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Sonsbeek…an exhibition park near Arnhem

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A City and its Exhibition

It was in 1948 that a councillor, a VVV tourism official and the mayor of Arnhem launched an initiative for a contemporary art exhibition on a scale unprecedented in Europe. Their aim was to give the city which had experienced so much destruction during the Second World War a totally new appeal.

Processing the traumatic wartime experience

Sonsbeek ’49 opened that following year with over two hundred works displayed along the paths in the park. Most of these were figurative sculptures created since the turn of the century. A recurring theme among the newer works was the processing of Holland’s traumatic wartime experience, such as Nel Klaassen’s monumental Honour the Woman which still stands in Arnhem.

Connected to the present

In subsequent editions of the exhibition, the idea was the same. Sculptures by internationally renowned artists were presented to Arnhem’s public: Auguste Rodin, Ossip Zadkine, Henri Moore, Pablo Picasso, John Rädecker and Hildo Krop. After each edition the Arnhem council selected some of the exhibited works for permanent display in the city. Often, these were works that referred to the war, such as Ossip Zadkine’s Phoenix which found a permanent place in front of the town hall. Since the beginning, SONSBEEK has always been closely concerned with contemporary issues and current affairs.

Selected by a curator based on a specific theme

After the first four editions, one every three years and each similarly presented, SONSBEEK seemed to have become a tradition. Until in 1971 SONSBEEK broke with that tradition and quite literally went off the beaten track with a show compiled for the first time by a curator and expressing a specific theme. Sonsbeek Buiten de Perken was assembled by Wim Beeren, then chief curator at Amsterdam’s Stedelijk Museum. The exhibits abandoned their pedestals, some even left the city and the country. Prominent conceptual artists such as Claes Oldenburg, Wim T. Schippers, Robert Smithson and Nam June Paik turned the exhibition into a milestone for avant-garde art. SONSBEEK became synonymous with progressive and experimental, thematic art shows.

SONSBEEK has constantly played a pioneering role through its novel presentations of art in public space. In collaboration with the curatorial collective ruangrupa, SONSBEEK once again brought art to the public in 2016. SONSBEEK ’16: transACTION marked the start of a quadrennial, the 12th edition will take place in 2020.

www.ftn-books.com has some of the Sonsbeel catalogues still available

 

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Jan Maarten Voskuil (1964) ….Wat een toeval (2009)

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Jan Maarten Voskuil was my personal discovery during the auction of the Klein Breteler collection last month. Immediately that i saw his monochrome “paintings” i got excited. These paintings have a quality which reminded me of a combination of both Donald Judd and Ellsworth Kelly. Two artist i admire very much and both artists are among the most important ones from last century. That standing is not for Jan Maarten Voskuil yet, but look as his approach to his paintings and the way he prepares the works to reach the ultimate result with the finished work and conclude that it is a question of time that he will be presented as one of the great contemporary minimal painters. These works shine with their simplicity and are in the meantime complex to execute. In every work he uses only one color  to make a monochrome work, but put some together and the result is a multi colored wall with Voskuil works.

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It was my luck that i could purchase one of the works at the Breteler auction. It was the lot. 152 titled “Wat een toeval” from 2009.

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Originally this was made for the LADE PROJEKT of gallery Phoebus and because of the height of the drawers, the dimensions of the work itself were limited, but it still has all the qualities the works of Voskuil contain. A mochrome white surface and assembled from 3 different parts combine into a fascinating painting

www.ftn-books.com has no books on Voskuil , but i know that there is one book titled  “Getting to a point” which is well worth reading and to have in your collection of Minimal art books  ISBN. 978-90-811487-3-3

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Arja van den Berg (1947), master of the ordinary life.

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It is over 35 years now that i know Arja van den Berg and followed her progress in art. She stayed true to all subjects close to her. Kitchen, fruits, dogs, cats and the occasional portraits complete her oeuvre. Painting, graphics and ceramics make her work diversified as much as possible, but subjects are always found “close by” in her daily life and studio. The books and prints that www.ftn-books.com has available of her show this on every page. Somewhat romantic, very skill full and highly accessible works, make her art timeless.

 

 

 

 

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Dutch art …Klaas Gubbels (1934)

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Many Many people in the Netherlands know the art by Klaas Gubbels. Because his art is abstract in its execution, but realistic in its subject. Coffee and Tea pots and of course chairs are in 99% percent his subjects. Because of this popularity his works and sculptures can be found all over the Netherlands. Even in my hometown of Leidschendam, one of these blue coffee pots is executed as a large blue sculpture.

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Do i like his art….no….do i consider Gubbels one of the great artists in the Netherlands…YES, because Gubbels has developed an art language of his own. Popular, recognizable and accessible. www.ftn-books.com has some nice books on Gubbbels and a very special table with a still life of wooden apples.