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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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Richard Long (1945)

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Hamish Fulton and Richard Long…. Two artist who i learned to appreciate in the time that Rudi Fuchs was director at the Gemeentemuseum. Long was nominated 4 times for the prestigious Turner price , but only won it once in 1989 for White Water Line.

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Since i first saw works and publications i have seen Richard Long his works on many occasions and one of the most recent ones was at the Guggenheim Bilbao museum. Each time the lines, circles and labyrinths look random, but this is not true. The placement of the stones and paint is strict and makes it free whitin the object , but it has very strict boundaries making it perfectly shaped. The way each work is created is described and laid down in drawings i a way that each work can be re-cretaed at any other place than it was first was created. It is somewhat the saem as with the walldrawings by Sol LeWitt who uses the same method . The art work is the sketch/drawing and materials and can be re-created anywhere as long as you have the original drawing belonging to the work.

What makes Richard Long stand out from other contemporary artists is that many of his publications are also artist books which hold beside the works, photography and word “sculptures” by Long and www.ftn-books.com has some of these titles available.

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Bettina Rheims ( 1952 ) and Morceaux Choisis

It is possible that i like the photography of Bettina Rheims so much because we are from the same generation. The french hotel rooms that are a little worn are familiar to me too and these are in many cases the backgrounds of the models that Bettina Rheims uses in her photography. Whenever i find a book or special publication by Rheims , i buy it. The MORCEAUX CHOISIS title that is available at www.ftn-books.com was found in Bilbao at a local bookstore when we visited it together with the Guggenheims. Still packed and in pristine condition . another title published a few years ago was found in Paris and the last one i added ” BONKERS” in Rotterdam. The collection of Rheims publications will be expanding in the years to come , but has now grown into quite a few titles.

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Christian Boltanski (1944)

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Christian Boltanski participtaed in over 150 exhibitions world wide and his works are in the collections of the DE PONT museum and Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. 2 reasons to devote this blog to Bo;latnski. Firts is that i acquired and important publication by Boltanski  which he designed and contributed. Published by Agnes B, there is a complete series of regularly published magazines titles Points d’Ironie. Boltanski was one of the founders of this highly collectable series and because of this acquisition i remembered the very impressive installation at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao….”HUMANS”

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This is what the Guggenheim says on the installation HUMANS by Christian Boltanski

At once personal and universal in reference, Humans is one of several large-scale works by Boltanski that serve as monuments to the dead, hinting at the Holocaust without naming it explicitly. Through its size and tone, the work evokes the contemplative atmosphere of a small theater or a space for religious observance. The installation consists of more than 1,100 images that the artist rephotographed from sources he had previously used: school portraits, family photographs, newspaper pictures, and police registries. Simultaneously illuminated and obfuscated by dangling lightbulbs, the snapshots provide no context with which to identify or connect the unnamed individuals, or to distinguish the living from the dead or victims from criminals. Each of these traces of human life has been reduced to a uniform size to obscure distinguishing features and to suggest the equality of the photographs’ subjects. The collection of images is installed at random, thereby prohibiting the imposition of a single narrative. Within this haunting environment, Boltanski intermingles emotion and history, juxtaposing innocence and guilt, truth and deception, sentimentality and profundity.

Point d’Ironie and other Boltanski publications are available at www.ftn-books.com

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Anselm Kiefer (1945)

It is 31 years ago that i saw a  work by Kiefer for the first time I and was really impressed . I remember the occasion….the occasion the Anselm Kiefer exhibition at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. Grey, sombre , large paintings with scenes that reminded of war, devastation and ruins .  Later i learned that the German history and the Holocaust were main themes Kiefer always used in his works. The history of Germany being one of the main subjects in his extremely large paintings. The Stedelijk Museum bought one of the paintings for its collection. “Innenraum” is a large painting ( 280 x 311 cm.)  , but small compared to other Kiefer works.

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The exhibition was a great succes and since i  encountered several other Kiefers in museums. One stands out, impressive and it’s size is overwhelming. ( almost 10 meters in length) and is a must see whenever you visit the North of Spain.

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Anselm Kiefer

Only with Wind, Time, and Sound (Nur mit Wind, mit Zeit und mit Klang), 1997

Acrylic and emulsion on canvas

473 x 944 x 22 cm

Guggenheim Bilbao Museoa

 ( the following text comes from the Art Story site)

It is the Anselm Kiefer’s monumental, often confrontational canvases were groundbreaking at a time when painting was considered all but dead as a medium. The artist is most known for his subject matter dealing with German history and myth, particularly as it relates to the Holocaust. These works forced his contemporaries to deal with Germany’s past in an era when acknowledgment of Nazism was taboo. Kiefer incorporates heavy impasto and uncommon materials into his pieces, such as lead, glass shards, dried flowers, and strands of hay, many of which reference various aspects of history and myth, German and otherwise. Influenced by his contemporaries Joseph Beuys and Georg Baselitz, as well as by postwar tendencies in Abstract Expressionism and Conceptual art, Kiefer is considered part of the Neo-Expressionist movement, which diverged from Minimalism and abstraction to develop new representational and symbolic languages.

Of course there are some nice publications available at www.ftn-books.com including the Anselm Kiefer / Stedelijk Museum catalogue from 1986
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Three Puppies…..Two by Jeff Koons

 

This week we will be choosing our new family member. A young 8 weeks old puppy. Breed Irish Glen of Imaal terrier and ….we hope…. a new friend for our dog Boris. An important choice , one which would make us all happy for the next 12 years or maybe more. About the same time in years i am living now with two other puppies.

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Koons puppies

These were  made as souvenires by the Bilbao Guggenheim museum. In the first few years they had an agreement with Koons to make these PUPPIES after the very large one in front of the Guggenheim museum. Each season this extremely large sculpture shows itself in a different way. In spring with flowers , in autumn the fall version which is slightly brown, but always it is the first thing you will see at the entrance of the Gehry designed museum. Together with the Matter of Time by Serra these are both the most iconic parts of the collection of the Guggenheim in Bilbao. About 3 years ago we visited the museum for the 5th time and i tried to by my another of the Koons puppies. No puppy was in the store available and i learned that Koons had withdrawn his permission to make the Puppy any longer and sell it in the store as a souvenir. No official puppies are there in the Guggenheim store. None can be bought…except outside in the souvenir shops you can still find snowballs with and  ceramic puppies of the famous statue outside. These are non authorized puppies. A nice remembrance to your visit of Bilbao , but not the same quality of the official ones. Now and then ,one is offerend at auction fetching prices of 200-450 euros. When i will find one again, i will let you know at www.ftn-books.com, where of course the books on Koons are available, but unfortunately not a Koons puppy because mine are not for sale.

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Jeff Koons / Ushering in Banality

 

The first time i could see the works by Jeff Koons in a museum setting was during his first exhibition in the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. It was 1992 and Wim Beeren, the former director of the Stedelijk, had just bought Ushering in Banality. It was  a scandal , because of the price he had paid for the sculpture. ( If i remember well it was 300.000 guilders / is $ 120.000) …. a steal, but more important it is still on show and one of the works that raises many smiles. I even saw people taking photographs leaning on the statue. Of course this is not allowed , but it shows the popularity of this impressive work.

Since, i have encountered on many occasions the works by Koons in different settings and he always amazes me. There are several in the Guggenheim in Bilbao ( In and outside the building), of which the most important is the very large PUPPY outside covered with flowers. Koons is an artist who shocks and pleases, but in almost all cases , you look differently at an object after you have seen the work  Koons has made after it.

For me it means …i can not pass a shop with “Hummel” statues without thinking about the USHERING IN BANALITY by Koons.

For some nice publications on Koons visit my shop www.ftn-books.com

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Richard Serra….The Matter of Time

Yesterday, when i researched for the blog on Museum  Voorlinden, i noticed that one of the rooms of the museum contains a Richard Serra. There are several in the Netherland to be found. Kroller Muller, Stedelijk Museum, van Abbemuseum  and Boymans van Beuningen all have their Serra’s, but these are “peanuts” compared with The MATTER OF TIME in the Guggenheim /Bilbao. This is by far the ultimate Richard Serra. Placed on the surface of about 3 football fields and with a maximum height of approx. 24 feet, this is really huge. Not only huge but also very impressive. You walk around and through it and when you are surrounded by the high steel walls, it feels like a maze.

So start with the local smaller ones , work your way up to the midsize Serra’s and finally go to Bilbao see the Guggenheim Museum by Frank Gehry, enjoy the tapas in the old market square and finalize your visit by loosing yourself in one of the great ( certainly the greatest in size) sculptures of Modern Times. The matter of Time by Richard Serra.

www.ftn-books.com has some nice books on Serra available.

This is the text from the official site of the Guggenheim Museum on this great sculpture by Richard Serra:

Richard Serra

The Matter of Time

Richard Serra has long been acclaimed for his challenging and innovative work. As an emerging artist in the early 1960s, Serra helped change the nature of artistic production. Along with the Minimalist artists of his generation, he turned to unconventional, industrial materials and accentuated the physical properties of his work. Freed from the traditional pedestal or base and introduced into the real space of the viewer, sculpture took on a new relationship to the spectator, whose experience of an object became crucial to its meaning. Viewers were encouraged to move around—and sometimes on, in, and through—the work and encounter it from multiple perspectives. Over the years Serra has expanded his spatial and temporal approach to sculpture and has focused primarily on large-scale, site-specific works that create dialogue with a particular architectural, urban, or landscape setting.

Snake, a work made for the inauguration of the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, consists of three enormous, serpentine ribbons of hot-rolled steel that are permanently installed in the museum’s largest gallery. The two tilted, snaking passages capture a rare sense of motion and instability. Snake is now joined by seven commissioned works-creating the installation entitled The Matter of Time—Serra’s most complete rumination on the physicality of space and the nature of sculpture.

The Matter of Time enables the spectator to perceive the evolution of the artist’s sculpted forms, from his relatively simple double ellipse to the more complex spiral. The final two works in this evolution are built from sections of toruses and spheres to create environments with differing effects on the viewer’s movement and perception. Shifting in unexpected ways as viewers walk in and around them, these sculptures create a dizzying, unforgettable sensation of space in motion. The entirety of the room is part of the sculptural field: As with his other multipart sculptures, the artist purposefully organizes the works to move the viewer through them and their surrounding space. The layout of works in the gallery creates passages of space that are distinctly different—narrow and wide, compressed and elongated, modest and towering—and always unanticipated. There is also the progression of time. There is the chronological time it takes to walk through and view The Matter of Time, between the beginning and end of the visit. And there is the experiential time, the fragments of visual and physical memory that linger and recombine and replay.