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Hamish Fulton – the man with one of the most beautiful signatures in Modern Art

The year is 1991. The occasion is the opening of the exhibition on Hamish Fulton. Curated by Rudi Fuchs and Franz Kaiser. The Haags Gemeentemuseum organized this excellent exhibition which was accompanied by a publication ONE HUNDRED WALKS ,which still is one of my personal favorites and certainly is one of the most beautiful books in my collection. The book was designed by Hamish Fulton himself and Gracia Lebbink was asked to do the graphic layout and production. The result….. an artist book which is one of the best ever published.

The book was delivered ( as almost always) just a few hours before the opening of the exhibition and sold during this opening. The next day i encountered Fulton in the corridor of the museum and complimented him on the book and asked if he could sign my personal copy.  No problem….. the book was signed and i had another souvenir for my collection, but then it occurred to me that the idea of signing some of these could be profitable for the museum and i asked him if he could sign and number a series of 20 copies to be sold in our museum bookstore.

The friendly and sympathetic person he is , he did not even think about it and asked for the 20 copies to sign them. Later that afternoon he came to the library , set himself at a desk and signed the 20 copies , which were numbered  1 to 20. The signature he placed in the books is still one of my most admired signatures in Modern Art. The way it is placed on the page and dated, plus the story behind it makes this still very special to me. The books ( signed and unsigned version) are still available at :


both highly collectable items and real artist books.




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Joost Swarte….RRRRRRR

Joost Swarte is one of those rare multi talented artists which have become now world famous and have a very loyal following. Swarte started in the very early seventies with a magazine named # TANTE LENY ” and was almost immediately recognized as one of the true talents in this comic magazine. During these first few years he was very much influenced by Herge, but within this style ( Klare lijn) he developed his very own signature.

What makes Swarte drawings and projects so special?…… From a mile distance you can see that it is a Swarte drawing,….. subject, style, design,  Swarte signature, use of perspective and detail are very much Swarte’s own and are combined into one original work of art. Because he masters so many disciplines his projects are not only limited to books and posters, but during the last decades he even progressed to design and architecture.

One of the first projects in which he has everything in hand was the RRRRRRR 1 & 2 projects in which he depicted a population of “human” cats in different settings.

Joost Swarte has drawn the specially executed prints, designed the special container, supervised the printing and ….. perfection…..put a little feather within the container of the bird which was eaten by the cats. A superb publication resulted and is nowadays sought and collected by many.

has still one of these in stock so please visit my site and find this and more items by Joost Swarte.


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Geert van Fastenhout… an abstract master

If you are interested in abstract (constructivist) art , this is one of the truly masterful painters i admire. Geert van Fastenhout follows his own path since 1973. From that year on he developed a style of his own in which he uses sombre colors, but because he choses them carefully the colors still look vivid enough to show the composition of the painting. For me these paintings are very complex because of the use of these dark colors and still they are “open” enough because of the simplicity of the composition. The painting i will discuss now is such a painting. It is SCHILDERIJ 6-1984

This painting was bought by me in the AAG auction some 6 years ago. Even in the catalogue it immediately struck me because of the sombre dark red/brown color against the blacks of the painting.  A large dark brown/blood red cross and 4 squares can be distinguished in this painting and because of the cross, your focus is immediately on the exact middle of the painting. My guess is, it will be perfect for meditation although i never have tried it. Title of this magnificent painting is “schilderij 6-1984″and it fits perfectly in the complete oeuvre by van Fastenhout. A true master of sombre colors and a painting that is in my opinion one of his very best because of its simplicity and complexity in the same time. Mark Rothko was an artist who could do the same in a painting. Make use of colors in such a way that they appeared sombre, but studying it in detail the painting “opened” up and you are amazed by its beauty. The paintings by Geert van Fastenhout have this same quality…….

This is what van Fastenhout says about his works:

Essentially, I don’t want to say much about my work. What I want to express is visible. A book without words? I have considered this but rejected the idea. Although words may lead to misunderstandings, I shall try to keep myself straight on this hazardous path.

In my paintings the form is simple and clear, almost constructed like in architecture. In constrast to this simplicity the colour is enigmatic and should possess a certain sombre splendour. At first you see nothing but a very dark painting indeed. If you allow your eyes to accommodate, you will gradually penetrate this darkness to discover that the senses are getting disoriented.

They are not as well known as the works by Rothko, but for me they are among the very best i have encountered in the last decades.


Geert van Fastenhout lives and works in Amersfoort / the Netherlands

and has a very nice site which you can vist at:

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LOGOGRAMAS (1966) by Pedro Xisto

An excellent publication which is a crossover between artist book, typography and design. Pedro Xisto chose the name LOGOGRAMAS= Logograms in which logo stands for “soon” and amas=you love.

The book contains 8 logograms on a 16 page publication and is one of a series of publications in the mid sixties which had as subject Visual Poetry. This Brazilian publication stands out because this one is executed as an artist book. I tried to find another copy , but could not find another one….so my guess is this is the only one available at the moment.

Pedro Xisto (1901 -1987) is very well known for these Logograms and with a Google search you can find numerous of these, but this book is a hard to find and very rare publication. On top….it is dedicated and signed by Pedro Xisto

available at :

direct link :

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starting a blog on Books and Art

I was looking for a place to start a blog on Books and Art and decided to use WordPress as a platform to publish my personal thoughts, feelings and findings on books and art i think are worth to be discussed or maybe even collected. Sometimes you will encounter the great names in Modern art, but mostly you will read about lesser known artists. For the coming weeks most of my blog articles will be on artists which i personally know or have known in the past. many of them i have encountered in the last 35 years because of my 25 year experience at the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag and took a special interest in a few of them and started collecting. The collection was enhanced with a large collection of books and this last expanded collection is now for sale at

So please join me in this personal journey and discover the books and artists i think are worth writing about.


wilfried van den elshout
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