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Hans Hartung (1904-1989)

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One of the exhibitions i thought to be one of the very best during the time i was working at the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, was one curated by Franz Kaiser on the abstract artist Hans Hartung . Just one word describes the exhibition….impressive.

It showed that the art Hartung created was not just random, but a well thought over creation of abstract art in which a small sketch was turned into a large painting.

Here is the text on the exhibition:

Hans Hartung (b. Dresden, 1904) was regarded as one of the founding fathers of French Lyric Abstractionism, the European counterpart of American Abstract Expressionism: a term in which the word Expressionism refers to an extremely physical and spontaneous manner of painting. The members of the movement wanted, as it were, to work out their emotions on the canvas without any form of symbolism.

Hartung’s paintings displayed a plain ground covered with rough and apparently spontaneous brushwork, with all the paint spatters and brush marks that go with that way of painting. After his death, therefore, people were astounded when the study of unfinished pictures revealed that his paintings had not in fact been created in a wild and spontaneous way, but by carefully filling in predetermined outlines based in every detail, right down to the smallest flecks of paint, on sketches prepared in advance. This exhibition, which the Gemeentemuseum is holding to mark the hundredth anniversary of Hartung’s birth, reveals an artist who would better be described as a conceptual artist, were it not for the fact that conceptual art did not exist as a movement when he produced his works. In this first Dutch retrospective of Hans Hartung’s work, early drawings are presented next to the equivalent paintings, and early versions alongside later versions. The similarities in terms of motif are astonishing.

More about Hans Hartung: www.fondationhartungbergman.fr

There are some nice publications on Hartung available at www.ftn-books.com

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Minimal Art at the Haags Gemeentemuseum

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It was in the early Eighties that i learned of the Minimal Art collection and history of the Haags Gemeentemuseum.

Crucial for the collection was the interest of almost all modern art curators in Minimal Art. Starting with Enno Develing who introduced the key artists of the Minimal Art scene for the first time in a large exhibition in 1968. Among them Donald Judd, Dan Flavin, Carl Andre and of course Sol LeWitt. Many of them would receive solo prentations in the years to follow, but this first time was a breakthrough for Minimal Art. The catalogue is arare book nowadays and i am lucky to have a copy for sale at www.ftn-books.com

After this first exhibition many exhibitions would follow. Enno Develing, Flip Bool, Rudi Fuchs and Franz Kaiser all took an interest in Minimal Art and because of this interest , exhibitions with LeWitt, Andre and Judd were organized in the decades after this first  1968 Minimal Art exhibition. I doubt that none was as important as this very first one, because after this first one Minimal Art was established as an art form, but another aspect that makes this first ( Develing ) exhibition important is that the relationship between the Gemeentemuseum and these artist was not only an artistic one.  The museum and its curators became friends with practically all Minimal Art artists, resulting in an ever growing collection of Minimal Art.

There is a nice link to a tribute to Sol LeWitt to be found over here:

http://www.gem-online.nl/files/media/gem/2016/sol_lewitt._a_tribute/ebook_sollewitt_web.pdf

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Tineke Griffioen retires on 12/1/2018

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Finally, after 43 years of being one of the most loyal and dependent employees of the Gemeentemuseum  Den Haag, Tineke Griffioen decided to retire from her jobs at the museum. From Prentenkabinet to DTP she made not only a career within the museum, but was also very much involved into the well being of her colleagues. The museum will miss this very friendly and dependent employee who had an expertise in prints and drawings. The set depicted in this blog comes from a Siep van den Berg sketch book he made in France in 1990 and shows that the following pages from the book were not accidentally filled in, but that each drawing developed into a very nice Constructivist composition. This very set was presented to Tineke for being the colleague that she has always been to me….Thank you and have a great retirement!

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PS. Other sets are available at www.ftn-books.com , Please inquire

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Bob Bonies (1937)

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For me the only true “Hard edge” artist in the Netherlands is Bob Bonies, however Michiel Morel refers to the art of Bob Bonies as a rearrangement of FORMS AND COLORS.

I read his excellent article and it is unfortunate that it is only available in dutch, but for those who understand the language here is the link :

Bonies: Ordening van vorm en kleur (periode  1964 – 1968) (3)

As you can read in the article . Bonies stayed true to his art of rearranging , shifting and placing forms and colors in a new context and one of the earliest silkscreen that was published in a larger edition was the one he made for the Stedelijk Museum catalogue VORMEN VAN DE KLEUR

in which his contribution stands out together with the one Ellsworth Kelly made for the same publication. This Wim Crouwel designed publication is available at www.ftn-books.com

left Bonies and right Kelly

I have a lifetime admiration for Bob Bonies. He was one of the first artists i personally met at the Gemeentemuseum and a few years ago i bought a small collection of his publications from another bookdealer who had bought them from a Bonies collector and within one of the publications i found the birth card of his son Jiri. Even this card shows the quality of his works. The card is for sale too together with many other Bonies publications.

 

 

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Barbara Nanning (1957)..organic shapes in glass and ceramics.

Born in Den Haag, Barbara Nanning made herself an artist career in glass and ceramic objects. With one contant…. almost all her works look to be inspired by nature and organisms. Just take a look at this screenprint from Google and see for yourself what i mean. The objects look like corals, shells, plants and organs. These are heavily inspired by nature and the feeling i get from them differs. Some of them i wat to touch and caress and with others i feel unease. It is nice that these feelings are called on to you and it is a certwain quality of the art of Babara Nanning. The is one artist who gives me the same mixed feelings as Nanning does. Emil Schumacher has the same effect on me ( see the blog on Schumacher from a few years ago).

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There is an excellent book on Nanning for sale at www.,ftn-books.com

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Dennis Oppenheim (1938-2011)

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An artist i never heard of before , but since the exhibition of Alice Aycock in the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag i know of him and his art and later of course i found out that there was an excellent exhibition at the Stedelijk Museum in 1974, which catalogue is available at www.ftn-books.com

Why is that?…Oppenheim was married to Alice Aycock and many of the exhibition venues presented both these artist shortly after each other

And what about Dennis Oppenheim? For me Oppenheim stands for conceptual and performance art. His “earthworks” have become famous and on the cover of the stedelijk Museum catalogue one is depicted. BTW. the Stedelijk catalogue was designed by Wim Crouwel and he made it, because of the use of a beautiful impressive photograph of one of the earthworks, stand out from the rest.

If i compare both artist , I definitely have more interest in the large sculptures by Alice Aycock, but Oppenheim is important too and time will tell which of them will be the most important one…. my guess it will be the wife …Alice Aycock.

In 2011 Oppenheim died of pancreas cancer

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Barrie Cooke (1931-2014)

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For me Barrie Cooke stands for the excellent taste Rudi Fuchs has in art and the beautiful designed catalogue Gracia Lebbink made for the Cooke exhibition in the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag in 1992. I can not remember if Cooke was present at the opening, but i still remember the first impression his paintings made on me when i first saw them in the exhibition rooms in the Gemeentemuseun. These paintings were personal and overwhelming and reminded me of the ones Francis Bacon made.

left Cooke and right Bacon

At that time Fuchs had become very interested in Irish art and presented Cooke shortly after he had had an exhibition with works by Jack B. Yeats

An artists’ artist, he won enormous respect from his peers over several generations for his utter commitment and the integrity of his vision. He was a passionate fisherman and the natural world was always at the heart of his work. His figure paintings and portraits are also exceptional.

His paintings are cherished for their dynamic, immediate, visceral connection with their subject matter. Early training at Skowhegan in the US and at Oskar Kokoschka’s School of Vision in Salzburg helped to shape the urgent vitality of his pictorial approach – a vitality reflected in the artist’s personality.

Having grown up in Bermuda and studied in the US, he went to England in 1954 to revisit his roots but found little to engage him. So he took a ferry to Ireland and, he said, felt at home even as he walked down the gangplank.

Irish life
He settled in rural Co Clare where he and his first wife, Harriet Cooke, lived in some poverty. Later he moved to Thomastown, Co Kilkenny, with ceramic artist Sonja Landweer, who introduced him to Rudolf Steiner’s ideas on natural processes. His next move was to a remote house overlooking Lough Arrow in Co Sligo.

The Barrie Cooke Gemeentemuseum catalogue designed by Gracia Lebbink is available at www.ftn-books.com

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Max Liebermann (1847-1935)

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There is a long history between the art of Max Liebermann and the Netherlands, because Liebermann used to work for long periods of time in this country.

From 1874 until 1914 he stayed during the summer period in Holland and painted together with his friend Isaac Israels in Laren, Scheveningen and Noordwijk. This is the reason why so many of great Liebermann paintings can be found in this country. These were given, trade or sold to collectors and friends , building this way the largest collection of Liebermann paintings outside Germany.

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It was therefore no problem for the Gemeentemuseum to organize some 40 years ago one of the first retrospektives on Liebermann ( catalogue available at www.ftn-books.com) and because it was so long ago the Gemeentemuseum organized this year another Libermann exhibition with the focus on the dutch paintings he made during the summers he stayed here.

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MAX LIEBERMANN

IMPRESSIONS OF SUMMER

Max Liebermann (1847-1935) enjoyed a special bond with the Netherlands. From the end of the 19th century the German artist would visit Holland every summer. The country inspired his paintings for many years and he established a number of close friendships with artists from the Hague School. Despite these ties, Liebermann’s work is rarely exhibited in the Netherlands, so it is high time for a change!

The Gemeentemuseum is organising a major exhibition on this famous German artist:Max Liebermann – Impressions of summer. Top items from Liebermann’s oeuvre will highlight how he developed from Realist tot Impressionist. The exhibition will also consider his important role in the European art world, and his extraordinary private life.

 

Between 1870 and 1914 Liebermann spent a number of summers in the Netherlands with his friend Jozef Israels. Together they painted the fashionable lifestyle emerging in that period: outdoor cafés teeming with patrons enjoying the sun, riders and bathers on the beach. By that time Liebermann was a celebrated artist both in his native Germany and abroad, famous for his paintings with ‘sunspots’. In 1920 he was even appointed director of the academy in Berlin, a position he would have to relinquish towards the end of his life, when Hitler came to power. Yet he continued to be a favourite with the public in Germany, even after his death.

Despite the political and social tensions, Liebermann remained a sunny Impressionist in his work, as you will see in this exhibition. Max Liebermann – Impressions of Summer is organised with partner the Liebermann-Villa am Wannsee museum, featuring highlights like Free Hour at the Amsterdam Orphanage (1881-1882) and The Parrot Man (1902), painted at Amsterdam’s Artis zoo. Special detail: Liebermann’s Free Hour at the Amsterdam Orphanage will for the first time be leaving Frankfurt since it gained a permanent home there at the city’s Städel Museum.

 

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Constant..NEW BABYLON by Wigley

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If there is one title which has become one of the most sought after ones i have in my inventory it is Constant’s New Babylon/ The Hyperarchitecture of desire.

The book originally published in 1998 for the Witte de With exhibition , was sold at the occasion of the restoration of the New Babylon models by Constant. It took almost 5 years, but after that restoration period, these very important and visionary models could be presented again in all their glory. With the exhibition the Gemeentemuseum sold the book by Mark Wigley and because of its price almost guilders 50,– we did not sell many copies and eventually the book was part of a sale in which the book was sold for less than euro 12,–

But after that “low”, the stature of the book changed. It was described as one of the best architecture books on the market and i received orders from all over the world because in architecture lessons and classes it was described as one of the key publications in the field of visionary architecture. At one time i even bought a box of these books and sold them within a few months. But things have changed. No longer you can find copies and whenever one is offered it is at auction where it fetches a high price ( plus costs ). Still one copy remains in my inventory at ww.ftn-books.com

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Alice Aycock (1946)

1983, Just 3 years after i started my career at the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, the museum made an exhibition with Alice Aycock. Within the Schamhart buidling the complete floor was covered with large kinetic sculptures by Aycock and at that time i could not appreciate them at all. Now 35 year later i wished i had the same knowledge at that time that i have know, because recently i leafed through the catalogue and it struck met that these works were not only great in dimensions, but even after 35 years fascinating. Where Tinguely made his kinetic sculptures in the Sixties. Aycock made them in much more modern and industrialized/high tech versions in the Eighties and after. Alice Aycock has received international fame with her sculptures.

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What remains to me is a wonderful catalogue ( available at www.ftn-books.com) and the memory of meeting a great artist and beautiful woman back in 1983.

To give an impression of her more recent works here is a video on her 2010 presentation: