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A discussion at the breakfast table….

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A few weeks ago, my wife Linda and i were having breakfast and she noticed the painting “Songbird” from 1982 by Bridget Riley. She immediately, knowing my taste in art, made the remark that this was one i would certainly admire, but now the question she posed me……she asked  “WHY is this a beautiful painting”   and i must confess i did not have an answer to it. I thought about this question a couple of days and asked myself …..why is an object beautiful? You can follow others in their opinions and make this opinion your own opinion. Another way is recognizing quality by technique, originality or by its contents and their messages, but an abstract painting like the one by Riley does not have a message nor is its technique something special.

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So it must be their feel they are transferring . This way being unique in composition, size and its use of colors amplifies this feeling. It is the package that appeals and the less frills a package has the more appealing it is to me and perhaps that is what i like so much about Minimal art. Abstract art is about feeling and experience and that makes is so hard to describe.

BTW. The painting was sold at the special George Michael collection at Christies on the 15th of March. Originally it was hanging above a fire place, which certainly means that it will not be in pristine condition.

This Riley Leporello is available at www.ftn-books.com

riley sikkens e

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Sam Francis (1923-1994)

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Sam Francis is a subject for a blog a long time overdue. Since i have been admiring the works by Sam Francis for many years now and of course there is a special connection with the Netherlands, because he has had many solo exhibitions in this country for over 30 years and not at the less important museums and galleries but at the very best ones. First there is of course the exhibition at the Stedelijk Museum with the beautiful Wim Crouwel designed catalogue. secondly there are the gallery exhibitions at gallery Delaive and third there is the Museum van der Togt/Cobra Museum exhibition. All of these exhibitions were accompagnied by beautiful large catalogues and available at www.ftn-books.com

My first interest in Sam Francis was raised in the early Nineties when i collected Swatch watches. Together with my brother in law we searched for the earliest of these watches and bought, collected and resiold them and one of these watches was a Christmas special by Sam Francis. We had multiple copies of this rare watch and the last one was sold some 5 years ago. Still whenever i hear the name Sam Francis i am reminded of this swatch collection. But from that time on i noticed that there is more to Sam Francis than just his Swatch watch. Just read this short biography which can be found on the Sam Francis site too:

Sam Francis (1923 – 1994) occupies a prominent position in post-war American painting. Although associated with the Abstract Expressionist movement and Clement Greenberg’s Post-Painterly Abstraction, unlike many American painters of he time he had direct and prolonged exposure to French painting and to Japanese art which had an individual impact on his work.

On leaving the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1944 owing to illness Francis took up painting as a hobby. He decided to make this a serious undertaking studying under David Park in 1947 and completed his BA and MA at the University of California. He was greatly influenced by Abstract Expressionism particularly the works of Clyfford Still and Jackson Pollock. In his use of space on the canvas to allow free circulation of strong colour and the sensitivity to light Francis developed his own style by the time his studies had ended.

Francis moved to Paris in 1950 where he met Jean-Paul Riopelle who was to remain an important influence, and study of Monet’s Waterlilies had a profound impact on his work. From a very muted palette of greys and whites he returned to the qualities of light and colour producing such works as Big Red 1953. He continues to develop the use of white space and increased the dimensions of his paintings for greater emphasis. During his period in Europe he executed a number of monumental mural paintings.

Francis returned to California in 1962 and was then influenced by the West Coast School’s preoccupation with mysticism and Eastern philosophy. Blue had become a more dominant feature of his work since 1959 inspired by personal suffering and the great joy of becoming a father for the first time in 1961. This led to combinations of hard colour and more disciplined structures with centrally placed rectangles during the 1970s. Eventually these more rigid structures gave way to looser configurations sometimes of snake-like forms with web-like patterns. Blue, sometimes brilliant, remained an important part of many later works.

The above publications and other Sam Francis publications are available at www.ftn-books.com

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My personal bookcase

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I have had questions in the past….what is your personal interest in books?…. and…..you must have a very nice collection after so many years of being a bookseller. These questions and remarks can be answered simply. I have a large inventory of about 10.000 books that are for sale including some very nice and hard to find titles, but every book in my personal bookcase has a small story attached to it. There are books of exhibitions being held at the Gemeentemuseum while i was a publisher/bookseller at that museum and some were given to me by artists i collect.

About half of the books in my personal bookcase are very small publications related to the artists in our art collection and the remainder is about the artists i like very much and admire. I can say that none of them is very valuable, but for me these books are valuable and important, because they belong to the publication history of the artists i admire. Curious?….just “zoom in” on the picture and discover that of many of these titles i have multiple copies available at www.ftn-books.com. So make this your personal interactive blog and find/discover the titles at www.ftn-books.com

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Mariken Wessels (1963)..Taking Off / Henry my Neighbor

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By chance i stumbled upon this beautiful and highly collectable publication by Mariken Wessels. I always have admired her publications, but because of their price i never had purchased one, until recently i found one at the local book market, reasonably priced and i had to had it. The book has so many layers. It has a beautiful design and contains the 5000+ photographs  of “model” Martha. Reading and leaf throught the book is like travelling in time and experiencing art in the meantime . It is an artist book of a rare quality and i am lucky that i can offer an extra copy at www.ftn-books.com, because …the bookseller had three copies available from a bookshop that went out of business. One for myself, one for my son and one copy is for sale.

Justine Kurland on Mariken Wessels Taking Off. Henry My Neighbor

If there is one part of a woman’s body available to anyone as a site of erotic fantasy, it is the breast. We all either did or did not satisfy our needs for nutrients from its voluptuous, pendulous amplitude. Drunk from milk, my son used to push his Hot Wheels car over the then-mountainous terrain of my chest. Or he might hold fast to the left nipple while sucking the right, as if trying to reconcile the doppelgängers with his little fist—the good mommy that nursed him, and the bad mommy that took it away. There are a hundred different scenarios that lead to the same fetish. The titular artist of Mariken Wessels’s Taking Off. Henry My Neighbor, Henry, was a boob man. More specifically, he loved his wife Martha’s breasts.

Of the three-hundred-plus pages, edited and arranged by Wessels from Henry’s archive, over a hundred pages show repetitive grids of middle-aged Martha posing in quasi-erotic positions, in states of undress at their home in New Jersey, from 1981 to 1983. She stiffly offers herself to her husband’s camera, exhibiting more of a clinical awareness of her body than any real pleasure in it. Her gaze never meets the lens, but seems to follow directions to look stage right or stage left. There is nothing extraordinary about these pictures, aside from their immense number. Anyone with an iPhone might have many similar images. By 1984 Martha had left Henry, maybe tired of the constant attention of his mammogram-like camera, or maybe simply tired of Henry. A photograph shows her now-familiar arms, stretching out from an upstairs window and throwing streams of photographs down to the street below. We see the objects of Henry’s fantasy unhinged from the person of Martha, literally blowing away.

Mariken Wessels, Taking Off. Henry My Neighbor, Art Paper Editions. Ghent, Belgium, 2015. Designed by Mariken Wessels and Jurgen Maelfeyt.

What happened after Martha left marked Henry as an artist. He recycled his archive of photographs and collaged together fantastic mutations, recombining body parts into sprawling new forms. These images enact Martha’s symbolic death, engendering a battalion of phantasmagoric monsters in her place. She becomes a mostly headless totem of bulbous flesh, an orgy of breasts, a psychosexual grotesquerie. Henry then used these composites as studies for clay figures, which are also documented here. These sculptures complete the process of abstraction. Martha remains only as a disembodied breast-phallus with a striking resemblance to modernist sculpture.

What is clear is this: Henry’s long obsessive relationship with his wife allowed him to develop a voice that gave rise to a powerful and complex body of work.It is less clear what Wessels’s relationship with Henry yielded. We are told only that Henry left his work in his house under a neighbor’s care, and the neighbor later gave the work to Wessels. Henry is not given a last name, and the neighbor remains anonymous. How did Henry, an artist from New Jersey, end up having his life’s work published by a Dutch artist? What distinguishes her work from that of an editor or curator?

Mariken Wessels, Taking Off. Henry My Neighbor, Art Paper Editions. Ghent, Belgium, 2015. Designed by Mariken Wessels and Jurgen Maelfeyt.

After Henry abandoned his work he built a cabin in the woods to live out his last days. This follows a fantasy dear to my heart, one of isolation and self-reliance—a trope as familiar for visionaries and outsiders as the proverbial ride into the sunset is for cowboys. The final sequence in the book, presumably made after Henry had retreated to his cabin, shows traps laid in the forest and the animals caught in them. These pictures can be read as a final objectification of Martha, or as a reflection of Henry’s own emotional state. In either case he seemed to repudiate carnal pleasure, finally reducing the body to the raw condition of meat.

taking off

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Gerard Petrus Fieret / Foto en Copyright Vol. 2

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Gerard Petrus Fieret Foto en Copyright volume 1 is arguably the most important recent photography publication from the last 20 years in the Netherlands, but there is also Volume 2 from 2010, of which i now have some copies in stock. It is an even beautiful and nice publication as the volume 1 is. The volume 1 is sold out even with the atiquarian booksellers and it is a rare book to find, but now i have the Volume 2 available and still at a reasonable price. So buy your copy when there still is a chance to add it to your collection of photography books.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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Josef Albers ( 1888-1976 ), an invitation

 

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It was sold within 24 hours to a customer in Arizona, but this is so important i want to share this with you. In 1968 there was a Josef Albers exhibition at the Landesmuseum in Munster (Germany). For thiss exhibition. Josef Albers made a special print for within the catalogue and the smaller version for the invitation to the opening. Both were silkscreened prints. If you are lucky you will find a catalogue, but the invitation is probably one of the rarest Josef Albers collectibles and here it is……

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There are other Josef Albers items still availabel at www.ftn-books.com

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Gianni Colombo (1933-1993)

 

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His art is financially far out of reach for me personally, but i really love his art. It has a mystical quality and it is the kind of kinetic art i really admire. Together Jesus Rafael Soto and Walter Leblanc he is one of the 3 artists i admire most from the era. His kinetic art has become a classic . Not the easiest kind of art to exhibit, but when it is done properly you will see the strength of his art.

I had the pleasure to visit the Colombo exhibition in castello di Rivoli ( near Torino) in 2009.  in which his work was brought together and it showed itself in the best possible setting.

Here is a short biography:

He is one of the most important artist in Italy in experiencing kinetic and a member of the Arte Programmata moviment.

Between ’59 and ’60 he founds the “T Group”, linked to the international movement of “Nouvelle Tendence”. He  held his firt solo show at the Galleria Pater (Milan, 1960).

He experiences in different fields of physics which include electrical and magnet devices, industrial neon lights and laser, all to exalt the aesthetic potential of technological rationalism.  In the 1960s he made experimental films, kinetic object and enviroments. He has exhibited on numerous occasions in Italy and abroad.

In 1985 he becomes director of the Brera Academy where he teaches the “structuration of space”. He also takes part in avant-garde scenography (Operstheater of Frankfurt, 1986) and in designing virtual architectures (the “Architetture cacogoniometriche” in 1988, the “Spazi curvi”, 1992).

With his art-work was the winner of the Venice Biennial in 1968.

www.ftn-books.com has the following books on Gianni Colombo available

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Marinus Boezem (1934)

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Marinus Boezem (1934) belongs, together with Jan Dibbets and Ger van Elk, among the most important representatives of the Conceptual Art and Arte Povera movement in The Netherlands. In the 1960s, Boezem discovered that he could use elusive elements such as air, weather, wind and light as visual materials and made a name with radical, immaterial works that were far ahead of their time. Boezem was one of the initiators of the ground-breaking exhibition ‘Op Losse Schroeven: Situaties en Cryptostructuren’ (1969) at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam and took part in the equally influential exhibition ‘When Attitudes Become Form’ at the Kunsthalle Bern in the same year.

In 1969 he created one of his most famous works of art, ‘Signing the Sky Above The Port of Amsterdam With an Aeroplane, 1969’: exactly as stated in its title, an aircraft’s condensation trails were used to spell out Boezem’s surname in the sky, the ephemeral wording disappearing almost as soon as it was created. In 1971 he made an artwork for television that was broadcast under the auspices of Gerry Shum’s legendary Fernseh Gallery. Furthermore, Boezem created numerous works in public space and land art. The Green Cathedral is a beautiful example: 174 Italian poplar trees are planted to reproduce the floor plan and measurements of the Cathedral at Reims, in a flat polder near Almere, the Netherlands.

In an oeuvre spanning more than sixty years, Marinus Boezem has created a body of work that stands quite independently in contemporary art. His works are part of many important museum collections, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam; Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam; Gemeentemuseum Den Haag; Museum Kröller-Muller, Otterloo; Museum Voorlinden, Wassenaar; and many more public art collections.

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Josef Albers Nesting Tables 1926/27

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This set of tables i first encountered at the Josef Albers Museum in Bottrop where two types of these set were sold. One with colored perspex and one set with original italian fabricated glass. I had to had this and i ordered one set direectly from the manufacturer. These are so impressive and 100% like the original set which was originally designed at the Bauhasu by Josef Albers and thnis reedition from 2010 is one of the best small furniture items ever produced. I checked and this set is still available, but not as cheap as it originally was in 2010, but choose this set and you will have the pleasure of looking at one of the greatest functional Bauhaus designs ever made. Klein und More sells the original authorised set in Europe  and the Moma stora sells a set in their store for the US. Josef Albers is one of the artist of whom ww.ftn-books.com sells many items

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galerie du Dragon (1955-1995)

 

I recently noticed that i have several publications by galerie du Dragon in my inventory

Founded in 1955 and always at the location of 19, rue du Dragon in Paris this galerie is together with galerie Denise Rene one of the grand old institutions in the Parisian art scene. For over 40 years they were representing modern artist like Matta and Carelman,

For those who can read french….. Here is a part from an article on the galerie du Dragon in which ll the famous names of the artists that have made a contribution to the gallerie’s fame are mentioned:

Grâce au soutien de nombreux artistes, le jeune poète Max Clarac-Sérou reprend le bail de la librairie et en fait une galerie d’art à partir de 1955, véritable foyer de découvertes et de contacts : la Galerie du Dragon. De jeunes poètes, comme Edouard Glissant, Alain Jouffroy ou Michel Butor y retrouvent des écrivains plus âgés, Henri Michaux ou Gherasim Luca. Ils y croisent des artistes, peintres ou plasticiens, comme Giacometti, Matta ou Victor Brauner. De solides amitiés voient le jour, dans la fréquentation du lieu, où Max Clarac-Sérou ou Cécilia Ayala organisent les expositions : sur l’art cubain contemporain, en 1961, ou sur le thème de Seul, et le corps, en 1966, réunissant pour l’occasion des œuvres de Balthus, Bellmer, César, Cremonini, Dali, Giacometti, Magritte et Matta..