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James Brown (1951)

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Of course James Brown deserves a blog. It is one of those artists who has become important for us Europeans since he has had exhibitions in the Netherlands ( Livingstone gallery ao) and Belgium in the last few decades in which we could see his paintings . Some of these catalogues are available at www.ftn-books.com. What follows now is the information you can find on Brown on Wikipedia.

Born in Los Angeles, California, he received at BFA from Immaculate Heart College, Hollywood. He then spent years in Paris, and attended the Ecole Superieure des Beaux Arts, Paris, France. He rebelled against the classical training there, which he considered irrelevant, but stayed as he wanted to stay in Paris. Tours of Europe seeing renaissance and especially medieval painting of Italy influenced his work. During the 1980s, his paintings, mixing the modernist tradition of painterly application and adherence to the picture surface with clear influences from tribal art. In the early 1980s he began exhibiting in New York, and in this decade this work became a hit in the galleries and art press, sharing a look with the Bad Painting and young neo-expressionism of the East Village painters of the time. On 12 September 1987 he married Alexandra Condon, who was studying History of Art at NYU at the time. They had known each other for little more than ten years. Despite some time on the East and West coast of New York, he continued to live in Paris. With the fading of the East Village art scene he had increasingly shown in European galleries, where his work was now seen in the context of a post-war European modernism in the tradition of Jean Dubuffet. James and Alexandra had their first child, Degenhart Maria Grey Brown, on 24 September 1989 in New York. In 1991 their second boy, Cosmas And Damian Maria Todosantos Brown, was born on 6 June in Paris. On 16 April 1993, their daughter was born, Dagmar Maria Jane Brown, in New York. In 1995 he moved out to the valley of Oaxaca (Mexico) with his family, where they lived in a hacienda for nine years. During that time, James Brown continued exhibiting in Europe, the United States and Mexico. He and his wife collaborated with various artists, making rugs in a village in the mountains of Oaxaca. The rugs were made in the traditional Mexican fashion, weaved by hand on large wooden frames. Jamaes and Alexandra then decided to start making books with artists, so they started Cape Diem Press. Like the rugs, these books are printed in Oaxaca using old-fashioned and traditional methods. The books are printed in limited editions, and Carpe Diem Press continues to collaborate with artists. In 2004, they moved to the city of Mérida, in the Yucatán. Since then James Brown has been spending much time in Europe, exhibiting his work in France, Germany, Italy and Holland. He has been working mostly in Paris.

His work has taken on several styles over the years, but maintains a hand-made look combining concerns of the modernist tradition with motifs and spiritual interests from tribal art. Much of his work is a non-realistic but contains depictions or signs of recognizable faces or objects. More recently he has done more in an abstract mode. However, the line between representation and abstraction is often a difficult one in his work, such as his more recent “Firmament Series” – abstract canvases that can also be read as referring to constellations or stars, or groups of rocks. Besides paintings Brown has also produced sculptures and series of prints at various points in his career, and in the 1990s started to heavily utilize collage. Drawing and other unique works on paper have been important to his artistic development and production. In an Artforum review of a 25-year retrospective, Martha Schwendener noted “The works range from abstract gouaches to biomorphic and figurative watercolors to collages that update the synthetic Cubist experiments of Picasso and Braque.

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Pat Andrea in the USA?

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I still have not found why there is such a raise in interest in Pat Andrea from the US.

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Last week i sold 2 of the best publications on this gifted dutch artist . Both to US collectors and galeries. They must know what they were doing , since these were not cheap publications, but the very best and rare books on Pat Andrea ever published. There was the Gemeentemuseum Catalogues with its main theme of Alice in Wonderland and ….The Schiedam catalogue of the 1994 retrospective on the artist. Arguably this is the better book of both, because paintings are depicted at a slightly bigger size and in many cases spread over 2 pages. Both highly collectable and better still….i have the Stedelijk Museum Schiedam catalogue available beside some other very nice and highly collectable Pat Andrea publications.

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Hans Hartung (1904-1989)

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One of the exhibitions i thought to be one of the very best during the time i was working at the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, was one curated by Franz Kaiser on the abstract artist Hans Hartung . Just one word describes the exhibition….impressive.

It showed that the art Hartung created was not just random, but a well thought over creation of abstract art in which a small sketch was turned into a large painting.

Here is the text on the exhibition:

Hans Hartung (b. Dresden, 1904) was regarded as one of the founding fathers of French Lyric Abstractionism, the European counterpart of American Abstract Expressionism: a term in which the word Expressionism refers to an extremely physical and spontaneous manner of painting. The members of the movement wanted, as it were, to work out their emotions on the canvas without any form of symbolism.

Hartung’s paintings displayed a plain ground covered with rough and apparently spontaneous brushwork, with all the paint spatters and brush marks that go with that way of painting. After his death, therefore, people were astounded when the study of unfinished pictures revealed that his paintings had not in fact been created in a wild and spontaneous way, but by carefully filling in predetermined outlines based in every detail, right down to the smallest flecks of paint, on sketches prepared in advance. This exhibition, which the Gemeentemuseum is holding to mark the hundredth anniversary of Hartung’s birth, reveals an artist who would better be described as a conceptual artist, were it not for the fact that conceptual art did not exist as a movement when he produced his works. In this first Dutch retrospective of Hans Hartung’s work, early drawings are presented next to the equivalent paintings, and early versions alongside later versions. The similarities in terms of motif are astonishing.

More about Hans Hartung: www.fondationhartungbergman.fr

There are some nice publications on Hartung available at www.ftn-books.com

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Barbara Nanning (1957)..organic shapes in glass and ceramics.

Born in Den Haag, Barbara Nanning made herself an artist career in glass and ceramic objects. With one contant…. almost all her works look to be inspired by nature and organisms. Just take a look at this screenprint from Google and see for yourself what i mean. The objects look like corals, shells, plants and organs. These are heavily inspired by nature and the feeling i get from them differs. Some of them i wat to touch and caress and with others i feel unease. It is nice that these feelings are called on to you and it is a certwain quality of the art of Babara Nanning. The is one artist who gives me the same mixed feelings as Nanning does. Emil Schumacher has the same effect on me ( see the blog on Schumacher from a few years ago).

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There is an excellent book on Nanning for sale at www.,ftn-books.com