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Fritz Wotruba (1907-1975)

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A truly visionary artist Fritz Wotruba was. He is almost forgotten, but deserves to be recognized as one of the great European artists who shaped modern art and combined this with great architectural designs. Wotruba is like a cubist sculptor, but his shapes consist of parts put together and seen from nearby it seems as they have no relation with each other. But from further away figures emerge.

His sculptures are magnificent, but when you once have seen his architecture you are completely sold .

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This is the discipline in which he excels and is a one of a kind artist. Fritz Wotruba has had several exhibitions in the Netherland in the 50’s and the 60’s, but is after these events almost forgotten. Instead in Austria he is still one of the greatest Modern Artists. Catalogues of these events are available at www.ftn-books.com

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Dolf Henkes (1903-1989)

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Without knowing i have collected a number of important Dolf Henkes titles and what struck me is that the interest in his works is something which is still here and constant over the past six decades . Henkes was an artist creating on the crossroads of realism and abstraction and this shows in his paintings.

Born and raised in Rotterdam, moving to Paris and staying at Curacao for a while all these places shaped the art Dolf Henkes was creating. His painting touch is vivid and light and the city of Rotterdam valued the art of Henkes and presented him with a beautiful retrospective exhibition in 1988 to memorate his 85th birthday. Shortly after he died, but his name is still very much alive and used for the Henkes art price , which is each year presented to a young aspiring artist from Rotterdam. The Museum Boymans van Beuningen ( now closed for renovation) has a large collection of important Dolf Henkes paintings. www.ftn-books.com has some nice Dolf Henkes publications available.

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Milan Kunc (1944)

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Milan Kunc makes art on the cross roads of Memphis design meeting Picasso with a dash of childrens drawings and with a color palet that is endless. I managed to collect quite some titles by Kunc during the last two decades, because the Netherlands was fortunate to hold exhibitions at the galerie Swart , Groninger Museum ( 1984, large retrospective curated by Frans Haks), Stedelijk Museum and the Boymans van Beuningen museum. Many publications were the result , add to these the catalogues that were published with every gallery presentation in Europe and the result is a stack of publications , many artists would wish they had the same number of publications.

What strikes me every time i leaf through these books i find his work appealing, but in many cases i find it just too much absurd fantasies by the artist. Still this is, according to others, one of the qualities Kunc has. He exaggerates and creates scenes with many layers, but for me after some time they stop working and i am in need of a new ” surprising” composition. Milan Kunc is certainly a great artist, with many beautiful publications, but personally i prefer other artists. www.ftn-books.com has some nice Milan Kunc publications available.

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Pop Art exhibitions in the Netherlands

A few years ago one of the most recent in a long line of Pop Art and Pop Art related exhibitions was being held at the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag. But since the mid Sixties numerous exhibitions have been held on Pop Art and Pop Art related artists. There were exhibitions at the Stedelijk Museum, Museum Boymans van Beuningen, Groninger Museum, Nijmeegs Museum, Kunsthal and the Gemeentemuseum and every time they were a huge success. My guess is that because the art is recognizable and because Pop Art established itself as a true mouvement in Art History, it has become popular to the masses.

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Warhol, Lichtenstein and Wesselman are now household names and their works known by many. Perhaps it has even become to successful since images by these great artists are now part of Commercial activities and publicity campaigns which is a pity since these were not meant for being used this way. www.ftn-books.com has some nice duthc Pop Art publications available.

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Wim Crouwel (1928-2019)

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This morning i heard that one of the most influential designers from our time, Wim Crouwel, has died. The last years of his life he suffered Parkinson disease, but he was still going strong and must have looked forward to the retrospective of his works being opened later this  month at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. What better way to commemorate this great artist than to show a selection of the many items designed by him. www.ftn-books.com

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And to finish one of my personal favorites. Wim Crouwel will be an example for many designers in the decades to comewerkman crouwel aa.

 

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Felix Vallotton (1865-1925)

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Felix Valotton is without a doubt one of those less familiar names in Modern Art, but still he is very important for the development of modern Art as we know it, because when you look at his works more closely you can discover the fundaments of abstraction.

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In 1893, he became a member of Les Nabis, a semi-secret, semi-mystical group of young artists, mostly from the Academie Julian, which included Pierre Bonnard, Ker-Xavier Roussel, Maurice Denis, and Édouard Vuillard, with whom Vallotton was to form a lifelong friendship. While the Nabis shared certain common ideas and goals, their styles were quite different and personal. While he was a member of the Nabis, he kept his distance; his jocular title among the Nabis was “The Foreign Nabi”, [10] Vallotton’s paintings in this period reflected the style of his woodcuts, with flat areas of color, hard edges, and simplification of detail. His subjects included genre scenes, portraits and nudes. Examples of his Nabi style are the deliberately awkward Bathers on a Summer Evening (1892–93), now in the Kunsthaus Zürich, and the symbolist Moonlight(1895), in the Musée d’Orsay.

His paintings began to be noticed by the public and critics; Bathers on a Summer Evening, presented at the Salon des Indépendents, was met with harsh criticism and laughter.  But they also woodcuts also attracted considerable and growing attention and clients, and he became financially secure. Between 1893 and 1897, he received many commissions for illustrations from notable French newspapers and magazines, including La Revue Blanche, and from foreign art publications, including The Chap-Book of Chicago. He also made woodcuts for the covers of theater programs and book illustrations. One of his prominent patrons was Thadée Natanson, the publisher of the Revue Blanche, and his wife Misia, who commissioned many important decorative works from the Nabis. Through the Natansons Vallotton was introduced to the avant-garde elite of Paris, including Stéphane Mallarmé, Marcel Proust, Eric Satie, and Claude Debussy.

During the Nabi period, he also produced a remarkable series of woodcuts. His woodcut subjects included domestic scenes, bathing women, portrait heads, and several images of street crowds and demonstrations—notably, several scenes of police attacking anarchists. He usually depicted types rather than individuals, eschewed the expression of strong emotion, and “fuse[d] a graphic wit with an acerbic if not ironic humor”. Vallotton’s graphic art reached its highest development in Intimités (Intimacies), a series of ten interiors published in 1898 by the Revue Blanche, which deal with tension between men and women. Vallotton’s woodcuts were widely disseminated in periodicals and books in Europe as well as in the United States, and have been suggested as a significant influence on the graphic art of Edvard Munch, Aubrey Beardsley, and Ernst Ludwig Kirchner. In 1898, he produced one of his most important series of woodcuts,

By 1900, the Nabis had drifted apart. One source of the division was the Dreyfus affair, the case of a Jewish army officer falsely accused of aiding the Germans. The Nabis were divided, with Vallotton passionately defending Dreyfus. He produced a series of satirical woodcuts on the affair, including The age of the Newspaper,which were published on the first page of Le Cri de Paris on January 23, 1898, at the height of the affair.

Another major event during this period was his marriage to Gabrielle Rodrigues-Hénriques, a upper middle class member of the Paris artistic and social elite. The union also brought to his household three children from her previous marriage. After a brief honeymoon in Switzerland, they moved to a large apartment on near the Gare Saint-Lazare train station. He also established a solid relationship with the Bernheim family and their gallery, which presented a special exhibition devoted the Nabis, including ten of his works. The marriage brought him financial security, and he gradually abandoned woodcuts as his main source of income. Thereafter he devoted his attention almost entirely to painting. www. ftn-books.com has some titles on vallotton available.

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Jan van Munster (1939)

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Jan van Munster stands for me personally as the artist who experimenst with Neon and Pyrographics and using these to create Minimal objects and sculptures. I noticed his works for the first time when a work of him was presented at the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag. It weas a neon sculpture and made in an edition of a few copies and for sale at the museum shop. Unfortunately i did not have the insight at that time to buy it, but the memory remains, because it was the first van Munster i had seen. This is not the easiest of art to admire, but once you follow his career and search back throught the decades that he has made his art, you conclude that he always stayed true to his origins. One of the characteristics that keep reappearing is that he uses frequently two elements on his covers of the catalogues that are published with his works.

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First…many of his covers are embossed and second. ….in many cases there is a special Pyrographic made/burnt into the cover of his catalogues, making these original, one of a kind works of art at a more than reasonable price. www.ftn-books.com has some nice van Munster titles available.

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Bouke Ylstra (1933)

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In some ways Bouke Ylstrat reminds me of Jan Roëde. An artists who uses bright colors in combination with child like scenes, but Ylstra works differ enough to stand on their own. Where Roede populates many of his paintings with children, Ylstra depicts adults in their world and creates a world of their own. Combining human elements with abstract surfaces, filling them with symbolism and creating in this way a world of its own. Ylstra is not that know. Even in the Netherlands his work is rare to find, but when you look at his biography you will find that his works has been included in practically all of the large museums in the Netherlands.

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1933 Geboren in Den Haag. Groeit op in Rotterdam.
1950 -1954 Academie voor Beeldende kunsten in Rotterdam.
1955 Ontmoet Marie José Nicolaí met wie hij trouwt. Ze gaan in Dordrecht wonen en krijgen drie kinderen.
1959 Maakt zijn eerste monumentale werk, een zeventig meter lang mozaïek in Leeuwarden.
1960 -1964 Docent “Vrij schilderen”aan de Academie voor Industriële Vormgeving in Eindhoven.
1964 -1967 Docent “Grafische technieken”aan de Academie voor Beeldende Kunsten in Rotterdam.
1967 -1972 Afdelingsdocent “Gebonden kunsten” aan de Academie van BK in Rotterdam.
1979 -1981 Adviseur “Beeldende kunst”van de Rijksbouwmeester Ministerie VROM.
1983 -1990 
Docent “Vrij schilderen”aan de afdeling “Monumentaal” van de Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam.

1993.  Eerste expositie Galerie Duo Duo / Rotterdam
Galerie Sapet / Mirmande Frankrijk
1994. Galerie Witt /Dordrecht
Zomerexpositie Duo Duo / Rotterdam
1995. Galerie Duo Duo / Rotterdam
Opdracht: ontwerp vloerintarsia school Rotterdam
1996. Galerie Witt / Dordrecht – Institut Néerlandais / Parijs Groepstentoonstelling
1997. Galerie Duo Duo / Rotterdam
1998. Galerie Witt /Dordrecht. Zomerexpo Duo Duo
Houten beeld bij experimentele bouw Almere
1999. Duo Duo / Rotterdam
2000. Galerie Witt / Dordrecht
2001. Galerie Duo Duo / Rotterdam – Opdracht ontwerp i.s.m Cor Kraat beelden voor het Raadhuis te Veenendaal
2002. Galerie Dom Arte / Rucphen Galerie Witt / Dordrecht
Opdracht beeld Rijkspolitie te Dordrecht
2003.  Galerie Witt / Dordrecht
Opdracht Beeldengroep Westelijk Handelsterrein Rotterdam
2004.  Galerie Duo Duo / Rotterdam
2005.  Galerie Sapet / Mirmande frankrijk
Galerie Les Sagnes / st.Michel de Chabrianoux Frankrijk
Galerie Witt / Dordrecht
2006.  Galerie Duo Duo / Dordrecht
Opdracht 4 beeldengroepen voor scholengemeenschap
ROC te Leeuwarden
2009. Bouke Ylstra is op 17 Augustus 2009 in zijn woonplaats Dordrecht overleden.
    

www.ftn-books.com has a nice Ylstra publication including an original drawing for sale.

 

 

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Henry Moore (1898-1986)

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There has always been a fascination for Henry Moore and his works by the dutch. Since the beginning of his career he has had exhibitions at all the major museums in the Netherlands, which resuklted in purchses by museums and privste collectors. One of the last collectors to add a major work by Moore was Joop Caldenborgh who added a very large bronze sculpture by the artist. It was one of the last sculptures he added to his collection before he build the Voorlinden museum.

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My guess is that eventually his majestic sculpture garden including the Moore and Sol LeWiit sculptures, will be integrated with the Museum Voorlinden.

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I love the large Henry Moore that is outside the Schamhart building at the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag and learned to truly love this one , because it was my outside view at the Gemeentemuseum when i had my office over there. Later i moved to the offices at the Museum of education and had the complete Berlage building as my view, but the office with the Henry Moore in front and a Rijsselberghe painting in our room was a great place to work.

Since there is a long history of Henry Moore exhibitions in the Netherlands , i have collected many important Henry Moore catalogues of which the Stedelijk Museum one stands out since this one is designed by Willem Sandberg.

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Saul Steinberg (1914-1999)

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….and now for the other Steinberg…SAUL STEINBERG.

First i must say that writing a blog on Steinberg, can not do justice to the excellent site , which the Steinberg foundation has constructed on the life, times and art of Saul Steinberg. You can visit the site at : http://saulsteinbergfoundation.org

But some personal notes on the artist. Saul Steinberg is a very well known artist in Europe. He had his exhibitions at the Maeght galleries in the Sixties and Seventies and both the Stedelijk Museum and the Boymans van Beuningen museum in the Netherlands organized exhibitions on the artist. In the beginning i always had considered Steinberg to be an illustrator and not the artist he later became to me. Later i realized to look at his art in a way that his drawings were meant to be seen. A citation from his site makes this clear :

Saul Steinberg defined drawing as “a way of reasoning on paper,” and he remained committed to the act of drawing. Throughout his long career, he used drawing to think about the semantics of art, reconfiguring stylistic signs into a new language suited to the fabricated temper of modern life. Sometimes with affection, sometimes with irony, but always with virtuoso mastery, Saul Steinberg peeled back the carefully wrought masks of 20th-century civilization.

This is an artist to be discovered by a far larger audience. At this moment i think he is the lesser of both Steinberg’s  i recently wrote a blog on, but perhaps time will prove me wrong and i will think of his art just the way around in a few years. www.ftn-books.com has some nice and rare Saul Steinberg publications available.