Most people do not know that dutch architects Mart Stam and Johan Niegeman actually taught at the Bauhaus institute. Even Piet Zwart taught at the Bauhaus, but he must be the absolute champion in the shortest of periods he taught over there….only 3 weeks.
Still Niegman taught almost 2 years at the Bauhaus and was influenced by the Bauhaus in such a way that the projects fro the rest of his career were very much influenced by the BAUHAUS principles and the projects his fellow architects realized over there. The “architectuur Museum” recognized the importance of Niegeman and published a wonderful publication on NIegeman. A true Wim Crouwel designed book which is still up to date and one of the only publications on Niegeman. Available at http://www.ftn-books.com
It has been a long time since i encountered the No. 183 catalogue ,published by the Stedelijk Museum in 1958. The publication is a leporello like publication which folds out and describes the contributions by three French artists. The design done by Willem Sandberg makes this one stand out and it is one of the most scarce publications by the Stedelijk Museum. The artists André Bloc, Claude Parent and Charlotte Perriand. an absolute must have for the admirers of these artists and a highly collectable item for all interested in the Stedelijk Museum publications. (now available at www.ftn-books.com)
The second one is even more scarce and it is one i never have encountered before in all these years that i sell Stedelijk Museum publications. Designed by Wim Crouwel it is only a 4 page publication. Specially made for the Werkgroep Plakat Praag / Politieke affiches uit Tsjechoslowakije ( ODPOVĒDNOST)/ 1965. This is another highly desirable item for Stedelijk Museum/Crouwel collectors.
Born Rumanian, but living for most of his life in France. From the early Fifties on, France had a very lively comic art scene. This surely has been an influence since his cartoon-like drawings were strongly rooted in this kind of art in France BD / Bandes Dessinees) became increasingly popular and so did the art by André François. This was picked up by Willem Sandberg who curated an exhibition on André François in 1966. Catalogue design by Wim Crouwl makes this one of my personal favourite catalogues from the Sixties. the article below was published in the Guardian some years ago…..and of course www.ftn-books.com has the 1966 Stedelijk Museum catalogue available.
André François born André Farkas in 1915 was an illustrator known for his satirical cartoons and comics. He was born in Romania and but eventually moved to Paris. He was a left-wing Jewish and during WWII he hid away from the Germans, and after the war moved to Grisy-les-Plâtres where he eventually passed away in 2005 after a long successful career.
Francois took his early inspiration from the Art Deco movement and the renowned illustrator A.M. Cassandre. When he moved to Paris he actually studied under Cassandre for some time.
He worked in many satirical publications in France and also in American publications like the New Yorker, Vogue, Holiday and Sports Illustrated. Beyond magazines he also worked in the realm of children’s book illustration, adult content illustration and within the advertising industry (as many illustrators of the time did). In advertising he often created visual puns usually. This usually involved turning inanimate objects into human forms as well as the opposite.
He became known in Paris for the sense of humour in his work, which he primarily completed in crude black and white ink drawings, with the occasional injection of vibrant colour. He became well-known and sought after by art directors in America after he published several anthologies of his cartoon work titled “The Penguin André François”, “The Tattooed Sailor and Other Cartoons From France” and “The Half-Naked Knight”. His obituary published in the New York Times describes his style perfectly: “François’ crude but sensual black-and-white brush drawings and starkly colored paintings, employing surreal and ironic juxtapositions, introduced serious whimsy to conservative commercial art. He also injected a comedic eroticism that broke various taboos.”
At the age of 86, his house underwent a terrible house fire and he lost almost all of his work. His friends report that he wanted to create a completely new set of work to replace that which was lost. In 2005 he died from heart and kidney failure.
What drew me to François’ work is the looseness and simplicity. It reminds me of another contemporary illustrator who I love named Manddy Wyckens. It also reminds me of the illustrations done by Jean-Jacques Sempé for the children’s comic Petit Nicolas. What I love about François’ work is that he doesn’t just create cute, or beautiful images, he is always saying something. While he aims to convey a message, he also doesn’t give the audience all of the puzzle pieces. Sometimes it takes a little longer to understand what the illustration means but when you understand it, it’s all the more rewarding.
I think part of the reason I’m attracted to his work is that I can relate to it as I feel that I am always trying to say something with my work, but often the results are crude drawings and paintings.
The looseness and simplicity is also something I love about his work. Being able to communicate a message with a style that seems effortless is commendable. Looseness and simplicity is something I would love to learn how to use in my own work so I will be sure to look to André François for future inspiration.
In the beginning, when I started with FTN books I had a hard time to distinguish Wim Crouwel his designs from the ones made by Daphne Duijveshoff. Later the differences became more clear to me. Duijvelshoff even had even more clean designs than Wim Crouwel had. Still, I sometimes make the error to think it is a Crouwel design I am looking at and to discover a few moments later that it is made by Daphne Duijvelshoff. They worked for a very long time together at Total design but she stopped with her design work in 2006. The excellent site on Dutch designers has done a special on her which can be found over here: https://www.dutchgraphicroots.nl/?p=2144
Last Thursday i encountered finally one of the list I was hoping to find for a long time. The list is made in the beginning of the Eighties when interest rose in acquiring and collecting the Stedelijk Museum publications. Since the start in the Mid ’30s from last century, over 1100 publications have been published by the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam and this list contains the numbers and titles of the first 500 numbered publications. Willem Sandberg, Piet Zwart and Wim Crouwel, 3 of the greatest of Dutch designers all can be found on this list and i noticed of the 500 titles on it I have over 400 currently available at http://www.ftn-books.com
Beside the one on the list, there are of course many others published by the Stedelijk Museum FTN books has available. Take a look, save and share this very important document. the list is in PDF format and can be downloaded with the link below:
The reason i started to read about Cornelius Rogge and his art is because some 12 years ago i encountered two publications by Rogge. The first and most important one was his TENTENPROJEKT (1976) and the second Battlefield (1997) . 21 years apart from each other but both of a rare quality. Here is what the Kroller Muller writes on his tent project:
These six, mysterious, brown tents are no ordinary tents. Some have the shape of a truncated pyramid or cone. Others are reminiscent of a wigwam, a dolmen or a ziggurat; a pyramidal temple building with terraces. But what contributes most to their unusual appearance is that none of the tents has an entrance.
What lies in the darkness of these tents? What secrets do they hold? Cornelius Rogge offers no concrete solutions or answers to these questions. With the inherently mundane object of the tent, he calls attention to the mysterious, the inexplicable. ‘Every culture always has mysteries that are inaccessible to people. And that mystery has disappeared in modern culture. Perhaps today’s art has the task of bringing back mystery’.
Over the years, the tents deteriorate and perish under the influence of the wind and weather. Rogge is also aware of this aspect of decay and impermanence. ‘Despite its concrete materialization, the subject of “the tent” is an image of decay, a vanitas symbol’, according to the artist.
These outdoor sculptures are among the largest sculptures collected in the Netherlands and because of their size you can not encounter time as much as i would like to see them, but here is a short film on Rogge in which you can see him at work in his studio.
A recent auction of famous movie poster by Sotheby’s inspired me to have another look at the 70’s Crouwel designed catalogue which was made for the Cuban poster exhibition at the Stedelijk Museum. In 1971 the Stedelijk Museum had the foresight of organizing a Cuban poster exhibition. They recognized the outstanding quality of these posters. Political images were presented in colorful and powerful posters, but the auction shows a different side of these Cuban posters. Their interpretation of famous classic western movies. The Cuban designs were “classic” films with a twist. These posters were used to advertise famous titles in Cuba. Their strong designs and vibrant colours recall Havana in its heyday. The Cuban poster catalogue from 1971 is available at www.ftn-books.com
Part of the inside of both publications is the same. Covers are the same , but here comes the difference. Backcovers are different and there are less pages in the Steendrukkerij de Jong catalogue. It is clear that Steendrukkerij de Jong used the same design by Wim Crouwel he made for the van Abbemuseum for this iconic Sixties catalogue. But where the van Abbemuseum is scarce, The Steendrukkerij de Jong publication is nowhere to be found anymore. This is probably because it was a simple “handout” publication for the exhibition at the printers. My guess is only a few hundred were printed and this is one of the only surviving ones. The publication is now available at www.ftn-books.com
Published within the Stedelijk Museum series with no. 50, designed by Willem Sandberg and with the “creme de la creme” of sculptors from France / Paris, this has arguably become one of the most important exhibitions and catalogues for the Stedelijk Museum from the Fifties. Within the catalogue you will encounter only the most famous of names. Here they are: Brancusi, Gonzales, Gargallo, Laurens, Arp, Chauvin, Zadkine, Lipchitz, Giacometti, Richier, Couturier and Auricoste. Another important aspect to this exhibition is the catalogue. It uses multiple kinds of brown and glossy papers, making this one of the first for a series of catalogues which were designed by Willem Sandberg in such a way for the Stedelijk Museum. This design was typical for Sandberg in the Fifties and he continued to use these papers throughout his career as a designer. Wim Crouwel broke with this tradition and presented a much cleaner, more contemporary design, but i admire these Sandberg catalogues and this is probably one of the very best and most important.
Robert Brooks Kitaj was born in the US but his art is closely related to the British Pop Art. I am writing this blog because i recently acquired a german catalogue on his exhibition at the Kunsthalle Dusseldorf and i was impressed. Later i learned that Kitaj received a lot of criticism on his art as the press slaughtered his exhibition at the Tate gallery in 1994. Her is what i found on Wikipedia
A second retrospective was staged at the Tate Gallery in 1994. Critical reviews in London were almost universally negative. British press savagely attacked the Tate exhibit, calling Kitaj a pretentious poseur who engaged in name dropping. Kitaj took the criticism very personally, declaring that “anti-intellectualism, anti-Americanism, and anti-Semitism” had fueled the vitriol. Despite the bad reviews, the exhibition moved to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and afterwards to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 1995. His second wife, Sandra Fisher died from hyperacute haemorrhagic leuco-encephalitis in 1994, shortly after his exhibition at the Tate Gallery had ended. He blamed the British press for her death, stating that “they were aiming for me, but they got her instead.” David Hockney concurred and said that he too believed the London art critics had killed Sandra Fisher. Kitaj returned to the US in 1997 and settled in Los Angeles, near his first son. “When my Wife died”, he wrote to Edward Chaney, “London died for me and I returned home to California to live among sons and grandsons – It was a very good move and now I begin my 3rd and (last?) ACT! hands across The Sea.” Three years later he wrote: “I grow older every day and rather like my hermit life.” The “Tate War” and Sandra’s death became a central themes for his later works: he often depicted himself and his deceased wife as angels. In Los Angeles No. 22 (Painting-Drawing) the beautiful young (and naked) girl records the shadow of her aged lover (on whose lap she sits) in a pose directly taken from the Scots Grand Tourist David Allan’s Origin of Painting. The latter was included by Ernst Gombrich in his 1995 National Gallery exhibition (and catalogue) on Shadows so that Kitaj would have seen it two years before he left England for ever.
Personally i think the critics are wrong. Kitaj deserves his place among the great European Pop Art artists and the future exhibitions that will include his works will probably prove me right. Some Kitaj catalogues are availableat http://www.ftn-books.com
Artist/ Author: Oliver Boberg
Title : Memorial
Publisher: Oliver Boberg
Measurements: Frame measures 51 x 42 cm. original C print is 35 x 25 cm.
signed by Oliver Boberg in pen and numbered 14/20 from an edition of 20