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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

 

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Niki de Saint Phalle (1930-2002)

A few months ago i dedicated a blog to Jean Tinguely who’s exhibition in the Stedelijk Museum can be seen until the 15th of March. Within this exhibition there are some excellent examples of Tinguely letters illustrated by his wife Niki de Saint Phalle.

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Niki et Jean

Of course she was in the beginning the wife of….but on her own she has become famous with a highly original and recognizable oeuvre. Illustrations , sculptures, books and paintings. became her world after she had divorced from her first husband. Autodidact , she first made very masculine art, but in the mid sixties she made a 180 degrees turn and “invented” the Nana. Niki de Saint Phalle’s version of the super woman. An expressive figure painted in bright colors . This became her trademark and this figure was used in multiple exhibitions. As a statue, as an entrance for an exhibition ( Stockholm), as a fountain and hanging from the ceiling as an angel. She made these statues/sculptures from polyester and plastics and because of these frequently used materials she became ill and had to move to the US for the cleaner air in San Diego. This helped her , but after a long sick bed she finally died in 2002.

SInce her art has become more important every year. At auction her works are in high demand. She had major exhibitions in Japan, in the Tinguely Museum/ Basel and Centre Pompidou and every year i notice that her books are sought after more an more. Even the small decals which she made for the Tinguely Museum are sold rapidly. So find still some publications at www.ftn-books.com as long as they last.

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The Jean Tinguely exhibition at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam

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Jean Tinguely ….one of my art heroes …. he had his first exhibitions in the Netherlands in the Stedelijk in the mid sixties and since, his works have been on show in many theme and group exhibitions, but never again in a large retrospective until now.

But now there is one in the Stedelijk Museum and this one is on show until the 5th of March 2017. What can i tell you about this one….it is a nice show, but…….it never has the impact one experiences when visiting the Tinguely Museum in Basel , because it lacks the space, grandeur, size and number of machines/works to show all aspects of his works. I really missed the extremely large mechanical works. I caught one on a video of his funeral

and beside the one in the collection of the Stedelijk there is only one other one, a wall covered with a very large one, but that is all.

Not that the exhibition is not worth visiting…it really is …. but i was not knocked of my feet. Still i had a chance to make some nice photographs of the (DYLABY documents/ in a blog next week) documents on show and was amazed to see the correspondence Tinguely and Nikki de Saint Phalle had with Edy de Wilde ( the former director of the Stedelijk). On an A4 text, drawings, and illustrations were combined into great works of art.

This is an exhibition to visit for the smaller items like the documents and remember to visit the Tinguely Museum in Basel to get the best overview of his mechanical works.

See the ones in the Stedelijk as an entree to a dinner in which the side dishes steal the show.

There are a great number of Tinguely publications available at www.ftn-books.com

including some original drawings by Meta Matic 10

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Mark Tobey (1890-1967)

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There was a time when i had not heard of Tobey, but since i saw some large works by him in both the Beyeler, Stedelijk Museum….. i am a fan.

It started with the catalogue i acquired 20 years ago. Bought the catalogue because of the Wim Crouwel design ,but was immediately attracted by the works within….They were Tobey’s .

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Tobey is most notable for his creation of so-called “white writing” – an overlay of white or light-colored calligraphic symbols on an abstract field which is often itself composed of thousands of small and interwoven brush strokes. This method, in turn, gave rise to the type of “all-over” painting style made most famous by Jackson Pollock, another American painter to whom Tobey is often compared.

Tobey is working on different sizes but for me his large works are the most impressive. The last 16 years of his live he spend in Basel, which is of course the reason why so many of his works stayed  there. Throughout the years he travelled all over the world.

He was an incessant traveler, visiting Mexico, Europe, Palestine, Israel, Turkey, Lebanon, China and Japan and spread his works this way in an organic way, but the main part of his oeuvre stayed in Switzerland, in Basel where le lived for 16 years.

Here are some locations where his works are part of the collection: Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Tate Gallery in London, the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Whitney Museum of American Art. There have been at least four posthumous individual exhibitions of Tobey’s work: National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., USA, 1984; Museum Folkwang, Essen, Germany, 1989; Galerie Beyeler, Basel, Switzerland, 1990; and Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía.

The publications below are available at www.ftn-books.com

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Gardens to visit… Monet at Giverny

Because we will visit the private garden of Piet Oudolf in a few days i remembered our visits of the Gardens of Claude Monet in Giverny ( France ). The first time was a few weeks after they opened and we almost had the garden to ourselves. It was impressive to walk through the house , see the japanese prints, furniture and the extremely large studio which was used by Monet to paint his almost abstract scenes of his gardens. Mainly this studio felt like you stepped back in time and could envision how it must have been at the time Monet was working there. These super large paintings now are in the Orangerie in Paris and it was a “must see” for me and my son when we visited Paris a few years ago. We only stayed a 2o minutes in the Orangerie……Lucas did not like it… but…….now several years later he still remembers these impressive paintings. So a fine reason to visit the gardens in Giverny for as second time again some 2 years ago.

What was there to be seen in Giverny… busses, long rows of waiting people to get entrance, too many people on a limited space. Studio no longer open to the public and a disappointing visit because of the very large crowds that came to visit from all over the world. Better avoid these gardens now and go straight to Paris and visit the Orangerie instead….even better….travel 500 miles and visit the Beyeler Museum in Basel and visit one of the most beautiful museums and collections in the world. Building by Renzo Piano and collection by Beyeler, the one time art dealer who collected an extraordinary collection of contemporary art including one of the large Monet garden paintings from his Giverny series.

So looking forward to the garden architecture of Piet Oudolf in a few days i had to share this and of course there are still extremely nice books on these Monet gardens to be found. see also www.ftn-books.com

monet abradale