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Amédée Cortier (1921-1976)

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This blog on Cortier is long due. I love Cortier and because his publications are scarce I almost forgot about him, but now that I have found the most important Cortier publication on his abstract works it is time to devote a blog to Amédée Cortier.  The book is on his abstract works and even contains a chapter on Cortier written by one of all times best curators …Jan Hoet.

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From 1936 to 1942, Amédée Cortier enjoys his training at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Ghent. On the one hand, his oeuvre consists of paintings that he makes in various media (acrylic, oil, gouache, aquarelle, India ink or bistre, among others) on panel, paper or cardboard. On the other hand, he makes pen drawings, reliefs and models. Around 1950, influenced by the exhibition Le Cercle Artistique (Ghent, 1949), he applies himself to a short-lived geometric-abstract experiment, but decides after this to return to embrace his figurative visual language. He begins with painting rural scenes (1940), still lives and portraits of women (1950), and evolves towards a stark, simplified figurative language in schematic compositions. André Lothe (1885 – 1962) exerts an important influence on him with his Traité de la figure (1950) and Traité du paysage (1939). Around 1964 Cortier begins to paint resolute abstract and from 1966 – 1967 he favours colour over the relations between the forms. The transition to acrylic paint is to be understood in the same context. This medium helps him to heighten the intensity of his colours. His stark works are witness to a sense of natural law, but also leave room for intuition. Ultimately Cortier changes over to monochrome, by which he creates mutually coherent ensembles in the form of diptychs and triptychs. With his reliefs (1968), he evolves from the traditional painting to painting as object. Beginning in the 1970’s his work is completely dominated by colour, built up around a stark composition and a unity between colour and form. He gains public recognition with these works.

Cortier sees his own oeuvre confirmed in the work by the artist Ellsworth Kelly (1923 – 2015). Under the impulse of Peter Struycken (1939) he meets Kelly in 1976. As a member of Het Antenneke, his fascination grows for the Golden Ratio, an important compositional rule in his oeuvre. His friendship with Yves De Smet (1946 – 2004) is of crucial importance for his artistic career. He is not only a like-minded artist friend, but is also an important promoter and organiser of exhibitions dedicated to Cortier, such as Horizonnen & horizontalen (Horizons & horizontals) (1976). Cortier becomes a member of the Ghent group organised by De Smet called Plus-Groep, a collective of Ghent constructivists that are seeking the unity between form and colour. Via Plus-Kern – Centre for Constructive Design, established by De Smet and others in 1969, Cortier is actively promoted. This occurs through the medium of publications such as Plus-Nieuws, though also through participation in international exhibitions. In 1973 he is internationally recognised with the Sikken Prize.

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Hendrik Kerstens ( 1956 )

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Today i added a book on Hendrik Kerstens to my inventory. At first glance you see a classic portrait , but when you follow his works through several decades, you note 3 elements in the photograph. The model is in most cases Paula, his daughter , who progresses in age, and looks when getting older ….more and more like a “dutch Golden Age” figure by Johannes Vermeer. Secondly the props within the photograph ( mainly hats ) are common household items. Blankets, plastic bags, empty tin cans ….all have a function within the portrait. Modern elements making a classic portrait of a beautiful woman. Hendrik Kerstens is now also represented in the US and his name as an important dutch photographer is now established among the great dutch photographers from his generation.

‘HENDRIK KERSTENS DID NOT TRAIN FORMALLY AS AN ARTIST. HOWEVER, HE WISHED TO DEVOTE HIMSELF TO A MORE CREATIVE PROFESSION AND IN 1995, AT THE AGE OF FORTY, HE LEFT THE BUSINESS WORLD AND TOOK UP PHOTOGRAPHY. HIS WIFE ANNA WORKED FULL TIME TO SUPPORT THIS CHANGE OF DIRECTION. IN A REVERSAL OF MORE TRADITIONAL ROLES, KERSTENS CARED FOR THEIR YOUNG DAUGHTER PAULA, WHILE ALSO STUDYING PHOTOGRAPHY DURING THE DAY. HAVING A CHILD LEFT A DEEP IMPRESSION ON KERSTENS. THROUGH PHOTOGRAPHY, HE EXPLORED THE ACCOMPANYING FEELINGS OF RESPONSIBILITY, VULNERABILITY AND LOVE HE FELT TOWARDS HIS DAUGHTER, STARTING WITH DOCUMENTARY FAMILY SNAPSHOTS.
AS PAULA PHYSICALLY AND PSYCHOLOGICALLY GREW, KERSTENS SEARCHED FOR AN ARTISTIC MANIFESTATION OF THESE CHANGES, LEADING TO HIS INTERPRETATIONS OF THE GREAT DUTCH MASTER PAINTERS OF THE 17TH CENTURY WITH PAULA AS HIS MUSE.’

EXCERPT FROM AN ESSAY BY MARTIN BARNES, VICTORIA AND ALBERT MUSEUM, LONDON

this book is now availabel at www.ftn-books.com