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Tomitaro Nachi (1924-2007)

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Tomitaro Nachi was one of the first japanese artist ever to have an exhibition in the Stedelijk Museum. Wim Crouwel designed the catalogue for his exhibition and what makes it extra special is that the catalogue included a rare and beautiful multiple. There is wonderful short movie about this artist which was made at the time of his exhibition at the Stedelijk Museum in 1974.

The catalogue shines. It is like a minimal artist book and reflects the spirit of “Zero” and Kinetic art and was forgotten by most until recently it was sold at a local book auction and fetched a steep price of euro 120,– because it had the original multiple included. www.ftn-books.com has both copies available. The one with and the one without the multiple. Both are worth collecting, but as lng as it is there i would chose the one with the multiple included.

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Piet Mondriaan / Mondrian’s studio

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The studio of Piet Mondrian were works of art of them selves. They acted like a true work “in situ” where every item had its proper place . Because of this, the studio itself became a work of art. This was recognized by many and one of the greatest photographers from last centur even made a series of photo from the Paris studio. The same with the NY studio which was photographed by Arnold Newman.

Kertesz and Newman , two great photographers who realized that Mondrian was a very special painter and made these photographs with one purpose….. so we could see the extraordinary qualities Mondrian had when he approached a painting or an object.

There is onegreat article on Artsy where the studio’s of Mondrian are described.

https://www.artsy.net/article/artsy-editorial-mondrian-turned-studios-giant-abstract-paintings

There are some excellent publications on Mondrian and his studios available at www.ftn-books.com including a paper model kit

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Jean Cocteau (1889-1963)…author or painter?

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NO doubt in my mind. For me Jean Cocteau was a painter/photographer. Surely he was a multitalented artist, but in his drawings he shines. Personal, bold and typical Cocteau styled. These drawings are timeless and have at one time been published by Taschen in highly affordable, but beautiful executed publication.

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But beside this great introduction to his ( erotic) drawings there are many other publications worth collecting on this artist. www.ftn-books.com has some of them available, but it is well worth to search for these small but excellent publications on book markets and at garage sales. Cocteau was a great and original artist.

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Piet Dirkx….the publications (1)

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During the time i filled my Piet Dirkx daily in the last 2 years, i frequently looked into the publications that i have on and by Piet Dirkx and each time it struck me that these were all quite special. Covers out of the ordinary, special binding and one even one resembling the famous Moleskine notebooks that Piet uses for his notes and drawings nowadays.

Some of these are still available at www.ftn-books.com. Not all are listed… so inquire for the ones in store, but if not in the inventory of www.ftn-books.com keep looking and searching for them , they really are still out there to be picked up.

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William Klein (1928) a master of abstract photography

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I found an excellent biography on Artnet on William Klein, but for me the importance of Klein is the fact that William Klein made a stunning catalogue together with Wim Crouwel for his 1967 exhibition in the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. The catalogue has some very bold typography and the use of the bright yellow in contrast with the black and white photograph in the back makes it for me a classic. Here is the Artnet bio.

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William Klein is an American artist known for his unconventional style of abstract photography depicting city scenes. Although similar in subject matter to other street photographers such as Diane Arbus and Saul Leiter, as well as fashion photographers Irving Penn and Richard Avedon, Klein’s images break from established modes. “I came from the outside, the rules of photography didn’t interest me. There were things you could do with a camera that you couldn’t do with any other medium—grain, contrast, blur, cock-eyed framing, eliminating or exaggerating grey tones and so on,” he reflected. “I thought it would be good to show what’s possible, to say that this is as valid of a way of using the camera as conventional approaches.” Born on April 19, 1928 in New York, NY, Klein studied painting and worked briefly as Fernand Léger’s assistant in Paris, but never received formal training in photography. His fashion work has been featured prominently in Vogue magazine, and has also been the subject of several iconic photo books, including Life is Good and Good for You In New York (1957) and Tokyo (1964). In the 1980s, he turned to film projects and has produced many memorable documentary and feature films, such as Muhammed Ali, The Greatest (1969). Klein currently lives and works in Paris, France. His works are held in the collections of The Museum of Modern Art in New York, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., and the Art Institute of Chicago, among others.

There are more titles on or with contributions by William Klein available at www.ftn-books.com

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Mel Ramos ( 1935 )

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Mel Ramos made hyperrealistic paintings , but if i had to decide what kind of artist he was , i would rather say he was first and foremost a Pop Art artist.

Ramos is best known for his paintings of superheroes and voluptuous female nudes emerging from cornstalks or Chiquita bananas, popping up from candy wrappers or lounging in martini glasses.

Ramos was among the first wave of Pop Art artists who gained recognition for their art. His art was hidden for a long time for us dutch. No publications were available and the nude paintings/illustrations we had in magazines over here were practically all done by Alberto Vargas, the famous Playboy illustrator, but none by Mel Ramos

Ramos received his first important recognition in the early 1960s; since 1959 he has participated in more than 120 group shows. Along with Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol, he was one of the first artists to do paintings of images from comic books, and works of the three were exhibited together at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 1963. Along with Claes Oldenburg, James Rosenquist, Tom Wesselman and Wayne Thiebaud, Ramos produced art works that celebrated aspects of popular culture as represented in mass media. His paintings have been shown in major exhibitions of Pop art in the U.S. and in Europe, and reproduced in books, catalogs, and periodicals throughout the world.

PS. i started to write this blog knowing for sure i had a great publication on Ramos in my stock, but unfortunately it was sold some years ago and it is not available any longer at www.ftn-books.com

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Julian Opie (1958) ….between Pop Art and Minimalism.

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Stylized paintings are a trademark of Julian Opie. In the Netherlands one would compare him with Joost Swarte who uses a thick outline for his drawings. With this he emphasizes his compositions and makes it look stylized, but still realistic.

He is a very influential figure on the British art scene in the 1980’s who created humourous art. His sculptures have been said to be a cross between architecture and art. His portraits had a pop art feel to them and his most famous piece is probably the cover of a Blur album. Julian Opie’s work is extremely distinctive and although many people have created pieces of work inspired by him, you can always tell that his work has been made by him from the block colors and simple facial features and the thick black lines. His minimalist portraits are so unique because of the simplicity of them.

On the left there is an example of Opie on the right there is an example of Swarte.If i must describe the portraits by Opie…these are simplified portraits of the essence of a face The same technique as Joost Swarte uses but less realistic and more suitable for the use in comics and illustrations.

www.ftn-books.com has some Julian Opie titles available

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Eli Content (1943)

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Eli Content …Born in Switzerland , but living for most of his life in Amsterdam, has become somehow a local known artist. He is world famous in Amsterdam. His art is rooted within the Jewish fate, but apart from that you can look at it without knowing that background and what is left is “pure” abstract painting. His commissions are in many cases religion related . For instance he decorated the Portugese Synagoge in Amsterdam and the titles of his work reflect in many cases his Jewish background.

Eli Content is represented by galerie Onrust in Amsterdam and www.ftn-books.com has one title on Content available.

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Douglas James Johnson (1940-1998) and Jean Genet.

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This will not be an easy blog and i was in doubt if i should publish it, but these prints are so impressive that i will make an effort.

In 1948 Jean Genet published Funeral Rites. An impressive, erotic, grief stricken, despairing novel on the death of his lover. The young hero  who was shot at the barricades in the uprising of the populace of Paris against the german occupation in August 1944. Irreconcilable contradictions become the poles between which he constructs a vast, centrifugal ritual of Love, Death, ecstasy, horror, beauty, betrayal and despair. Johnson’s pictures are a translation and an expansion of these principal themes in which the love and physical excitement for his death lover remains after his death. The Hitlerian and Nazi imagery is suggested in the prints and is/was always present in the Genet novel and is the background, which together with the male nudity, gives them an uneasy feeling to the spectator. To understand  these prints it is necessary to at least read a short summary of the Genet novel. Now for the technique…. I have seen many prints during my life, but this publication with these 10 prints belongs to the very best of all. All prints are special. Not only because the print quality is excellent, but nearly on every print a special collage is fixed to enhance the print and making it stand out. All prints are numbered and signed from an edition of 80 . Numbered 30/80

On Facebook i found some further information by David Cowper on this edition.

The genesis of this series of silkscreen prints goes back to 1970-72. Johnson, who was living in Tehran at the time, had read Genet’s ‘Funeral Rites’ after a visit to France where he met and talked to Bernard Frechtman, the translator. He was fascinated by the themes of betrayal, depair and love. as well as by the strange technique of the narrative. By 1972 he had completed twelve drawings with collages based on the book. In 1975 after coming to live in France the previous year, Johnson showed them to Genet at the Karl Flinker gallery in Paris. Genet enthusiastically encouraged Johnson to have them printed and in1976 when Rob Jurka of Amsterdam saw them he suggested publishing a series of prints based on the drawings. Johnson started preparing a set of ten plates for the printer and in May 1977 spent a month in Amsterdam with the printer Hans Jansen and completed the first five prints. The last five were completed in september 1977 and the series was first exhibited by Galerie Jurka at the International Contemporary Art Fair ‘FIAC’ in the Grand Palais in Paris. October 1977. (this text was taken from the booklet Definitions of Betrayal Part 1 Funeral Rites) The Prints have also been exhibited at the Schwules Museum in Berlin within the past couple of years.

I will not post any pictures that may offend the readers but for those interested in this very special portfolio by Galerie Jurka from 1977 … here is the link to download the PDF file with the 10 prints.

pdf file : Douglas James Johnson rites b

The portfolio is available at ftn art.

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Cesar Domela (1900-1992) a member of de STIJL

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Cesar Domela an abstract constuctivist who has deservedly created himself among the best of DE STIJL artists. He was a friend of Piet Mondriaan and Theo van Doesburg, but after a few years of DE STIJL compositions he developed a stijl of his own. Wall reliefs were his specialty with curls and filled in colorful spaces these compositions became highly recognizable as Domela’s. During my time at the Gemeentemuseum i never witnessed the special Domela exhibitions , but know that the publications published with these exhibits are thought to be the best on Domela and his works. In meantime other publications have appeared, but these Gemeentemuseum publications still are the best.

www.ftn-books.com has a nice selection of Domela publications including a signed print in an edition of 150 cps.

Here is part of the biography the Gemeentemuseum publishes on its site:

www.gemeentemuseum.nl

When he died in 1992, Dutch artist César Domela left behind an oeuvre that was as substantial as it was varied. Part of it passed into the possession of his daughters, Lie Tugayé-Domela Nieuwenhuis and Anne Dutter-Domela Nieuwenhuis. They are now donating thirteen of the relevant works to the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag. The gift forms an important addition to the museum’s existing Domela collection, expanding it to provide a complete overview of the work of this multifaceted artist. From 24 November, the public will have its first chance to view this exceptionally important donation, which comprises paintings, reliefs and one sculpture, as part of a major retrospective devoted to Domela.

César Domela was born in 1900 as the youngest son of the well-known Dutch socialist politician Ferdinand Domela Nieuwenhuis. At an early age, he moved to Italy, where he rubbed shoulders with a number of avant-garde artists. Soon after that, he met Mondrian, Van Doesburg and other members of the De Stijl group, of which he himself became the youngest member in 1924. However, Domela’s artistic development took a different direction from that of most of his fellow-members. He devoted himself increasingly to the development of reliefs: three-dimensional paintings, in which he ascribed a major role to the diagonal. He also experimented with photomontages for use in the world of commercial advertising. His work was well received and in 1936 it was included in the Cubism and Abstract Art exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

After the Second World War, the reliefs came to dominate his output. In 1960 the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag purchased work by him and held a retrospective. Twenty years later, this was followed a second major retrospective of his work. Today, the museum possesses an extensive collection, focusing until the present donation principally on the photomontages and advertising material. This special relationship between the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag and César Domela is one reason why his daughters have decided to donate thirteen of their father’s works to the institution; another is the fact that the works form an excellent complement to the museum’s wider holdings. The Gemeentemuseum Den Haag is extremely proud to have been offered this gift and delighted that the Domela collection, which is so valuable a part of its core holdings, will now provide a complete overview of the artist’s entire career. The gift coincides with the official opening at the Netherlands Institute for Art History (RKD) of the César Domela archive, bequeathed and donated to the Dutch State and given into the safekeeping of that institution.

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Ben Vautier…Le Magasin de Ben

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Another discovery… This poster is rare. It was published in 1993 by editions Cicatrices and according to my knowledge the only print on this great work by Ben Vautier. The work was recently restored because age had deteriorated it too much to exhibited it without damaging the work.

 

But the poster was made in the early nineties for the Musee National d’Art Moderne and because of its size it shows the true quality of the work by Ben. A feast and an excellent way to represent the work in 2D. It is available at www.ftn-books.com

vautier magasin b

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Anton Pieck ( 1895-1987), the ultimate dutch illustrator.

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Anton Pieck, perhaps the best known illustrator in the Netherlands was responsible for the artistic creations in the very first Efteling amusement park. The Fairy Ttale forest was executed after the designs and illustrations by Anton Pieck and he stayed partly responsible for all the extensions of the forest and the new attractions until the late Seventies. Pieck his career is one of many disciplines. He foremost was a book illustrator,  but later his illustrations were used in greeting and birthday cards. What people do not know is that he was also a gifted graphic artist and painter. Personally i do not think he was the best from his generation. I prefer the simplicity of Rie Cramer with her thick outlines, but i fully understand why Pieck is so popular. His scenes are scenes from a long forgotten world, but a world which is still associated with the country side i the Netherlands. There are still a few places which look like true Pieck villages like Doesburg/ Deventer, but his illustrations stand for a long forgotten world and scenes like in his illustrations are nowhere to be found anymore.

For those seeking the atmosphere and possibly some nice merchandise. Visit the official Anton Pieck Museum in Hattem.

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Because of his popularity www.ftn-books.com has always a nice selection of Pieck publications available.

There is more !