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the Stuyvesant Foundation

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I have a weakness for the Stuyvesant Foundatio. The foundation was founded by Alexander Orlow of Turmac company who had the brilliant idea to bring great art works among his factory workers by placing the art in the middle of the production. This meant that many large sized works were purchased over a period of 30 years. Zero, Cobra en abstract expressionism being the most important among these works.  For most of the collection they had one thing in common. Their size was large and larger, since the works had to be seen by the people who worked a fair distance from them.

The following article appeared in the Telegraph a few days before the first auction was being held. In total there were 3 auctions. Personally i thought the first was exceptional, the second very good and the third was filled with the leftovers. I was lucky to buy one of the best Gerard Verdijk paintings ever in the 2nd auction at AAG. My luck….it is too large for many, so no bids were placed after the initial price set by the auctioneer.

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The cream of one of Europe’s most highly regarded corporate art collections is to be dispersed by Sotheby’s next week in spite of efforts by civil authorities and art experts to preserve it and turn it into a museum. Known as the Peter Stuyvesant collection, it originated in the late 1950’s when Alexander Orlow, managing director of Turmac Tobacco, which made the popular Peter Stuyvesant brand of cigarettes in its factory in Zevenaar, Holland, decided his workforce needed something to cheer them up. “However complicated the operations of a machine may look, it soon becomes monotonous to a factory worker,” he said.

His solution was to buy art – preferably big, colourful abstract paintings – and in 1960 commissioned 13 artists from different European countries to make works on the theme of “joie de vivre” to hang in the factory’s production halls. The experiment was so popular that in the following year he invited William Sandberg, formerly the director of Amsterdam’s Stedelijk Museum, to expand the collection. Over the next 50 years, the collection grew under the supervision of a series of former Dutch museum directors.

However, in 2000, Turmac was swallowed up by the British American Tobacco Company (BAT), and the art collection renamed the BAT Artventure collection. But there was not to be much in the way of artistic venture in store. In June of 2006 it was announced that the Zevenaar factory would close with the loss of 570 jobs, so that European production could be concentrated in Germany and Poland. That left over 1,400 works in the art collection valued at some 23 million pounds looking for a new home.

Jan de Ruiter, the mayor of Zevenaar, supported by Martijn Sanders, chairman of the Advisory Committee on the Future of the Stedelijk Museum, looked for a way to buy the collection and keep it locally, possibly as a wing of the museum. But “BAT did not really want to make a deal,” said de Ruiter. It went to Sotheby’s instead.

Sotheby’s has a good track record in handling corporate art collections. Back in 1989 it handled the disposal of the British Rail Pension Fund collection and the $93 million (£62.5 million) Reader’s Digest collection. Since then we’ve seen a series of high profile sales for IBM, the 7-Eleven photo collection, the HSBC collection of 19th century pictures, not to mention a certain £65 million sculpture by Giacometti from the German Commerzbank last month.

The company clearly sets some store by advising corporations on the acquisition and disposal of art, setting up a department just to deal with that in New York 20 years ago, and another in London last year. Saul Ingram, who runs the London department, says most companies sell to buy new work or channel profits into broader cultural activities. The Stuyesant/BAT collection is different because it was site specific, and without the factory and its workers, its purpose has gone.

Its value, though, is still substantial. The 163 works to be sold by Sotheby’s Amsterdam next week are estimated to fetch between £3.6 million and £4.6 million, with further sales planned in the future. Avant garde European groups from the 50s and 60s such as CoBrA, the abstract expressionist group based around Copenhagen, Brussels and Amsterdam, and Zero, the Dusseldorf based group who worked with experimental materials such as fire, nails and papier mache, are to the fore.

The Zero artists, Gunther Uecker and Jan Schoonhoven, who starred at Sotheby’s recent Lenz collection sale last month, are expected to do exceptionally well. A rarity is Lily ou Tony (1965), one of Nicki de St Phalle’s first Nana sculptures that celebrate womanhood. Though fragile, made of tissue and wire mesh, it carries a £180,000 to £270,000 estimate. The most significant example of British art is a 1958 Alan Davie painting that has been undervalued at £27,000 to £36,000.

In addition to the stylish brand name Stuyvesant gave to the world of smoking, it also achieved brand recognition in the art world, especially in Britain, where, during the sixties, the Stuyvesant Foundation sponsored the Whitechapel Gallery’s trendsetting The New Generation exhibition, which included David Hockney and Bridget Riley, and also the talent spotting Young Contemporaries, much of which was immortalised in the Tate Gallery’s Recent British Art show of 1967. The separate collection of British art that was formed by the Stuyvesant Foundation between 1964 and 1967 was eventually sold in the late 1980s and established what were then huge prices for Davie, Riley, and others of that generation. The last sale, held at Bonhams in 1989, was a complete sell out. Next week will see how well the Stuyvesant brand has survived.

http://www.ftn-books.com has nearly all  dutch publications on the Stuyvesant collection available.

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Národní Galerie Praha / Trade Fair Palace

We went for a short visit to Prague last weekend and walked over 30 miles within 3 days to explore the city. One of our first destinations was the Narodni Muzeum at the Trade Fair Location. It is at least a little confusing, but spread over Prague there are about six Narodni museums on all kinds of subjects. This Trade Fair Palace was the one i had on my list for a long time and been wanting to visit for some decades now, but never had a chance to, because Prague was out of the way for us but this weekend we finally went and were not disappointed. At the time of its construction (completed in 1928), this was the largest building of its kind in the world and the first Functionalist building in Prague. Today it serves the needs of the National Gallery. Knowing its age you must admire its architecture….a true avant-garde building which is unique, but because of its functionality hard to admire. It looks old and worn but the light within the buildling is unique.

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It houses one of the best International collections i have ever seen and its historic value is beyond any doubt. One of the first rooms you enter consists of a mini exhibition which , organized elsewhere would draw hundreds of thousands of visitors. The quality of the paintings and sculptures is superb and deserves to be visited and admired by many more than the handful of visitors we encountered during our visit.

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The small room houses a Picasso, Matisse, Bonnard, Seurat, Monet, Renoir, Degas statue, Maillol and ( personally i am not a great van Gogh fan) a spectacular and beautiful van Gogh.

We were so surprised to find so many of these beautiful paintings and to discover some great Czech art. It was a very nice visit and made us even more like the collection, because we specially came to visit the Giacometti exhibition, but in it’s wake we were treated on some of the most beautiful and surprising art i have seen lately.

Of course http://www.ftn-books.com has on all these artists some nice publications.

 

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Gianni Versace (1946-1997)

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This is not a blog on Versace, but  a blog on Fashion house catalogues in general. The great fashion houses like Chanel , Hermes and certainly Versace, invite the best photographers  to photograph top fashion models by the best photographers in the business. A very “organic” combination was Karl Lagerfeld who photographed Claudia Schiffer in the time he was responsible for all fashion designs.

A lesser known combination is Bruce Weber who photographed at least 3 catalogues for Gianni And Donatella Versace of which the most important one is the 1997 catalogue which was published shortly before he was assassinated. Another Bruce Weber one was the 1996/97 one. He was invited to photograph the COLLEZIONE AUTUNNO INVERNO 1996/97 for which he did the main part of the male models, together with Richard Avedon who did the female models. A classic in the publishing history of fashion catalogues. http://www.ftn-books.com has bought a small collection of these Versace catalogues which is now for sale.

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Michelangelo Pistoletto (1933)

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I know his work and recognize it by his reflecting surfaces and mirror like qualities , but Pistoletto is much more than an artist who uses a “Gimmick”. Now , 85 years of age he has proven to be one of the most influential Italian artists from the last century and his works have spread all over the world . (I even have illy collection cups by Pistoletto in my collection ;-).

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Why is he, i think, so important?…. Probably this is because he stayed true to his art and has developed it into a very personal and recognizable form which is now appreciated by many. Pistoletto had had his exhibitions in the Netherlands in the van Abbemuseum and Stedelijk Museum and has built steadily an appreciative audience because of these exhibitions in the Netherlands since his earliest one at the van Abbemuseum in 1986. Arte Povera is Pistoletto ….and within his works he brings together Fluxus and conceptual art. The admiration of Bacon started his art career, but since he has walked his own path of “REFLECTION”.

Here are some of the books www.ftn-books.com has on Pistoletto in collection

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van Gogh drawing discovered…big news?

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Yesterday it was announded and confirmed that a newly discovered van Gogh drawing from the Fentener van Vlissingen collection is an authentic van Gogh. In such a case i really wonder if the drawing is considered important because as the vanGogh museum says …it is a missing link…or is it beautiful and valuable. Valuable it certainly is now with its authentication, but beautiful?   i do not think so…. it is a study and beside the depicted windmills i do not find it appealing at all. For instance compare the studies of Jongkind, his contemporary artist which all shine in these little formats.  A new van Gogh discovered is nice, but the way it now is presented as one of the art discoveries of this decade is undeserved. Here is the article from the van Gogh Museum on this sketch and for really great books on Van Gogh please visit www.ftn-books.com

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AMSTERDAM — The Van Gogh Museum here on Tuesday announced the discovery of a previously unknown drawing by Vincent van Gogh, which the museum said was completed about a month after the Dutch post-Impressionist artist arrived in Paris in 1886. The museum’s researchers studied the style and history of “The Hill of Montmartre with Stone Quarry,” dated March 1886, and found documents they said confirm that it is a lost van Gogh.

“It’s a big day today,” said Teio Meedendorp, a senior researcher at the Van Gogh Museum who studied the subject, style, technique, materials and provenance of the drawing, and found the relevant documentary evidence to support the attribution.

The museum owns the largest collection of van Gogh’s works anywhere in the world, including more than half of the artist’s drawn oeuvre — approximately 500 drawings as well as his sketchbooks.

“It’s a nice robust drawing by Vincent and he captured the hill of Montmartre very well,” Mr. Meedendorp said.

Mr. Meedendorp said that the drawing is particularly interesting because it is more in keeping with van Gogh’s earlier style than his later work when he lived in Paris. He added that the drawing shows that van Gogh’s work evolved during his crucial years in the French capital from a formal style that he learned at the art academy in Antwerp just before arriving in Paris, and became increasingly experimental.

“It’s a kind of stylistic missing link between his Belgium and Paris time,” said Fred Leeman, an independent van Gogh expert and curator of exhibitions by the artist, who is a consultant to the Van Vlissingen Foundation, which currently owns the drawing.

The last time a new van Gogh drawing was discovered was in 2012. A year later, a new van Gogh painting, “Sunset at Montmajour” (1888), was also found. But these findings are relatively rare. Since the publication of the complete catalog of van Gogh’s works in 1970, another nine drawings and seven paintings have been added, Mr. Meedendorp said.

When it came to the Van Gogh Museum for research in 2012, the drawing was owned by an American private collector whose Dutch relatives had purchased the work from a gallery in the Netherlands in 1917, Mr. Meedendorp explained. But the museum did not publicize the finding at the time, at the request of the previous owner.

Aside from Mr. Leeman, no other experts outside the museum have yet seen the drawing.

Research by the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, the world’s leading expertise center on the artist, found that “The Hill of Montmartre with Stone Quarry” came into the hands of van Gogh’s sister-in-law, Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, a meticulous keeper of van Gogh’s materials, who numbered it “123” in her inventory.

Mr. Meedendorf said that when he took the drawing out of its frame, he found the telltale number, “123,” written on the back.  

The discovery of “The Hill of Montmartre with Stone Quarry” led the Van Gogh Museum to reconsider another drawing that it had in its collection, which had been part of the original donation from the van Gogh family heirs. That drawing, titled “The Hill of Montmartre,” also completed in 1886, is drawn from a very similar perspective of the Parisian hilltop.

This drawing was originally thought to be by van Gogh, but in 2001, it was questioned because it was so dissimilar to work from his Paris period, and then discredited.

“Now that you have a set of two, it’s clear that it was a style he maintained during the first part of his time in Paris,” said Mr. Leeman.

By comparing these two drawings side-by-side, researchers realized that the works were incredibly similar, and both were attributed to van Gogh.

“It’s the same materials, the same paper, it’s quite clear that these were both done by the same hand at almost the same time,” said Mr. Meedendorp.

“One thing led to another,” he added. “If this was a van Gogh drawing then the other one had to be one as well.”

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Ap Gewald …. 40 years Gemeentemuseum Den Haag.

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In the first couple of years i always thought Ap was Ab, because i had known several people with the name Ab. Since Ap corrected me, it became Ap/ @p and since we have stayed in contact with each other…not only professionally , but also socially.

His career at the Haags Gemeentemuseum/Gemeentemuseum now spans a period of 40 years. 40 years in which Ap has become one of the “mastodons” of the museum and one of those few within the organization of the museum, who contributes, as a registrar, to every exhibition that takes place within the museum walls. I think Ap is one of those people that you like instantly… easygoing and open hearted and because of that we stayed in contact with each other, meeting occasionally and discussing the art and museum world. There is one occasion that i want to mention in this blog. A few years ago i held an auction on Catawiki, within the auction there was a small Stedelijk Museum book with a lithographed cover by Christa Ehrlich . I mentioned it on Facebook and got an answer from Ap in New York. He was there with the design of the cover from the collection of the Gemeentemuseum which was lend to the Moma(?). This can not be coincidence, but must have a meaning…. so let us try to find out what the meaning of this is in the years to come. Ap, not only a colleague but also a friend! Thanks for 40 years Gemeentemuseum and 36 years of friendship and keep practicing your logistic skills in the coming years with the present we just gave you 😉

wilfried & linda

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Saatchi Art and online art dealing

This morning i was surprised to see an annual report on online Art dealing by Saatchi. According to Saatchi there is a tremendous growth in on online art business, but you have to be careful which artists to pick to make a sound investment. I must say…..works by some of these artists really look good and prices are still on the verge of affordable ( $ 1000-$5000) . But what struck me most is that Saatchi is creating a market for artist who THEY represent. This is only a very small percentage of artists in the world who are creating their works but, do not have the representation nor the time and money to wait before a sale is realized.

My advise to build a small collection, is to find the artist(s) you really like, visit his or her studio, start building a relation as a collector with the artist and follow him/her over the years and when you have some money to spare buy directly from the artist and support them in every other way you can, by introducing them to friends/ collectors and keeping contact to follow him/her. This way you are helping the artist to build a following of supporters and you will support them with your appreciation and your purchase(s) over the years. This is much nicer than to make an online purchase and have the work send to your home address in a “beautiful “crate and not having seen where it comes from. To appreciate a work in the best way, is to see where it was created and to meet the person that created it. It makes the picture complete and the art you look at has not become a piece of decoration but a true work of art that you chose by yourself by having a choice from many other works that were created over a much longer period than the new ” last years models” which are presented by online galleries.

This is the way i have been collecting all of my life. For those who want to know which artists belong to the core of our collection. Here are the pics. Look at them and when you want to have more info do not hesitate to contact me at www.ftn-books.com or

wvdelshout@ziggo.nl

The report by Saatchi can be downloaded here: https://d3t95n9c6zzriw.cloudfront.net/invest-in-art/iia-2016-report-digital.pdf