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Co Westerik (1924)

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One of the last grand “old” masters of the dutch Art scene. Of course C ( Jacobus) Westerik has had his exhibitions abroad, but beside the Netherlands, germany and Belgium his name is not that well known. I met Westerik at the time he was making the portrait of Theo van Velzen. One of the former directors of the Haags Gemeentemuseum. The portrait was presented as a farewell present when van Velzen resigned to be hung in a gallery with portraits of other former directors. A small portrait which he managed to squeeze in and complete it in between 2 other paintings. His canvasses are not too big , but they are scarce because Westerik has a very small production yearly. I really do not know if he still is active as a painter, but at the time the van Velzen portrait was made , his production was 3 paintings a year. All were sold up front to collectors and museums. Among them Frits Becht (1930-2006) .He was the private collector with the largest Westerik collection .

He who was a personal friend for his entire life and followed his career through the years and bought many works. beside a painter Westerik was also known for his graphics in which he excelled. His production as a graphic artist was much much larger and there are almost a thousand different prints known by him. Westerik is a very important artist for dutch art and because i followed him over the years www.ftn-books.com has many publications on Westerik available.

A short documentary on Westerik can be found at this address: http://hollandsemeesters.info/posts/show/7738

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Antoni Tapies (1923-2012)

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It must have been some 12 years ago that i first visited Barcelona and found myself amazed and surprised by this city full of Gaudi and other modernista marvels, but the best find for me was the discovery and first visit of the Fundacio Antoni Tapies.

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The building itself is already worth visiting and the inside is even more spectacular. An old facade houses a very modern museum inside which houses the works donated by Antoni and Theresa Tapies. I loved its collection and it proved to me that Tapies his art is timeless, very spanish and cosmopolitan at the same time. Tapies is possibly , next to Picasso and Dali , the most important spanish name in Modern Art. He often uses large canvasses and on them paints with “earth” colors impressive abstract compositions and uses  matter in them.

In these matter paintings , the materials used are no longer simple media used to express an idea; they are the idea itself. That process produces a complete identification between material and form, between concept and language. Those works become opaque surfaces, walls on which the artist writes his graffiti and attaches the forms of objects or people. His identification with the work through his surname (in Catalan Tàpies means “walls”) expresses a more profound desire to break with Western dualism and blend with the material in a continuous formlessness.
Over the post-war years there was a general interest among artists on both sides of the Atlantic in material. Awareness of the atomic bomb and the new scientific discoveries aroused a strong curiosity in science, the new ideas about space-time and substance, while inventions such as the electronic microscope provided a new view of nature.
At the same time, Tàpies had developed an interest in Eastern philosophy, because of its emphasis on material, the identity between man and nature and its denial of the dualism of our society.

There are some excellent Tapies publications available at www.ftn-books.com

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Frida Kahlo (1907-1954)

Today a celebration and many congratulations to my wife who has been married for 12,5 years to me. For our honeymoon we travelled to Mexico together with our son Lucas. So for that reason i chose to make a blog on Frida Kahlo, the most famous Mexican artist.

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During the time i was working at the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag we had a show on Frida Kahlo in the Museum Paleis Lange Voorhout in 1993. It was by far the best show, with the highest number of visitors, this little museum has ever had. The show lasted only about 70 days but was extended twice because of the high number of visitors. Mainly women attended the exhibitions and i found out that for them Kahlo was a liberated woman who has been a role model for many. What struck me most in her works were the very personal sometimes even surrealist elements in her paintings and where i had imagined large paintings and works of art , these were in many cases small paintings. Still….a terrific exhibition and the last one to have been organized in the Netherlands in the last 25 years. What remains is the catalogue which is a classic among Kahlo collectors and available at www.ftn-books.com. Last but not least…congratulations to my wife Linda. These were 12,5 years filled with love, travels, fun and health…may the next 12,5 years give the same to us….    Schermafbeelding 2017-04-16 om 09.41.37 Schermafbeelding 2017-04-16 om 10.01.23

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Alberto Magnelli (1888-1971)

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Born in Florence / Italy, Magnelli stayed his entire life true to a mix of abstract art mixed with futurism. Not the most likely combination because in a time when his artists friends were making futurist paintings he chose the opposite road and made brightly colored still lives. Still, there are many examples of paintings in one can see shapes and movements appear in them.

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Magnelli has not become the world famous name in art people and admirers had hoped for , but his works show quality and are still showed whenever there is a an exhibition on italian painting of the first half of the 20th century. A nice french catalogue is available at www.ftn-books.com and he is one of the artist who appeared in the catalogues on italian art which were published by the Stedelijk Museum in the 50’s and 60’s.

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Giovanni Nicolai (1984)

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Down under in Italy, in the region of Bari works a young artist by the name of Giovanni Nicolai. I did not know him, never met him, but we recently contacted each other about a purchase. He mailed me that he was a fan of Massimo Rao and because of this fascination was inspired by him which resulted in very personal and somehow typical italian classical portraits. He sent me some examples and i was very much convinced that these works deserve to be known outside Italy too. Therefore this blog with some examples of his works. It is Modern art with some abstraction but also a very classical touch within them.

The small faces  of the portraits resemble a little bit the lean figures by Alberto Giacometti, but the atmosphere breathes Massimo Rao.

Not the surrealist setting of Massimo Rao, but recognizable poetic portraits. Very nice to look at and subtil in their execution. If you want more information on Giovanni Nicolai do not hesitate to contact me and i will gladly supply you with his email address. The publications on Massimo Rao are available at www.ftn-books.com

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Niele Toroni (1937)

Born in Switzerland in 1937, Niele Toroni rose to fame in an era that other Swiss artists were very much under the influence of constructivism…. Lohse and Honegger among them. Toroni left that stage behind him and developed a minimal style of his own. The main difference between these two and Toroni is that Toroni progressed his art into a form of MINIMAL ART in which he altered the space by painting with a regular space between them brushstrokes in squares onto a surface using one specific color. He usually uses one specific brush no 50. The imprints made with this n°50 paintbrush are repeated at regular intervals of 30 cm. His works are found in many modern art museum collections including the Stedelijk museum and the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag. In which one of the 4 Staircases is painted by Toroni ( the others by LeWitt, Forg and Tuzina).

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These four staircases are there for over 25 years now and have proven to be very important In Situ works of art. All artist have become famous contemporary artists and really make one look at these staircases with different eyes. They are not ordinary staircases any longer , but works of art and part of a great collection.

Books on Toroni can be found at www.ftn-books.com

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Marjolein Bastin (1943)

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This morning i had a discussion with my wife about the qualities of the illustrations by Marjolein Bastin. Is it art?….NO…are these among the best illustrations one  can find on nature and birds….YES. Bastin has become world famous over the years and her works are published all over the world and she even had a Museum presentation in Den Bosch, but this exhibition does not make it art. Specially her series of cards for Hallmark contributed largely to her fame.  Her craftsmanship is without a doubt of the highest quality and her subjects appeal to practically all, but because her works have a feminine touch they therefore mostly appeal to women. For me this is not art as i look at art, but i can respect the meaning of others on this subject. What i personally do like about Bastin’s works is her illustrations for children books. Her VERA series is great to read to young children and fascinating to look at and discover the little details in her drawings. Since i discovered that her works are admired and collected all over the world i started to build a large inventory of her classic publications in my store. So there are many Bastin titles available at

www.ftn-books.com. Please have a look and use for this weekend the discount code BASTIN10 to receive an immediate discount on all your purchases.

 

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Yves Klein (1928-1962)

Yesterday i learned from a dutch TV program (DWDD / De Wereld Draait Door) that there is a large Yves Klein retrospective in the BOZAR museum Brussels.

Yves Klein , touched many currents in Modern Art, even was one of the participants in ZERO, but eventually developed a style of his own using in many of his works the iconic BLUE color he developed. Was it zero, action painting or performance art? Today art lovers around the world can not answer these questions , but one can see for one self what fits most, because there is a great retrospective on his art in BOZAR/ Bruxelles until the 20th of August. His monochrome blue paintings are on show together with his action paintings of blue prints of female bodies. A great show and possibly a once in a lifetime chance to see many important Yves Klein works together.

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Nowadays Klein paintings fetch record prices at auctions all over the world, but in one of his first shows In Krefeld in 1961 nothing was sold. This was followed by an unsuccessful opening at Leo Castelli’s Gallery, New York, in which Klein failed to sell a single painting. He stayed with Rotraut Uecker at the Chelsea Hotel for the duration of the exhibition; and, while there, he wrote the “Chelsea Hotel Manifesto”, a proclamation of the “multiplicity of new possibilities.” In part, the manifesto declared:

At present, I am particularly excited by “bad taste.” I have the deep feeling that there exists in the very essence of bad taste a power capable of creating those things situated far beyond what is traditionally termed “The Work of Art.” I wish to play with human feeling, with its “morbidity” in a cold and ferocious manner. Only very recently I have become a sort of gravedigger of art (oddly enough, I am using the very terms of my enemies). Some of my latest works have been coffins and tombs. During the same time I succeeded in painting with fire, using particularly powerful and searing gas flames, some of them measuring three to four meters high. I use these to bathe the surface of the painting in such a way that it registered the spontaneous trace of fire.

To prepare your self for the exhibition, know that over the decades excellent books on Klein were published. There are some available at www.ftn-books.com

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Inez van Lamsweerde (1963)

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Is she an art photographer, fashion photographer or staged photographer? I really do not know, but between these 3 there is not much difference in the works of Inez van Lamsweerde. Fashion or personal art photography blend perfectly. You can see many of her latest examples on her site https://www.inezandvinoodh.com/news/saint-laurent-fw-2017/ On this site her project together wth her “partner in crime” Vinood Mathadin are depicted. Here is one example from the series of photos they made for Yves Saint Laurent.

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Arguably she is one of the best fashion photographers in the world , but for me personally she is the best. Just because of the arty way she depicts her models and still shows the best qualities of the Fashion they wear. For more titles on van Lamsweerde, please visit www.ftn-books.com

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James Rosenquist (1933-2017)

 

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Sad news this morning, one of the greatest Pop Art artists, James Rosenquist, died at the age of 83 of March 31, 2017.

Rosenquist was one of the last living great Pop Art artists and a contemporary of Warhol Lichtenstein,and Wesselman. He was the lesser known of these 4 names, but what made him special and stand out from them was the use of extremely large canvasses. But also his prints were larger than normal. He holds the record for the largest print in the world measuring 35 x 7 feet!

Rosenquist works are present in all major collections of Contemporary art in the world. A large part of his inventory was destroyed during a fire in 2009 in which all his works present in the studio were destroyed.  Rosenquist will be remembered as one of the great Pop Art artist. www.ftn-books.com has some nice catalogues on him.