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El Lissitzky (1890-1941)

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Here is an artist who’s works were very well known from the very first beginning of his career. Suprematism being one of the key collection parts of the Stedelijk Museum, El Lissitzky soon became part of this great and important collection. Because of this large collection part, an interest in his works was aroused from the very first beginning resulting in some purchases by important collectors and acquiring works by museum for their collections. Among them; Stedelijk Museum, Haags Gemeentemuseum, Boymans van Beuningen and the van Abbemuseum.

There is so much to be told about El Lissitzky as an artist because he was a true multi talented artist. A Painter, sculptor , architect and designer all within the same person. One aspect of his career i would like to mention specially. His graphic design.

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El Lissitzky is the 9th person from the left

During his stay in Germany Lissitzky also developed his career as a graphic designer with some historically important works such as the books Dlia Golossa (For the Voice), a collection of poems from Vladimir Mayakovsky, and Die Kunstismen (The Artisms) together with Jean Arp. In Berlin he also met and befriended many other artists, most notably Kurt Schwitters, László Moholy-Nagy, and Theo van Doesburg. Together with Schwitters and van Doesburg, Lissitzky presented the idea of an international artistic movement under the guidelines of constructivism while also working with Kurt Schwitters on the issue Nasci (Nature) of the periodical Merz, and continuing to illustrate children’s books. The year after the publication of his first Proun series in Moscow in 1921, Schwitters introduced Lissitzky to the Hanover gallery kestnergesellschaft, where he held his first solo exhibition. The second Proun series, printed in Hanover in 1923, was a success, utilizing new printing techniquesLater on, he met Sophie Küppers, who was the widow of Paul Küppers, an art director of the kestnergesellschaft at which Lissitzky was showing, and whom he would marry in 1927.

There are some really nice El Lissitzky publications available at www.ftn-books.com.

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William T. Wiley ( 1937 )

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Two catalogues available at www.ftn-books.com and not many more that i know of, make William T. Wiley a rather obscure artist for me, but i realize that is the case only for me, because outside the Netherlands, specially in the US, his name is well known and growing with the year.

His art is typical for the West Coast of the US, but has also something of Jan Fabre and Gunter Brus in it. It has certainly much more humor and at the same time it is very typical for the art Wiley creates and not anything else.

Maybe the importance of Wiley is that he educated some of the great Contemporary artists like Bruce Nauman. Here is what Wikipedia says about it:

He was born in Bedford, Indiana. Raised in Indiana, Texas, and Richland, Washington, Wiley moved to San Francisco to study at the California School of Fine Arts where he earned his BFA in 1960 and his MFA two years later. In 1963, Wiley joined the faculty of the UC Davis art department with Bay Area Funk Movement artists Robert Arneson and Roy DeForest. During that time Wiley instructed students including Bruce Nauman, Deborah Butterfield, and Stephen Laub. According to Dan Graham, the literary, punning element of Nauman’s work came from Wiley. Wiley also acknowledges the effect Nauman had on his own work.

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Rudolf Steiner …. art & architecture

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Yesterday my wife an i visited the ‘ DE PARADE ” a cultural fair with music and performances. a great evening and great fun on the fairground and at the time we left it was still light enough to distinguish the buildings in the surroundings. We took a shortcut to the tramstop and ….there it was …. a great building used nowadays as a care home for older people. architecture by J.W.E. Buijs en J.B. Lursen from 1924, commissioned by the dutch anthroposophic society and heavily inspired by the architecture of Rudolf Steiner.

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This was a great building and for me a total surprise, because i never had seen it before nor heard about it. It brought back memories and i remembered the large inventory we had during the Spiritual in Art exhibition which was organized by the Haags Gemeentemuseum together with the Los Angeles County Museum which catalogues are still available at www.ftn-books.com. The exhibition showed the importance of the iedeas of rudolf Steiner and the influence these ideas had on the art and artist of the Interbellum and shortly after.

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Donald Judd at the van Abbemuseum

Rudi Fuchs was the admirer and curator who convinced Donald Judd to have a large retrospective at the van Abbemuseum. Judd had his entrance into the dutch Museum scene with Enno Develing who had organized, with all important minimal art artists, exhibitions at the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag in the Sixties . Judd was one of them and since the popularity of Minimal Art in the Netherlands grew steadily. The van Abbemuseum made an exhibition with Judd in 1987, after which exhibitions another one with Judd, Fuchs and Jitta was held on the prints by Donald Judd at the Gemeentemuseum. It was one of the last exhibitions Rudi Fuchs curated for the van Abbemuseum before he switched to the Gemeentemuseum as a director and made this print exhibition. Fuchs was a great fan, because together with the print exhibition he ordered furniture, desks and even a complete parquet floor all done by Judd of which only the floor remains at the Escher Museum at the Paleis Lange Voorhout location. The rest “disappeared” , was damaged,  or was sold during the last 2 decades.

The blog is to point out that this is an important catalogue which is now available at www.ftn-books.com together with some other publications. As mentioned …Enno Develing wast the first European curator who presented the Minimal Art movement and his artists at the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag. Here is the extremely important catalogue of this exhibition which i gladly make available for my readers. Click the MINIMAL ART link below and read the PDF version of this rare and very important catalogue.

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Aart Klein (1909-2001) …typically dutch?

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No definitely not!….Klein is of the most important dutch photographers from the last century and recorded daily life in the Netherlands , but that does not mean that his photographs are typically dutch. Their subject is in many cases dutch, but their appeal is more international than one would imagine. I have sold Klein publications all over the world , including some to Japan. Aart Klein is for me one of the greats from the last century . His black and white photography has a graphic quality, which is rarely seen among his contemporaries.

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The Stedelijk Museum devoted a special exhibition to his photographs, but beside this special show he contributed to many other exhibitions with his quality photographs. Aart Klein publications are available at www.ftn-books.com

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Shunga …the Japanese erotic print

 

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While studying the Bubb Kuyper catalogue it struck me that the genitals of both male and female are depicted far too large and are highly exaggerated. This made me wonder…is this wishful thinking of the japanese men in general or is it to draw attention to the print and the action within. I found an excellent article on Shunga…. The art of the erotic japanese prints by the British Museum and they have a clear point of view:

The genitals of both sexes are so exaggerated in shunga that it leaves literally nothing to the imagination. A wall text quotes Tachibana no Narisue, an artist in 1254: “The Old Masters… depict the size of ‘the thing’ far too large… If it were depicted the actual size there would be nothing of interest. For that reason don’t we say that art is fantasy?”.

Despite a similar preoccupation with the humorous side of sex, shunga has a far greater artistic pedigree than seaside postcards. Whereas Thomas Rowlandson is unusual in the British artistic tradition for producing erotic prints, shunga prints were an expected part of Japanese artists’ portfolios.

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Once viewers get past the shock of seeing such explicit scenes, other details begin to emerge – particularly the beautifully rendered robes worn (or, more accurately, half-worn) by the couples. Full nudity appears to be rare, and the gorgeous colours and designs of traditional Japanese costume frame the prints with sensuous folds.

Early versions were hand painted on scrolls, some of which are highly exquisite and expensive. Twelve Erotic Scenes in Edo (circa 1790), by Hosoda Eishi, is particularly beautiful, with gold leaf and gilding used liberally as decoration on both sides of the scroll. 

By 1765, the perfection of full colour woodblock printing methods in Edo made shunga available for the masses, and it was during this period that the conventions of the genre became more firmly established. It was also during this period that the samurai elite began to censor shunga – but for its political, not erotic content. 

Shunga presented a threat to Japan’s strict social hierarchies by depicting sexual congress between different social groups; some books may even have revealed secret court gossip. However, the authorities did not strictly enforce the ban, meaning that shunga flourished under the radar.

It might be easy to dismiss Shunga as a sensationalist exhibition, but the work displayed reveals a fascinating insight into a private world. It’s one both familiar and strange to us.

Sexual life is revealed as loving, passionate, comforting, rough, illicit – even violent at times. Despite existing in a fantasy world, shunga artists manage to reveal a great deal about our common humanity.

www.ftn-books.com has a book on the modern Shunga experience available.

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de Angst … Juni 1983

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If ever there was an obscure magazine in the Netherlands it was de Angst. Only a few volumes were published and the one depicted in this blog is one of them. It is from June 1983, was published in an edition size of only 100 copies. Printed/stencilled contents, hand bound signed in the plate by the authors Edzard Diderik, Martin Bril, Dirk van Weelden and Rob Scholte, who also made the original etching which was used as cover.

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The etchinh was colored by hand and the design was later used for one of his editions and a painting with the same name. In the magazine contributions a.o. by members of the ( Amsterdam) punk/avant garde scene which were finding their way into the multiple disciplines of Contemporary Art. There are contributions by Scholte, Maarten Ploeg and Peter Klashorst, who all made a serious art career. This rare magazine is now available at www.ftn-books.com

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Robert Olaf Stoof (1945-1999)…and Real Free Press.

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Why this blog on a publisher? It is just plain simple…. Stoof is one of the most influential European publishers who paved the way for the alternative comic scene of which for instance , Joost Swarte, was one.

Robert Olaf Stoop was born in Amsterdam and grew up with his grandmother in Indonesia. He grew up to be a full-blooded anarchist, putting provocational pamphlets in the newspapers of non-suspecting travellers when he was working at the AKO in Schiphol Airport. He made posters for Provo magazine, and got involved with comics during the 1960s. In 1966, he self-published his comic ‘De Lotgevallen van Roza’, which can be considered the first European underground comic.

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He founded publishing house The Real Free Press in Amsterdam, “the lost connection for solid facts” which imported American underground comics and reprinted the work of long-forgotten geniuses such as George Herriman, Winsor McCay, Gustave Verbeck and George McManus. Stoop also published magazine De Real Free Press Illustratie, which featured many old and new comic artists, and ran from 1968 until 1974.

Olaf Stoop was one of the first to recognize the talent of Joost Swarte, and published his work in several forms, such as ‘De Papalagi’, which became famous world-wide, and Swarte’s first comic, ‘Modern Art’ (1980).

Stoop can be considered the founder of the Dutch alternative comics scene. An intriguing personality, he lived his whole life as an anarchist and a free mind. He died of a heart attack at the age of 52.

www.ftn-books.com has found of the Real Free Press papers with works by a.o Robert Crumb and has them for sale .

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Michelangelo Pistoletto (1933)

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I know his work and recognize it by his reflecting surfaces and mirror like qualities , but Pistoletto is much more than an artist who uses a “Gimmick”. Now , 85 years of age he has proven to be one of the most influential Italian artists from the last century and his works have spread all over the world . (I even have illy collection cups by Pistoletto in my collection ;-).

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Why is he, i think, so important?…. Probably this is because he stayed true to his art and has developed it into a very personal and recognizable form which is now appreciated by many. Pistoletto had had his exhibitions in the Netherlands in the van Abbemuseum and Stedelijk Museum and has built steadily an appreciative audience because of these exhibitions in the Netherlands since his earliest one at the van Abbemuseum in 1986. Arte Povera is Pistoletto ….and within his works he brings together Fluxus and conceptual art. The admiration of Bacon started his art career, but since he has walked his own path of “REFLECTION”.

Here are some of the books www.ftn-books.com has on Pistoletto in collection

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“Negerkunst uit Centraal Afrika”

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Yesterday morning there was an article in the Volkskrant about the way art in museums by colored people and minorities must be described . The reason why the dutch museums are also looking for a desirable idiom is that also in dutch history there is a part of their history which is very doubtful. The catalogue which is in the title is the example which was given in the article ( available at www.ftn-books.com ). The exhibition was in those days, (which is very recent history) announced by the journalists and museum as “primitive art by natives inspired by western civilization a way of announcement as if we in Western Europe were civilized and others not.” A complete wrong way of describing the art from these artists. On the positive side…Sandberg was the one who thought these artists deserved a museum platform in the Stedelijk Museum as early as 1957. which was the place for these artists where they could, for the first time, present and show their art , side by side with Malevich and Mondrian. I can really understand why some words and expressions can not be used any longer, however …where a museum decides to remove an object from an exhibited collection and with this action denying some of the history from a country, should not be done…. in my opinion a better way would be to keep it within the collection and add an explanation why the museum thinks different nowadays about an object . This way explaining and not judging. Let the public judge for itself if the object is still beautiful or not.

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