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Barbara Hepworth (1903-1975)

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I have always thought that the large sculpture outside the Congresbouw / World forum( by Oud) in Den Haag was a sculpture by Barbara Hepworth, but just a few years ago i discovered that i was mistaken and that the sculpture was by Pevsner.

My mistake and when you really look more closely there is a large difference between the art of these two artists. The Hepworth sculptures are much more related to the sculptures by her fellow student and contemporary artist Henry Moore and her later husband Ben Nicholson. There are quite a few sculptures of her in the Netherlands because in the sixties several exhibitions were held at which occasions her works were sold.  Some of the best Hepworth catalogues are available at www.ftn-books.com

The Tate gallery has an excellent introductory text on Hepworth which they published on the 2015 Hepworth exhibition. Here is part of tghis text, but you can find the complete introduction at

https://www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/dame-barbara-hepworth-1274/who-is-barbara-hepworth

Who is she? 

Barbara Hepworth was a British sculptor, who was born in Wakefield, Yorkshire in 1903. She was a leading figure in the international art scene throughout a career spanning five decades.

Who were her peers?

Hepworth studied at Leeds school of Art from 1920–1921 alongside fellow Yorkshire-born artist Henry Moore. Both students continued their studies in sculpture at the Royal College of Art in London. Both became leading practitioners of the avant-garde method of Direct Carving(working directly in to the chosen material) avoiding the more traditional process of making preparatory models and maquettes from which a craftsman would produce the finished work.

From 1924 Hepworth spent two years in Italy, and in 1925 married her first husband, the artist John Skeaping, in Florence; their marriage was to last until 1931. 

From 1932, she lived with the painter Ben Nicholson and, for a number of years, the two artists made work in close proximity to each other, developing a way of working that was almost like a collaboration. They spent periods of time travelling throughout Europe, and it was here that Hepworth met Georges Braque and Piet Mondrian, and visited the studios of PicassoConstantin Brancusi, and Jean Arp and Sophie Taueber-Arp. The experience was a hugely exciting one for Hepworth, for she not only found herself in the studios of some of Europe’s most influential artists, which helped her to approach her own career with renewed vigour and clarity, but also found there mutual respect. The School of Paris had a lasting effect on both Hepworth and Nicholson as they became key figures in an international network of abstract artists. 

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Meret Oppenheim (1913-1985)

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Back to back …yesterday’s blog on Dennis Oppenheim…and this one on Meret Oppenheim.

There is absolutely no family relation between these two and Meret Oppenheim has proven her importance over the years. At least there is a generation gap of two generations between these 2 artists. She became friends with Arp, Breton, Duchamp and Man Ray. The last made an important and very well known photo series of her in Paris in which she figured.

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At this time in Paris she was called and considered the MUSE of the surrealists. This series made her an instant success, but this success suffocated her too and she decided to return to Basel and start her own artist career.

She had her studio’s in Basel and Bern and for the last city she left after her death one third of collection to the Bern museum.

Perhaps her most well know work is LE DEJEUNER EN FOURRURE. A large work which was criticized by many, but what now has become one of the icons in Modern Art.

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www.ftn-books.com has some Meret Oppenheim titles available

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Basel…the perfect museum city

 

We always travel the Alsace in the second half of the year between September and December, visit the Christmas markets and pick up some wine at our preferred wineries. If ever we have some spare time and only if there is a nice exhibition, we go to Basel city. You do not need a special “vignet” if you do not travel beyond the Basel / Bale city limits. Certainly do not lunch or drink a coffee in Basel because prices are far too high, but instead visit one of the 3 famous museums within the Basel city limits. First there is the Beyeler Museum ( By Renzo Piano), which is beside the Gemeentemuseum my favorite museum of all time, second there is the Kunstmuseum and third but not least there is the Tinguely Museum ( by Mario Botta). All worth visiting. Entrance fee of all three museums is steep too, but when you save on your coffee and lunch these three museums are well worth visiting. www.ftn-books.com has publications from all 3 museums available.

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William T. Wiley ( 1937 )

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Two catalogues available at www.ftn-books.com and not many more that i know of, make William T. Wiley a rather obscure artist for me, but i realize that is the case only for me, because outside the Netherlands, specially in the US, his name is well known and growing with the year.

His art is typical for the West Coast of the US, but has also something of Jan Fabre and Gunter Brus in it. It has certainly much more humor and at the same time it is very typical for the art Wiley creates and not anything else.

Maybe the importance of Wiley is that he educated some of the great Contemporary artists like Bruce Nauman. Here is what Wikipedia says about it:

He was born in Bedford, Indiana. Raised in Indiana, Texas, and Richland, Washington, Wiley moved to San Francisco to study at the California School of Fine Arts where he earned his BFA in 1960 and his MFA two years later. In 1963, Wiley joined the faculty of the UC Davis art department with Bay Area Funk Movement artists Robert Arneson and Roy DeForest. During that time Wiley instructed students including Bruce Nauman, Deborah Butterfield, and Stephen Laub. According to Dan Graham, the literary, punning element of Nauman’s work came from Wiley. Wiley also acknowledges the effect Nauman had on his own work.

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Mark Rothko (1903-1970)….Walls of light

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I discovered that in the over 1000 blogs i published i never have written one about Mark Rothko and you must know that Rothko is one of the painters i admire most. There are several exhibItions i have seen on Rothko  . The first one was the Spiritual In Art, which had some Rothko’s within the exhibition and then there was recently the exhibition in the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag which i liked very much and which had a near perfect chronological overview of his painting including the one he just made before his suicide, which was presented next to Piet Mondrian’s final painting,

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but the exhibition which impressed me most was the Rothko special exhibition at the Guggenheim Bilbao (2004). I did not know it was there and when Linda and I entered the room we both were overwhelmed with the paintings on show.

Large scale paintings, executed in colors which were either very bright or very close to each other with hardly any contrast in them. It was the first time we visited the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao and on show were large scale works by Oldenburg which on another occasion were replaced for the Richard Serra work MATTER OF TIME and then , surprise….. one of the greatest and best overviews of Rothko paintings imaginable. Here is the text belonging to the announcement by the Guggenheim Museum

MARK ROTHKO

WALLS OF LIGHT

June 8, 2004 – October 24, 2004

Born Marcus Rothkovitz in Dvinsk, Russia, in 1903, Mark Rothko emigrated with his family to the U.S. in 1913, settling in Portland, Oregon. Rothko attended Yale University on scholarship from 1921 to 1923, when he left without a degree and moved to New York. He began to paint in 1925 and had his first solo show in 1933. He continued to refine his technique as he developed his famous mature style in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Since his tragic death in 1970, his art has continued to enjoy undiminished popularity. Today Rothko counts among the great pioneers of American postwar art and, alongside Barnett Newman and Jackson Pollock, as one of the major representatives of Abstract Expressionism.

In 2003, to mark the hundredth anniversary of Rothko’s birth, the Beyeler Foundation, Basel, in collaboration with the artist’s children Kate R. Prizel and Christopher Rothko, installed a sequence of Rothko rooms, now on view in an extended version at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. The exhibition features a representative cross-section of works from all phases of Rothko’s career and provides a moving homage to the artist and his work.

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The Mark Rothko exhibition is still in our minds and we have on our wishlist to go at one time to the Rothko chapel and experience once again the timeless abstract art by Mark Rothko. Rothko is truly timeless and undoubtedly one of the greatest painters the art world has given humanity. There are several Rothko titles available at www.ftn-books.com

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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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Dieter Roth (1930-1998)

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I really do not know why it took me so long to appreciate the art of Dieter Roth, but the only reason i can come up with is that his books published by Hansjorg Mayer were such a long time considered “remainders” at the bookshop of the Haags Gemeentemuseum and it was impossible to find buyers for them. Since…. times have changed because the same books that could not be sold ( even at ridiculously low prices) are now the ones that are sought after by collectors and institutions all over the world and when you look at these closely they all have some qualities in common. The printing is executed by the best printers possible. The lay out and design are done in many cases by the artist which makes them more artist books than reference books and because of the series character the books itself are almost a work of art of their own.

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My tip for the future is whenever you find such a book, buy it…even you think it is a little expensive these books will be important not only as a book but also as a work of art in the decades to come.  www.ftn-books.com has some excellent and rare Dieter Roth items available.

 

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Pieter Laurens Mol (1946) an artists artist

 

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Pieter Laurens Mol has had his exhibitions over the last 4 decades and is appreciated by many of his fellow conceptual artists, but is lesser known by the greater public and collectors alike. His works are a hard act to follow. The concept is always there, but with being there it is almost always impossible to truly like and enjoy the work because of its appearance. Mol has created his own dreamlike world in which he lives and which produces now and then some great imaginative art, but beside his strong circle of admirers he stays an artists artist.

http://www.pieterlaurensmol.com

This dreamlike world and control over his world, resulted in some great publications of which many of them are more or less complete artists books. Linnen bound , some numbered or signed make them highly collectable books and www.ftn-books.com has some of them available.  You never can fathom the depths of his works, but a nice way to start with his world is to learn something about it by reading these books.

 

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Matisse and Sandberg

Sandberg as a curator admired Matisse as an artist and Sandberg as an artist must have been inspired by Matisse, when he made his famous paper cuttings because of his illness. Matisse himself called it “painting with scissors”. Could this have been the inspiration for Sandberg to use modelled torn papers for his book designs? Because these torn pieces of paper together with the lay-outs made the Sandberg publications highly personal and iconic. There is of course a difference, but the period in which these works of art existed is the same so it is not unlikely that his paper torn pieces were inspired by Matisse. The designs by Sandberg are now in, what are considered, classic publications and now used worldwide as examples of great design .

Printed on paper, they easily survived 50 years or longer, however it is totally different with the Matisse cut-outs. These have to be restored now to conserve them for future generations and i know of two projects which have taken place in the last 10 years. There is of course the large cut out composition LA PERRUCHE ET LA SIRENE 1952/53 from the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam collection which was totally restored and made future proof for the decades to come and there was a project in the Beyeler in which one could follow the progress of the restoration /conservation of a large canvas titled ACANTHES, 1953.

 

Both works are on show again in all their splendor and show exactly why Matisse is possibly the greatest artist from last century. Great art in great museums and for those that want to read on both artists…visit www.ftn-books.com for some nice publications.

 

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Sigmar Polke (1941-2010)

It took a long time for me to finally appreciate the art by Sigmar Polke, but once i did i became a fan and realized that he must be one of the true great artists from last century. Born in the middle of WWII he soon became in the early sixties one of the leading German artists that started their career after this terrible war. The trademark of his works became the use of polka dots in grids as an overlay and he stayed with the use of these polka dots technique throughout his entire career. Side stepping to photography and almost monochrome paintings his oeuvre became very diversified, but always recognizable. Turning point for me was the Polke i saw within a Beyeler Museum exhibition. I do not remember which show it was, but i remember the technique of the polka dots as an overlay to the picture, which reminded me to Marcel van Eeden. Where van Eeden uses small intimate sizes, Polke uses large canvasses. Magnified pictures within a different context are part of his works and sometimes even lean towards surrealism. There is one work i have to see sometime in my life. It is the work he created for the reopening of the Reichstag in Berlin in 1999. When i visit Berlin this will be a must see for me.

There are some nice publications in the inventory of www.ftn-books.com