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Wols (1913-1951)

 

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Wols is the pseudonym of Alfred Otto Wolfgang Schulze. Wols is not very well known by many, but if you ask among curators…. who is the the best Lyrical Abstract painter in the world?….. There is over 50% chance they will mention WOLS as being the most important one. Not only a painter , but also a very gifted photographer, Wols is possibly the artist which i learned to appreciate the most over the past 4 decades. In the beginning i did not understand his art at all, but when you see more of his art in relation to what others did at that time you notce that his art was “new” and intuitive and his photographs had a surreal quality in them. Wols is an artist you will discover in the coming years , because worldwide several shows with his art are planned . Wols is an artist to be discovered, his art is in many ways fascinating and even rooted in religious art. And because i myself am a Wols admirer i managed to collect a nice inventory with Wols publications There are some nice Wols publications which are  available at www.ftn-books.com . You may find an excellent article on Wols at http://glasstire.com/2013/12/06/wols-a-misinterpretation/

 

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Ilja (Ilya) Kabakov (1933)

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Born in Ukrainia in 1933, he later immigrated in 1987 to Graz in Austria and after that he became an American citizen and moved to New York. Since 1987 his works /installations are executed by him and his niece Emilia, whi=o would later become his wife. Kabakov s considered to be one of the foremost installation/conceptual artists in the world and because of this status his works were presented and collected by the Stedelijk Museum. Many publications, including HET GROTE ARCHIEF,

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are still within in the collection, but rarely exhibited. Kabakov is one of those artists who are lesser known with the great public, but who works will become more and more important in the years to come. What his works make for me more interesting is the beautiful books which and catalogues which are published with his exhibitions and 2 of them are for sale at www.ftn-books.com

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Gerd Arntz (1900-1988)

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Otto Neurath was the first, but together with Neurath, Arntz is considered to be one of the founders of Isotype. A simple word for ISOTYPE is pictogram and he made over 4000 of them. Gerd Arnyz is even in our days considered to be one of the great inventors of the pictogram. The strength is that one can immediately see the meaning of the picture/pictogram and in relation to numbers and other pictograms.

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Picture from www.gerdarntz.org

Because he opposed to the Nazi party in Germany and made some political drawings and statements against them, he fled to Den Haag in 1934, where he joined Neurath and Reidemeister. The three of them became extremely productive and it is in the Netherlands that most of his books, pictorial statistics and pictograms were published. Living and working in Den Haag, Arntz was familiar with its museum and for this reason the Haags Gemeentemuseum could acquire a large collection of his works and still on the book markets, when looking thoroughly, you can even find some nice publications, but this is getting harder and harder each year. www.ftn-books.com has some nice publications and the book ZEVEN HOOFDZONDEN in which an original woodcut by Arntz is published together with 6 other originals.

It was about 10 years ago that STROOM had a nice exhibition on Arntz and Neurath and they made a spectacular poster for the exhibition which is also available at www.ftn-books.com

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Jean Dubuffet (1901-1985)

It was early February that we visited Paris and ended our 3 day’s in this city with a visit of the Musee des Arts Decoratifs, Situated next door to the Louvre it is much less known, but the reason to visit was the Bauhaus exhibition which was held over there.  However , it was not the Bauhaus exhibition , but de exquisite Dubuffet collection which won me over. Because www.ftn-books.com has a large inventory of Dubuffet publications ( 24 available items) i searched for this blog the internet and found a great short synopsis on this Art Brut artist.

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Jean Dubuffet disliked authority from a very early age. He left home at 17, failed to complete his art education, and wavered for many years between painting and working in his father’s wine business. He would later be a successful propagandist, gaining notoriety for his attacks on conformism and mainstream culture, which he described as “asphyxiating.” He was attracted to the art of children and the mentally ill, and did much to promote their work, collecting it and promulgating the notion of Art Brut. His early work was influenced by that of outsiders, but it was also shaped by the interests in materiality that preoccupied many post-war French artists associated with the Art Informel movement. In the early 1960s, he developed a radically new, graphic style, which he called “Hourloupe,” and would deploy it on many important public commissions, but he remains best known for the thick textured and gritty surfaces of his pictures from the 1940s and ’50s.

Key Ideas

Dubuffet was launched to success with a series of exhibitions that opposed the prevailing mood of post-war Paris and consequently sparked enormous scandal. While the public looked for a redemptive art and a restoration of old values, Dubuffet confronted them with childlike images that satirized the conventional genres of high art. And while the public looked for beauty, he gave them pictures with coarse textures and drab colors, which critics likened to dirt and excrement.
The emphasis on texture and materiality in Dubuffet’s paintings might be read as an insistence on the real. In the aftermath of the war, it represented an appeal to acknowledge humanity’s failings and begin again from the ground – literally the soil – up.
Dubuffet’s Hourloupe style developed from a chance doodle while he was on the telephone. The basis of it was a tangle of clean black lines that forms cells, which are sometimes filled with unmixed color. He believed the style evoked the manner in which objects appear in the mind. This contrast between physical and mental representation later encouraged him to use the approach to create sculpture.
http://www.lesartsdecoratifs.fr/francais/musees/musee-des-arts-decoratifs/parcours/galeries-thematiques/galerie-jean-dubuffet/
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Julio Galan (1958-2006)

There are not many publications on this fantastic artist, but www.ftn-books.com has two of them. In 1992 the Stedelijk Museum had a large retrospective exhibition on him and this catalogue is one of the 2 available books on Galan.

Julio Galan Romo was born in Muzquiz, Coahuila, and grew up in Monterrey, attending private schools. He began to paint while studying architecture at the University of Monterrey and received encouragement from the Monterrey art dealer Guillermo Sepúlveda. He had his first exhibition at Mr. Sepúlveda’s gallery in 1980. A precocious talent with a prickly, flamboyant personality, Mr. Galán began showing in Monterrey at age 20. In the late 1980’s and 90’s, he was Mexico’s best-known young artist. Julio was in effect a second generation Neo-Expressionist. He came to New York in 1984, in the heyday of this polymorphous painting style, whose freewheeling strategies of collage, fragmentation, cultural borrowing and dreamlike suspension were formulated by David Salle, Julian Schnabel and Francesco Clemente, who were influenced by Sigmar Polke. Galan, already strongly influenced by the self-scrutiny of Frida Kahlo, filtered Neo-Expressionism’s lessons through a personality and cultural heritage as polymorphous as the style. Throughout an astoundingly varied, often uneven range of images, he laced references to his childhood and his sexual identity with allusions to Catholicism, the Mexican Baroque, pre-Columbian cultures, retablos and folk art. The result was a kind of postmodern Symbolism: overripe, often perverse, yet mesmerizing. Julio Galán’s works often had the heat of colorful circus murals that had been defaced by a very sophisticated vandal. Their torturous dreamlike settings tended to be haunted by a handsome young man or boy-child who strongly resembled the artist. He underscored this preoccupation by frequently having himself photographed in different roles, for example as Jesus wearing the crown of thorns, or as sensitive bohemians, Mexican Indians and women in black gowns or veils.

Although he never exhibited these self-portraits as his art, they were invariably used in his exhibition catalogs to inflammatory effect: it was like Salvador Dalí channeling Cindy Sherman. In 1985, the young painter made his gallery debut at the Art Mart Gallery in the East Village and began to exhibit widely in Europe. In New York, he also exhibited at Anina Nosei, Ramis Barquet and Robert Miller, where he had his last solo show in 2001; he was included in the 1995 Whitney Biennial. A survey of his work was organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art in Monterrey in 1994. His work has been exhibited individually in Mexico, Argentina, USA, Holland, Spain, Italy, England and France. He was the recipient of numerous awards, from fine art institutions like the Arvil Gallery in Mexico City, Vitro Art Center in Monterrey, Mexico, Salon de la Plastica of the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City, and the Concurso Nacional de Artes Plasticas in Aguascalientes. Julio Galan died on August 4th 2006 after suffering a brain hemorrhage in Zacatecas, where he spent the last years of his life.

 

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Co Westerik (1924)

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One of the last grand “old” masters of the dutch Art scene. Of course C ( Jacobus) Westerik has had his exhibitions abroad, but beside the Netherlands, germany and Belgium his name is not that well known. I met Westerik at the time he was making the portrait of Theo van Velzen. One of the former directors of the Haags Gemeentemuseum. The portrait was presented as a farewell present when van Velzen resigned to be hung in a gallery with portraits of other former directors. A small portrait which he managed to squeeze in and complete it in between 2 other paintings. His canvasses are not too big , but they are scarce because Westerik has a very small production yearly. I really do not know if he still is active as a painter, but at the time the van Velzen portrait was made , his production was 3 paintings a year. All were sold up front to collectors and museums. Among them Frits Becht (1930-2006) .He was the private collector with the largest Westerik collection .

He who was a personal friend for his entire life and followed his career through the years and bought many works. beside a painter Westerik was also known for his graphics in which he excelled. His production as a graphic artist was much much larger and there are almost a thousand different prints known by him. Westerik is a very important artist for dutch art and because i followed him over the years www.ftn-books.com has many publications on Westerik available.

A short documentary on Westerik can be found at this address: http://hollandsemeesters.info/posts/show/7738

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Asger Jorn ( 1914-1973)

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I appreciate all the COBRA mouvement artists, but if i had to chose one…it would be Asger Jorn. His paintings have a mysterious quality and within their abstraction one can always recognize a realistic element. Wether its a face, a human figure, an animal they are there …hidden within the picture, brightly colored and sometimes outlined with black. Before COBRA, Jorn was painting realistic scenes, and was an assistant to Le Corbusier, but after he met Appel, Constant and Corneille, with whom he founded COBRA and travelled to France, his style became completely abstract and strongly influenced by child drawings. He discussed this frequently with Christian Dotremont , because they both were ill with tuberculoses and treated within the same hospital in Silkeborg. In this same city, nearby his birth town an Asger Jorn museum was founded and financed by Jorn. http://www.museumjorn.dk/da/

This museum has become one of the most important ones in Denmark.

Jorn is now a classic among modern art lovers and will become more important every decade to come. www.ftn-books.com has some great Asger Jorn titles available in its inventory.

 

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GÜNTER BRUS (1938)

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First of all aq uote by Peter Weibel…GÜNTER BRUS, An observer of the second order, he explored the contexts of body and painting, the body’s social and sexual functions, the social and cultural functions of painting. By treating painting and body as a single system, and by analysis of these media of expression, he ultimately pursued an anatomy of society and its social systems.”

It was one of the first artists Rudi Fuchs introduced to the collection of the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag and since that occasion , GÜNTER BRUS fascinated me. Specially his drawings are my favorites and 2 years ago i saw some movies by Brus in Vienna in an exhibitions on Aktionismus. Self mutilation does not make this an easy art form, but fascinating it is. You do not have to watch the video, but for those interested know that this is not a pleasing art form and could be shocking to some. There are some more examples to be found on you tube and for those interested in Brus, know that there are some nice publications available at www.ftn-books.com

 

 

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Frida Kahlo (1907-1954)

Today a celebration and many congratulations to my wife who has been married for 12,5 years to me. For our honeymoon we travelled to Mexico together with our son Lucas. So for that reason i chose to make a blog on Frida Kahlo, the most famous Mexican artist.

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During the time i was working at the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag we had a show on Frida Kahlo in the Museum Paleis Lange Voorhout in 1993. It was by far the best show, with the highest number of visitors, this little museum has ever had. The show lasted only about 70 days but was extended twice because of the high number of visitors. Mainly women attended the exhibitions and i found out that for them Kahlo was a liberated woman who has been a role model for many. What struck me most in her works were the very personal sometimes even surrealist elements in her paintings and where i had imagined large paintings and works of art , these were in many cases small paintings. Still….a terrific exhibition and the last one to have been organized in the Netherlands in the last 25 years. What remains is the catalogue which is a classic among Kahlo collectors and available at www.ftn-books.com. Last but not least…congratulations to my wife Linda. These were 12,5 years filled with love, travels, fun and health…may the next 12,5 years give the same to us….    Schermafbeelding 2017-04-16 om 09.41.37 Schermafbeelding 2017-04-16 om 10.01.23

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100 years ….DE STIJL

It was 50 years ago Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band by the Beatles was released on the 1st of June, but 50 years before that date the DE STIJL group was founded in Leiden in 1917 with the publishing of the book de NIEUWE BEWEGING IN DE SCHILDERKUNST by Theo van Doesburg. Leiden , Utrecht ( home of the famous Rietveld huis) and Den Haag ( largest Mondrian/de Stijl collection in the world will be presenting exhibitions on DE STIJL and its influence on Modern Art. One basic thing about DE STIJL. Use of primary colors, dividing the surface in abstract elements. Mondrian and van Doesburg were originally friends and worked along these lines until van Doesburg thought his works were limited by the use of horizontal and vertical lines and wanted to use the “diagonal” too. This cooled down the friendship and van Doesburg decided to leave the group in 1924. Was it the end of the DE STIJL…no certainly not . The group stopped, but the ideas were there and were later found in BAUHAUS and constructivist modern art. To acknowledge the importance of DE STIJL is done now by these many exhibitions and certainly more than a few will be well worth visiting. Prepare yourself and look at the many DES TIJL/ Mondrian /van Doesburg publications available at www.ftn-books.com

PS . there is a very special bank by Ko Verzuu in blue and yellow which is exclusively available at ww.ftn-books.com. This was a prestige edition by the makers of ADO.

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