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Jean-Michel Basquiat at the Beyeler (2010)

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This is the exhibituion i remember most of all the exhibitions we visited during the last decade. It was a “one of a kind” event, which will never be repeated at such a scale. The exhibition covered over 100 Basquiat paintings and certainly not the smallest of them all. The entire FONDATION BEYELER  ( except the Giacometti/Monet room) was devoted to one of the greatest of all painters from the 20th Century. At the time i had the foresight to take some extra Beyeler publicity folders with me and now i have decided to sell 3 of those to collectors. For this original publicity folder please take a look at www.ftn-books.com

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Rainer Fetting (1949)

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Rainer Fetting was one of my favorit artists in the Eighties, but i almost had forgotten him until half a year ago a beautiful and impressive painting by Fetting was auctioned at the Venduehuis. A large painting which belonged to the Hans Sonnenberg collection. A famous gallery owner who was always charmed by artists who focussed on male figures and nudes. Fetting was certaimly one of them. Fetting was considered to be part of the NEUE WILDE mouvement from the early eighties and had developed a very recognizable style of his own. Bright colors , loose in composition and technique his paintings shine after they are finished and the one from the Venduehuis is an excellent example.

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His paintings are starting to appear at auctions and i am very curious what the future will bring. My personal guess is that Fetting is such an artist who is forgotten for the last 2 decades , but in a few years will be one of the great artists from the eighties. www.ftn-books.com has some excellent catalogues on this great germna artist.

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Rene Burri ( 1933-2014)

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The world renowned Magnum photographer René Burri (born in 1933), whose legendary portrait of Che Guevara has been a photographic icon for many years, caught a number of important artists of the 20th century through his lens. The great photographer also realised numerous individual portraits and reportages on his friend Jean Tinguely and his work between 1967 and 1991. Camera in hand, Burri observes the artist at work in his atelier “Le Cheval Blanc” at Soisy-sur-École and during construction of the monumental sculpture “Le Cyclop”, literally peering over his shoulder. In the photographic series showing Tinguely installing his works at the World Exhibition in Montreal, in Basel or in Venice, the photographer manages to capture the artist’s spontaneity and essence – his fascination with movement – in almost cinematographic shoots. He was recognized as one of the true great photographers of the 20th century and in his birthland  Switzerland numerous exhibitions were organized with the photographs of Burri. Among them , arguably the best exhibitions at the Tinguely museum in Basel, where the series on Tinguely were exhibited.

The exhibition poster for the Tinguely exhibition is available at www.ftn-books.com

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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.