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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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Jean Messagier (1920-1999)

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Personally i think Jean Messagier was a true Avant Garde artist. He explored paths and ways of painting well before others did and researched and developed a kind of painting which was typical for his art.

An almost spontaneous movement with the brush makes paintings and watercolors that feel organic, but these works are far from spontaneous, but well thought over works of art . It is the same as with Hans Hartung. The works look existed from some movements with pencil or brush, but designs and sketches prove that the gesture is not spontane and the result not just abstract, but a very well thought over abstract composition which is enlarged for the painting.

The same with Jean Messagier works . It is not necessary to buy an expensive painting by Messagier, because the Maeght gallery made some very nice Derriere le Miroir publication with Messagier and www.ftn-books.com has one of the most sought after CARGO publications with work by Jean Messagier available at its site.

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Cimaise..revue d’art (mensuel) from 1952

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Arguably the most important french arts magazine was Cimaise. First published in November 1952 . this “Revue”, published by the galerie Arnaud/ Jean Robert Arnaud stayed a major force in and was of great influence on the french art scene in the 50’s and 60’s. The magazine was published from 1952-2000 and from 2002-2009. Specially in the early years the magazine was published in a way, that now these volumes are considered the best and are searched after because of the special ( printed) covers . www.ftn-books.com is lucky to have some of the very first volumes from this impressive magazine . There are volumes from 1952,1953 and 1954 available.