Antonio Saura (1930-1998)

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When you mix Jackson Pollock with Jean Dubuffet with a topping of a little bit Picasso you get Antonio Saura. Abstraction at his best, because within the composition one always can recognize something realistic. A face , a body , some houses they are all there if you find the rest to study these great paintings. This is not simple, easy art, but it needs to be savored in a slow way. Because the fist impression is chaos, one tends to walk away from it, but just give it a minute or two and the paintings opens up to you.

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La grande foule, 1963, oil on canvas, 220 x 515 cm

It is a pity that there are so few of these fascinating Saura paintings in the Netherlands, but once you have a chance to visit the modern art museums in Spain they are easy to spot and to enjoy. www.ftn-books.com is fortunate to have a nice selection of books on Saura including the Stedelijk Museum catalogue by Wim Crouwel.

Rene Daniels (1950)

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His first exhibition was in Dusseldorf in 1977, but he nver joined the NEUE WILDEN . A group of painters who were in vogue in those days. He felt himself more comfortable when compared with painters like Broodthaers and Picabia, who had an extra layer in their paintings.

His paintings look abstract, but when you study them in more detail you see that they are a complete abstract reproduction of reality. . Piccadilly/London, WTC New York and old houses in Gent can all be distinguished when you look long enough at the paintings.

The paintings look simple, but in reality they are very thought over and are complex and typical Daniels.

Rene Daniels has not had a long career …in 1987 he had a stroke and because of that had to finish his career at that moment as a painter. Since 2006 he paints again , but his style and approach to painting has changed, because of his motor skills are far less than before. But what he made in that very short period of nearly 10 years is of the highest quality and the museums that have work by Daniels should feel lucky to have it in their collections. You can find work(s) by Daniels in the collections of a.o. the van Abbemuseum, Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, Stedelijk Museum, Dordrechts Museum, Groninger Museum and Bonnefanten Museum

and of course www.ftn-books.com has some nice titles on the artist

( and search on the site to find more Rene Daniels contributions to group exhibitions in which he participated)

 

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (1880-1938)

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If i could chose only one painting from the collections of the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag….. It would be a hard choice between Egon Schiele’s / Edith or the Czardas Tänzerinnen by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner. If i would go for the reseller value i surely would be stupid not to chose for the Schiele,

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but for sheer painting pleasure, strength of the composition and outright beauty it must be the Czardas Tänzerinnen Kirchner.

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A large painting and the first time you see it and study it, it does not look that special , but this one grows on you. You discover small details and every time you enter the room in the museum , where this painting is shown, it lights up his surroundings. For me this is one of the great paintings from the 20th century and one of the true portals to Modern Art as we know it in our time.

For more Kirchner publications please take a look at the inventory of www.ftn-books.com

Both paintings belong to the collection of the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, Stadhouderslaan 41 , 2517 HV . Den Haag.

Ika Huber (1953)

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Possibly because of the same age we both have there is an automatic liking i have for the works by Ika Huber. Influenced by many, but still a very personal signature in her compositions which makes them 100% Ika Huber. We must have grown up and liked both the same kind of art and artists, because i recognize within her works many elements of artists i admire, but the best way to describe a painting by Huber is the way the former director of the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag and Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam , Rudi Fuchs did.

The paintings give the overall impression of fragments – meaning that they originate as fragments. At some point came the first touch of paint at a random spot on the canvas as an extension , in a way, of memories of landscapes, buildings, inner courtyards and windows, light as a feather – and so, as such, fragmentary; as fragmented and haphazard as memory itself.

Individual elements assume at times the completeness of a figure or the solidity of a column; straight lines are, however, meticulously avoided. Colours are mostly thin, but applied in delicate layers; the broad brushstrokes remain visible, creating a veiled effect but also one of restless vibration, like warm air over a horizon. In places, too, the paint is sometimes rubbed on dry and brittle, giving it the appearance of chalk. There is so much to see in these paintings if you examine them more carefully: hundreds of details make the picture glow like night.

Straight lines are avoided then, as these tend to trap colours and forms within their rigid framework. But the figments of memory which lead to fragmentary pictures should surely float if anything. This is what makes the drawing in these paintings so remarkable. The forms do indeed have contours but they are very hesitantly, almost unwillingly, suggested.

The forms are intertwined with each other with extraordinary care, as if Ika Huber was reluctant to say what the memory is. She leads the eye towards something else which must be seen, I think, in the same indescribable movement as that of Leonardo da Vinci’s Lady with an Ermine just over 500 years ago.

It is the mysterious and unfathomable that always confronts me in these pictures; in their composition, their details, the resonance and tone of their colours, and in their dreamlike mobility and “Sfumato”. There is a lot here then which does indeed complete the fragments in the pictures – but the question remains: to what extent. 

Rudi Fuchs, Den Haag

There are 2 titles on Ika Huber available at www.ftn-books.com

Pieter Ouborg, Painter of the unknown (1893-1956)

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Outside the Netherlands Pieter Ouborg is hardly know, but compare this artists to his contemporaries he stand out with a “language” which is original and imaginative. Strange, sometimes surreal and even cildlike ( Yes, he befriended Appel and other Cobra artist). STill he did not become the great name people who admired him hoped for. Still he was admired by his fellow artists and during his life he received some very nice retrospectives in the Stedelijk Museum and the Haags Gemeentemuseum. It si hard to describe his art, but if i must make a comparison it must be Wols ( i wrote a short blog on Wols some weeks ago). For those visiting in the near future , here is the list of collections that has Ouborg works in them: ( and of course the books on www.ftn-books.com)

  • Gemeentemuseum Den Haag
  • Dordrechts Museum in Dordrecht
  • Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam
  • Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven
  • Groninger Museum in Groningen
  • Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam
  • Stedelijk Museum Schiedam in Schiedam
  • Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam

Agnes Martin (1912-2004)

The 3rd blog on a female artist. Tate, Moma, Lacma, Guggenheim, Centre Pompidou, Stedelijk Museum…..They all have in common that they have a work or works by Agnes Martin in their Permanent collections. Martin is considered by most as a Minimal artist but she herself thinks more of herself as an abstract expressionist painter. Anyway ,she is absolutely one of the most important and original artists from the 20th century. Personally i think her paintings have a unique quality. More Minimal than abstract, but made with a technique that is typical Agnes Martin. The Guardian says the following on Martin.

A late starter, Martin kept on going, working at the height of her powers right through her 80s; a stocky figure with apple cheeks and cropped silver hair, dressed in overalls and Indian shirts. She produced the last of her masterpieces a few months before her death in 2004, at the grand old age of 92. But she was also so deeply ambivalent about pride and success and the ego-driven business of making a name for yourself that in the 1960s she abandoned the art world altogether, packing up her New York studio, giving away her materials and disappearing in a pickup truck, surfacing 18 months later on a remote mesa in New Mexico.

When she returned to painting in 1971, the grids had gone, replaced by horizontal or vertical lines, the old palette of grey and white and brown giving way to glowing stripes and bands of very pale pink and blue and yellow. “Sippy cup colours”, the critic Terry Castle once called them, and their titles likewise address states of pre-verbal, infantile bliss. Little Children Loving Love, I Love the Whole World, Lovely Life, even Infant Response to Love. And yet these images of absolute calm did not arise from a life replete with love or ease, but rather out of turbulence, solitude and hardship. Though inspired, they represent an act of dogged will and extreme effort, and their perfection is hard-won.

Martin’s work is in museums and collections across the world, and changes hands for millions of dollars at a time. All the same, she hasn’t achieved quite the renown of her mostly male contemporaries in abstraction, partly because the subtleties of her paintings are almost impossible to reproduce in print.
I think there is one exception. the excellent poster that was an original silkscreen for the Quadrat Bottrop exhibition. It is still available at www.ftn-books.com
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Suzy Embo and Louise Nevelson(1899-1988)

The next 3 days will be with short blogs on female artists that i admire very much. Today’s one is on Louise Nevelson who’s portrait by Suzy Embo is for sale at http://www.ftn-books.com.

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Next year , starting at 23rd of june 2017 a large retrospective on Embo’s photographs will be organized at the FOMU /FotoMuseum Antwerpen. The photograph i have for sale was a lucky find , because it was hidden in one of the great Nevelson catalogues i bought years ago. Excellent condition of the photograph and the strong image of Louise Nevelson makes this one of my favorite artists photographs i have ever seen.

Louise Nevelson is in European undervalued artist, who made assemblages from left over materials and who was not that well known some 30 years ago. She had her exhibitions and retrospectives, but only since a few decades her works appear at auctions and in group exhibitions by Abstract expressionists. Stil she had a loyal following of admirers in the Netherlands and Belgium. In Belgium she even had a solo exhibition in the Paleis voor Schone Kunsten in 197 and you can visit one of the large works at the Centre Pompidou museum in Metz, but for the most of us in Europe this artist was a mystery….(and still is). The case in the US was a total different one. She was recognized as one of the most important sculptors from the 20th century from the early 60’s and onwards.

Major museums began purchasing Nevelson’s wall sculptures in the late 1950s, and she was included in the landmark “Sixteen Americans” exhibition at New York’s Museum of Modern Art in 1959. In the following decades she earned commissions for large-scale sculptures from institutions such as Princeton University (Atmosphere and Environment X, 1969), the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Transparent Horizon, 1975), and the Philadelphia Federal Courthouse (Bicentennial Dawn, 1976). In 1967 the first major retrospective of her work was presented at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City. During the 1970s and ’80s Nevelson expanded the variety of materials used in her sculptures, incorporating objects made of aluminum, Plexiglas, and Lucite. Not until she was in her 60s did Nevelson win recognition as one of the foremost sculptors of the 20th century.