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Jean Cocteau (1889-1963)…author or painter?

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NO doubt in my mind. For me Jean Cocteau was a painter/photographer. Surely he was a multitalented artist, but in his drawings he shines. Personal, bold and typical Cocteau styled. These drawings are timeless and have at one time been published by Taschen in highly affordable, but beautiful executed publication.

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But beside this great introduction to his ( erotic) drawings there are many other publications worth collecting on this artist. www.ftn-books.com has some of them available, but it is well worth to search for these small but excellent publications on book markets and at garage sales. Cocteau was a great and original artist.

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Greg Gorman (1949)

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If ever there was a celebrity photographer with a personal approach to his subjects Gorman is for me second best after Koos Breukel. To get an impression of his many excellent and sometimes even superb photographs please visit his site first and then continue reading.

http://www.gormanphotography.com

Greg Gorman’s work documents that peculiar obsession of the 20th century celebrity. Each shot, a testament to the individual character, gives a picture of human nature in its infinite range. For me a photograph is most successful when it doesn’t answer all the questions, Somewhere it must be an enigma . Breukel excels in that area and for me Gorman has the same qualities .

For over three decades, Greg Gorman has continued to master the art of photography. From personality portraits and advertising campaigns to magazine layouts and fine art work, Gorman has developed and showcased a discriminating and unique style in his profession. There are several books by Gorman available at www.ftn-books.com

, including the special edition of INSIDE LIFE, which contains an original signed photograph of a male nude body.

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Nan Goldin (1953) and Boris Mikhailov (1938)…”Grunge” photographers

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With her publication THE BALLAD OF SEXUAL DEPENDENCY Goldin became the photographer of the LGBT community. Her photographs are rarely staged , but are set up in a documentary style. Because of their content,( drug abuse, heroin, death, alcohol and mistreatment) these photographs are in many cases unpleasant to look at as is the same with the photographs by Mikhailov. They can be compared with the photographs by Boris Mikhailov, who in the same decade photographed the less fortunate in Russian society. Both have won the Hasselblad award for photography and will be remembered for the excellent way they portrayed the people and society around them. Publications by Nan Goldin are available at www.ftn-books.com

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Francesco Clemente (1952)

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There is no larger Modern Art Museum in the world that has no Clemente in its collection. From Amsterdam to New York the works by Clemente have spread all over the world. But for us in the Netherlands, it was important that Clemente had some exhibitions with the Art & Project gallery and from one of these exhibitions a beautiful little book was the publication result edition of only 800 copies). This and other Clemente books are available at www.ftn-books.com.

Clemente’s work spans four decades. His work is stylistically varied, inclusive, erotic, and nomadic. It embraces diverse mediums and diverse cultures as well, aiming at finding wholeness through fragmentation and witnessing the survival of contemplation and pleasure in our mechanical age.

Clemente’s work is rooted in political utopia and expresses an anti-materialistic stance. In the 1970s he moved from photography to drawing and anticipated the return to painting of the 1980s.

His work is also nomadic. In the 1980s he divided his time between India and New York. While briefly associated with Neo-Expressionism he took an interest in collaborative works both with Indian craftsmen and with painters like Basquiat and Warhol, and poets like Robert Creeley and Ginsberg in New York. In an interview with The Brooklyn Rail, Clemente commented “these poets had been looking at the East for inspiration and I was also anxious to evade the materialism of the West.”

In the 1990s Clemente explored intensely erotic imagery, inspired by the Tantra traditions both of India and Tibet, and turning contemporary preoccupations with identity and sexuality into an occasion to ask questions about the nature of the self. In the 2000s Clemente underwent a darker and grotesque phase, returning in recent years to luminous images of repose and transformation.

Since the 1980s until today, Clemente has also chronicled New York intellectual and social life through a great number of portraits, contributing to the revival of a genre until then somehow discredited.

Clemente’s art has been presented in solo and group shows internationally. Major retrospectives have been held in the 1990s at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, at The Royal Academy in London, at the Centre Pompidou, Paris and at the Sezon Museum of Art, Tokyo. Clemente’s art was also featured in 1999-2000 at the Solomon R Guggenheim Museum, New York, and at the Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao. In the 2000s retrospectives were held at the Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin, at the Museo MADRE, Naples and at the Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt. An exhibition of self-portraits and of Clemente’s own version of the Tarot Cards was held at the Uffizi Gallery, Florence in 2011. (the text and information above comes from Wikipedia).

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Wilhelm von Gloeden (1856-1931) and Taormina.

Arcadia on Sicily. That is what Taormina in Sicily meant for Baron Wilhelm von Gloeden. One of the pioneers of modern photography and one that had a preference for photographing young men. This preference made von Gloeden for a very long time a controversial photographer. He grouped these youngsters and photographed them in classic poses and settings….. or chose a single young men for his photographs. One of them, Pancrazio Bucini, became his long time friend and partner for the rest of his life.

Not so long ago his publications were sold from under the counter, but fortunately with the acceptance of homosexuality these beautiful photo’s can be presented in the open and many publications have been published since. Wilhelm von Gloeden is one of those artists who contributed in his own way to the acceptance of homosexuality and the gay emancipation. some of his publications are available at www.ftn-books.com

 

 

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Robert Mapplethorpe

Robert Mapplethorpe…this morning i was reminded of Mapplethorpe, because this evening there will be a documentary on him on dutch television. Mapplethorpe is certainly one of the most iconic photographers from the last 50 years, but for the dutch there were not many occasions one could see his works. There was a show at gallery Jurka in the early eighties and some of his photographs were shown in the Stedelijk Museum. Both i did not see. What is did see was a show in Dusseldorf which included his flower photographs which impressed me a lot. To prepare this blog i wanted to read something on Mapplethorpe. But the best information i found was an excellent biography on the site of the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation ( www.mapplethorpe.org ). so here is the biography and for a complete picture of Mapplethorpe and its foundation visit their site please.

Robert Mapplethorpe was born in 1946 in Floral Park, Queens. Of his childhood he said, “I come from suburban America. It was a very safe environment and it was a good place to come from in that it was a good place to leave.”

In 1963, Mapplethorpe enrolled at Pratt Institute in nearby Brooklyn, where he studied drawing, painting, and sculpture. Influenced by artists such as Joseph Cornell and Marcel Duchamp, he also experimented with various materials in mixed-media collages, including images cut from books and magazines. He acquired a Polaroid camera in 1970 and began producing his own photographs to incorporate into the collages, saying he felt “it was more honest.” That same year he and Patti Smith, whom he had met three years earlier, moved into the Chelsea Hotel.Mapplethorpe quickly found satisfaction taking Polaroid photographs in their own right and indeed few Polaroids actually appear in his mixed-media works. In 1973, the Light Gallery in New York City mounted his first solo gallery exhibition, “Polaroids.” Two years later he acquired a Hasselblad medium-format camera and began shooting his circle of friends and acquaintances—artists, musicians, socialites, pornographic film stars, and members of the S & M underground. He also worked on commercial projects, creating album cover art for Patti Smith and Television and a series of portraits and party pictures for Interview Magazine.

In the late 70s, Mapplethorpe grew increasingly interested in documenting the New York S & M scene. The resulting photographs are shocking for their content and remarkable for their technical and formal mastery. Mapplethorpe told ARTnews in late 1988, “I don’t like that particular word ‘shocking.’ I’m looking for the unexpected. I’m looking for things I’ve never seen before … I was in a position to take those pictures. I felt an obligation to do them.” Meanwhile his career continued to flourish. In 1977, he participated in Documenta 6 in Kassel, West Germany and in 1978, the Robert Miller Gallery in New York City became his exclusive dealer.

Mapplethorpe met Lisa Lyon, the first World Women’s Bodybuilding Champion, in 1980. Over the next several years they collaborated on a series of portraits and figure studies, a film, and the book, Lady, Lisa Lyon. Throughout the 80s, Mapplethorpe produced a bevy of images that simultaneously challenge and adhere to classical aesthetic standards: stylized compositions of male and female nudes, delicate flower still lifes, and studio portraits of artists and celebrities, to name a few of his preferred genres. He introduced and refined different techniques and formats, including color 20″ x 24″ Polaroids, photogravures, platinum prints on paper and linen, Cibachrome and dye transfer color prints. In 1986, he designed sets for Lucinda Childs’ dance performance, Portraits in Reflection, created a photogravure series for Arthur Rimbaud’s A Season in Hell, and was commissioned by curator Richard Marshall to take portraits of New York artists for the series and book, 50 New York Artists.

That same year, in 1986, he was diagnosed with AIDS. Despite his illness, he accelerated his creative efforts, broadened the scope of his photographic inquiry, and accepted increasingly challenging commissions. The Whitney Museum of American Art mounted his first major American museum retrospective in 1988, one year before his death in 1989.

His vast, provocative, and powerful body of work has established him as one of the most important artists of the twentieth century. Today Mapplethorpe is represented by galleries in North and South America and Europe and his work can be found in the collections of major museums around the world. Beyond the art historical and social significance of his work, his legacy lives on through the work of the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation. He established the Foundation in 1988 to promote photography, support museums that exhibit photographic art, and to fund medical research in the fight against AIDS and HIV-related infection.

PS. there are of course some nice publications available at www.ftn-books.com