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Two Tony Cragg additions

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Recently i purchased two important Tony Cragg publications at auction. These publications are published only 2 years apart (1986 an 1988) from each other and the last is possibly the most important of both. It shows the Cragg works that were presented during the Biennale of Venezia event. the British Council presented a solo by Cragg and this publication is arguably one of the best on this artist.

Both publications are now available at www.ftn-books.com

 

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Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)

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Never heard of Yeats as a painter, until Rudi Fuchs curated an exhibition with his paintings at the Haags Gemeentemuseum and it was a nice surprise. His painting is spontane , a little childish and impressionistic at the same time and thus resulting in a painting what is typical for Yeats with a signature of its own. The exhibition was not that large and i remember that the sizes of the paintings were not that large too.

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What i do remember was the excellent catalogue Gracia Lebbink designed with the exhibition. It was one of her first lareg catalogues she made for the Gemeentemuseum but it has proven to be a classic and available at www.ftn-books.com

yeats

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Leon Kossoff dies at the age of 92

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The following article can be found at the Mutual Art site:

https://www.mutualart.com/Article/Grave-Architecture–How-Leon-Kossoff-Bui/451BDAE66E6E3100?source_page=Magazine&utm_source=MutualArt+Subscribers&utm_campaign=587eaad649-nl_20_07_19&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_0a9ce6ca24-587eaad649-445942749&ct=t(EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_10_5_2018_13_56_COPY_01)&mc_cid=587eaad649&mc_eid=129d9ef3a9

Earlier in July, British painter Leon Kossoff passed away. Sometime between 1939 and 1943, he entered the local museums at King’s Lynn, the Norfolk town in which the painter spent three years as a wartime evacuee. Here he saw paintings by local brothers, Thomas and Henry Baines, depicting the town’s famous-ish architecture (Daniel Defoe described the place as “well built” in the early 1700s).

This was Kossoff’s first experience of the productive tension between two-dimensional painting and three-dimensional structure; his first intimation of how the flat, framed surface could hold interior space and exterior space at once. It was the experience of leaving London, the buildings which had surrounded him in his native Islington falling away as he left for more rural surroundings, which piqued his interest in architectural painting. A sketch done during this time of the local King’s Lynn Customs House is Kossoff’s first architectural study. Later, he made pictures with oil paint so thick it was more like a built environment than a painted one, allowing the material to fall away from the surface and be rebuilt in waves.

The Baines brothers made technically neat, emotionally sentimental studies of the town’s North Gate, the Kettle Mill, the squat, brick-worked, 15th Century Red Mount chapel. Thomas Baines and others also painted several views of the Greyfriars Tower in Norfolk. The tower stands firm and alone, the only surviving fragment of the Franciscan monastery which was demolished after Henry VIII’s dissolution. Today, it is recognised as the finest among the three surviving Fransiscan monastery towers in England.

Thomas Baines depicts the tower standing proud in the far right of the frame, facing down a blazing wave of nimbus cloud at sunset. The shorter buildings around it are as subservient as the cows in the foreground, lying at the feet of two upright humans. The dominion of man over animal is clear in the painting’s composition, but the tower itself seems to suggest a structural means by which man can reach towards the divine.

To Kossoff’s young mind, the painting would’ve echoed the newspaper images showing blitzed London burning behind St Paul’s cathedral. Much less a case of man challenging the divine, great architecture came to symbolise, for Kossoff and the artists of post-war Europe, the rebuilding of the human soul after the inimitable evils of the holocaust, the blitz and the “moral bombing” of Germany by the victorious allies.

After returning to a bombed-out London, Kossoff began a career of architectural painting, which in turn informed his intimate brand of formal portraiture. The house he had grown up in had been razed to the ground by German bombs, and much of the London landscape underwent significant change in the rebuilding process.

St Paul’s Cathedral became a symbol of London’s resistance, of home-front stoicism, as it withstood the blitz. Kossoff complicates this line of thought with his painting, Small Landscape With St Paul’s (1960), a thick, swathy abstract in monochrome, diminutive in size. It has none of the upright architectural theism of the Baines monastery tower. Through the viscous, massy material of his own grave architecture, Kossoff communicates the difficulty of wading through post-war fallout.

A portrait from the same year, simply entitled Head (1960) has a similar vibe, the low-drooping of the sitter’s forehead seeming troubled, disgruntled, the currents of thick paint dissolving their form into the abstract

By the 1980s and 1990s, Kossoff built up the layers of his paint to a more firmly structural, figurative end. One of his self portraits from 1972 shows the angle of the head inclining slightly in comparison to earlier portraits. Later still, his celebrated portrait of his brother, Chaim, shows a proud and firm sitter, chin raised, hands locked like buttresses, looking down at the viewer. Maybe even a little haughty. It’s not dissimilar, in manner and attitude, from the dramatic perspective of his famous views of Christ Church, Spitalfields.

Even as he builds form throughout the decades, Kossoff’s paintings still always reverberate with some sonorous and unsettling boom, still rush and flow with the headlong motion of time. The sheer drama of a 1990 preparatory sketch for one of his Christ Church paintings is sufficient to show this.

Some of what moves Kossoff’s best paintings, however, is a certain warmth, a faith in the human animal, and an embodied, tangible sensation of London community. Perhaps this is best communicated by his series of swimming pool paintings. Like Kossoff’s paint dripping off the canvas and being reapplied, the water drips from the skins of the bathers. (The heavily-applied oils of many Kossoff or Aeurbach paintings are so thick that they hover between matter-states, half solid half liquid, never truly dry [like an ancient stained-glass window bulging at the bottom]). Similarly, the people captured merge and mingle with the water. Osmosis occurs between their bodies, between the waters, the different kinds of interiority going on here, all suffused with a natural sunlight which glints artificially off the poolwater. There’s a sense of true community, a dialogue between water and structure which includes the human.

Sometimes, things need to fall away to find their form. Kossoff, who built paintings, knew the differences and the non-differences between structure and fluidity, whose fluxes might be the roots of the human soul.

www.ftn-books.com has some nice Kossoff titles available

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Stuart Davis(1894-1964)

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Not many Europeans are familiar with the works by Stuart Davis. Davis is for the Americans the equivalent of what matisse is for the Europeans. Of course Matisse is far more known than Davis ever will become, but study his works closely and you can similarities between the appraoch of the composition and the elements within the composition. Sandberg was an admirer so was Gielijn Escher

left Davis/ right Gielijn Escher

 

Rudi Fuchs wrote an excellent text on Stuart Davis in the Stedelijk Museum Bulletin from 1998 . The publication is available at www.ftn-books.com. It explains why Davis works are lesser known , but for me the conclusion was …please give me more. These works are fascinating and a joy to look at.

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The article below comes from Wikipedia:

Stuart Davis, (born December 7, 1894, PhiladelphiaPennsylvania, U.S.—died June 24, 1964, New York, New York), American abstract artist whose idiosyncratic Cubist paintings of urban landscapes presaged the use of commercial art and advertising by Pop artists of the 1960s.

Davis grew up in an artistic environment. His father was a graphic artist and art editor of a Philadelphia newspaper, where he worked with William J. Glackens, George Luks, John Sloan, and Everett Shinn, all later famous as members of the Ashcan school of American painting. His parents encouraged his interest in art, and at age 16 he quit high school to study painting in New York City under Robert Henri, leader of the group known as The Eight (later absorbed into the Ashcan school), whose teaching emphasized the importance of taking subject matter from urban life.

By 1913 Davis was competent enough to show five watercolours in the Armory Show. This was the first large exhibit in the United States of avant-garde European art, and the event marked a turning point in his career. Over the next few years he strove to achieve the compositional order, nonimitative colour, and shallow picture space characteristic of the new European painting. He began to experiment with collage (a recently invented technique of making compositions from bits of paper and objects glued to a surface) and sometimes varied the usual process by making paintings of his collages, as in Lucky Strike (1921), finally arriving at a completely nonillusionistic style, which culminated in his Egg Beater series of 1927–30.

In 1928 Davis traveled to France, where he spent a year painting relatively realistic street scenes in Paris. Back in the United States during the Great Depression of the 1930s, he developed a new style based on the rhythmic contrast between geometric areas of flat colour and objects clearly defined in linear perspective. During these years, Davis was an outspoken opponent of fascism and, in 1938, became the national chairman of the American Artists’ Congress.

After the mid-1940s, Davis produced many of his most important works, such as The Mellow Pad(1945–51) and Little Giant Still Life (1950). These meticulously planned and executed paintings possess a wit and gaiety in contrast to Abstract Expressionism, the then-dominant style of art. Davis was inspired by taxis, storefronts, and neon signs. The dissonant colours and lively, repetitive rhythms in his work can be seen as visual analogs to jazz music, which he loved.

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Terry Atkinson (1939)

 

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Founding member of the art project group ART & LANGUAGE and a very gifted artist in his own right too. He began to teach art at the Coventry School of Artwhile producing conceptual works, sometimes in collaboration with Michael Baldwin. In 1968 they, together with Harold Hurrell and David Bainbridge who also taught at Coventry. formed Art & Language. The group including Atkinson existed until 1974, when Atkinson left the group.

Atkinson is not the easiest artist to fall for. His subjects are war, disease and religion, making his paintings hard to admire. Still the use of color is in many cases bright and uplifting. Atkinson is an artists artist and had his exhibitions in the Netherlands at galleries and the van Abbemuseum in 1984.

www.ftn-books.com has 2 titles available

 

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Go to the Richard Long exhibition at DE PONT

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Last week we were in Tilburg to visit the Textielmuseum with the Bauhaus Textiles with our friends David and Monica from the US. Linda and I preferred to see the modern art at the DE PONT instead and we were treated to one of the best contemporary art exhibitions from the last years. In DE PONT there was a special exhibition by Richard Long, who took full use of all the spaces available. The cabinets were all filled with smaller Long works ( except for the Kapoor cabinets ) and the great hall served as the exhibition space for his stone circles, lines and crosses.

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The result….impressive. Here are the pics i took from the space. I gladly share these with you since these pictures do not justice to the real experience.

The ” look and feel” of the space is so impressive, that you must see this yourself and to prepare your visit you can chose one of the nice Richard Long publications www.ftn-books.com has for sale. This is not meant as a spoiler. Just hurry up and go there as long as the Richard Long exhibition is there.

 

 

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Fred Carasso (1899-1969)

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Fred Carasso is most known in Rotterdam for his sculpture memorial DE BOEG he executed in Rotterdam, but there has been a revival lately, because since a few years a noticed an increase in demand for his publications. The latest one i have available is designed by Rutger Fuchs and was made for the Hannema Stuers Fundatie exhibition in 1996. An excellent publication in dutch and italian which focusses on his lesser known works . Carasso shows that his works are truly rooted in the INTERBELLUM and were influenced by Art Deco  and Bauhaus. www.ftn-books.com has this title available.

 

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Remy Zaugg (1943-2005)

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Remy Zaugg was a Swiss painter, primarily known as a conceptual artist. He played an important role as both a critic and observer of contemporary culture, especially with regards to the perception of space and architecture.

This is how the biography of Zaugg on Widewalls starts, but there is of course much more to be told about Zaugg. Zaugg will be one of the great Swiss artists and because of the interest the dutch curators had and still have in Swiss artists ( there are many swiss artists in dutch public collections ) these artists are presented frequently in the Netherlands. Look at the history of the Gemeentemuseum ( Hodler, Gerstner, Lohse ) Stedelijk Museum ( Tinguely, Raetz and Lohse ) and the van Abbemuseum ( Lohse and Zaugg).

They all have a history with Swiss artists. The last one , the van Abbemuseum had a special exhibition on Remy Zaugg. and with this one of the first typically “RUDI FUCHS” catalogues was published. Hardly any illustrations, but functional text in a functional sober design…personally i love these catalogues and some of them are available at www.ftn-books.com. I will highlight two of them in this blog. Both are rare and typically for the van ~Abbemuseum books published in the eighties. The catalogues by Zaugg and Ian Wilson are well worth collecting.

 

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Rennweg by Rudi Fuchs (1985)

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Rudi Fuchs (1984)

When i first learned that Rudi Fuchs would become the new director of the Haags Gemeentemuseum, i started following his career back and noticed some impressive exhibitions which were held at the Castello di Rivoli near Torino a modern art museum of which he was artistic director between 1984 and 1990.

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The artists that he presented at that location were soon to become household names in the years he was director and head curator of the Haags Gemeentemuseum. The “Rennweg” book with art by Nitsch, Brus, Pichler , Attersee and Rainer was one of the first from the Castello di Rivoli that was available at the bookshop of the Haags Gemeentemuseum and now the circle is completed since i recently bought a” lot” at auction…all from the former library of Rudi Fuchs and within these…the RENNWEG catalogue which is now available at www.ftn-books.com

rennweg

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Barry Flanagan (1941-2009)

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Barry Flanagan, a protege of Rudi Fuchs, presented this artist at different venues on several occasions. The van Abbemuseum and the Stedelijk Museum among them. This way creating a platform for this artist who, after the exhibitions in dutch museums , could count on a loyal following of admirers. He began his career as a minimalist working in folded cloth, but later became Britain’s best-known and most controversial modernist, internationally renowned for his colossal bronze figures of leaping hares.

That said i personally am impressed with his small scale art. His drawings, linocuts and lithographs are like dreamlike landscapes with an abstract twist and bright colors, making these far more intimate. For us in the Netherlands it is still hard to find the nice publications published on this artist, because the edition size was on all occasions “small”. Less than 1000 copies were produced of his catalogue of which most part was over the years destroyed. His following may be loyal and admiring, but it is too small too sell a complete edition of his art catalogues. www.ftn-books.com has some Flanagan titles available.