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Tineke Griffioen retires on 12/1/2018

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Finally, after 43 years of being one of the most loyal and dependent employees of the Gemeentemuseum  Den Haag, Tineke Griffioen decided to retire from her jobs at the museum. From Prentenkabinet to DTP she made not only a career within the museum, but was also very much involved into the well being of her colleagues. The museum will miss this very friendly and dependent employee who had an expertise in prints and drawings. The set depicted in this blog comes from a Siep van den Berg sketch book he made in France in 1990 and shows that the following pages from the book were not accidentally filled in, but that each drawing developed into a very nice Constructivist composition. This very set was presented to Tineke for being the colleague that she has always been to me….Thank you and have a great retirement!

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PS. Other sets are available at www.ftn-books.com , Please inquire

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Jean Bilquin (1938)

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I do not know what to say. Is Henk Visch the dutch equivalent of Jean Bilquin or is it the other way around? Certain is that both artists are inspired by the same objects and surroundings.

Another influence must have been the sculptures by Brancusi because a returning object is the portrait sculpture Brancusi has made in several versions.

But there is much more to discover in the works by Jean Bilquin. When you leaf through the catalogue which was published on the occasion of the Kunsthal exhibition ( 2008 ). You really feel that you are discovering an artist. An artist who is inspired by nature and people. Both subjects combining in a very personal kind of art on larger sized canvasses. This is the kind of work which always attracts me and which i want to discover further after i have visited the exhibition. The catalogue ( available at www.ftn-boooks.com) shows exactly why these works have a rare quality. The catalogue has several fold out pages which make the scale of these large paintings somewhat visible.

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Ben Shahn (1898-1969)

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Ben Shahn  is one of the older Modern Painters emerging in the 40’s and 50’s from the American art scene. Jewish background and born in Russia. After his marriage to mrs Goldstein he travelled North Africa and the great museums in Europe and this shows, because from that date the influence of Klee and Picasso can be recognized in his works. Later he developed a style of his own in which color was an important aspect in his paintings.

Shahn mixed different genres of art. His body of art is distinctive for its lack of traditional landscapes, still lifes, and portraits. Shahn used both expressive and precise visual languages, which he united through the consistency of his authoritative line. His background in lithography contributed to his devotion to detail Shahn is also noted for his use of unique symbolism, which is often compared to the imagery in Paul Klee’s drawings. While Shahn’s “love for exactitude” is apparent in his graphics, so too is his creativity. In fact, many of his paintings are inventive adaptations of his photography and that is an aspect i did not know before. The Ben Shahn catalogue designed by Willem Sandberg for the Stedelijk Museum and available at www.ftn-books.com shows exactly why i think Shahn is one of the more important painters from last century.

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André Emmerich (1924-2007)

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Andre Emmerich was an exceptional art dealer. Robert Motherwell introduced Emmerich to “the small group of eccentric painters we now know as the New York Abstract Expressionist School”. During the second half of the 20th century the Emmerich Gallery was located in New York City and since 1959 in the Fuller Building at 41 East 57th Street and in the 1970s also at 420 West Broadway in Manhattan and in Zürich, Switzerland.

The gallery displayed leading artists working in a wide variety of styles including Abstract Expressionism, Op Art, Color field painting, Hard-edge painting, Lyrical Abstraction, Minimal Art, Pop Art and Realism, among other movements. He organized important exhibitions of pre-Columbian art and wrote two acclaimed books, “Art Before Columbus” (1963) and “Sweat of the Sun and Tears of the Moon: Gold and Silver in Pre-Columbian Art” (1965), on the subject.

In addition to David Hockney, and John D. Graham the gallery represented many internationally known artists and estates including: Hans Hofmann, Morris Louis, Helen Frankenthaler, Kenneth Noland, Sam Francis, Sir Anthony Caro, Jules Olitski, Jack Bush, John Hoyland, Alexander Liberman, Al Held, Anne Ryan, Miriam Schapiro, Paul Brach, Herbert Ferber, Esteban Vicente, Friedel Dzubas, Neil Williams, Theodoros Stamos, Anne Truitt, Karel Appel, Pierre Alechinsky, Larry Poons, Larry Zox, Dan Christensen, Ronnie Landfield, Stanley Boxer, Pat Lipsky, Robert Natkin, Judy Pfaff, John Harrison Levee, William H. Bailey, Dorothea Rockburne, Nancy Graves, John McLaughlin, Ed Moses, Beverly Pepper, Piero Dorazio, among others.

Between 1982-96, Emmerich ran a 150-acre sculpture park called Top Gallant in Pawling, New York, on his country estate that once was a Quaker farm. There he displayed large-scale works by, among others, Alexander Calder, Beverly Pepper, Bernar Venet, Tony Rosenthal, Isaac Witkin, Mark di Suvero and George Rickey, as well as the work of younger artists like Keith HaringMany of the above mentioned artists are available with different publications at www.ftn-books.com

, but FTN books also has some specific Emmerich publications available.

In 1996, Sotheby’s bought the Andre Emmerich Gallery, with the aim of handling artists’ estates. One year later the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation, the main beneficiary of the Albers’ estates, did not renew its three-year contract.The gallery was eventually closed by Sotheby’s in 1998.

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Art prices… gallery versus auction

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Today i added to my inventory a book by Auke de Vries for his Museum Wiesbaden exhibition from 1990. i knew the title and had sold copies before, but what made this one special is that on ca. 10 of the pages yellow post-it’s were fixed with gallery prices in guilders. I leafed through the book and was surprised to find the prices to be as steep as 50.000 guilders. It was not long ago that i attended 2 auctions where several small and larger sculptures by Auke de Vries were sold , fetching prices between euro 2500 and 4000 for a larger sculpture.

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I compared these with the 1990 gallery prices within the Wiesbaden catalogue and found that prices had devaluated with over 60% when compared with the actual auction prices including premium in 2017. Of course the gallery fees are  between 40 and 50%, but when you consider that money has devaluated too in these past two and a half decades the devaluation of Modern Art of a very good artist like Auke de Vries is over 80% compared with the original gallery price. Should i then still buy art?……YES! because you can have tremendous pleasure from it. You search for and find good art and enjoy it at home when you bought or rent it and yes… you support the artist with your buy, but if you ask me , should i buy art as an investment? my advise would be …be careful for the artist you select, because most of them will not be worth very much after a few decades.

But when you are patient, that means a period of 20+ years, you will discover that works by the artist you admire start to appear at auction and are much more affordable and even can be bought by most collectors for as little as a few hundred euro.  I can give you an example of a great Arie van Geest which recently was added to our collection for an extremely fair amount.

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You only learn of the auction records by artist like Warhol, Koons and Hirst, but you can ask yourself…are these works by these artists really that special or are they a marketing product… a true hype? if i did not know who the artist is and  did not know the value of a work …would i buy it ? In the case of Auke de Vries i personally would do so at the price level that i recently experienced at auction, but for the prices in the Wiesbaden catalogue i would “pass”. Art should not be bought as an investment and i dare say that the great collectors in the world never have bought art for its value, but because they admire the artist and his or her works and you should do the same, because there is still some great art to be found and bought at fair prices. www.ftn-blog.com and www.ftn-books.com have art for sale which is published in edition and is still affordable.

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Rudolf Steiner …. art & architecture

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Yesterday my wife an i visited the ‘ DE PARADE ” a cultural fair with music and performances. a great evening and great fun on the fairground and at the time we left it was still light enough to distinguish the buildings in the surroundings. We took a shortcut to the tramstop and ….there it was …. a great building used nowadays as a care home for older people. architecture by J.W.E. Buijs en J.B. Lursen from 1924, commissioned by the dutch anthroposophic society and heavily inspired by the architecture of Rudolf Steiner.

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This was a great building and for me a total surprise, because i never had seen it before nor heard about it. It brought back memories and i remembered the large inventory we had during the Spiritual in Art exhibition which was organized by the Haags Gemeentemuseum together with the Los Angeles County Museum which catalogues are still available at www.ftn-books.com. The exhibition showed the importance of the iedeas of rudolf Steiner and the influence these ideas had on the art and artist of the Interbellum and shortly after.

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Ben Vautier / Fluxus and Basel

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People who follow this blog , know of my love for Ben Vautier. Not only because he is one of the most original and consistent artists from the last 100 years, but also because there is always some humor just around the corner. Unfortunately  I have missed the most important Vautier exhibition from the last 10 years. It was held at the Tinguely Museum in Basel :

Ben Vautier. Is everything art?

21.10.2015 – 22.01.2016

Ben Vautier has been on the scene since the late 1950s as an artist, performer, organizer, linguistic inventor, and re-thinker of art. He is one of the pioneers of the Fluxus movement in Europe and, as a comrade-in-arms of the École de Nice, a close friend of artists such as Arman, Yves Klein, Martial Raysse, and others. He is known for his text images, which, using brief, pithy phrases, equally question and challenge life and art. Ben Vautier has the first comprehensive retrospective in Switzerland dedicated to him at the Museum Tinguely. Alongside an overview of the first 20 years of his creativity, Ben sets up in Basel more than 30 rooms as he comments on various social, artistic, and political topics and takes a stance. In total, the show exhibits far in excess of 400 works by the artist, who is still very active to this day.

Still what remains is one of the best and certainly one of the most beautiful books on Vautier’s art. It has a simple brown cover, but is filled with iconic Ben “paintings” from hs first 20 years as an artist and published as only the Suisse can publish art /museum catalogues. The print is exceptionally good, the lay out superb and the contents…..well all BEN, making this one of the most collectable books i recently offered on www.ftn-books.com

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Narcisse Tordoir (1954) …painting as an act

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A key figure in the Antwerp art scene and also very well known in the dutch art scene because he is an advisor to the Rijksakademie Amsterdam.

But besides his presence in the art scenes of both the Low Countries, he has become world famous because of his approach to painting. Tordoir considers painting as an act and with this he has had performances in France, the UK, USA , Austria and many more countries, thus introducing his very personal approach to the art of painting to a new art scene each tine he had a performance or an exhibition outside Belgium or the Netherlands.

It is hard to find a reasonable priced work by Tordoir, but about 10 years ago i got lucky and bought a tetralogy at a local auction. It is a work typical for the works Tordoir produced during the eighties on which he combined several smaller ” paintings into a unique work of art. This work consists of 4 framed works of abstract figures forming together a unique Narcisse Tordoir. This work is now for sale at FTN art together with the books www.ftn-books.com has on Narcisse Tordoir.

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Pjeroo Robjee (1945)

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The Flemmish Pjeroo Robjee is first of all a writer and secondly a painter. As a writer he is considered to be the Flemmish James Joyce. This is not what i want to write about, but i want to introduce Robjee as a painter to you. Robjee has followed some day courses in painting and started to paint in a very personal way, inventing his own style . What does it look like?… i can not describe it , but i encounter something of illustrations in his paintings. The use of Pop Art colors combined with the simplicity of Botero. Shake it and the result is Robjee.

This mix of styles resulted in an invitation by the Belgian gallery Lens Fine art , where he had at least 2 exhibitions in 1975 and 1977. Both publications with these Robjee shows are available at www.ftn-books.com.

I really do not know what to think about these Robjee paintings, but somehow they fascinate me and must be considered as an important cultural heritage for Belgium since Robjee is an important writer who had also another quality…. he made some great timeless paintings that still fascinate.