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Hans Hartung (1904-1989)

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One of the exhibitions i thought to be one of the very best during the time i was working at the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, was one curated by Franz Kaiser on the abstract artist Hans Hartung . Just one word describes the exhibition….impressive.

It showed that the art Hartung created was not just random, but a well thought over creation of abstract art in which a small sketch was turned into a large painting.

Here is the text on the exhibition:

Hans Hartung (b. Dresden, 1904) was regarded as one of the founding fathers of French Lyric Abstractionism, the European counterpart of American Abstract Expressionism: a term in which the word Expressionism refers to an extremely physical and spontaneous manner of painting. The members of the movement wanted, as it were, to work out their emotions on the canvas without any form of symbolism.

Hartung’s paintings displayed a plain ground covered with rough and apparently spontaneous brushwork, with all the paint spatters and brush marks that go with that way of painting. After his death, therefore, people were astounded when the study of unfinished pictures revealed that his paintings had not in fact been created in a wild and spontaneous way, but by carefully filling in predetermined outlines based in every detail, right down to the smallest flecks of paint, on sketches prepared in advance. This exhibition, which the Gemeentemuseum is holding to mark the hundredth anniversary of Hartung’s birth, reveals an artist who would better be described as a conceptual artist, were it not for the fact that conceptual art did not exist as a movement when he produced his works. In this first Dutch retrospective of Hans Hartung’s work, early drawings are presented next to the equivalent paintings, and early versions alongside later versions. The similarities in terms of motif are astonishing.

More about Hans Hartung: www.fondationhartungbergman.fr

There are some nice publications on Hartung available at www.ftn-books.com

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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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Then I ducked my Head and the lights went out, and two guns blazed in the Dark……

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This brilliant title is given by William N. Copley to a painting he made in 1966. Copley must be one of the wittiest artists.

copley title

He had no trouble at all in finding or coming up with original titles. ( a little like Piet Dirkx/ follow the Piet Dirkx daily at this blog). I love Copley and artists who can come up with original and fun titles for their works. Compare the above and for example” Mount Venus and the Hula-Hula Graces in the Glade” to titles like composition I and composition II. This does not mean that “composition” is a worse painting, but when there is a story in a title it says something about the artist himself. Looking for some more great titles for paintings? visit www.ftn-books.com for other Copley publications.

( and search within my blog to find another blog on Copley)