be a sculpture. Yet the work is experienced as a space; a between area that questions all sorts of traditions and clichés. By continuously operating on this interface, the artist challenges the spectator to get out of their comfort zone, to explore the work, and to spend time with / in it. The artwork reveals itself only to the patient, attentive spectator. Every composition is formulated very precisely, like a poem. This form of complexity ensures that the work can never be apprehended at first glance. To fathom the different layers of meaning(s) takes time and effort. By defying fixed landmarks, meanings, perspective, and scale, every form of rational analysis is extracted or simply removed and it results in an astonishing artwork that invites to be lived and incites the spectator to reflect one self.

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Elspeth Diederix (1971)

 

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Elspeth Diedrix is born in Nairobi/Kenya. Her art is photography in which she places objects in strange and unexpected settings or a a simple object in a strange setting. Her ideas are not limited to her studio, but she invents and constructs her works everywhere. Her head is her studio, making her a conceptual artist “pur sang”. Het ideas are noted in her sketchbooks and at some other time executed in her studio. Photography is her preferred way of expressing herself. To experiment with photography is much easier and more real life.

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http://www.ftn-blog has a very nice work by Diederix available for sale. For more information inquire at ftnbooksandart@gmail.com

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Gilbert & George (continued)

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I have a large collection of Gilbert & George publications . Small and large ones, artist books and retropective catalogues. I asked myself why i am fascinated by these artists. My fascination started when Rudi Fuchs presented Gilbert & George at the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag and has grown since. The result is….. numerous publications in my inventory all on this illustrous artist couple.

The ones of Art & Project and the Stedelijk Museum are maybe the most scarce and wanted ones, But now i have acquired , what is perhaps the most accessable book and best introduction to the art of Gilbert & george. It is the Robin Dutt book , published by PWP who shows the works of G&G over several decades and perhaps more important, the development of their art. The book is now available at www.ftn-books.com but more important is, that it feels like their partnership is now complete and any new work is a repetition of earlier ones. Gilbert & George have established themselves as one of the truly great modern art artist and it i snow time for every art lover to recognize their importance and learn to appreciate their works.

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