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Kitaj (1932-2007)

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Robert Brooks Kitaj was born in the US but his art is closely related to the British Pop Art. I am writing this blog because i recently acquired a german catalogue on his exhibition at the Kunsthalle Dusseldorf and i was impressed. Later i learned that Kitaj received a lot of criticism on his art as the press slaughtered his exhibition at the Tate gallery in 1994. Her is what i found on Wikipedia

A second retrospective was staged at the Tate Gallery in 1994. Critical reviews in London were almost universally negative. British press savagely attacked the Tate exhibit, calling Kitaj a pretentious poseur who engaged in name dropping. Kitaj took the criticism very personally, declaring that “anti-intellectualism, anti-Americanism, and anti-Semitism” had fueled the vitriol. Despite the bad reviews, the exhibition moved to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and afterwards to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 1995. His second wife, Sandra Fisher died from hyperacute haemorrhagic leuco-encephalitis in 1994, shortly after his exhibition at the Tate Gallery had ended. He blamed the British press for her death, stating that “they were aiming for me, but they got her instead.” David Hockney concurred and said that he too believed the London art critics had killed Sandra Fisher.[14] Kitaj returned to the US in 1997 and settled in Los Angeles, near his first son. “When my Wife died”, he wrote to Edward Chaney, “London died for me and I returned home to California to live among sons and grandsons – It was a very good move and now I begin my 3rd and (last?) ACT! hands across The Sea.” Three years later he wrote: “I grow older every day and rather like my hermit life.” The “Tate War” and Sandra’s death became a central themes for his later works: he often depicted himself and his deceased wife as angels. In Los Angeles No. 22 (Painting-Drawing) the beautiful young (and naked) girl records the shadow of her aged lover (on whose lap she sits) in a pose directly taken from the Scots Grand Tourist David Allan’s Origin of Painting. The latter was included by Ernst Gombrich in his 1995 National Gallery exhibition (and catalogue) on Shadows so that Kitaj would have seen it two years before he left England for ever. 

Personally i think the critics are wrong. Kitaj deserves his place among the great European Pop Art artists and the future exhibitions that will include his works will probably prove me right. Some Kitaj catalogues are availableat http://www.ftn-books.com

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Piet Mondriaan, studio Rue du Départ

Piet Mondriaan was famous for his studios he occupied in Paris and New York and his Paris studio at the Rue du Départ was even a subject for a special exhibition at the Beurs van Berlage who had it rebuild in their main hall in 1994.

With the exhibition they produced together with the Benschop architects an impressive model kit of the studio, which even contains some of the paintings Mondriaan made in this famous studio. During the Nineties some of the DE STIJL icons were produced in Model Kit versions ( Meudon, Rietveldhuis) but this is probably the rarest of them al, since i understand it was not sold, but only presented to the sponsor and its relations. Now for sale at www.ftn-books.com

mondrian depart

 

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Helmut Dirnaichner (1942)

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Abstract and Konkret. These elements define the works of Helmut Dirnaichner.

A life filled with abstract art of the highest quality, but the people that have heard of Dirnaichner are not too many. His name is hardly known among art lovers, but his works deserve to be known better. I personally make the comparison with the Belgium Marte Wery, who , during her life was only known by a few art lovers outside Belgium, but nowadays her importance is growing and she is recognized as one of the greatest from the last 50 years.

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Dirnaichner will have possibly the same status in the future. His art is original , colorful and Contemporary, making these works fashionable even if they are 30 years of age.

www.ftn-books.com has a scarce Dirnaichner publication available.

Dirnaichner

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Cor van Dijk (1952)

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It took me along time to fianally appreciate the sculptures by van Dijk. At first i thought them to be too much copies of Judd sculptures, but i discovered them to be completely different. Why….surface , composition and construction differ from the one by Donald Judd. Still i consider his sculptures to be Minimal art and not constructivist.

 

He was  born in 1952 in Pernis, is a Dutch artist. The steel sculptures of Cor van Dijk 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.

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.

www.ftn-books.com has the monograph on van Dijk now for sale

cor van dijk

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Teun Hocks (1947)

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Teun Hocks. Is it staged photography or is it painting on photographs. It is a combination of both and the result is always absurd. Like Magritte he sketches a scene which is impossible , but pushes you to discover the meaning of the composition and look for the sabsurd and surreal in the painting/photograph. Hocks has build an oeuvre with these compositions and always plays a part in them.

He is an artist who creates self portraits with the utmost charm. “In my images I aim to achieve not so much, offering a mirror sometimes, or/and gaining a smile, and maybe a good feeling,” Teun tells It’s Nice That. This is a refreshingly humble aim, and one that is achieved with heart-warming artworks despite their surrealist edge.

The artworks featured are each part of Teun’s Analogue Works painted pieces that are the result of a thorough process from the artist. “First I start out with almost no ideas, or vague ones, drawing thoughts I have about all kinds of situations that get me dreaming.” The artist explains that once he is settled upon a concept, “I build and paint a setting, checking and controlling everything by taking digital photos to compare to my drawings”.

Next, once a desired light is found, “I take my place, and start to take polaroids (using a self-timer and longer cable release). If I am satisfied with the result I take eight photos on 6×9cm black and white film. Looking at the contact sheet, I decide which negative is the one to print. If not I start all over again.” This extensive process doesn’t stop there either. “I make three large black and white prints on fibre-based photographic paper, tone them to sepia, glue them on aluminium and start to colour them with transparent oil paint.”

The result of Teun’s perfectionism is a series of artworks that leave the viewer bewildered. Are they paintings? Are they photographs? The answer as the artist explains is both, and his ability to merge the mediums flawlessly is brilliantly baffling.

 

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Barend Blankert ( 1941 )

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Barend Blankert excels in realism with a twist. In some cases his works remind me of  Teun Hocks ( tomorrows blog) , but most of the time one feels an “unease” in the scene. Wether the object/person is curled up on the floor, on the edge of a bed or crouching at a table. You feel a pity for the person in the painting. Blankert does not hesitate to refer to other painters in his paintings. There is this great example of the two boys in the Seurat painting BAIGNEURS A ASNIERES (in the National gallery collection). The two boys in the Blankert painting are exact copies of the ones in the Seurat painting, but where the painting by Seurat is crowded by others. The two boys are alone in an empty room, making the scene a sad one.

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Still his works are worthwhile to look at and timeless. Barend Blankert is represented by galerie Mokum. The  Blankert monograph is available at www.ftn-books.com

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Tiong Ang (1961)

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The work of TIONG ANG spans a wide array of media, from collective performance, experimental film, through video and installation to painting, photography, and the display of objects. His practice across these forms centers around the social, emotional and existential consequences and negotiation of dislocation, disparate identities, and dispersion of imagery. _ Recurring themes are the impact of mass and digital media on individual perspective and collective memory, and the anxieties evoked by mobility and globalization. In these hybrid contexts, Ang addresses multiple modes of human presence and representation, using social intervention and juxtaposition, chance and communality, mockery and disguise. He explores subjective positions in divided, ambivalent, and collective conditions, be it on ethical, ethnic, or sociopolitical grounds. _Initially an object/painting based studio artist, from the mid-1990s Ang has expanded his production including experimental film, performative and relational enactments, interdisciplinary collaborations and curated projects. In a divergent practice, he examines authority and sustainability of images and narratives. The common thread in the work is the conflict between detached objectivity and engaged subjectivity; it demonstrates how universal media not only affect our perceptions of places and events but also denote our concept of reality. Elements of selfhood, cultural meaning, and social absorption have emerged in a diversity of mediated images. Thus, human perception and behaviour converge in complexities of disparate truths. The persona of the artist, distorted by media based projections, is the ultimate body to explore the human experience.

The above text comes from the Tiong Ang site.

www.ftn-books.com has recently added 2 important Tiong Ang publications to its inventory.

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Mario Negri (1916-1987)

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Almost forgotten this sculptor from Italy, but because of a recent addition to my inventory i rediscovered the sculptures by Negri.

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Mario Negri had a dutch exhibition in 1970 in the van Abbemuseum, curated by Hammacher who made a publication possible which is quite scarce. The 8 page fold out is designed by Jan van Toorn and depicts several works by Negri and a photograph of his studio.

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A bright green is chosen as a cover to draw attention and it oozes Seventies design. I love this great fold out and it even comes with a handwritte price list in Lire for those who want to complete their archives on the sculptor this is an absolute musey. A great sculptor and a great publication are brought together in this typical early Seventie van Toorn design. The Negri publication is now available at www.ftn-boooks.com

 

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Piet Klaase (continued)

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One of the first blogs i wrote was on Piet Klaasse. At that time i was under the impression that he only drew horses, but a publication a acquired recently opened my eyes. Beside many horse scenes, he draws people, musicians and landscapes. Specially the musician i appreciate. It is not my kind of art but you can see immediately that Klaasse is an accomplished artists and excels in his drawings. Full of mouvement and action they keep impressing.

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My first encounter with work by Piet Klaasse was the time i bought a book on music, illustrated by Piet Klaasse. It certainly was not my kind of art i was interested in, but later i saw the quality of his illustrations. Specially his drawings and paintings of horses are of a rare quality. I compared his work with Rien Poortvliet’s but where Poortvliet tells a story with his illustrations, Klaasse doesn’t. HIs works stand as individual works of art and each tell  a story of their own and are much more mature than those by Poortvliet. I will never buy a Klaasse for my collection but i know of people very much interested in his works. For those …know that www.ftn-books.com has the famous PIET KLAASSE TEKENT PAARDEN in its inventory.

I have added the BEWEGING book by Klaase to my inventory now.

klaasse beweging

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2x Borek Sipek and 2x Erwin Olaf

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Why another blog on Erwin Olaf? This one is on the occasion of the addition of the book BOREK SIPEK / Glas Design Architectuur in which a series of photographs by Erwin Olaf with works by Sipek is published . Almost the exact series was used before. The series was made on location with gypsies holding glas and design by Sipek and photographed by Erwin Olaf for the Stedelijk Museum exhibition and publication which was designed by Irma Boom ( Book on the left/private collection). The addition to my inventory is the book published by the Drents Museum, which contains 8 color photographs by Erwin Olaf together with the Anton Corbijn cover. This makes the book a true collectors item since these photo’s are among the best Olaf ever made.

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When you study both series ( Stedelijk Museum and Drents museum), at first you think the photographs are the same , but study them closely and you will notice some subtil differences. I conclude that Erwin Olaf must have made shortly after each other two series. One in Black and white, the other in color.

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Using 2 cameras this must have been technically possible. Just look at the position of the hand of the gypsy boy. The book published for the Drents Museum is now for sale at www.ftn-books.com