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Jan van Munster (1939)

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Jan van Munster stands for me personally as the artist who experimenst with Neon and Pyrographics and using these to create Minimal objects and sculptures. I noticed his works for the first time when a work of him was presented at the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag. It weas a neon sculpture and made in an edition of a few copies and for sale at the museum shop. Unfortunately i did not have the insight at that time to buy it, but the memory remains, because it was the first van Munster i had seen. This is not the easiest of art to admire, but once you follow his career and search back throught the decades that he has made his art, you conclude that he always stayed true to his origins. One of the characteristics that keep reappearing is that he uses frequently two elements on his covers of the catalogues that are published with his works.

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First…many of his covers are embossed and second. ….in many cases there is a special Pyrographic made/burnt into the cover of his catalogues, making these original, one of a kind works of art at a more than reasonable price. www.ftn-books.com has some nice van Munster titles available.

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Zero art in the Seventies …a thought

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Yesterday i added the MEDEDLINGEN nummer 14 magazine by the Centraal Museum Utrecht to my inventory. It was a special about Carel Visser and NUL/ ZERO. The article on Zero was an eye opener. The museum decided not to collect Zero art anymore, because they thought they had enough by the Informele and Zero artists already and they considered the ZERO mouvement not important enough to follow the ZERO artists longer. Zero was “history” they concluded.

Now 43 years later time has proven the Centraal Museum wrong, since ZERO, together with Minimalism, hav proven to be major and highly important mouvements in Art and it is likely that these mouvement will grow in importance in  the decades to come.

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Akio Suzuki (1941)

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It was the Apollohuis who introduced Akio Suzuki to a dutch audience and since i have been following Suzuki. Finally i have found another copy of the Akio Suzuki Soundphere cd package that was published in 1990 by HET APOLLOHUIS. The package contains a booklet and a cd  and is one of the hardest to find of all Suzuki publications.

Tracklist

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Born in 1941 in Pyongyang, Korea to Japanese parents, who moved their family back to Japan when he was four, Suzuki grew up in the Aichi prefecture, near Nagoya. After initially studying architecture, he turned toward sound. The ’60s found him in a period of self-study, initiated by the happening Kaidan ni Mono wo Nageru (Throwing Things at the Stairs) in 1963, where he threw a bucket of objects down the stairwell of the Nagoya train station. The movements of the time (Gutai, Fluxus, etc.) created an atmosphere for his experimentation, but Suzuki worked largely alone in the development of his ideas. The sonic details of that initial event—the live, raw sound of those objects falling down the stairwell and the reverberation of the architecture—became a central influence for his self-study, as he worked to follow the sound of the natural and manmade world and to develop ideas that would place him in relationship to that sound. All his work—from live improvisation to installations and instrument design—is based on an interest in the echo. The echo is the perfect example of the temporal continuum of nature. An echo brings the actions of the past into the present (for what is an echo but the mountains responding through repetition?), but also prepares for the future. It is a type of being-in-the-moment, which contains all sonic time.
Of the many instruments that Suzuki has designed, the Analapos is the one he continues to return to in order to further explore the possibilities of the echo. Originally designed in the 1970s, and modelled after a spring reverb, it is based on the design of a child’s toy telephone made by joining two tin cans together with a string, in this case connecting two large metal cylinders by a fifteen-foot spring wire. The Analapos is a cheeky response to the musical zeitgeist of that period; its humour extends to its name, a portmanteau of analog and postmodern. As Suzuki explains, “New technology was developing for music, where the echo became a futuristic thing during that time period.” But his personal interest stemmed from his interest in the natural world. “I used to play with echoes in mountains, then I invented the Analapos.” It is amusing to think that this simple instrument resembling a children’s toy competes effortlessly with complicated electronics designed to add special effects to disco and progressive rock, and that its very acoustic qualities draw from the sublime characteristics of the natural world.
Suzuki has one Analapos that he holds horizontally like an alpine horn to sing through, and a pair that are suspended vertically by a stand, so he can drum on the cylinder lids and the seven-foot spring suspended between them. The metal spring in between the two cylinders amplifies Suzuki’s voice and percussive hits to the cylinders, creating a rich and beguiling reverberation. To witness Suzuki in performance on the Analapos is to witness the way natural reverberation alters sound.
Through performance, Suzuki’s explorations concentrate on the acoustic properties of sound making. It is as if he is bringing nature into the hall—the simple resonance of two stones; percussion that sounds like a rainstorm; echoes like those heard on a valley floor. Suzuki, even at seventy years old, brings attention back to his interests as a child. In conversation he talks about his enjoyment of landscape, from watching from the window of his hilltop birth home in Pyongyang, North Korea to his afternoons spent in his house at Lake Biwa in Japan. “After it finished raining, the water flowed through the garden and I was always watching,” he recalls, “hearing and watching.”
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Charlotte Posenenske (1930-1985)

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The works of Charlotte Posenenske (Wiesbaden, 1930-Frankfurt am Main, 1985) consist of series in an unlimited edition. According to a number 0f rules, they can be made and repeated – also by others – and combined with each other. With her radical and ‘democratic’ ideas about material, production and authorship, Charlotte Posenenske influenced and shaped conceptual and minimalist art of the sixties.

Minimalist series

Charlotte Posenenske began as a painter, but she felt limited by the flat surface and soon moved on to creating spatial works. The forms of Series B (1967) are hung as reliefs on the wall, but also placed as objects in the spatial environment. This is followed in 1968 by Series D and Series DW, whose format and shape are reminiscent of ventilation shafts.

Participation

Although Charlotte Posenenske did not consider herself to be a political artist, she had a clear and strong vision of societal relations, which in her view had to be rational, concrete, accessible and democratic. With her work she wanted to set a standard for this: the materials which she used like cardboard and steel are cheap, the works are sold for a fixed low price and the assembly and installation of her modular systems can be done by ‘everyone’: buyers, exhibition makers, and even the public. Posenenske’s social engagement is also expressed through the installations she created in public spaces, such as airports, train stations, conference rooms and on the street.

Contemporary artists and Posenenske

Disappointed in the social scope of art, Charlotte Posenenske left the art world in 1968 to study sociology. Her work and views remain however points of reference for younger generations of artists. The text above comes from the Museum Kroller Muller site. This Museum has a retrospective exhibition on Posenenske until the 15th of September

www.ftn-books.com has some nice publications in which Posenenske made some contributins. Since there is a longtime connection between the Netherlands  and the artist it happens that some of the most important publications have been published in the Netherlands. Specially the former Art & Project has presented her works on several occasions.

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Lawrence Weiner (1942) + discount

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Lawrence Weiner and the Netherlands is a combination which now exists for almost 50 years. His connections with dutch directors and curators is legendary and he has made several special projects with them in dutch. Weiner is considered as a post minimal artist and one of the founders of Conceptual art and that is the reason why his works blend so well within the collections of the more important dutch museum. The van Abbemuseum, Stedelijk and Gemeentemuseum have all works by Weiner in their collections.

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But Weiner is much more than a conceptual artist. He is a book designer and poet at the same time  and these little sketches with words can be blown up into facades and objects with words. One of the most memorable to me was the facade at the Ljubljana Modern Art museum with a Weiner object on one of the outside museum walls. Impredssive, recognizable. So to celebrate the longtime history that Lawrence Weiner has with the Netherlands there is a discount this week of 10%  on all items at www.ftn-books.com . use the discountcode : LawrenceWeiner10 and receive a 10% discount on all items including some marvelous Lawrence Weiner publications.

weiner sm a

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Donald Judd – sculpture, Untitled object

 

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It must have been somewhere around 1985. After a trip to the US and whta must have been a visit to Donald Judd’s studio, Flip Book, curator of the Modern Art department of the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag came back with the story of a purchase he had made of a Donald Judd sculpture. I heard that the price paid was around 60.000 guilders and personally i thought it unheard that a sculpture like this would have such an elevated price tag. I thought it much to expensive for a sculpture like this, but as time progresses. i became wiser and it became clear to me that Flip had made a wonderful and very important acquisition for the Gemeentemuseum. The sculpture has been since in the Beeldentuin of the Gemeentemuseum and is still as, or perhaps even more, impressive as it originally was.

I realized that the important purchases for the collections of the Gemeentemuseum were all done from the late Sixties until the first years of the Nineties. It started with Minimal art by LeWitt, Judd and Andre, continued with some Schoonhoven, Weiner in the Eighties and perhaps the last important acquisition is the carrousel by Bruce Nauman. Since very little important acquisitions have been made, with one exception. I think the Paul Thek object will prove to be important in the future.

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On all the mentioned artists, publications are available at www.ftn-books.com

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Sol LeWitt- Horizontal Brushstrokes

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It is a long history that Sol LeWitt has with Den Haag. In the early days of his career he became befriended with Enno Develing who in 1967 organized as cuartor a breathtaken and important first Mininal exhibition with Sol LeWitt. In later years Sol LeWitt made some tiles in a open multiple edition for the shop of the Gemeentemuseum and again a decade later he designed the staircase and a shopping bag for the Gemeentemuseum. At the end of his career he stayed loyal to Den Haag and had a very nice exhibition in 2002 with his brushstroke paintings and prints at the Livingstone gallery. This catalogue is now available at www.ftn-books.com

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John Zinsser (1961)

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A master in Blue . A bit like Yves Klein had his favorit color too  and executed many of his paintings in Blue. Zinsser uses the available commercial paints with their standard bright colors.

John Zinsser’s abstract paintings investigate formal properties of gestures, supports, color, and paint through simple actions and two-toned compositions that explore the relationship between figure and ground. After studying art history at Yale, Zinsser relocated to New York, where he has remained since the 1980s. Color is a preeminent concern for Zinsser; he typically works with naturally occurring commercially available colors such as cobalt blue or cadmium red. The properties and values of the ground determine what colors and forms he chooses to include in the foreground. “I always put a faith in materials first—that paint has a kind of authority of its own,” he says. “Paint has a unique power to assert tactile reality, pushing toward a larger visual and bodily response.”

For me personally il compare his paintings with the one Tomas Rajlich has done in the last 2 decades / also monochrome paintings with working the paint over that it the paint is moulded into a shape. Both arftists i like very much, but for me personally i prefer the Rajlich paintings , because i have met Tomas on several occasions and beside an excellent painter he is a an aimable person.

www.ftn-books.com has a nice Zinsser catalogue available.

zinsser

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Gunda Förster (1967)

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For the next three blogs i have chosen lesser known artist, but i think they are still important. The first is Gunda Förster.

Gunda Forster and Francois Morellet were presented in one exhibition at the Bundestag in Germany. A just decission since both are very much related to eachother. Where Morellet presented his figurative  works ,Gunda Förster presented her Konkret ones.

The works of Gunda Förster define visibility as the elementary organization of space, light and time. Seeing is movement, which encounters the movement of the seen.
One walks along benighted streets, past darkened and brightly lit windows, rooms illuminated by the flickering of television screens, under lighted billboard advertisements and neon signs, between the headlights of moving automobiles. In the way the gaze turns from the stars, whose light has outlived their extinguishment, Gunda Förster’s works with light remove the plastic phenomenon from things occurring. The images of urban tranquillity, behind each window a life, drawn to and distracted by advertisement, on its way from one location to another, are wiped away with a gesture of minimalistic reduction. The pure form arising out of this regards itself as compatible with the artistic realm and designs it as one set aside for art – a cross-section of the producer’s and the observer’s experiences.
That Förster’s recent works with 35 mm. slides can be understood as a shift to narrative or representational image forms is as self-evident as taking the images transmitted via television for reality. The concepts interspersed into Variations of chance play into the futility of an observation intent on finding meaning.
Both the presentation, a projection time of one to two seconds per slide with fadeovers, and the quality of the images and concepts evade the presumptive reliability of the pairing of photography and text. The words come across as slogans which allow the bid to vanish into a surplus of possible connotations. The image fragments do not tack meanings onto the concepts (found language fragments), but rather strengthen their repellancy as typefaces depicting only potentially significant language sounds, which in turn reinforce the impression that the more or less blurred representationalism of the slides (for the most part people photographed from television screens) merely refers to the tautology of the visible and of light.
The continually shifting references between word and word, word and image, image and image render any compulsive production of meaning futile. The observer is left with the single insight: that his understanding fails on account of an incomprehensible compositional principle. Indeed, the impression of merely accidental and unstable word and image combinations could be described in a complex mathematical form as a sequence of variations – and, hence, as the visualization of a musical idea.

www.ftn-books.com has Forster pubications available

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Piet Dirkx weekly

I had to dig in my archives to find the subject of the Piet Dirkx weekly in the coming weeks and decided to show you some publications i have collected over the last 35 years.

The first is the invitation fot the artotheek Dordrecht presentation:

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