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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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Monet’s “abstract” paintings

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Last week i mentioned an early Monet painting in the collection of the Haags Gemeentemuseum, the QUAI DU LOUVRE, but beside this painting they have a large sized painting BLAUWE REGEN which is almost like an abstract painting. Study it up close and there is nothing realistic in the subject nor in brushstrokes. It is pure and abstract, the same as the large Giverny paintings on show in the Orangerie ? PAris and the one in the Beyeler collection. They impress with their size , but for me there is more….they belnd with their surroundings ( Beyeler)

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and they show their enormous abstract strength when seen each one after each other in the Orangerie. The Gemeentemuseum Den Haag is planning a large overview of paintings from Monet’s Giverny period at the end of 2019, but my guess is the “Blauwe Regen” will be one of the largest one on show, because the others are hard to put on transport and have them insured in an affordable way. So whenever you visit Paris or Basel, pay a visit to the Beyeler or Orangerie and be amazed by these extremely large Monet “abstract” paintings.

For more books on Monet please visit www.ftn-books.com

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Heinz Berggruen (1914-2007)… AAA publications

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What is the resemblance between Ernst Beyeler and Heizn Berggruen? ….. both are grand masters of the Modern Art dealer world, both have become famous and both have started their own galleries and the result was that in the end they both had their own museum. Beyeler in Riehen and Berggruen in Berlin.

This blog tells something about the history of Heinz Berggruen, who started his art dealer career with buying some Paul Klee’s in a time that money was scarce and good quality art and appreciation of modern art even more problematic. Still he bought one of his first water colours by Paul Klee for $ 100,- of a jewish person who was in need of money. This way he started dealing and collecting art and continued to do so , even after he resigned from his Paris gallery in 1980, and continued building his own collection into one of the great collections of modern art in the world. The collection contained, Paul Klee, Braque, Klee, Matisse, Giacometti and a very large collection of over 80 Picasso paintings. All this great art made it invaluable. The result …he wanted  the collection to stay together and sold his collection to the Berggruen Museum at a reduced price where his collection is now on show. Over 100 masterpieces still together at one place, the Berggruen Museum.

http://www.smb.museum/museen-und-einrichtungen/museum-berggruen/home.html.

What made me look up the story of HeinZ Berggruen?  About two years ago i had a chance to buy a small collection of Berggruen catalogues at auction and had the final bid. At home i was struck with these beautiful little books. In many cases there was original art in them or on the cover. The best for me is the Arp catalogue , but all these small gems together give a great impression of the quality Heinz Berggruen realized with his art publications of his favorite artists. These are all AAA publications.

The ones in the picture are for sale at www.ftn-books.com

berggruen set

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Anton Heyboer ( exhibition in Gemeentemuseum Den Haag) and Jean-Michel Basquiat

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Yesterday i participated in an auction in which around 15 lots by Anton Heyboer were offered. Some of them were sold but most of them were “unsold” /held up and prices stayed all below their estimates. During the auction the auctioneer urged her audience to go to the Anton Heyboer exhibition in the Gemeentemuseum and since after my lunch i had a spare half hour, i stopped at the museum and visited the Heyboer exhibition. The museum has a long history with Heyboer , because in his early years as a curator for the Museum , Hans Locher organized exhibitions on Heyboer and visited him frequently in his studio in Den Ilp, resulting in purchases and the start of a brilliant Heyboer collection. Later on Heyboer’s works became less and less important . This is the time when he started as a more commercial artist  and sold his works across the street in Den Ilp, in a gallery run by his 5th wife.

But yesterday when i visited the exhibition in the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag ( Heyboer is on show until the 4th of February 2018) i was overwhelmed by the quality of its works from the sixties and seventies. I knew the etchings from the collection quite well, but the paintings were an eyeopener for me and i compared them immediately with the experience i had when i saw similar kind of paintings by Jean-Michel Basquiat in the Beyeler Museum some years ago.

There are many similarities between these two artists and their paintings and when you realize that most of these were made 20 to 25 years before Basquiat made his works you can only admire the Heyboer’s even more. I like this Heyboer exhibition very much and for me it is one of the best the Gemeentemuseum organized in the last 5 years.

and of course there are some nice Heyboer publications available at www.ftn-books.com

 

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record sale JEAN-MICHEL BASQUIAT

The painting UNTITLED sold yesterday at Sotheby’s at a record price of over 110 million dollars. With this result it is the record holder of being the highest auction result by an American artist (until now). This result reminded me of the exhibition i have seen some seven years ago in the Beyeler museum.

In all my life this was for me one of the most important exhibitions i have ever seen. A really impressive overview of his paintings and good fortune for me to have seen it, because with auction results like this it will be almost impossible to organize any Basquiat exhibition in the future. Still, some more affordable Basquiat items are available at www.ftn-books.com

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Jean Dubuffet (1901-1985)

It was early February that we visited Paris and ended our 3 day’s in this city with a visit of the Musee des Arts Decoratifs, Situated next door to the Louvre it is much less known, but the reason to visit was the Bauhaus exhibition which was held over there.  However , it was not the Bauhaus exhibition , but de exquisite Dubuffet collection which won me over. Because www.ftn-books.com has a large inventory of Dubuffet publications ( 24 available items) i searched for this blog the internet and found a great short synopsis on this Art Brut artist.

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Jean Dubuffet disliked authority from a very early age. He left home at 17, failed to complete his art education, and wavered for many years between painting and working in his father’s wine business. He would later be a successful propagandist, gaining notoriety for his attacks on conformism and mainstream culture, which he described as “asphyxiating.” He was attracted to the art of children and the mentally ill, and did much to promote their work, collecting it and promulgating the notion of Art Brut. His early work was influenced by that of outsiders, but it was also shaped by the interests in materiality that preoccupied many post-war French artists associated with the Art Informel movement. In the early 1960s, he developed a radically new, graphic style, which he called “Hourloupe,” and would deploy it on many important public commissions, but he remains best known for the thick textured and gritty surfaces of his pictures from the 1940s and ’50s.

Key Ideas

Dubuffet was launched to success with a series of exhibitions that opposed the prevailing mood of post-war Paris and consequently sparked enormous scandal. While the public looked for a redemptive art and a restoration of old values, Dubuffet confronted them with childlike images that satirized the conventional genres of high art. And while the public looked for beauty, he gave them pictures with coarse textures and drab colors, which critics likened to dirt and excrement.
The emphasis on texture and materiality in Dubuffet’s paintings might be read as an insistence on the real. In the aftermath of the war, it represented an appeal to acknowledge humanity’s failings and begin again from the ground – literally the soil – up.
Dubuffet’s Hourloupe style developed from a chance doodle while he was on the telephone. The basis of it was a tangle of clean black lines that forms cells, which are sometimes filled with unmixed color. He believed the style evoked the manner in which objects appear in the mind. This contrast between physical and mental representation later encouraged him to use the approach to create sculpture.
http://www.lesartsdecoratifs.fr/francais/musees/musee-des-arts-decoratifs/parcours/galeries-thematiques/galerie-jean-dubuffet/
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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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Constantin Brâncuși (1876-1957)

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With a little bit of luck i will be able to visit the studio of Constantin Brâncuși in the next couple of weeks. We are planning a Paris visit and one of the things i would like to see is the studio by Constantin Brâncuși. One which i visited over 35 years ago when i was living in Paris for a year. At that time the studio was just reconstructed and could be visited in the Modern Art Museum at the Avenue Wilson. Since the studio has been relocated and now can be visited in a special building designed by architect Renzo Pian0. The building is partly build into the surface of the square, right in front of the entrance of the Centre Georges Pompidou and the only one time i could have visited it( 8 years ago)…it was closed. There were exhibitions in between, all with works by Brancusi ( Beyeler and Boymans), but to see all of these magnificent works, brought together in one place is one of the things i really am looking forward to.

There are some nice older Brancusi titles available at www.ftn-books.com

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Alberto Giacometti (1901-1966)

Two occasions spring to mind. Both occasions i was highly impressed. First there was the special Alberto Giacometti exhibition at the Haags Gemeentemuseum in 1986. /Curated by Mariette Josephus Jitta.

A large and important exhibition which showed many of the iconic sculptures by Giacometti…including a walking man and walking stray dog.

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Alberto Giacometti catalogue

 

The second occasion was decades later when we visited the Beyeler Museum for the very first time. In the room with views into the garden the WALKING MAN was combined with one of the very large Monet paintings he painted in his studio at Giverny. It was so impressive that i will never forget this stunning combination. An outstanding display of classic “modern” art. Since , i have seen many more statues by Giacometti, but never again the combination was so beautiful as within the presentation at the Beyeler museum.

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Giacometti and Monet

Of course the Giacometti catalogue of the 1986 Gemeentemuseum exhibition is available at www.ftn-books.com