Lotti van der Gaag ( 1923-1999)…the forgotten Cobra artist

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A 100% percent Cobra artist who has almost been forgotten by the public is Lotti van der Gaag. She began with sculpture on advise of Bram Bogart with who she was living in the late 40’s. In 1950 she moved to Paris where she met Karel Appel and Corneille with whom she stayed befriended during her entire life although Corneille had his objections of her joining the COBRA group. In 1974 she started with painting using the same fantasy figures she already had developed in her sculpture. When you look at these early paintings you can only draw one conclusion….Lotti van der Gaag is a Cobra artist!

What i did not know is that she was married to Kees van Bohemen , who has made a name for his  abstract expressionist paintings in dutch art. www.ftn-books has a few Lotti van der Gaag publications.

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Karel Appel and the Congresgebouw Den Haag (1969)

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The Congresgebouw is an architectural icon in Den Haag. It was designed by Hans Oud and J.J.P. Oud and opened in 1969. In 1968 Karel Appel was commissioned a large painting on ceramic tiles and this painting is one of the lesser known Karel Appel paintings because not many people realize that they pass it while entering the Congresgebouw / World Forum ( the name what it is called nowadays).

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The extremely large tile painting consists of over 1200 separately painted tiles. These together, making it one of the largest Karel Appel paintings ever. If ever you come to Den Haag , this location is well worth a visit because not only there is the Gemeentemuseum nearby, but beside the tile painting by Appel there are sculptures, by Henry Moore, Auke de Vries and Pevsner in the vicinity.

For some nice Karel Appel publications please visit www.ftn-books.com

Constant (1920-2005)

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Another Cobra artist that i have met personally ( but only for a very brief conversation about his catalogues) was Constant ( Nieuwenhuijs ). From the 3 Cobra artist that i have met personally i liked him the best, because besides his Cobra period , he developed himself into a multi talented artist. His New Babylon constructions have proven to be a vision on the future and become more and more important in art history. Even his watercolors that he made at the end of his career are to be admired. Great technique and composition make these belonging to his best works from his career. Constant has always kept a special relation with the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag and because of this special relation with the museum and his former director ( Hans Locher) the museum has the most important collection from all periods out of his career. Cobra, New Babylon , paintings and drawings all are present and will prove to be important in the coming centuries.

http://www.arttube.nl/videos/constant-new-babylon

Constant will probably be one of the most important dutch artists to remember and admire for his complete oeuvre.www.ftn-books.com has some nice classic and collectable publications on Constant ( Nieuwenhuijs).

and yes….www.ftn-books.com is one of the few booksellers who can offer you the famous Constant New Babylon book by Wigley

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Karel Appel and Jan Vrijman ( Ik rotzooi maar wat aan, 1961)

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Of course the official title is different . The documentary by Jan Vrijman from 1961 is called ” De werkelijkheid van Karel Appel”, but most people from the generation of Karel Appel know these famous words ….”ik rotzooi maar wat aan”, but reality is his painting is far from intuitive and improvisation. Many of his complex paintings were thought out and prepared on paper and i suspect that even the painting Appel is executing in the documentary is prepared and worked out on paper before he paints the canvas.

Appel is a great artist and certainly one of the most important ones in the Netherlands from the last century. His painting is the summit in abstract expressionism and he deservedly earned his place among the worlds greatest artist.

http://www.ftn-books.com has a large collection of Karel Appel books available

Eugene Brands (1913-2002)…there are forgeries on the market.

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In 1946 he participated in the exhibition JONGE SCHILDERS in the Stedelijk Museum and joined the experimental group of young painters in the Netherlands which would later become the COBRA mouvement. From there on he developed a very recognizable style with light bright colors, using many shades of red and yellow. Almost every large museum in the Netherlands has works by Brands in their collections and paintings and drawings are frequently offered for sale at auction or on auction sites. But beware !….. at one time i was visiting a viewing day ( many many years ago) by Sothebys on their Nes location when Brands walked in with the Amsterdam director of Sotheby’s. At that time there were about 10 works by Brands for sale. Brands walked around, glasses and furcoat still on (inside a heated room) , made a quick tour in the viewing hall, pointed out  and marked at least 5 works that were forgeries, since that occasion and knowing that there are many fake Brands paintings, i stayed away from them. Of course you can buy them at the gallery Nouvelles Images and Galerie de Rijk. It will be a safe buy, because all works sold by them are genuine, guaranteed and mostly registered pieces from the Brands studio, but from other sources …..BEWARE. Eugene Brands publications are available at http://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

La Grande Parade / Stedelijk Museum 1984

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Yesterday i stumbled upon a short note included in one of the catalogues that i have in my collection that the former owner wanted to see the exhibition La GRANDE PARADE in the Stedelijk Museum. I remembered visiting that exhibition and now almost 3 decades ago i realized that this was one of the first blockbuster exhibitions held in the Stedelijk . A great overview of Modern Art from the 20th century curated by Edy de Wilde who showed his special qualities as a collector with this exhibition and said goodbye to this collection as the director of the SM . It has probably the nicest Leger ever made in it and….Willem de Kooning….many many Willem de Kooning paintings ,who is still one of the key artists within te collection of the Stedelijk. Leafing through the catalogue one can only be amazed that so many great art was once in one place. There are not many of these exhibitions any more, because these are far too expensive to organize , but if there is one….go stand in line for a couple of hours and remember in 30 years the exhibition you visited. If it is as good as LE GRANDE PARADE it was well worth the wait. For the catalogues please visit www.ftn-books.com