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and now for something completely different…Rosanne Cash

Because i have missed her concert i have been listening yesterday almost the entire day to Rosanne Cash. Listing more Wim Crouwel’s Stedelijk Museum catalogues, TD special items on eBay and www.ftn-books.com. This is for all those that admire her and don’t be afraid this is just a “one day blog” side step from the usual art and books.

as many of you know, “The Only Thing Worth Fighting For” was featured on HBO’s “True Detective: Season 2” as sung by Lera Lynn … what you may not know is it was Written By T-Bone Burnett, Lera & Rosanne Cash

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Wim Crouwel (1928-2019)

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This morning i heard that one of the most influential designers from our time, Wim Crouwel, has died. The last years of his life he suffered Parkinson disease, but he was still going strong and must have looked forward to the retrospective of his works being opened later this  month at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. What better way to commemorate this great artist than to show a selection of the many items designed by him. www.ftn-books.com

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And to finish one of my personal favorites. Wim Crouwel will be an example for many designers in the decades to comewerkman crouwel aa.

 

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Národní Galerie Praha / Trade Fair Palace

We went for a short visit to Prague last weekend and walked over 30 miles within 3 days to explore the city. One of our first destinations was the Narodni Muzeum at the Trade Fair Location. It is at least a little confusing, but spread over Prague there are about six Narodni museums on all kinds of subjects. This Trade Fair Palace was the one i had on my list for a long time and been wanting to visit for some decades now, but never had a chance to, because Prague was out of the way for us but this weekend we finally went and were not disappointed. At the time of its construction (completed in 1928), this was the largest building of its kind in the world and the first Functionalist building in Prague. Today it serves the needs of the National Gallery. Knowing its age you must admire its architecture….a true avant-garde building which is unique, but because of its functionality hard to admire. It looks old and worn but the light within the buildling is unique.

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It houses one of the best International collections i have ever seen and its historic value is beyond any doubt. One of the first rooms you enter consists of a mini exhibition which , organized elsewhere would draw hundreds of thousands of visitors. The quality of the paintings and sculptures is superb and deserves to be visited and admired by many more than the handful of visitors we encountered during our visit.

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The small room houses a Picasso, Matisse, Bonnard, Seurat, Monet, Renoir, Degas statue, Maillol and ( personally i am not a great van Gogh fan) a spectacular and beautiful van Gogh.

We were so surprised to find so many of these beautiful paintings and to discover some great Czech art. It was a very nice visit and made us even more like the collection, because we specially came to visit the Giacometti exhibition, but in it’s wake we were treated on some of the most beautiful and surprising art i have seen lately.

Of course www.ftn-books.com has on all these artists some nice publications.

 

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André Masson (1896-1987)

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I remember a magnificent Masson exhibition at the old venue of the Musee de l’art Moderne / avenue Wilson in Paris. It was at the time i was living for 9 months in Paris and visited that museum frequently. They had the Brancusi Studio , which is now opposite the Centre Pompidou. I remember  the Masson exhibition being different . I expected a kind of surrealism like the paintings by Dali and Magritte, instead i found paintings which were far more abstract and reminded me more like the ones i had seen by Miro. Here follows a short biography i copied from Wikipedia.

His early works display an interest in cubism. He later became associated with surrealism, and he was one of the most enthusiastic employers of automatic drawing, making a number of automatic works in pen and ink. Masson experimented with altered states of consciousness with artists such as Antonin Artaud, Michel Leiris, Joan Miró, Georges Bataille, Jean Dubuffet and Georges Malkine, who were neighbors of his studio in Paris.

From around 1926 he experimented by throwing sand and glue onto canvas and making oil paintings based around the shapes that formed. By the end of the 1920s, however, he was finding automatic drawing rather restricting, and he left the surrealist movement and turned instead to a more structured style, often producing works with a violent or erotic theme, and making a number of paintings in reaction to the Spanish Civil War (he associated once more with the surrealists at the end of the 1930s).

Under the German occupation of France during World War II, his work was condemned by the Nazis as degenerate. With the assistance of Varian Fry in Marseille, Masson escaped the Nazi regime on a ship to the French island of Martinique from where he went on to the United States. Upon arrival in New York City customs officials inspecting Masson’s luggage found a cache of his erotic drawings. Living in New Preston, Connecticut his work became an important influence on American abstract expressionists, such as Jackson Pollock. Following the war, he returned to France and settled in Aix-en-Provence where he painted a number of landscapes.

Masson drew the cover of the first issue of Georges Bataille’s review, Acéphale, in 1936, and participated in all its issues until 1939. His brother-in-law, the psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan, was the last private owner of Gustave Courbet’s provocative painting L’Origine du monde (The Origin of the World); Lacan asked Masson to paint a surrealist variant.

www.ftn-books.comhas a few important Masson titles available

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Gilberto Zorio (1944)

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It was in the mid eighties that i first heard of Gilberto Zorio. An Italian artist rooted in the Arte Povera mouvement. At that time we had a book distributor at the Gemeentemuseum who had this impressive catalogue on Zorio. I bought it for the bookshop, but i must have been the only one who admired it, because years later we still had the book andeventually it was sold with  a huge discount. Times have changed, Zorio has now become one of the great names in the Arte Povera and his works fetch high prices at auction. It is not the easiest from of art Zorio makes, but his often huge installations always fascinate me.

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Zorio’s artwork shows his fascination with natural processes, alchemical transformation, and the release of energy. His sculptures, paintings, and performances are often read as metaphors for revolutionary human action, transformation, and creativity. He is known for his use of materials including: incandescent electric light tubes, steel, pitch, motifs, and processes through the use of evaporation and oxidation.

btw. It was the silver one with the red lettering we were stuck with, but i have it now once again available at www.ft-books.com

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Mail Art by Art & Project, 1970

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Followers of this blog must know by now that i have acquired a large collection of Art & Project Bulletins, publications and invitations. Among these invitations , many are considered to be true Mail Art and Art & project was one of the first galleries to communicate with its subscribers in this way. From the first 100 of exhibitions held at the gallery many are considered to be iconic, but some stood out. One of these exhibitions is still a classic in the history of the gallery. It is the 1970 Gilbert & George exhibition. First there was the bulletin send from Japan. with drawings of Gilbert by George and of George by Gilbert and secondly i must mention the invitation by van Beijeren and Ravesteijn. Handwriting in print to made it as personal as possible. Here is the example i have currently in my inventory which is addressed to Kees Schippers, the dutch conceptual artist.

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Martin Maloney (1923)

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I did not know anything about Maloney and stumbled upon an article by Elena Filipovic and it is a great introduction to this conceptual artist . I recently added the Bulletin 34, from 1971 to my inventory which is now for sale at www.ftn-books.com

The history of art is an ocean with many wrecks . Some floating on the surface, most almost inaccessible submerged on the seabed. As an art historian, you can surf the waves, and pick up the supernatant oeuvres, or you can go deep sea diving in the hope of discovering less known, less  obvious artists.
Today you must scrape the bottom to find literature mentioning the name Martin Maloney (1938 – 2003), and even then you will find only loose fragments and faint traces of an oeuvre .

However, this American artist once was amongst the founders of conceptual art. He had close contacts with the, now classical, conceptual artists and took part in a number of key exhibitions in the late sixties and early seventies.

During this period he was represented by the top galleries of the avant garde , such as Seth Siegelaub in New York, Konrad Fischer in Düsseldorf and Art & Project in Amsterdam. 
But the man did not refrain from criticizing the art establishment and his fellow artists , and even used criticism explicitly as the starting point for a number of postcard sized ” language pieces ” (”Designation Deposits” and ”Reject Deposits” , 1967-2001 ). This unruly and polemical art practice, coupled with his radical views and his particular temperament, isolated the artist more and more from the artistic context . 
By the time Martin Maloney, at the age of 65, died in Antwerp, he was materially impoverished and maintained only sporadic contacts with the art world .Maloney’s stubborn attitude obviously had other consequences too: because of his own (largely) chosen isolation, he cut himself off from the various channels that art history constructs: gallerists, collectors, critics ,curators ,conservators, art historians, fellow artists. Moreover, he himself destroyed much of his own work. All this results in his absence from the major, canonizing, publications since the seventies devoted to conceptual art .

By putting his radical critique in relation to the art world down on paper, Martin Maloney literally wrote himself out of art history.

After dropping out of university, in 1962, Maloney settled as an artist in New York. Initiall he had a special interest in the work of the postwar New York School painters like Ad Reinhardt , Barnett Newman , Mark Rothko and Jackson Pollock, but gradually shifted his attention away from the pictorial to the textual and non-material forms of art which from the mid- sixties began to emerge. He shared a studio with Lawrence Weiner and maintained relations with artists such as Carl Andre, Joseph Kosuth and Dan Graham.

In 1966, Maloney took part in the infamous ’25’ group exhibition, organized by the young art dealer Seth Siegelaub,who was to become the great promoter of conceptual art a few years later.

Maloney exhibited at Siegelaub several times and also had shows in several major European galleries. By this time, Maloney was  looking for alternatives to the traditional gallery exhibition. In many cases, his solo exhibitions would be accompanied with, or even take the form of an artist’s book. Examples are ‘Interguments’ (1969), ‘Fractionals’ (1970) ‘Reject Objects’ (1971) and ‘Five days and five nights’ (1970). The latter book was published in an edition of 500 copies in the framework of Maloney’s one man show at the MTL gallery in Brussels. Maloney locked himself for five days and five nights in the gallery to work on the resulting booklet of poetic statements. The conventional presentation of objects in a gallery made room for the direct communication of ideas in print .

For his next exhibition at London’s Lisson Gallery (1971), Maloney takes things even a step further. After distributing a poster designed by the artist, Maloney takes residence in the gallery and throughout the whole duration of the event goes into direct confrontation with his audience. The resulting insights and frustrations he wrote in white chalk on the black painted walls of the basement. After a short sojourn in London, Maloney moved to Amsterdam in 1973 and leaves behind the hardcore minimalist concept to include wood sculptures and painted text works. Four years later he returned to New York, to gradually retreat in the privacy of his studio, now serving as a laboratory for numerous installations and presentations.

 
From 1995 until his death he resided in Antwerp, where in 2000 he was invited by Flor Bex to realize a mural for the Museum of Contemporary Art (MUHKA). 

Maloney occupied a studio in a dilapidated building on the Jordaenskaai 13 .

What remained in the six rooms of Maloney’s Antwerp working and living environment were, in addition to a number of ”language pieces” and works on paper, the results of his latest artistic experiments: minimalist ‘floor pieces’ and corner stacks, composed of pieces of fallen ceiling plaster, wallpaper, fabric scraps, canvas and wooden beams from the solid oak doors in the building.

Like an architectural archivist Maloney recycled and ordered materials of the decaying building into geometric compositions. It is as if these material traces of a precise and time-consuming labor, the quiet, repetitive activity of the hands were a necessary remedy for the chronic anxiety of the mind .

Johan Pas , Ekeren , January 2004
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“To live,” Walter Benjamin once famously wrote, “is to leave traces.” But one could almost say that the recently deceased artist Martin Maloney (1938-2003) lived to efface his. Largely forgotten and omitted from art history, the American artist is all but invisible in institutional collections of the conceptual art he participated in from an early stage.

Thus the title of Maloney’s first posthumous exposition, “Here to Stay”, captures all of the ambiguity of the artist’s oeuvre. The exhibition fills the vast decrepit spaces where the artist lived and worked in solitude for the last 8 years of his life while the Antwerp building was waiting to be demolished.

The works, like the space they occupy, are not there ‘to stay’ at all. Immanent destruction is a ghost that has haunted the building for years. And even though his arrival in this space was relatively recent, Maloney’s works made from the recycling of building detritus have evoked architecture and entropy since the late ‘60s.

He made floor-bound geometric ensembles, each composed of thousands of pieces of any one element: neat piles of fallen ceiling plaster, pyramids of broken bricks, layers of split timber from his studio’s oak doors, or thousands of identical maniacally cut squares of carpet. In his work, the ceiling sat on the floor and wall elements became precarious rubble in the corner. In short, boundaries were elided between architectural elements and sculpture, between object and installation.

These ensembles made infinitely mutable, fragile works—more often than not with nothing holding the components together. They could change form a hundred times… or simply be swept away. ‘Structure’, ‘edge’, ‘edged’, ‘angle’, ‘cut’, ‘split’, ‘split space’: these words line Maloney’s texts, canvases and painted brick-works. Even a sampling of his exhibition titles, “Up Against the Wall” (at Konrad Fischer, Dusseldorf 1971) or “White Walls are Animals” (at Micheline Szwajcer, Antwerp, 1980), give the sense that the constraints of architecture and space — particularly the exhibition space — were never far from Maloney’s thoughts.

For him, the gallery’s symbolic ‘white walls’ needed to be fought, resisted and shown for what they were. In 1971, he locked himself in the confines of the MTL gallery in Brussels for five days and nights. His solitary act and refusal to allow the gallery space its role in visual presentation was the ‘exhibition’, with only a published version of the texts he wrote during his stay in the gallery as material trace.

Martin Maloney’s contribution to David Lamelas’ Publication, Nigel Greenwood Gallery, London, 1970.

For his exhibition at the Lisson Gallery in London that same year, he painted the walls black and wrote lines of conversation and provocation on them during the gallery’s opening hours to incite the visitors who came to communicate with him. Little, if anything, is left of these meetings of the conceptual, the textual and the architectural, and one has the sense that this is somehow as Maloney wanted it.

Maloney was active as a conceptual artist in the ‘60s close to the likes of Lawrence Weiner, Carl Andre, Joseph Kosuth and Dan Graham. He made his material pile sculptures and conceptual projects alongside a vast body of intricately shaped canvases, highly structured language pieces, box sculptures, and painted statements on canvas.

Poster “Here To Stay”
 

To see some of what remains of this work on exhibit is to feel a ricochet of influences, references, and dialogues (with Weiner and Andre, of course, but also Frank Stella, Robert Smithson, Gordon Matta-Clark, Arte Povera…). Over time, however, he managed to alienate himself from his fellow artists, galleries, collectors, curators and art history alike. With the exhibition’s end, the works on show will travel to museum spaces that share little of the precariousness that make a building in ruin a fitting context for the artist’s complex, volatile work.

The form of the works and their dialogue with space will necessarily change, and Maloney would probably never have accepted such an exhibition at all. As he knew too well, white walls are animals indeed

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Ger van Elk (1941-2014) and the Art & Project Bulletins

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Ger van Elk was one of the gallery artists from Art & Project and made 7 Bulletins for the gallery. ( all 7 are available at www.ftn-books.com)

over a period of 15 years he published within the series the following numbers Bulletin 19, 55, 65, 74, 100, 132 and 139

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Each different in its approach of the medium and all very much worth collecting. Her are some examples of the Bulletins.

 

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Luigi Ontani (1943)

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Like Cindy Sherman, Ontani makes his own image subject in his his works and therefore it is not by coincidence that the Groninger Museum has made n exhibition with Ontani some 20 years ago. Ontani has a natural place in the colection of this Museum, Italian art and a focus on photography are two pillars that made the collection of the Groninger Museum well known all over the world.

After studying at the Academy of Fine Arts of Bologna Ontani began his artistic career in the 1970s when he became known for his tableau vivants: photographed and videotaped performances in which he presented himself in different ways: from Pinocchio to Dante, Saint Sebastian to Bacchus. These displays of “actionism” (different from Viennese Actionism, to which Hermann Nitsch is associated) verge on kitsch and raise personal narcissism to a higher level.

Throughout his long career Ontani has expressed his creativity and poetics through the use of many different techniques: from his “oggetti pleonastici” (1965–1969), made in plaster, to the “stanza delle similitudini,” made with objects cut in corrugated fiberboard. He has often anticipated the use of techniques subsequently adopted by other artists: his first Super 8 films were made between 1969 and 1972. With his work “Ange Infidele” (1968) Ontani begins to experiment with photography. From the beginning his photography has been characterized by some particular elements: the subject is always the artist himself, who uses his own body and face to personify historic, mythological, literary and popular themes; the chosen formats are usually miniature and gigantography, and each work is considered unique. From the late 1960s on are “Teofania” (1969), “San Sebastiano nel bosco di Calvenzano, d’apres Guido Reni” Tentazione,” “Meditazione, d’apres de la Tour,” “Bacchino” (1970), “Tell il Giovane,” “Raffaello,” “Dante,” ” Pinocchio” (1972), “Lapsus Lupus,” the diptych “EvAdamo” (1973), “Leda e il Cigno” (1974), “I grilli e i tappeti volanti” that will be followed by other “d’apres,” and the first Indian cycle “En route vers l’Inde, d’apres Pierre Lotti.” His first artistic photography has a historic importance because it anticipates a phenomenon that will be widespread and popular from the 1980s.

While working on his photographs Ontani began to make his first tableaux vivants. From 1969 to 1989 the artist made around 30 of these exhibitions, again foreshadowing the so-called interactive installations, which are based on the mixture of various technologies. With this same attitude he has created works in papier-mâché, glass, wood (he has made numerous masks, especially on Bali, with Pule wood) and, more rarely, in bronze, marble, and fabric. He has also made notorious works in ceramic, thanks to the cooperation with Bottega Gatti of Faenza, Venera Finocchiaro in Rome, and the Terraviva laboratory of Vietri: some of them are his “pineal” masks, the “Ermestetiche,” and the last great works such as “GaneshaMusa” and “NapoleonCentaurOntano.”

Ontani has not used all these different techniques as ends in themselves but as occasions to experiment new possibilities and formulate new variations of the themes and subjects that interest him the most: his own “transhistoric” travel through myth, the mask, the symbol and iconographic representation. He has exhibited his works in some of the most important museums and galleries of the world, from the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum to the Pompidou Centre, the Museo Reina Sofía to the Frankfurter Kunstverein. He has also participated in several editions of the Venice, Sydney, and Lyon biennales. Recently he has had four important retrospectives at the MoMA (2001), the SMAK in Ghent (2003–2004), the MAMbo in Bologna (2008), and the Accademia di San Luca, also called the Accademia Nazionale di San Luca, in Rome (2017). The retrospective in Rome marks his receiving the Premio Presidente della Repubblica award in 2015.

Part from thnis blog comes from the WIKIPEDIA page on Ontani

www.ftn-books.com has the most important Ontani publication on stock.

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Jean Pierre Raynaud (1939)

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Raynaud has had a long career in Modern Art and until recently he was the perfect artists artist. Known and appreciated by his colleagues, but outside the inner circle of artists hardly known. He has had a fairly successful exhibition at the Stedelijk Museum in 1968, which catalogue was designed by Wim Crouwel, but beside that exhibition it lasted over 30 years in the Netherlands before the DE PONT museum decided to have another  Raynaud exhibition in 1999.

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( both catalogues available at www.ftn-books.com).

Of course Raynaud has had his exhibitions at galleries and museums, but the appreciation of collectors was not there. However in recent years his works have become more popular among collectors and since 2000 the appreciation of his works and prices start to rise. His works are characterized by the use of primary colors and in many a grid is used and part of the composition . There are several Raynaud publications available at www.ftn-books.com