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Martin Maloney (1923)

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I did not know anything about Maloney and stumbled upon an article by Elena Filipovic and it is a great introduction to this conceptual artist . I recently added the Bulletin 34, from 1971 to my inventory which is now for sale at www.ftn-books.com

The history of art is an ocean with many wrecks . Some floating on the surface, most almost inaccessible submerged on the seabed. As an art historian, you can surf the waves, and pick up the supernatant oeuvres, or you can go deep sea diving in the hope of discovering less known, less  obvious artists.
Today you must scrape the bottom to find literature mentioning the name Martin Maloney (1938 – 2003), and even then you will find only loose fragments and faint traces of an oeuvre .

However, this American artist once was amongst the founders of conceptual art. He had close contacts with the, now classical, conceptual artists and took part in a number of key exhibitions in the late sixties and early seventies.

During this period he was represented by the top galleries of the avant garde , such as Seth Siegelaub in New York, Konrad Fischer in Düsseldorf and Art & Project in Amsterdam. 
But the man did not refrain from criticizing the art establishment and his fellow artists , and even used criticism explicitly as the starting point for a number of postcard sized ” language pieces ” (”Designation Deposits” and ”Reject Deposits” , 1967-2001 ). This unruly and polemical art practice, coupled with his radical views and his particular temperament, isolated the artist more and more from the artistic context . 
By the time Martin Maloney, at the age of 65, died in Antwerp, he was materially impoverished and maintained only sporadic contacts with the art world .Maloney’s stubborn attitude obviously had other consequences too: because of his own (largely) chosen isolation, he cut himself off from the various channels that art history constructs: gallerists, collectors, critics ,curators ,conservators, art historians, fellow artists. Moreover, he himself destroyed much of his own work. All this results in his absence from the major, canonizing, publications since the seventies devoted to conceptual art .

By putting his radical critique in relation to the art world down on paper, Martin Maloney literally wrote himself out of art history.

After dropping out of university, in 1962, Maloney settled as an artist in New York. Initiall he had a special interest in the work of the postwar New York School painters like Ad Reinhardt , Barnett Newman , Mark Rothko and Jackson Pollock, but gradually shifted his attention away from the pictorial to the textual and non-material forms of art which from the mid- sixties began to emerge. He shared a studio with Lawrence Weiner and maintained relations with artists such as Carl Andre, Joseph Kosuth and Dan Graham.

In 1966, Maloney took part in the infamous ’25’ group exhibition, organized by the young art dealer Seth Siegelaub,who was to become the great promoter of conceptual art a few years later.

Maloney exhibited at Siegelaub several times and also had shows in several major European galleries. By this time, Maloney was  looking for alternatives to the traditional gallery exhibition. In many cases, his solo exhibitions would be accompanied with, or even take the form of an artist’s book. Examples are ‘Interguments’ (1969), ‘Fractionals’ (1970) ‘Reject Objects’ (1971) and ‘Five days and five nights’ (1970). The latter book was published in an edition of 500 copies in the framework of Maloney’s one man show at the MTL gallery in Brussels. Maloney locked himself for five days and five nights in the gallery to work on the resulting booklet of poetic statements. The conventional presentation of objects in a gallery made room for the direct communication of ideas in print .

For his next exhibition at London’s Lisson Gallery (1971), Maloney takes things even a step further. After distributing a poster designed by the artist, Maloney takes residence in the gallery and throughout the whole duration of the event goes into direct confrontation with his audience. The resulting insights and frustrations he wrote in white chalk on the black painted walls of the basement. After a short sojourn in London, Maloney moved to Amsterdam in 1973 and leaves behind the hardcore minimalist concept to include wood sculptures and painted text works. Four years later he returned to New York, to gradually retreat in the privacy of his studio, now serving as a laboratory for numerous installations and presentations.

 
From 1995 until his death he resided in Antwerp, where in 2000 he was invited by Flor Bex to realize a mural for the Museum of Contemporary Art (MUHKA). 

Maloney occupied a studio in a dilapidated building on the Jordaenskaai 13 .

What remained in the six rooms of Maloney’s Antwerp working and living environment were, in addition to a number of ”language pieces” and works on paper, the results of his latest artistic experiments: minimalist ‘floor pieces’ and corner stacks, composed of pieces of fallen ceiling plaster, wallpaper, fabric scraps, canvas and wooden beams from the solid oak doors in the building.

Like an architectural archivist Maloney recycled and ordered materials of the decaying building into geometric compositions. It is as if these material traces of a precise and time-consuming labor, the quiet, repetitive activity of the hands were a necessary remedy for the chronic anxiety of the mind .

Johan Pas , Ekeren , January 2004
pace Works”

“To live,” Walter Benjamin once famously wrote, “is to leave traces.” But one could almost say that the recently deceased artist Martin Maloney (1938-2003) lived to efface his. Largely forgotten and omitted from art history, the American artist is all but invisible in institutional collections of the conceptual art he participated in from an early stage.

Thus the title of Maloney’s first posthumous exposition, “Here to Stay”, captures all of the ambiguity of the artist’s oeuvre. The exhibition fills the vast decrepit spaces where the artist lived and worked in solitude for the last 8 years of his life while the Antwerp building was waiting to be demolished.

The works, like the space they occupy, are not there ‘to stay’ at all. Immanent destruction is a ghost that has haunted the building for years. And even though his arrival in this space was relatively recent, Maloney’s works made from the recycling of building detritus have evoked architecture and entropy since the late ‘60s.

He made floor-bound geometric ensembles, each composed of thousands of pieces of any one element: neat piles of fallen ceiling plaster, pyramids of broken bricks, layers of split timber from his studio’s oak doors, or thousands of identical maniacally cut squares of carpet. In his work, the ceiling sat on the floor and wall elements became precarious rubble in the corner. In short, boundaries were elided between architectural elements and sculpture, between object and installation.

These ensembles made infinitely mutable, fragile works—more often than not with nothing holding the components together. They could change form a hundred times… or simply be swept away. ‘Structure’, ‘edge’, ‘edged’, ‘angle’, ‘cut’, ‘split’, ‘split space’: these words line Maloney’s texts, canvases and painted brick-works. Even a sampling of his exhibition titles, “Up Against the Wall” (at Konrad Fischer, Dusseldorf 1971) or “White Walls are Animals” (at Micheline Szwajcer, Antwerp, 1980), give the sense that the constraints of architecture and space — particularly the exhibition space — were never far from Maloney’s thoughts.

For him, the gallery’s symbolic ‘white walls’ needed to be fought, resisted and shown for what they were. In 1971, he locked himself in the confines of the MTL gallery in Brussels for five days and nights. His solitary act and refusal to allow the gallery space its role in visual presentation was the ‘exhibition’, with only a published version of the texts he wrote during his stay in the gallery as material trace.

Martin Maloney’s contribution to David Lamelas’ Publication, Nigel Greenwood Gallery, London, 1970.

For his exhibition at the Lisson Gallery in London that same year, he painted the walls black and wrote lines of conversation and provocation on them during the gallery’s opening hours to incite the visitors who came to communicate with him. Little, if anything, is left of these meetings of the conceptual, the textual and the architectural, and one has the sense that this is somehow as Maloney wanted it.

Maloney was active as a conceptual artist in the ‘60s close to the likes of Lawrence Weiner, Carl Andre, Joseph Kosuth and Dan Graham. He made his material pile sculptures and conceptual projects alongside a vast body of intricately shaped canvases, highly structured language pieces, box sculptures, and painted statements on canvas.

Poster “Here To Stay”
 

To see some of what remains of this work on exhibit is to feel a ricochet of influences, references, and dialogues (with Weiner and Andre, of course, but also Frank Stella, Robert Smithson, Gordon Matta-Clark, Arte Povera…). Over time, however, he managed to alienate himself from his fellow artists, galleries, collectors, curators and art history alike. With the exhibition’s end, the works on show will travel to museum spaces that share little of the precariousness that make a building in ruin a fitting context for the artist’s complex, volatile work.

The form of the works and their dialogue with space will necessarily change, and Maloney would probably never have accepted such an exhibition at all. As he knew too well, white walls are animals indeed

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Ger van Elk (1941-2014) and the Art & Project Bulletins

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Ger van Elk was one of the gallery artists from Art & Project and made 7 Bulletins for the gallery. ( all 7 are available at www.ftn-books.com)

over a period of 15 years he published within the series the following numbers Bulletin 19, 55, 65, 74, 100, 132 and 139

elk bulletin 19 b

Each different in its approach of the medium and all very much worth collecting. Her are some examples of the Bulletins.

 

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Charlotte Posenenske (1930-1985)

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The works of Charlotte Posenenske (Wiesbaden, 1930-Frankfurt am Main, 1985) consist of series in an unlimited edition. According to a number 0f rules, they can be made and repeated – also by others – and combined with each other. With her radical and ‘democratic’ ideas about material, production and authorship, Charlotte Posenenske influenced and shaped conceptual and minimalist art of the sixties.

Minimalist series

Charlotte Posenenske began as a painter, but she felt limited by the flat surface and soon moved on to creating spatial works. The forms of Series B (1967) are hung as reliefs on the wall, but also placed as objects in the spatial environment. This is followed in 1968 by Series D and Series DW, whose format and shape are reminiscent of ventilation shafts.

Participation

Although Charlotte Posenenske did not consider herself to be a political artist, she had a clear and strong vision of societal relations, which in her view had to be rational, concrete, accessible and democratic. With her work she wanted to set a standard for this: the materials which she used like cardboard and steel are cheap, the works are sold for a fixed low price and the assembly and installation of her modular systems can be done by ‘everyone’: buyers, exhibition makers, and even the public. Posenenske’s social engagement is also expressed through the installations she created in public spaces, such as airports, train stations, conference rooms and on the street.

Contemporary artists and Posenenske

Disappointed in the social scope of art, Charlotte Posenenske left the art world in 1968 to study sociology. Her work and views remain however points of reference for younger generations of artists. The text above comes from the Museum Kroller Muller site. This Museum has a retrospective exhibition on Posenenske until the 15th of September

www.ftn-books.com has some nice publications in which Posenenske made some contributins. Since there is a longtime connection between the Netherlands  and the artist it happens that some of the most important publications have been published in the Netherlands. Specially the former Art & Project has presented her works on several occasions.

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Lawrence Weiner (1942) + discount

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Lawrence Weiner and the Netherlands is a combination which now exists for almost 50 years. His connections with dutch directors and curators is legendary and he has made several special projects with them in dutch. Weiner is considered as a post minimal artist and one of the founders of Conceptual art and that is the reason why his works blend so well within the collections of the more important dutch museum. The van Abbemuseum, Stedelijk and Gemeentemuseum have all works by Weiner in their collections.

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But Weiner is much more than a conceptual artist. He is a book designer and poet at the same time  and these little sketches with words can be blown up into facades and objects with words. One of the most memorable to me was the facade at the Ljubljana Modern Art museum with a Weiner object on one of the outside museum walls. Impredssive, recognizable. So to celebrate the longtime history that Lawrence Weiner has with the Netherlands there is a discount this week of 10%  on all items at www.ftn-books.com . use the discountcode : LawrenceWeiner10 and receive a 10% discount on all items including some marvelous Lawrence Weiner publications.

weiner sm a

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Art & Project bulletins (1968-1989)

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Adriaan van Ravesteijn and Geert van Beijeren are in my opinion the most important gallery owners in the history of (dutch) Modern Art. Their gallery was for decades the venue for conceptual art and many important artists have found  in this gallery their starting point for their career.

Art & Project was an institution in the art scene and this was emphasized by publication of their Bulletins , which were published on a regular basis between 1968 and 1989.

bulletins 1-156

In total there were 156 bulletin published and i am proud to say that www.ftn-books.com has BULLETINS available by the following artists: Andre, Antonakos, Boezem, Breuker, Brouwn, Buren, Berghuis, Barry, Camesi, Charlton, Clemente, Chia, Cucchi, Cragg, Dibbets, Darboven, van Elk, Fulton, Flanagan, Giese , Gilbert & George, Knoebel, Leavitt, Long, Lord, Maconey, Mclean, Paladino, Pope, Ryman, Ruckriem, Rosenthal, Ruppersberg, Rajlich, Struycken, Salvo, Tremlett, Tordoir, Visser, Verhoef, Weiner, Yamazaki and the 1972 Catalogue of our Bulletins

( for more information and the “Bulletin” numbers available please inquire)

43 artist of the gallery Art & Project now available at www.ftn-books.com

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Marinus Boezem (1934)

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Marinus Boezem (1934) belongs, together with Jan Dibbets and Ger van Elk, among the most important representatives of the Conceptual Art and Arte Povera movement in The Netherlands. In the 1960s, Boezem discovered that he could use elusive elements such as air, weather, wind and light as visual materials and made a name with radical, immaterial works that were far ahead of their time. Boezem was one of the initiators of the ground-breaking exhibition ‘Op Losse Schroeven: Situaties en Cryptostructuren’ (1969) at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam and took part in the equally influential exhibition ‘When Attitudes Become Form’ at the Kunsthalle Bern in the same year.

In 1969 he created one of his most famous works of art, ‘Signing the Sky Above The Port of Amsterdam With an Aeroplane, 1969’: exactly as stated in its title, an aircraft’s condensation trails were used to spell out Boezem’s surname in the sky, the ephemeral wording disappearing almost as soon as it was created. In 1971 he made an artwork for television that was broadcast under the auspices of Gerry Shum’s legendary Fernseh Gallery. Furthermore, Boezem created numerous works in public space and land art. The Green Cathedral is a beautiful example: 174 Italian poplar trees are planted to reproduce the floor plan and measurements of the Cathedral at Reims, in a flat polder near Almere, the Netherlands.

In an oeuvre spanning more than sixty years, Marinus Boezem has created a body of work that stands quite independently in contemporary art. His works are part of many important museum collections, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam; Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam; Gemeentemuseum Den Haag; Museum Kröller-Muller, Otterloo; Museum Voorlinden, Wassenaar; and many more public art collections.

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Sigurdur Gudmundsson (1942)

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Gudmundsson has a loyal following in the Netherland. That must be because he has been present in multiple group exhibitions and solo exhibitions in both museums and art galleries. The Stedelijk Museum presented this artist on several occasions and the catalogues’/ artist books published with these are in high demand. The “Circles” book for instance has been sdold out with me for over 5 years and i have not found another copy at a reasonable price. The same with ” Situations” sold out and nowhere to be found anymore.

Gudmundssons works fascinate. These are symbiosis of IN SITU and performance. Making this a true conceptual artis whose works have been spread all over the world.

Gudmundsson studied in the Netherlands at ao Ateliers 63 and after that study settled in the Netherlands and launched his career in the 1960s as a member of the legendary Icelandic SÚM group. His public sculptures can now be found widely, including in Rotterdam, Groningen and Den Haag in the Netherlands. He later became a teacher at the AKI in Enschede. He is now living in China, the artist prides himself of having been a foreigner for the past 50 years and i am curious to learn how this does influence his works. www.ftn-books.com has still some nice Gudmundsson titles available.

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John Baldessari sings LeWitt

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John Baldessari is a conceptual artist. Personally i am not the greatest fan of his work, but because of his approach to the the work of Sol LeWitt i have this one publication that is very special and of course typical Baldessari and available at www.ftn-books.com

baldessari lewitt

Initially a painter, Baldessari began to incorporate texts and photography into his canvases in the mid-1960s. In 1970 he began working in printmaking, film, video, installation, sculpture and photography. He has created thousands of works that demonstrate—and, in many cases, combine—the narrative potential of images and the associative power of language within the boundaries of the work of art. His art has been featured in more than 200 solo exhibitions in the U.S. and Europe. His work influenced Cindy Sherman, David Salle, Annette Lemieux, and Barbara Kruger among others.

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Pieter Laurens Mol (1946) an artists artist

 

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Pieter Laurens Mol has had his exhibitions over the last 4 decades and is appreciated by many of his fellow conceptual artists, but is lesser known by the greater public and collectors alike. His works are a hard act to follow. The concept is always there, but with being there it is almost always impossible to truly like and enjoy the work because of its appearance. Mol has created his own dreamlike world in which he lives and which produces now and then some great imaginative art, but beside his strong circle of admirers he stays an artists artist.

http://www.pieterlaurensmol.com

This dreamlike world and control over his world, resulted in some great publications of which many of them are more or less complete artists books. Linnen bound , some numbered or signed make them highly collectable books and www.ftn-books.com has some of them available.  You never can fathom the depths of his works, but a nice way to start with his world is to learn something about it by reading these books.

 

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Robert Ryman (1930)

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People who follow this blog know of my admiration for Minimal Art and for me Minimal Art includes the work by Robert Ryman. I hesitated to start with this sentence because many believe Robert Ryman is not a Minimal painter but more of a painter who makes monochrome works of art. Still ,when searching on Google for Ryman he is by many categorized as “Minimal”.

Often allied with Minimalist, Conceptual Art, and Monochrome Painting, Robert Ryman has painted works in which theme and medium are one. A majority of his paintings feature only white or off-white paint on square canvases, varying in scale and texture and draw the eye toward the nature of the brush strokes and the depth of paint. To further heighten the effect of subtle variations in technique, Ryman manipulates how each work is hung on the wall, playing with the frames themselves as well as with each painting’s distance from the wall. For example, the eleven-panel Vector (1975/1997) comprises 11 wood units of the same size painted in white and hung equidistant from one another, the empty spaces on the walls between the panels echoing the nuanced texture and forms of the panels themselves. A great painter and one of the last from his generation of Minimal artists. www.ftn-books.com has some nice publications on Ryman available.