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Wim Crouwel and DE VOLKSKRANT

 

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Wim Crouwel passed away some days ago and since, a great number of articles have been published on his life and accomplishments as a designer. His works will prove to be highly important for designers all over the world in the future and DE VOLKSKRANT ( one of the most important newspapers in the Netherlands) recognized that fact and devoted  a 2 page article on Crouwel in their Saturday paper. It is only on rare occasions that such a long and detailed article is published on just one person. Wim Crouwel and his works prove to be that important. The article can be found on the internet here (dutch)

https://www.volkskrant.nl/mensen/wim-crouwel-hoeder-van-het-functionele-ontwerp-en-een-onverzettelijke-rechtlegger~bf53fa62/

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William Leavitt (1941)

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William Leavitt was not known to me. I had seen his name in relation to the Art & Project bulletins, but never had seen works by him, so i had to turn to Wikipedia for some more information and this is what i found. Leavitt , a conceptual artist was not known like his contemporary friends like Baldessari and Kelly, but his work is well worth checking out, since some of his works are fascinating .

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William Leavitt (born 1941) is a conceptual artist known for paintings, photographs, installations, and performance works that examine “the vernacular culture of L.A. through the filter of the entertainment industry…drawing on ‘stock environments’ and designs of films as well as the literature of the place.” A critical figure in the West Coast conceptual art movement of the late 60s, Leavitt himself has managed to maintain a low profile. “Over the last 40 years, William Leavitt has made a name for himself as an influential artist while staying so far out of fame’s spotlight that his hard-to-categorize works have been all but invisible to the public,” wrote the LA Times. While his work is collected by high-profile artists such as John Baldessari and Mike Kelley (who donated Leavitt works to the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles), Leavitt himself has eschewed celebrity.

Leavitt received a BFA from Boulder Unviversity and a MFA from Claremont Graduate School. Since moving to Los Angeles in 1965 his work evolved, increasingly referencing themes endemic to the city such as the line between reality and fantasy and the nature of illusion.

Three of the Leavitt bulletins he made for Art & Project are available at www.ftn-books.com

 

 

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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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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.

gilbert george uitn 1970 b

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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
pace Works”

“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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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

 

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Anish Kapoor (1954)

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It was about 3 months ago that we visited DE PONT in Tilburg. Our friends from the US wanted to visit the Bauhaus Textile exhibition and Linda and I decided to make the visit to DE PONT. An important museum and it struck us both that their collection is of the greatest quality. This is quite an accomplishment for such a small museum. So the Pont is worth visiting and what strikes you immediately at the entrance is a bend mirror like sculpture that reflects the sky. It is majestic in its  appearance and of course the reflection is alway different so the sculpture present itself in a different way constantly.

A visit to remember since this is an excellent museum with ao. this Anish Kapoor, who is one of the most influential sculptors of his generation. Perhaps most famous for public sculptures that are both adventures in form and feats of engineering, Kapoor manoeuvres between vastly different scales, across numerous series of work. Immense PVC skins, stretched or deflated; concave or convex mirrors whose reflections attract and swallow the viewer; recesses carved in stone and pigmented so as to disappear: these voids and protrusions summon up deep-felt metaphysical polarities of presence and absence, concealment and revelation. Forms turn themselves inside out, womb-like, and materials are not painted but impregnated with colour, as if to negate the idea of an outer surface, inviting the viewer to the inner reaches of the imagination. Kapoor’s geometric forms from the early 1980s, for example, rise up from the floor and appear to be made of pure pigment, while the viscous, blood-red wax sculptures from the last ten years – kinetic and self-generating – ravage their own surfaces and explode the quiet of the gallery environment. There are resonances with mythologies of the ancient world – Indian, Egyptian, Greek and Roman – and with modern times. www.ftn-books.com has some nice Kapoor titles available