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Willem Sandberg… Experimenta Typographica 1943 – 68.

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As you can read in the title , Willem Sandberg experimented with typography and designs.

During the occupation by the Germans he published experimental books with his own typography. Mostly a combination of very original and personal lay-out and torn out letters, making these publications unique. Unique because of their chosen size, material, printing ,their design and the very limited numbers in which they were produced.

Sandberg produced nineteen pamphlets between December 1943 and April 1945, making a couple of copies of each one, all done by hand. They consisted of twenty to sixty pages of drawings, collages, and texts, which were either written by Sandberg himself or quoted from Confucius, Proudhon, Stendhal, and other favorite writers on themes like love, death, education, architecture, and typography. As Sandberg had no money and materials were scarce in wartime, he improvised by using whatever he could find: scraps of wallpaper, cardboard packaging, tissue paper, and wrapping paper together with photographs, drawings, and symbols torn from magazines for his collages.

The originals are very very rare and exceptionally hard to find. Luckily some of the dutch publishers decided to make some reprints and make them in this way available for other admirers. These reprints are getting more scarce every year now, but www.ftn-books.com still has some available.

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Anthon Beeke (1940-2018)

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This morning i learned that one of the greatest of all dutch graphic designers, Anton Beeke, died in an Amsterdam hospital, yesterday on the 25th of September. Born in 1940 he soon became part of Fluxus and Provo and was one of the famous names in the AMSTERDAM art world in the sixties. He even became later a contributing partner of Total Design, the agency which was founded by Wim Crouwel ao. I mention this because where Total design was one of the first agencies to apply the computer in designing, Beeke stayed true to his own method, the typical way of composing an image with “camera, scissors and glue”.

His images are strong and stood out and drew immediate attention to the subject. One of his best known designs was the alphabet composed with nude woman.

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It was a meant and searched for reaction on the New Alphabet by Crouwel. There are several Beeke publications available at www.ftn-books.com

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Steven Aalders (1959) … and Irma Boom

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There are 3 reasons why i like the works by Steven Aalders.

  • First of all these are contructivist paintings which i think belong to the best produced in the Netherlands these days
  • Second . One of the best exhibitions held at the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag was the Steven Aalders exhibition held in 2010
  • Third.. With the exhibition an Irma Boom designed catalogue was sold at the Gemeentemuseum shop and i think this is one of the best Irma Boom ordinary books she has made in the last 10 years. ( This book is available at www.ftn-books.com)

enough reasons to write this blog on Steven Aalders and recommend to follow this artist in the future, because his art is a little different from the other constructivist painter and deserves to be known outside the Netherlands too.

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Steven Aalders is well known for his exact painted constructive oil paintings, where he deals with and continues the concept of modernism of Piet Mondrian, De Stijl and American Minimal Art. At his first exhibition in Munich Aalders shows a new body of work on the issue “Red, Yellow and Blue”, where the areas of the color fields follow the “Golden Ration”. An extensive retrospective catalogue was published in 2010 for his solo exhibited at the Gemeentemuseum, Den Haag. Steven Aalders, born in 1959, lives and works in Amsterdam.

 
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Wim Crouwel and the van Abbemuseum

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Before Wim Crouwel became the main designer for all publications published by the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam in in the 60’s, 70’s and early Eighties (TD). There was a short 4 years that he made some beautiful publications for the van Abbemuseum Eindhoven. In these you can recognize the early Wim Crouwel. Size, use of multiple ( colored) papers, typography and layout are all typical for the early Wim Crouwel. www.ftn-books.com is fortunate to have a nice selection of these early WimCrouwel designed publications. Pictures tell a better story than words can . In this case , this certainly true. So here are some nice van Abbemuseum publications by Wim Crouwel.

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Don Judd at the van Abbemuseum in 1970

This was after the presentation at the Haags Gemeentemuseum ( 1968) the 2nd exhibition within a short period of time Donald Judd received in the Netherlands. This time ( 1970) in the van Abbemuseum curated by Jean Leering, but what makes this for me even more special are 2 reasons.

The first is …i had never found the Judd catalogue before. I knew it existed , but never one was offered anywhere and secondly the design was done by one of the greats in dutch graphic design …Jan van Toorn.

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And ….now i have one! it was hidden between a lot of books , but i found an excellent copy. What makes it even more special is that the cover is executed in gold and i believe that the design is done by Judd himself and executed in silkscreen. In those days editions where rarely more than 1000 copies and my guess is this edition is even less. So there you are…finally at www.ftn-books.com this rare Donald Judd / Don Judd for sale. It is one of the rare occasions that you can offer a truly rare publications and this one certainly is.

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Another rare Wim Crouwel designed catalogue

Last weeks i presented the GEDRUKT IN JAPAN catalogue from the Stedelijk Museum as one of the best from the sixties by Wim Crouwel.

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Now there is another one which is far less known, extremely rare and a typical Wim Crouwel design. Year of publications is 1977. A publication year in which Wim Crouwel was part of the Total Design agency and worked ao. together with Daphne Duyvelshof. The catalogue was commissioned by an institution that wanted to present contemporary Hungarian art in The Netherlands. From the names presented only a few have become popular in Modern Art. Among them Dora Maurer who had her exhibitions all over Europe since, but most of them stayed rather obscure names in art.

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The catalogue however has become important because of the design. A very nice “construction ” of horizantal and vertical letter. The colors used are from the Hungarian national flag, making it immediately clear what the subject is about. The catalogue and Maurer print areavailable at www.ftn-books.com

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Furniture catalogues…. impressive and highly collectable

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Many of you have sometime in their lives took home a furniture catalogue. No, not the one from IKEA  or Habitat, but one from one of the more prestigious designers like Vitra, Herman Miller, Alessi, Foscarelli or Cassina. These are the ones that matter and because they have almost unlimited funds for promotion at their sisposal their catalogues belong to the very best. The best photographers, designers and printers are selected and with them they make beautiful timeless books/catalogues/editions for their products. Even better….because they are just promotional material many of these are lost or replaced making them scarce and highly collectable items. To start a collection ….just visit your local furnituer mall, selct the best store with the most prestigious furniture name and ask them for some product catalogues so you can do your choosing at home. My guess is you will leave the store with a bundle of catalogues and have started your own collection. Beside these free publications some of these companies have their own line of publications. One of them is Cassina who have produced several prestigious books on their products and designers over the decades. www.ftn-books.com has the ones on Le Corbusier and Mackintosh now for sale.

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Piet Warffemius (1956)

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It took me 2 decades to finally appreciate Piet Warffemius his works. Personally i was not that much convinced by his early graphic works , but from the moment he depicted branches and leaves in his paintings and translated them into cortensteel “outside” sculptures, i was convinced of their quality and now we have almost 7 years now our own Warffemius sculpture ” van een naar twee” in our garden.

It is not unique, it comes from an edition of 5 copies but that does not matter. For us it was our first and until now our only outside sculpture. The most beautiful aspect is that the sculpture present itself differnntly with the change of the seasons. Cortensteel is not a evry friendly material but corrosion gives it a beautful reddisch browm patine which blends perfect with flowers and plants.

Since i have been collecting Warffemius books and found some extra ones which are now for sale at www.ftn-books

 

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Wim Crouwel and the Stuyvesant Foundation, 1971

1971 is the year the Stuyvesant Stichting existed 10 years and invited Wim Crouwel for their yearly publication. They had done so on other occasions and Crouwel was their preferred designer. The design in 1971, silver fond, blind printing on the cover and a small font above the middle line.

What strikes me is that in its simplicity and looking much alike the Zero exhibition catalogues form the late Sixties he had done for the Stedelijk Museum. Crouwel found a way to make it special and typically a Wim Crouwel design. The size is familiar. the lay out of the pages too, but the cover is different. He uses a small font for the STUYVESANT STICHTING in a very delicate light blue color on a silver printed fond. This was not the easiest of prints jobs , because beside the silver fond a blind printed title in the cover had to be made. The printer Lecturis did a perfect job with this exclusive publication. It has taken me 15 years to finally find a copy of this highly collectable Wim Crouwel designed book, but now it is for sale at www.ftn-books.com. I now hope it will not take me another 15 years to find the next copy.


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Centraal Museum Utrecht and book design

Every decade in Dutch design and typography has its own specialties. In the Interbellum there was the photomontage, Isotype and typography by Zwart, Schuitema and Arntz. After WWII , the Stedelijk MUseum was a source of inspiration for its director Willem Sandberg who made beautiful catalogues for his exhibitions in the Stedelijk. In the late fifties and early sixties Benno Wissing and Wim Crouwel lead the way in design, followed by the Total Design agency who had a leading role in dutch design in the seventies and eighties, which brings us to the Nineties. Here it becomes interesting. The large museums in the Netherlands practically all had their contracts with dutch “house” designers. Walter Nikkels for the van Abbemuseum, Swip Stolk for the Groninger Museum and Gracia Lebbink for the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag were such designers. And then there is the Centraal Museum. They had a very consistent publication program in which design , specially sized/formatted books and bindings were very important. www.ftn-books.com has some excellent examples of these publications for sale . I knew of course of these publications, but when i rearranged some of my inventory, it struck me that these publications are and will become more important in the world of book design every year from now. These publications are still available at reasonable prices , but it will not be long before others will recognize the importance of these books too.