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Marie-Jo Lafontaine (1950)

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An artist who’s works i encounter regularly whenever i visit a European museum is Marie-Jo Lafontaine. Hardly known outside Europe but one of the better known contemporary artists since her Documenta appearance in 1987. The famous Kassel exhibition was at that time curated by Rudi Fuchs and Lafontaine made a name for herself with Larmes d’Acier

This does not mean that her works before 1987 were not interesting. They certainly were , but Video related art is not the most accessible kind of art and these installations by Lafontaine . are no exception. Still the importance of her works is recognized by many and one hopes that a retrospective will be held in the near future. Showing the true quality of her poetic video art.

there are some Marie-Jo Lafontaine books available at www.ftn-books.com

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Jan Maaskant (1939)

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Jan Maaskant is a dutch sculptor who name rose in some way to fame when he was selected by Rudi Fuchs to contribute to the Documenta 7 in 1982. Influenced by Brancusi and Laurens his works to me feel more close to the Minimal Art of Sol LeWitt and Carl Andre. An excellent example of one of his Minimalistic sculptures can be found in the garden of the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag near the Schamhart pavillion / Fotomuseum.

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Maaskant has a long history with the Gemeentemuseum and because Hans Locher ( former director) was an admirer like Rudi Fuchs was, a publication was initialized. Jan Maaskant received an unplanned publication. An important book, published in a small edition. The book sold badly , but is now one of the hardest to find Gemeentemuseum publications. The book is available at www.ftn-books.com

 

 

 

Maaskant is als beeldhouwer autodidact. Hij werd aanvankelijk beïnvloed door beeldhouwers als Henri LaurensConstantin Brâncuşi en Julio González, maar vanuit het gesloten, compacte beeldhouwwerk ging hij naar de compositie van de open vorm, samengesteld uit zelfstandige elementen, waarbij een grote rol is weggelegd voor maat, afstand, richting en indeling.

Maaskant werd in 1982 door hoofdcurator Rudi Fuchs geselecteerd voor deelname aan documenta 7, maar viel uiteindelijk af. In 1985 werd hij docent beeldhouwen aan de Christelijke Academie voor Beeldende Kunsten in Kampen (thans de ArtEZ Art & Design Zwolle). Het werk van Maaskant is minimalistisch en wordt gerekend tot de geometrischabstracte kunst. In zijn werk probeert Maaskant architectuur en beeldhouwkunst te verenigen. Hij creëert zowel ruimtelijke structuren als tweedimensionale wandreliëfs, die op enige afstand voor de wand worden geplaatst om de zwaarte van de structuur terug te dringen.

Het werk van Maaskant bevindt zich in de collectie van onder andere het Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam, het Gemeentemuseum Den Haag in Den Haag, het Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven en het Kröller-Müller Museum in Otterlo.

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Hap Grieshaber (1909-1981)

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Hap Grieshaber is one of the great graphik artist from the 20th Century.

Personally i consider Hap Grieshaber, H.N.Werkman and Josua Reichert to be the top in graphic artists from the 20th century. Reichert is the best, but Grieshaber and Werkman are close in second spot.

Grieshaber is a typical 50’s /60’s artist. The first time i encountered his works i had a strong asscociation with the Catholic bid prints, inserted and collected in bibles by young people in the early 60’s.

But there is so much more to be discovered in his works than simple figures. The combination of abstract patterns in the background of slhouetted figures are typical Greishaber and make the composition to appear totally abstract. Willem Sandberg was a Grieshaber admirer and together they made one of the most iconic of all Sandberg / Stedelijk Museum catalogues

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This and other Grieshaber publications are available at www.ftn-books.com

Grieshaber was honoured with numerous prizes and retrospective exhibitions. He exhibited works at the documenta in 1959 and 1964. In honor of his 70th birthday in 1979, large retrospectives were shown in various museums in both parts of Germany. The last prize that Grieshaber was awarded in 1980 was the art prize of the town of Konstanz. Grieshaber died in 1981 in Eningen unter Achalm aged 72 years.

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Markus Lüpertz ( 1941)… a dandy painter

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Another of the artists Rudi Fuchs presented at the Stedelijk Museum was Markus Lüpertz . Fuchs is one of his biggest fans and because of that Lupertz was presented in 3 large retropsectives in the Netherland in the last 3 decades. There were exhibitions at the Stedelijk, Gmeentemuseum and van Abbemuseum. Lupertz was and is considered by many curator a true master painter known for his expressively rendered paintings and sculptures, which often merge abstraction and representation. His career first gained traction in the early 1960s, and he was the head of the Düsseldorf Art Academy, one of Germany’s most acclaimed art schools, for 22 years. In his work, Lüpertz combines references to popular culture, biblical and mythological themes and protagonists, and his country’s history and culture, including the Nazi era. His series of paintings of military helmets and other wartime symbols caused controversy in the 1970s, initiating a fraught relationship between him and the viewing public. “You cannot understand the artist in his time, you can only love or hate him,” Lüpertz has said.

www.ftn-books.com has some nice Markus Lüpertz publications available.

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Maria Lassnig ( 1919-2014 )

Tate Modern announced her last year show as follows….The first UK retrospective of one of the twentieth century’s most original painters… and she definitely is. The Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam held a retrospective 23 years ago and she proved to be a highly original artist with a completely different approach to her subjects, sometimes very personal, making her own body the subject of a painting. Lassnig made informal paintings, abstract expressionist paintings was educated in and made animation art and showed her paintings during the Documenta which was curated by Rudi Fuchs in Kassel. During his first years of his directorship of the Stedelijk Museum, Fuchs invited her for a large retrospective in 1994 in the Stedelijk. More than 23 years before the Tate the STedelijk Museum recognized her qualities as an artist. Time after time i come to realize that the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam is possibly the most trend setting museum in the world of Modern Art. The Maria Lassnig catalogue is available at www.ftn-books.com

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Jan Hoet (1936-2014) and Chambres d’Amis.

(drawing by Marlene Dumas )

It has been already almost 3 years that Jan Hoet died, but since his death no one has taken his place. He was truly innovative with his exhibitions and next to Rudi Fuchs , they probably were the best from their generation of curators of Contemporary Art.

His international reputation was first established by “Chambres d’Amis,” an innovative exhibition he organized in Ghent in 1986. In that show, about 50 American and European artists were invited to create works for 50 private homes in Ghent, which were then opened to the public for several weeks. Followed a few years later by Open Mind and his Documenta IX in which he performed as a boxer established his name as one of the very best in his field. His last great project was over the edges. 4 giant exhibitions spread over 2 decades made him one of the absolute best.

The Museum in Gent , his long lasting love SMAK, which he served as a curator and director from 1975 until 2003 was his laboratory for the greater projects he organized outside this Museum rooms. www.ftn-books.com is fortunate to have some very nice titles of his exhibitions. including the Chambres d’Amis which is getting scarce these days.

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Hans Bellmer ( 1902 -1975)

Hans Bellmer poster
Hans Bellmer poster

Is Bellmer a dadaist or a surrealist painter?

A discussion which is held for decades now, but to me he is more  a surrealist artist than a Dada one.

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Born in Poland, but living most of his life in Paris he led a secluded life and died a lonely man in 1975. After his dead the appreciation for his art began. Books were published, exhibitions held and his works were sold all over the world, but during his lifetime he was not that well known, nor popular because of his chosen subjects.

Finally in the last decade of his life he was considered one of the leading surrealist artist from his time and specially the photo series on the doll/ “La poupée”  he made received international praise. His main theme in practically all of his works is an erotic approach to his subjects. Fetishism, voyeurism and sado masochism can frequently be found in his subjects, but the erotic content is not easily discovered. In most cases you have to study the composition of the work to distinguish the erotic parts within.

Finally in 1959 and 1964 he received some recognition by being invited for the Documenta in Kassel.

From 1953 Bellmer lived together with the writer Unica Zürn . A sad relationship , lonely , without any social activities, living in a secluded way in hotel de l’Esperance in Paris. Unica threw herself out of the window in 1970 and Bellmer died a lonely man in 1975. A sad life of a great artist . If you do not know anything about Bellmer start with Wikipedia and learn something about him and begin to discover the surreal world he has created.There are some great titles at www.ftn-books.com to be found on this fascinating artist.