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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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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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Floor van Keulen (1951)

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For me Floor van Keulen is similar with wall drawing. The projects i remember and encountered all were wall drawings by this artist. He mostly uses black . paint on a white back ground, but the drawing i witnessed come to life personally was the one he made in the projectenzaal of the Gemeentemuseum.

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It was an extremely large one and had some bright colors in it. Franz Kaiser was the responsible curator and Gracia Lebbink designed a beautiful small publication for the project which is available at ww.ftn-books.com. It does not take long for van Keulen to execute such a large wall painting. Within the week it was there. But a projectroom functions only if the project is temporary, which means the painting was overpainted after the show was over. Still the book keeps the painting alive.

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Hamish Fulton – the man with one of the most beautiful signatures in Modern Art

The year is 1991. The occasion is the opening of the exhibition on Hamish Fulton. Curated by Rudi Fuchs and Franz Kaiser. The Haags Gemeentemuseum organized this excellent exhibition which was accompanied by a publication ONE HUNDRED WALKS ,which still is one of my personal favorites and certainly is one of the most beautiful books in my collection. The book was designed by Hamish Fulton himself and Gracia Lebbink was asked to do the graphic layout and production. The result….. an artist book which is one of the best ever published.

The book was delivered ( as almost always) just a few hours before the opening of the exhibition and sold during this opening. The next day i encountered Fulton in the corridor of the museum and complimented him on the book and asked if he could sign my personal copy.  No problem….. the book was signed and i had another souvenir for my collection, but then it occurred to me that the idea of signing some of these could be profitable for the museum and i asked him if he could sign and number a series of 20 copies to be sold in our museum bookstore.

The friendly and sympathetic person he is , he did not even think about it and asked for the 20 copies to sign them. Later that afternoon he came to the library , set himself at a desk and signed the 20 copies , which were numbered  1 to 20. The signature he placed in the books is still one of my most admired signatures in Modern Art. The way it is placed on the page and dated, plus the story behind it makes this still very special to me. The books ( signed and unsigned version) are still available at :

www.ftn-books.com

and

https://ftn-books.com/products/hamish-fulton-one-hundred-walks-1991-signed-numbered-mint

both highly collectable items and real artist books.

 

wilfried