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Andres Serrano…A History of Sex

At least you can say that he has a completely different approach to his subjects than any other of his colleagues. Most of the time hechoses a highly controversial subject. This differs from sex to the morgue, but most of the time the result is “shocking”.

Taschen made an excellent book titled AMERICA with Serrano and it is one of the books i keep for my own collection. A little search resulted in enough copies for the collector to add this to his or her collection, but there is another one… a much harder to find book which was published with the Groninger Museum exhibition A History of Andres Serrano/ A HISTORY OF SEX in 1997. The design was done by Swip Stolk ( the house designer at that time ) and blown up pictures from the exhibited collection were used as posters in the street. One of them ( a girl peeing in a mans mouth) hit the street , but was removed a couple of days later , because it was a little bit too shocking. Still the result of this publicity campaign was that the Groninger Museum registered a record number of people, who visited this exhibition. The catalogue sold out within a few weeks, with no reprint and has become one of the most searched for catalogues of the Groninger Museum…..and www.ftn-books.com luckily

has one copy available.

The text in the Taschen book on Serrano is :

Even though I consider myself a conceptual artist, I am a traditionalist when it comes to photography. I like to use film and shoot straight. No technical gimmicks or special effects. What you see is what I saw when I looked though the camera. If I’ve dazzled you with lights and colors, it’s because I’ve dazzled you with lights and colors. Ideas are more important than effects. And effects are always better when they’re real. In Lori And Dori, for instance, the conjoined sisters are dressed like fairy tale princesses evoking a dreamy and surreal landscape of the mind. But they’re real. Other times I have to make things look real, even if they’re not. In White Nigger, a man is made Black through make-up, while a child is “hung” with a harness. Ezra Pound once said, “Make it new.” I do. And make it real, too.

The trick is not so much coming up with ideas, as how to make them work. When I first tried to photograph my ejaculations, for instance, I kept shooting and missing. After about eight times of getting back black film I realized that I needed a motor drive on my camera. I would start shooting film before I felt myself coming, and was able to shoot a roll of film in seconds. Invariably, there would be one shot, and one shot only, of my ejaculate. In Vagina Dentata (Vagina with Teeth) the teeth-they were shark’s teeth-kept falling out. I had to keep pushing them in to keep them from coming out. After a while, they stayed in place. When the shoot was over, I tried to get them out, but they were stuck. I then realized that the glue that kept them in place was dried menstrual blood.

–Andres Serrano, Reprinted from an interview with Julie Ault for “America and other Work by Andres Serrano” published by Taschen.

 

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Jan Fabre and BIC art

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Fabre’s fame began when he was making 100% blue drawings with a BIC ballpoint pen ( 1980). It was the early eighties , but before that he shook the art scene with making drawings with his own blood ( 1978) .Since he made stage designs for plays and dance, movies and many more drawings and objects and of course sculptures….extremely large sculptures. Jan Fabre is considered one of the greatest living artist in Europe.

A short introduction to one of the greatest Belgian artist from this time. For me Fabre and Panamarenko will be remembered as the great Belgian artist from the last part of the 20th century. Both imaginative in their own way and both highly original with an own signature.

There is a huge list of all his activities during the last 3 decades, but the best way to get an impression of Jan Fabre is to read what Wikipedia says about him and visit his site afterwards

site: www.janfabre.be

There is a large selection of Fabre titles available at www.ftn-books.com

Wikipedia text:

Fabre is famous for his Bic-art (ballpoint drawings). In 1990, he covered an entire building with ballpoint drawings.

He explores the relationships between drawing and sculpture. He also makes sculptures in bronze (among them The man who measures the clouds and Searching for Utopia) and with beetles.

His decoration of the ceiling of the Royal Palace in Brussels Heaven of Delight (made out of one million six hundred thousand jewel-scarab wing cases) is widely praised. In 2004 he erected Totem, a giant bug stuck on a 70-foot steel needle, on the Ladeuzeplein in Leuven.

In 2008, Jan Fabre’s The Angel of Metamorphosis exhibition was held at the Louvre Museum.

On 26 October 2012, several media reported how during a shoot in the Antwerp town hall for a forthcoming film on Fabre, living cats were thrown repeatedly several meters spinning into the air, after which they made a hard landing on the steps of the entrance hall. Animal welfare executive chairman Luc Bungeneers said he was having a meeting with his party chairman when he heard howling cats. “To my horror, we found cats were being assaulted in the name of art”, Bungeneers said. “It went on for several hours.” The filming was eventually aborted after protests from the crew’s own technicians. Later that day, Fabre claimed all cats were still in good health and it was a conspiracy of the political party NVA.[1][2][3][4] Mr. Fabre has received 20,000 emails slamming his act. He has also been attacked seven times by men carrying clubs whilst out jogging in the park and been forced to sleep in a different location every night. Antwerp’s deputy mayor for animal wellbeing and the animal rights organisation Global Action in the Interest of Animals also launched complaints about Mr Fabre’s controversial act.

On February 2016, Jan Fabre was appointed by the Greek Ministry of Culture as the Creative Director of the annual Athens – Epidaurus Festival.[5] He resigned less than two months later, on the 2nd of April 2016, after a huge controversy over his plan to turn Greece’s major arts festival into “a tribute to Belgium” and devote eight of the festival’s ten productions to those from his homeland.[6]

In September 2016 Fabre made an attempt to not break cyclist Eddy Merckx‘s 1972 hour record at the Tête d’Or Velodrome in Lyon. Fabre completed a total of 23 km in an hour, compared to Merckx’s record of over 49 km. The attempt was commentated on by Merckx, fellow cyclist Raymond Poulidor, and veteran cycling commentator Daniel Mangeas[7] and was performed as the opening of his “Stigmata” retrospective exhibition organised by the Musée d’art contemporain de Lyon.[8] Fabre described the attempt as “how to remain a dwarf in the land of giants”.[9]

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Horta and the Belgium Museum for Comics

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In the Zandstraat 20/ The Belgium Museum for Comics, ( centre of Brussels ) in an art nouveau building there is the Brasserie Horta, named after the famous Belgian Art Nouveau architect Victor Horta. If you walk Brussels there are many Art Nouveau buildings to be found , but the one that is the most important is probably the one which houses the Victor Horta museum in Saint Gilles. If you want to visit it, please note that the opening hours are very limited and only small groups may enter the building. Once there ,you will find one of the most authentic and beautiful Art Nouveau buildings to be found in Brussels. The Tourist Office has some nice walks on which the most typical Art Nouveau and Art Deco buildings are indicated and when you take this walk , beside the buildings , there are many wall drawings to be seen ( practically all related to Belgian comic art ). Stop at the mentioned Brasserie Horta at the Museum for Comics, have a coffee and visit its collection, containing many authentic TinTin/Herge items. https://www.stripmuseum.be/nl/home

and continue your walk to end at the Horta museum in Saint Gilles.

 

prepare your visit with the nice little book which i have available at www.ftn-books.com

horta

 

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Ian Wilson sector 30 and section 43

At the time i first laid my hands on a publication by Ian Wilson published in the section series . I really thought …..absolutely crazy….however when you read what the van Abbemuseum writes on the publications of Ian Wilson, you see the logic and when you see the logic you notice that every publication is a work of art by itself. I really do not know how many of these “Section” books were published, but for sure i know of 3 i had in my collection ( 2  i still have). There was the art &project publication. ( only 4 pages, but highly collectable) and the section 30 by the van Abbemuseum and the one i made for the Gemeentemuseum in the time Rudi Fuchs was director of the museum. The section 43 was published in an edition of 500 copies. Only 10 or so were sold and the main part of the edition was destroyed at the time the depots of the museum  had to relocate because of the renovation in 1996. So my guess is only about 50 have survived what makes this one of the scarcest Ian Wilson publications. Please look at them at www.ftn-books.com

This is what the van Abbemuseum writes about Ian Wilson:

At first, Wilsons artistic explorations took place entirely in the monochrome. He was absorbed by questions relating to perception and painting. This is aptly illustrated by the nameless object of fibreglass and white pigment (1967) recently purchased by the Van Abbemuseum. In it, he created a slight convex curvature atop a circular surface. When hung on the wall at eye level, this ‘disc’ is so subtle that it does not cast any shadows. The fibreglass object presents the perceptive viewer with an ambiguous scene – sometimes it simulates a cavity in the wall, only to pop out of it again a moment later. His last physical objects, ‘Circle on the Floor’ and ‘Circle on the Wall’, were created in early 1968. Almost completely stripped of any material substance, these works are circles consisting only of outlines drawn in chalk and pencil, respectively. Using Wilsons meticulous instructions, the circles can be reproduced for use in any exhibition.

After some time, Wilson realised that it was no longer necessary to create an object in order to realise a concept. Wilson: ‘I found that I could think or say the circle just as well, that I didn’t need to draw it in order to convey the idea I was exploring.’ The movement towards dematerialisation was a widespread tendency among artists in the 1960s. Language predominated as the means of achieving this, and artists employed it in various ways to stimulate a mental process inside the ‘viewer’ of the work.

Wilson exploits the fact that language can be used to conjure up an image or explain a concept. Forming a mental image of a ‘cube’ requires a simple thought process – the concept of ‘infinity’, on the other hand, represents a higher level of linguistic abstraction. In his text entitled ‘Conceptual Art’ (1984), he says: ‘Language is the most formless means of expression. Its capacity to describe concepts without physical or visual references carries us into an advanced state of abstraction.’ In 2002 he explained that ‘by means of language you can grasp the non-visual world.’ By letting go of material objects and continuing his artistic exploration in the realm of the spoken word, he was able to make the transition from visual abstraction to non-visual abstraction.

Initially, Wilsons verbal work was of an informal nature, taking place on the street, at random exhibition openings or in people’s homes. It was in this manner that he presented his work ‘Time’: the word in its spoken form. A deeper discussion on the subject of ‘time’ also emerged. In 1969, Wilson shifted his field of exploration to the medium itself – ‘oral communication as art form’ – and in 1970 was invited to present ‘Oral Communication’ in Europe.

Over the course of the 1970s, his discussions took on a more formal character, and his interests shifted towards ‘The Known and Unknown’, based on Plato’s ‘The Parmenides’. In contrast to a ‘performance’, during a discussion the audience can actively take part in realising the concept of ‘oral communication’. Wilson does not want the discussion to be recorded either on film or audio. He is interested in the concentrated moment in which ideas emerge and are formulated in language. What remains after the discussion is a subjective and unstable thought in the minds of those present. Wilson summarises the core of these discussions in a book series entitled ‘section’.

From 1970 onwards, his discussions were announced using cards, which served as invitations informing the addressee of where Wilson would be and when. Purchases of works were confirmed by a certificate containing a printed and signed declaration by the artist, stating that a discussion had taken place on that date. Wilson had specific ideas concerning the formulation and layout of both the invitation cards and the certificates. These purchase certificates and invitations cards were the only material remnants of the discussion.

In 1986, Wilson stopped holding discussions and concentrated on printed language. From the late 1980s onward, unique series of his artists’ books began to appear, such as ‘The Set of 25 Sections: 90-114, with Absolute Knowledge’ shown here, from 1993. Partially due to renewed interest in Wilson’s spoken works, he started group discussions again in 1999, which to date have focused on the subject of ‘The Absolute’.

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Alessandro Mendini

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Because of a recent sale , i was reminded that there are so many important designs made by this master of ALCHIMIA. The design group that made the most remarkable designs in the eighties. Beside these designs he made for Alchimia, he also was a gifted architect and book designer. A multi talented artist who made some of the most iconic designs and in the Netherland was partly responsible for the architecture of the Groninger Museum. The Groninger Museum got his new building in 1994. At that time it was one of the most spectacular Museum buildings in the world.

This was possibly the building that paved the way for many more avant garde museum buildings. For instance the Gehry building which was made for the Guggenheim museum was opened in 1997, 3 year after the opening of the Groninger Museum. Since, the Groninger Museum always has had a special interest in design and their own publications have for the greatest part been of the highest possible quality. In many of them Swip Stolk had a role and they always show the influence of Alessandro Mendini .

There are some nice Mendini titles available at www.ftn-books.com

Including the famous Mendini Sketchbook published by the Groninger Museum

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Francis Bacon and Berlinde de Bruyckere

 

In my blog from Sunday you noticed that we visited the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag to have a look at the Riley CURVES exhibition. During this visit we walked the first floor of the museum with part of their permanent collection. Since the Bacon exhibition from 2001 , several painting are “on loan ” from other museums and they have now completed this room with a sculpture on loan from the Hauser & Wirth collection…and placed this in the same room as the Bacon’s….result….one of the most exciting and stunning Museum rooms i have ever seen.

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Sometimes there are artists who look like brothers/sisters of each other, same approach to their subjects and this room is an example how closely both these artists are related in their art to each other. Here is the text the Gemeentemuseum published on their site www.gemeentemuseum.nl on Berlinde de Bruyckere.

Belgian artist Berlinde De Bruyckere (b. 1964) creates sculptures that reveal the human body and human life in all its frailty. Her installations of equine and human bodies evoke feelings of love and consolation, but also of terror and violence. The work is both emotionally immersive and provocative, regularly creating controversy. De Brucykere’s bitter-sweet images unite pain and suffering with a strong aesthetic appeal. Her Cripplewood presentation attracted great public attention at the 55th Venice Biennale. The Gemeentemuseum Den Haag acquired her sculpture Into One – Another II, To P.P.P., 2010-2011 in 2011 and is now about to hold a major retrospective of her work, much of it never previously exhibited in the Netherlands.

The human body and its visible suffering is the key theme in De Bruyckere’s whole oeuvre. We are now almost immune to images of suffering; the constant stream of ghastly pictures fed to us by the mass media has seen to that. Berlinde De Bruyckere seeks to restore our sensitivity to the suffering that is a timeless and universal part of the human condition. She makes us stop and look at it but leaves us free to make of her work what we will. In doing so, she unerringly explores the limits of the visual representation of physical and emotional pain. 

De Bruyckere constructs her sculptures of wax, resin, rope and worn leather or textile and strings together separate wax casts to create single bodies. She is concerned solely with bodies; faces are concealed behind shocks of hair or cloths; heads are often completely missing. Using special pigments, she transforms wax into pallid skin with vague glimpses of blood, veins and contusions. Red patches and ‘wounds’ give the impression of a tortured body and suggest associations with the religious symbolism surrounding martyrs like St. Sebastian – a figure of great significance to Cripplewood. In addition to these religious elements, classical mythology also has a place in De Bruyckere’s work. Ovid’s Metamorphoses are a constant source of inspiration.

Horses are also an important symbol in her oeuvre, used primarily as a metaphor to express profound human emotions surrounding death and mortality.

In addition to her sculpture, the forthcoming exhibition will also feature drawings and early works in textile. De Bruyckere uses her drawings – often made in a combination of watercolour and gouache on recycled paper or cardboard – as exploratory studies relating to the themes of her sculptures. In this respect, she frequently seeks inspiration in the bodies of dancers. The development of ideas with dancers in the studio is a technique of great importance to her and has resulted in various wax sculptures, as well as a number of different series of drawings. These series are not preparatory studies, but function as works of art in their own right, underlining the themes that together form the leitmotif of her entire oeuvre. De Bruyckere’s sketches, drawings, watercolours and sculptures are all interlinked and together constitute a single ‘body of work’.

De Bruyckere trained at the LUCA School of Arts in Ghent. Her work was first exhibited in the Italian Pavilion at the 2003 Venice Biennale. This led to immediate international recognition and her work has since been acquired by major museums, foundations and private collectors around the world. She returned to Venice in 2013 to represent her own country in the Belgian Pavilion.

 

For books on both these artists visit www.ftn-books.com

wilfried

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Vera Molnár and computer art

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Yesterday i added a very nice publication on Vera Molnar to my inventory and realized that she was the artist i was most impressed with the time i visited the Vasarely Museum in Budapest. Molnar born 1924 studied with the art school of Budapest and was one of the first artists worldwide to experiment with computers in her art.

In 1968 she began working with computers, where she began to create algorithmic paintings based on simple geometric shapes geometrical themes.

Patterns and compositions were made with help the computer and since, her art developed in something very special.

In the 1960s, Molnar co-founded several artist research groups: GRAV who investigate collaborative approaches to mechanical and kinetic art, and Art et Informatique, with a focus on art and computing. Molnar learned the early programming languages of Fortran and Basic, and gained access to a computer at a research lab in Paris where she began to make computer graphic drawings on a plotter, several of which are included in a 2015 retrospective exhibition in New York called “Regarding the Infinite | Drawings 1950-1987.

Her works are now found in collections and museums all over the world, but the best museum to see her works is the Vasarely Museum in Budapest.

www.ftn-books.com has some nice Molnar publications in its collection. including a signed and original print.

molnar

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Pierre Klossowski (1905-2001)…erotic and bizarre

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Pierre Klossowski (1905-2001)

Pierre Klossowski’s art has always been on the border of what is  acceptable for the main stream art lover. As a viewer you almost feel always like you are intruding in an intimate scene . A little violent …and one which is drawn in delicate colors and therefore is pleasant to look at….but study it and you see what is happening and it is less pleasing

Pierre Klossowski came from an artist family and was the younger brother of the famous Balthus. You can see that they influenced each other but the works by Pierre are far more explicit as where the works by Balthus always depict a scene from which the viewer can make his own story. Klossowski   was a multi talented artist who made movies and wrote essays, but his claim to fame is his drawings and sculptures which are highly recognizable and original.

From 20 September to 19 October 2006 there was a display of Klossowski’s drawings and life size sculptures made after them with sculptor Jean-Paul Réti along with the art of Hans Bellmer at the Whitechapel also presented at the Ludwig Museum in Cologne and the MNAM Paris with a film retrospective. Since, many publications have been published on this artist, but some of the earlier ones are available at www.ftn-books.comwww.ftn-books.com

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James Turrell…a magic place in the dunes

Nearby the city of Den Haag, close by the beach of Kijkduin you can visit one of the most important works of art in the Netherlands. Stroom has commissioned James Turrell some 20 years ago to realize a Turrell masterpiece in the dunes of Kijkduin titles CELESTIAL VAULT. You can enter through a tunnel a beautiful shaped bowl covered with grass , with in the middle a stone bench, which functions as a bed. When laid down, you can experience the serene surroundings and look at the sky, which of course is always different. Dutch landscapes are renowned for their skies and because of the focus on the sky when you are lying down you can experience this for the full 100%

An absolute must for the Turrell admirers and good to know that the CELESTIAL VAULT has been restored to its original splendor some 5 years ago.

www.ftn-books.com has some nice titles on Turrell including the one on this masterpeice in the dunes. This one is signed and from a limited signed edition. Beautiful publication and today for the special price USD 150.00

 

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Jakob Bill….son of Max Bill

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The title sounds like a sequel to a popular horror movie, but it isn’t.

Somehow i have developed a liking for Swiss contemporary KONKRETE artists. Almost all are constructivists and Richard Paul Lohse and Jakob Bill are two of them. This time i will blog on Jakob Bill the son of the famous Max Bill and belonging to the group of Zurich Konkrete Kunst.

Outside Switzerland and Germany , Bill is not very well known, but when you visit the collections in Switzerland you encounter many works by Bill. The Zurich Museum/ Haus Konstruktiv organized some exhibitions with Bill, but his most important major exhibitions were all in Swiss Museums . Except for one…..Organized by one of the best galleries in the world. Galerie Denise Rene organized an exhibition in 1972. Denise Rene was the perfect gallery for an artist like Bill, they already represented great artist like Vasarely, Arp., Agam and Jesus Rafael Soto. Bill fits in perfectly. Perhaps this exhibition was a step forward for the popularity of the works by Jakob Bill, but still the artist is not very well known outside Switzerland and certainly deserves better.