Posted on

Hubert de Givenchy (1927-2018)

Schermafbeelding 2018-03-13 om 09.01.21

This morning i learned that one of the great fashion designers died.  At the time i was working at the Haags Gemeentemuseum, the curator Ietse Mey, organized an exhibition of the fashion by de Givenchy worn by Audrey Hepburn and to enhance the exhibition a film festival was organized at the Filmmuseum with fashion worn by Audrey Hepburn in the movies. At the occasion of the opening i saw both celebrities and it struck me, that even as mrs. Hepburn was already ill at that time, she looked radiant and beautiful. The show was a huge success and one of the first in a long line of fashion exhibitions which were held at the museum. The catalogue is of course completely sold out , but sometimes you will encounter a copy on the book markets. If you find one….do not hesitate to buy it, because it is rare. An edition of only 1000 copies means that it was sold out almost instantly and it was never reprinted.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Blouin has done an excellent biography on de Givenchy. Here is the text of it and if you are looking for more de Givenchy, Hepburn, LVMH /Louis Vuitton publications check www.ftn-books.com

Tributes continue to come in to Hubert de Givenchy, the French couturier whose elegance defined the 1950s and 1960s and the style of Jackie Kennedy, Audrey Hepburn and more. Givenchy died at the age of age 91 in his sleep on Saturday; his death was announced by his namesake fashion house. During his lifetime, he had received the Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur in 1983, and a lifetime achievement award from the Council of Fashion Designers of America in 1995.

Givenchy was born in 1927 to a religious aristocratic family. He learned the couture “métier” from working for Jacques Fath, Robert Piguet, Lucien Lelong, and Elsa Schiaparelli, before founding his own namesake label. Givenchy would later establish his Parisian atelier across the street from Cristóbal Balenciaga, who was his dear friend and his longtime role model. He was also influenced by Madame Grès and Christian Dior, and inspired by artists. He notably created taffeta evening coats and robes du soir in homage to Joan Miró during the 1970s.

His first collection was presented in February 1952; it featured modern separates, providing more affordable and versatile options than the haute couture looks that were standard in the French fashion world in the middle of the 20th century. Nonetheless, Givenchy also made opulent and heavily embellished garments (with pearls, feathers, and ribbons), impeccable cocktail ensembles, and elegant accessories, notably sumptuous hats. He was known for dressing a wealthy, stylish clientele: Jacqueline Kennedy was a longtime client, as was Grace Kelly and the Duchess of Windsor.

The darling of the Givenchy fashion narrative, however, was Audrey Hepburn. They met when a mutual friend told the designer that Miss Hepburn was keen to be introduced, and Givenchy assumed the lady in question was Katherine Hepburn. Their friendship blossomed despite the misunderstanding, and Givenchy ended up making costumes for Audrey Hepburn’s then-upcoming film, ”Sabrina” (1954)—as well as “Funny Face” (1957), “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” (1961), “Charade” (1963), and “How To Steal a Million” (1966). While Givenchy and Hepburn created many iconic sartorial moments on film, perhaps none rivaled the glamorous wardrobe of Holly Golightly, the onscreen heroine of “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” who walked down Fifth Avenue wearing dark sunglasses, pearls, evening gloves, and a black Givenchy column dress. (In 2006, the dress was sold at a charity auction at Christie’s in London for six figures).

Givenchy was also associated with various successful perfumes: from the fruity and feminine L’Interdit (created in 1957 for Hepburn) to the heavily floral Amariage (created in 1991).

Givenchy sold his fashion house to the LVMH Group in 1988 and retired after his collection in July 1995. John Galliano succeeded him; less than two years later, he in turn was succeeded by Alexander McQueen, then Julien Macdonald. Riccardo Tisci held the reigns from 2005 until 2017, much to the original designer’s displeasure. Currently, Clare Waight Keller is the label’s Artistic Director.

In March 2016, the fashion house created an archival department to conserve and promote all garments and accessories dating from the original designer’s tenure, from 1952 to 1995. Just last year, the Museum of Lace and Fashion in Calais in northern France celebrated Givenchy’s work and presented 80 beautiful looks and accessories that spanned his career.

Posted on

Picasso and Monet in the Gemeentemuseum

Schermafbeelding 2018-01-12 om 10.34.44

About 30 years ago Rudi Fuchs became director of the Gemeentemuseum and one of the first things he notices was the limited amount of purchase power he had in building a new collection for the Gemeentemuseum. He wanted to expand the collection with some quintessential new works which showed the importance of the collection. At that time most of the dutch museum were all collecting the same dutch artists, because there were no funds to acquire works on the international market and thus build the same kind of collection in contemporary art. Fuchs developed an idea to sell 3 of the less important major works from the collection of the Gemeentemuseum.  Being 2 Picasso paintings and the early Monet /Quai du Louvre. All important , all very well known and probably priceless at auction. These highly important works would easily fetch over 50 million USD at that time and with the interest of that sum he would ten fold his budget for purchasing art. Politics thought different, because these works were not bought by the museum but bestowed to the museum.

This morning i remembered these paintings and realized that when they had been sold , they would have been lost for the Gemeentemuseum visitors, but even more important….with an interest rate of less than 1% , there would not have been sufficient funds to acquire anything important in todays art market. Conclusion for me that it is a good thing that they were not sold and can still be admired in the gorgeous Berlage building which houses the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag.

For those that are interested in the collection of the Haags Gemeentemuseum…please take a look at www.ftn-books.com

Posted on

Gerd Arntz (1900-1988)

Schermafbeelding 2017-04-29 om 16.24.21

Otto Neurath was the first, but together with Neurath, Arntz is considered to be one of the founders of Isotype. A simple word for ISOTYPE is pictogram and he made over 4000 of them. Gerd Arnyz is even in our days considered to be one of the great inventors of the pictogram. The strength is that one can immediately see the meaning of the picture/pictogram and in relation to numbers and other pictograms.

Schermafbeelding 2017-04-29 om 16.23.02

Picture from www.gerdarntz.org

Because he opposed to the Nazi party in Germany and made some political drawings and statements against them, he fled to Den Haag in 1934, where he joined Neurath and Reidemeister. The three of them became extremely productive and it is in the Netherlands that most of his books, pictorial statistics and pictograms were published. Living and working in Den Haag, Arntz was familiar with its museum and for this reason the Haags Gemeentemuseum could acquire a large collection of his works and still on the book markets, when looking thoroughly, you can even find some nice publications, but this is getting harder and harder each year. www.ftn-books.com has some nice publications and the book ZEVEN HOOFDZONDEN in which an original woodcut by Arntz is published together with 6 other originals.

It was about 10 years ago that STROOM had a nice exhibition on Arntz and Neurath and they made a spectacular poster for the exhibition which is also available at www.ftn-books.com

Posted on

Co Westerik (1924)

Schermafbeelding 2017-04-22 om 08.53.56

One of the last grand “old” masters of the dutch Art scene. Of course C ( Jacobus) Westerik has had his exhibitions abroad, but beside the Netherlands, germany and Belgium his name is not that well known. I met Westerik at the time he was making the portrait of Theo van Velzen. One of the former directors of the Haags Gemeentemuseum. The portrait was presented as a farewell present when van Velzen resigned to be hung in a gallery with portraits of other former directors. A small portrait which he managed to squeeze in and complete it in between 2 other paintings. His canvasses are not too big , but they are scarce because Westerik has a very small production yearly. I really do not know if he still is active as a painter, but at the time the van Velzen portrait was made , his production was 3 paintings a year. All were sold up front to collectors and museums. Among them Frits Becht (1930-2006) .He was the private collector with the largest Westerik collection .

He who was a personal friend for his entire life and followed his career through the years and bought many works. beside a painter Westerik was also known for his graphics in which he excelled. His production as a graphic artist was much much larger and there are almost a thousand different prints known by him. Westerik is a very important artist for dutch art and because i followed him over the years www.ftn-books.com has many publications on Westerik available.

A short documentary on Westerik can be found at this address: http://hollandsemeesters.info/posts/show/7738

Posted on

Mario Merz (1925-2003)

Schermafbeelding 2017-04-05 om 13.33.52

This was the first photograph i encountered on the Net of Mario Merz and i instantly was frightened. Here is an angry man if ever there was one. Mario Merz works are on show in the van Abbemuseum and the Stedelijk Museum and at the time Rudi Fuchs was director of the Haags Gemeentemuseum , there was one work on loan. What struck me at that time was the lightness and transparency of the works. Larger sized and as a work of art these works were changing the rooms in which they were shown and interacting with the space they were presented in. There is a nice example of such a presentation in the Castello de Rivoli in Torino which first exhibitions were also curated by Rudi Fuchs.

Schermafbeelding 2017-04-05 om 13.43.15

These works take time for an art lover to be appreciated, but when you do so. There is no artist equal to Mario Merz and you forget about the “angry” old man in the photographs , but only see the sheer beauty of the works he created.

There ares ome nice examples of Mario Merz catalogues availabel at www.ftn-books.com including the first series of catalogues on the Castello di Rivoli project by Rudi Fuchs.