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David Hamilton (continued)

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A few years ago i wrote a blog on David Hamilton. It gavce some information on Hamilton as an artist, but now there is an absolute must read on Hamilton which ws recently published by Mutual Art magazine. Here it is :

The controversial work of the British photographer has long been part of the “art or pornography?” debate, a question to which there are no apparent answers.

Dreamscapes of nubile girls in French fields and farmhouses, an age of innocence teetering on that of womanhood; flowers and the thin fabric of dresses, all seen through the gentle distortion of a soft-focus lens. David Hamilton’s filmmaking and photography are quintessentially 1970s, a product of a time in which society was granted more freedom to explore avenues which may have been previously unchartered. But in today’s period of political correctness, collective guilt and finger pointing, where does it leave the viewer and lover of art? Does the rapidly changing world around us force us to now think and feel differently in terms of aesthetical enjoyment? And do purported wrongdoings on the artist’s part come into play?

There is a warmth emanating within a lot of Hamilton’s photography; washed out light seeping into pastel colors, diffused and surreal. There is also a great gentleness to his work; the images are delicate, as if they exist only amid a slow-fading memory. Hamilton is a master in this sense, possessing the capability to create a world of fragile dream or recollection. It is the same feeling one gets when they conjure up the almost-ancient reminiscences of childhood summers; a time brimming with the possibilities of life, of warm, languid days, when time seems to stand still.

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David Hamilton was born in London in 1933. During World War II he became an evacuee and spent time in the Dorset countryside, which would go on to influence his future work. At the age of twenty he moved to Paris where he worked as a graphic designer for Swiss fashion photographer Peter Knapp of Elle magazine. It was during this period that he began to make a name for himself. He returned to London to work as the art director for Queen magazine, but he soon returned to Paris. Back in the city he truly loved, he found work as art director for the city’s biggest department store, Printemps. Here, he started doing commercial photography on the side, and quickly gained success through his trademark grainy, dream-like style.
But with success the photographer also found defame. The public was either attracted or repulsed by the nudity and the subtle-not-so-subtle eroticism found in his images, and some critics summed up his work as trite. In the mid-90s, Hamilton stated that people “have made contradiction of nudity and purity, sensuality and innocence, grace and spontaneity. I try to harmonize them, and that’s my secret and the reason for my success.
While some have labelled David Hamilton’s work as pornographic, and some photographs are certainly erotic, numerous prints of his are almost completely devoid of sexuality. They are often platonic pieces, which aren’t intended to sexually arouse at all, similar to a nude cherub or statue. But his subjects are very real, which for the viewer can elicit a plethora of moralistic questions. Why was he posing young, semi-clothed girls in front of the camera? What exactly am I looking at here? Photography is a very poignant medium in this regard. With a painting, or a statue, there is some degree of removal between model and masterpiece — in capturing images on film there isn’t. The nude model is there before one’s eyes, the same as the artist looked upon amidst the throes of creation.Hamilton was an active photographer for most of his life, but after decades of shooting film and photography, sexual allegations began to surface, which he denied vehemently. Soon thereafter, he was found dead in his southern Paris apartment. An apparent suicide. In light of these allegations, is it our moral duty to have nothing more to do with Hamilton’s photography? Or is it acceptable to still appreciate the art? Do they even come into account at all? Afterall, the art hasn’t changed, only our perception of the artist, and what may have gone on behind the scenes. It is a difficult question, and one that only the individual can answer for him- or herself.

http://www.ftn-books.com has some David hamilton tiltles available

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Piet Dirkx weekly

Another beautiful Christmas/New Years card for 2008. In the bottom of the photograph are 4 drawings of Piet Dirkx ” flowers”

dirkx ny 2008

dirkx ny 2008 b

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Martin van Vreden (1952)

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Active as an artist , mainly painting, van Vreden has not become the household name in dutch modern art as expected . There is a very long list of exhibitions and through the years i started to admire his works.

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His paintings are timeless and in many cases inspired by nature and flowers. They are to be found in sometimes vague, but almost abstract compositions. According to the information on the internet he stopped painting in 2013 and started his own gallery (www.tegenboschvanvreden.com), but this does not mean that his paintings are no longer of interest. As said they are timeless and well worth to look for at auctions and internet sales. http://www.ftn-books.com has the van Vreden book WORKS 1990-1993 for sale.

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Margriet Smulders (1955) … intrigues

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I know the work of Margriet Smulders from the time she had her first exhibition at gallery Nouvelles Images in Den Haag and from this very start it intrigued me . I was not the kind of admirer of her work who wanted to buy a work for my collection, but still i admired her craftsmanship and excellent feel for composition. She mainly depicts and arranges flowers , which gives a very classic feel almost like you are looking at a 17th century painting, however these are not paintings but highly detailed photographs using glass and mirror surfaces to arrange the flowers which gives the perfect reflection.

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She has developed this technique into perfection and now has made herself a name outside the Netherlands too. Her compositions are printed on extremely large sizes. Making them at first glans from a distance completely abstract, but study them in detail and they reveal the objects that form together the composition. They still intrigue every time i encounter them. Galleries, Art fairs …no exception, they are recognizable and executed with great knowledge of material and composition, but for me they are too artificial and that is why i’m holding back and will not one to my colection. But this is personal and i can really understand why others want these colorful works by Margriet Smulders. For more information visit her website at http://www.margrietsmulders.nl and www.ftn-books.com for some publications on her works.

smulders

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Flowers and Art…it is springtime

This morning after visiting a local flowershop, setup every year near a field where these are grown, i realized that we always have a lot of flowers at home. The owner cut the flowers from the field while i was there. It is a wide variety of sorts that is now available  and they all give color and atmosphere to the house.

The moment he came to me with the 2 freshly cut bundles of wild and cultivated flowers i knew the subject for todays blog, because at this moment the realization occurred to me ,that flowers are important in art too. Many artists have used the subject of flowers in their works. From very realistic. like Erik Andriesse to more abstract like Leo van Gestel ( from both http://www.ftn-books.com has publications available).

But for many these will not be very well known or familiar names, but there are many more…… How about Monet? a flower painter “pur sang” and Vincent van Gogh.

Just look at all the great names in art, even the almost abstract painters, They all draw inspiration from flowers. Perhaps the most beautiful ones come from Georgia Ao’Keeffe. Realistic, dreamlike and mystic these are perhaps the very best flower paintings in the world.

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An extremely rare Gemeentemuseum catalogue from 1940

Possibly you know that i have been a bookseller for the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag for nearly 25 years. But this catalogue was totally new to me.

stillevens

https://ftn-books.com/products/gemeentemuseum-s-gravenhage-stillevens-en-bloemen-van-30-schilders-van-heden-1940

It is the catalogue for the exhibition on still lives and flowers which was held in the Gemeentemuseum during the first months of WWII. ( exactly the months the war broke out) I do not remember ever have seen this, so i was surprised and amazed to have found such a rare catalogue of which the majority must have been destroyed or became lost during the chaotic first months of the war. The catalogue is not particularly beautiful, but is has a nice woodblock print by W.J. Rozendaal on the cover. Of course with a still life of fish and flowers. A rare catalogue and for those of you who collect the Gemeentemuseum catalogues a rare opportunity to complete your collection with this rare catalogue

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Marjolein Bastin (1943)

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This morning i had a discussion with my wife about the qualities of the illustrations by Marjolein Bastin. Is it art?….NO…are these among the best illustrations one  can find on nature and birds….YES. Bastin has become world famous over the years and her works are published all over the world and she even had a Museum presentation in Den Bosch, but this exhibition does not make it art. Specially her series of cards for Hallmark contributed largely to her fame.  Her craftsmanship is without a doubt of the highest quality and her subjects appeal to practically all, but because her works have a feminine touch they therefore mostly appeal to women. For me this is not art as i look at art, but i can respect the meaning of others on this subject. What i personally do like about Bastin’s works is her illustrations for children books. Her VERA series is great to read to young children and fascinating to look at and discover the little details in her drawings. Since i discovered that her works are admired and collected all over the world i started to build a large inventory of her classic publications in my store. So there are many Bastin titles available at

www.ftn-books.com. Please have a look and use for this weekend the discount code BASTIN10 to receive an immediate discount on all your purchases.

 

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Erik Andriesse (1957-1993)

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Exceptional talent, a great dutch artist and one of the greats in Dutch Modern Art. Andriesse died at the age of 35 in 1993 and left us some very impressive works of art. His most important themes were flowers and skulls. The equivalent for him of life and death. Admirer of Salvador  Dali, educated at the Ateliers 63, he soon became one of the most talented young artists in the Netherlands. He did not want to paint abstract paintings and chose for realism instead. Flowers and skulls being the centre of his works but also, lobsters, shells and apes. All his subjects were related to nature around us and he made wonderful paintings out of them. A large archive can be found on the internet at http://www.erikandriesse.nl

One of his techniques was to paint animals and use dead models to paint/draw them as accurately as possible. There is a nice video on YouTube  in which Marc Mulders and Erik Andriesse discuss this technique and some footage is shown while Erik is at work. A tremendous artist of whom some books are available at www.ftn-books.com

On the Andriesse site there is a nice text by Marlene Dumas in which she describes the works by Andriesse and concludes that not all of his works are naturalistic:

Nightmares of Beauty

Once upon a time there lived a boy called Erik Andriesse, who distinguished himself from the passionless people around him by glowing in the dark. Now the country he lived in was a quite dark. Artists however would talk about the extraordinary light in that country.

During the 80’s all the artists were interested in the artificiality of life. A picture of a flower was much more interesting than the flower itself. Very few people still believed that everything that existed was part of nature itself. People lived in cities. Artists lived in their studios. Places filled with books, bottles and talk about art and artists and what was relevant and what was not.

And they forgot to love…

But Erik was aware of the fire that eats at the heart, while the clock ticks at night. The shortage of time, the repetitive movements of desire, the energy of the body watched by death. Flowers larger than life, dreams larger than life.

Nightmares of beauty.

He was ignored by the calculators, whose blood did not rise, when they saw his exotic death-dances on paper, but he continued on his own impatient way. Erik is not a conceptual artist. Erik is not an associative artist. He is not interested in displaying the cultural-historical aspects of his subject-matter. But Erik is also not the naturalist he seems to be. He even shows similarities (at times) to Spiderman, the comic-strip hero. Erik is not a cultural barbarian or a primitive. He reflects on the good, the bad and the ugly of the artworld and the synthetic problems of painting.

MARLENE DUMAS, 1986