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Erik Ortvad (1917-2008)

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One of the founding cities of the COBRA movement is Copenhagen and one of the true Danish COBRA members was Erik Ortvad.

Ortvad was born on the 6th of June, 1917 in Copenhagen. He was a painter and a graphic artist, who was known to be an autodidact. He has been painting since 1935 from a very young age. In this period his paintings were influenced by the surrealistic and abstract style of Ejler Bille (1910-2004), Vilhelm Bjerke Petersen (1909-1957) and the artists group called Linien (The Line) (1934-1949). During 1941 and 1942 Ortvad was, just like many other Danish artists and contemporaries, in search of more spontaneity in the course of his creative process. He began to paint with a more spontaneous-abstract style, at which he would use small brushstrokes to purvey his canvases on numerous occasions with the colours grey, pink, yellow and blue.

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Ortvad joined the Danish pre-war experimental artists association Høst (1942-1949) in 1945 as the youngest member. Through Høst he came in contact with members of CoBrA (1948-1951), an international post-war avant-garde movement that believed that art must originate from artistic freedom, fantasy and spontaneity. Ortvad’s artworks were shown in 1948 at the Van Lier gallery in Amsterdam. His artworks were also shown in 1949 and 1951 at the renowned CoBrA exhibitions in Amsterdam and Liège. Ortvad decided a year after the abolishing of CoBrA to put his paintworks aside and focus on his desire to draw cartoons. He did this under the pseudonym ‘Enrico’. After the year 1960 he directed his focus on his spontaneous painting style once again. In contrast with his earlier works, his later works are defined by a powerful characterization existing of fiercely, saturated colours, strong lines and visible brush strokes.

It took al very long time for me personally until I discovered Ortvad, but now that I have encountered his works I believe I like him better than most of his dutch fellow COBRA members. The below publication is available at http://www.ftn-books.com

cobra denmark

 

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One Week…Lefebre gallery …the final day

Last week I acquired a large collection of catalogues from the LEFEBRE GALLERY. The collection contains 63 different exhibition catalogues all fro the period that this famous gallery was open between 1960 and 1986. A great collection which I will share in the coming 7 days….today day 1

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from top to bottom /left to right:

L. Alechinsky cover card, 1985

Cobra 1960, 1960

Castel, 1966

Juan Martinez, 1980

Antonio Segui, 1981

Antonio Segui, 1983

Antonio Segui, 1972

Antonio Segui, 1975

Antonio Segui, 1979

The series i have available at www.ftn-books.com contains 62 different titles. These publications will be listed in the upcoming 4 weeks. If there is a publication you would like to buy, please sent an email to ftnbooksandart@gmail.com and i will quote you your best preview price.

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One Week….Lefebre gallery…day 6

Last week I acquired a large collection of catalogues from the LEFEBRE GALLERY. The collection contains 63 different exhibition catalogues all fro the period that this famous gallery was open between 1960 and 1986. A great collection which I will share in the coming 7 days….today day 1

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from top to bottom /left to right:

Cobra artists of the Lefebre gallery, 1983

Double Exposure, John Lefebre photographs, 1981

Juan Martinez, 1984

Georges Noel, 1962

Jan Voss, 1966

Jean Messagier, 1964

Jean Dewasne,  1972

Cobra Graphic, Jorn cover, 1965

This is the Lefebre gallery, 1969

The series i have available at www.ftn-books.com contains 62 different titles. These publications will be listed in the upcoming 4 weeks. If there is a publication you would like to buy, please sent an email to ftnbooksandart@gmail.com and i will quote you your best preview price.

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Wim de Haan (1913-1967)

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Wim de Haan was a self taught artist . He invented a kind of art which can not be compared with anything made in the Fifties and Sixties. If there is an influence i would say early Cobra and Miro, but the result was very WIM DE HAAN art. Sculptures paintings, drawings all are exceptional works of art  and i really admire his art. I think his paintings are one of a kind and very appealing. His sculptures are like viewinh boxes. Opening up and with a look into a fantasy world which is typically de Haan. One of the most recent exhibitions is an exhibition from almost 40 years ago and it is now time for another major exhibition on Wim de Haan to give him a platform he deserves after so long a time.

 

Wim de Haan was born as Willem Jacobus de Haan in Amsterdam on the 14th of June, 1913. He was active as a painter and as an assemblage artist. De Haan grew up in Haarlem. In 1937 he was sent to Indonesia by the company that he worked for, where he worked as a stevedore and insurer until 1942. In addition to that he was also an actor. He is fascinated by the eastern mentality and takes in a lot of this culture. In 1942 he becomes a Japanese prisoner of war and is forced to work on the Burma Railway. He barely survives this camp and returns in 1946 to the Netherlands. For several years he studies philosophy, psychology and social sciences, he briefly was the manager of an orphanage and he draws and writes poems. In 1951 he published “Freedom in captivity,” a thesis on group phenomena in Japanese prisoner of war camps. In 1953 he decided to fully devote himself to drawing and painting. As an artist he was self-taught. In the beginning his first paintings and drawings exhibited an elaboration of themes and motifs that initially display a strong evidence to pre-war surrealism, soon after his works went into an abstract expressionist direction, in which a clear distinction can be made in his drawings and paintings. His drawings are ruled by expressive line structures, which more or less allow insightful signs tob e recognized. With continuance he keeps researching the possibilities of pen, brush, ink and paper. His unbound utilization of lines are characterized by his drawing style. The lyrical abstract paintings that arise from this process are characterized by abstract signs and unclear confined colored spots. Later on he began to mix ash, sand and other materials in his paints. At that point his painting artistry ran parallel for some time to that of his Dutch friend Jaap Wagemaker (1906-1972). Both are members of the ‘Liga Nieuw Beelden’ (League New Images). Constantly looking for new opportunities, De Haan decides to take a different path in 1957. The two-dimensional plane is broken up by his use of cut-outs, protruding and recessive surfaces. There are all kinds of ‘objets trouvés’ (found objects) added. Finally in 1958, a first exhibition of his work was held at the Galerie ‘t Venster in Rotterdam. As from the 60’s De Haan exhibited on a regular basis in London, but also in Cambridge, Lyon and Frankfurt. At that time he also joined the group ‘Europa’ and the group Oekwa with which he exhibits in the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium. After 1962 he creates free-standing objects, in which -even more than in his earlier works- his interest in magic and mysticism is reflected. Wim de Haan dies in 1967 in Amsterdam. In that year a memorial exhibition is held in London at the Grosvenor Gallery and about a decade later a big retrospective exhibition of his works is opened in 1975 at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam.

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Dora Tuynman (1926-1979)

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On the “outskirts” of the COBRA group she operated like a true Cobra artist. In 1951 she left for Paris and joined the artist at the Rue Santeuil and became friends with Karel Appel and Corneille and somehow got influenced by everything COBRA that surrounded her . in 1997 the NRC wrote about het works that they were still fresh and vivid and compared to some works by her fellow artists never had lost their quality. When you leaf through the book that is now for sale at www.ftn-books.com, one notices that her work is far more abstract than the early COBRA works that were in many cases inspired by children.

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These works by Tuynman are more like the Klee drawings from the Twenties, but put on canvas. The publication was initiated by Mrs. E. Tuynman and published by DE DRIJVENDE DOBBER of Tom Mercuur. A keen publisher who has an eye for the undiscovered talent. The book is now available.

tuynman

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Anton Martineau (1926-2017)

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One of the last painters in the Netherland who felt inspired and had strong feelings for the COBRA mouvement in the Netherlands. Her never joined Cobra, worked together with his friend and “partner in crime” Lucebert and had many one man exhibitions in the Netherlands and abroad. Unfortunately his fame did not cross the borders, but his gallery ( Willy Schoots ) was loyal to him and represented him until the day he died.

My personal thoughts about Anton Martineau….. Over the years i have seen many paintings by this painter and what struck me is either the painting is good and appealing or it is not that good and i would never want to add it to a collection. Still Martineau paintings have their qualities. See and judge for yourself the examples below.

http://www.ftn-books.com has some nice Martineau publications available.

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Sam Francis (1923-1994)

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Sam Francis is a subject for a blog a long time overdue. Since i have been admiring the works by Sam Francis for many years now and of course there is a special connection with the Netherlands, because he has had many solo exhibitions in this country for over 30 years and not at the less important museums and galleries but at the very best ones. First there is of course the exhibition at the Stedelijk Museum with the beautiful Wim Crouwel designed catalogue. secondly there are the gallery exhibitions at gallery Delaive and third there is the Museum van der Togt/Cobra Museum exhibition. All of these exhibitions were accompagnied by beautiful large catalogues and available at www.ftn-books.com

My first interest in Sam Francis was raised in the early Nineties when i collected Swatch watches. Together with my brother in law we searched for the earliest of these watches and bought, collected and resiold them and one of these watches was a Christmas special by Sam Francis. We had multiple copies of this rare watch and the last one was sold some 5 years ago. Still whenever i hear the name Sam Francis i am reminded of this swatch collection. But from that time on i noticed that there is more to Sam Francis than just his Swatch watch. Just read this short biography which can be found on the Sam Francis site too:

Sam Francis (1923 – 1994) occupies a prominent position in post-war American painting. Although associated with the Abstract Expressionist movement and Clement Greenberg’s Post-Painterly Abstraction, unlike many American painters of he time he had direct and prolonged exposure to French painting and to Japanese art which had an individual impact on his work.

On leaving the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1944 owing to illness Francis took up painting as a hobby. He decided to make this a serious undertaking studying under David Park in 1947 and completed his BA and MA at the University of California. He was greatly influenced by Abstract Expressionism particularly the works of Clyfford Still and Jackson Pollock. In his use of space on the canvas to allow free circulation of strong colour and the sensitivity to light Francis developed his own style by the time his studies had ended.

Francis moved to Paris in 1950 where he met Jean-Paul Riopelle who was to remain an important influence, and study of Monet’s Waterlilies had a profound impact on his work. From a very muted palette of greys and whites he returned to the qualities of light and colour producing such works as Big Red 1953. He continues to develop the use of white space and increased the dimensions of his paintings for greater emphasis. During his period in Europe he executed a number of monumental mural paintings.

Francis returned to California in 1962 and was then influenced by the West Coast School’s preoccupation with mysticism and Eastern philosophy. Blue had become a more dominant feature of his work since 1959 inspired by personal suffering and the great joy of becoming a father for the first time in 1961. This led to combinations of hard colour and more disciplined structures with centrally placed rectangles during the 1970s. Eventually these more rigid structures gave way to looser configurations sometimes of snake-like forms with web-like patterns. Blue, sometimes brilliant, remained an important part of many later works.

The above publications and other Sam Francis publications are available at www.ftn-books.com

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Another rare Constant Cobra title

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Bibliotheque d’Alexandrie Paris # CONSTANT # 1959, NM+++/Mint–

This is how it is described in the headline of the object in my internet store at www.ftn-books.com

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You will have a hard time in finding this title on the internet and if you find it, my guess it is it will be in less condition than the one i have on offer. This is an extremely rare title and an absolute ” must have” for all serious Constant (book) collectors. It is not that thick but its contents is highly important and one of the first special Constant publications that was published on Constant.

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Lotti van der Gaag ( 1923-1999)…the forgotten Cobra artist

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A 100% percent Cobra artist who has almost been forgotten by the public is Lotti van der Gaag. She began with sculpture on advise of Bram Bogart with who she was living in the late 40’s. In 1950 she moved to Paris where she met Karel Appel and Corneille with whom she stayed befriended during her entire life although Corneille had his objections of her joining the COBRA group. In 1974 she started with painting using the same fantasy figures she already had developed in her sculpture. When you look at these early paintings you can only draw one conclusion….Lotti van der Gaag is a Cobra artist!

What i did not know is that she was married to Kees van Bohemen , who has made a name for his  abstract expressionist paintings in dutch art. www.ftn-books has a few Lotti van der Gaag publications.

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Karel Appel and the Congresgebouw Den Haag (1969)

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The Congresgebouw is an architectural icon in Den Haag. It was designed by Hans Oud and J.J.P. Oud and opened in 1969. In 1968 Karel Appel was commissioned a large painting on ceramic tiles and this painting is one of the lesser known Karel Appel paintings because not many people realize that they pass it while entering the Congresgebouw / World Forum ( the name what it is called nowadays).

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The extremely large tile painting consists of over 1200 separately painted tiles. These together, making it one of the largest Karel Appel paintings ever. If ever you come to Den Haag , this location is well worth a visit because not only there is the Gemeentemuseum nearby, but beside the tile painting by Appel there are sculptures, by Henry Moore, Auke de Vries and Pevsner in the vicinity.

For some nice Karel Appel publications please visit www.ftn-books.com