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Saul Steinberg (1914-1999)

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….and now for the other Steinberg…SAUL STEINBERG.

First i must say that writing a blog on Steinberg, can not do justice to the excellent site , which the Steinberg foundation has constructed on the life, times and art of Saul Steinberg. You can visit the site at : http://saulsteinbergfoundation.org

But some personal notes on the artist. Saul Steinberg is a very well known artist in Europe. He had his exhibitions at the Maeght galleries in the Sixties and Seventies and both the Stedelijk Museum and the Boymans van Beuningen museum in the Netherlands organized exhibitions on the artist. In the beginning i always had considered Steinberg to be an illustrator and not the artist he later became to me. Later i realized to look at his art in a way that his drawings were meant to be seen. A citation from his site makes this clear :

Saul Steinberg defined drawing as “a way of reasoning on paper,” and he remained committed to the act of drawing. Throughout his long career, he used drawing to think about the semantics of art, reconfiguring stylistic signs into a new language suited to the fabricated temper of modern life. Sometimes with affection, sometimes with irony, but always with virtuoso mastery, Saul Steinberg peeled back the carefully wrought masks of 20th-century civilization.

This is an artist to be discovered by a far larger audience. At this moment i think he is the lesser of both Steinberg’s  i recently wrote a blog on, but perhaps time will prove me wrong and i will think of his art just the way around in a few years. www.ftn-books.com has some nice and rare Saul Steinberg publications available.

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Hélène Delprat (1957)

For me Hélène Delprat is the french equivalent of Jean-Michel Basquiat. She has the same free approach to what a good painting is as basquiat had and with this perspective on painting she has developed a style of her own. recognizable and appealing to many, but certainly not to all. I like what she does and beside the publications which are available at www.ftn-books.com, i still have a wish to one day acquire a drawing by Delprat. Ther were several editions done by galerie Ameght in the eighties and nineties, but recent works are harder to find by the year.  Here is Delprat interviewed at her exhibition at Caen:

 

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Robert Ryman (1930-2019)

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One of the greats in Abstract Modern Painting died at the age of 88 on the 8th of February 2019. White was his “color” and he painted on every material with his “white”. Impressed by the Rothko paintings at the Metropolitan Museum of Art where he was working as a museum guard, he started to paint himself and finding in the process the strength of “white” when used as the only color in his paintings. This approach made him famous within a period of 5 years. After these initial years he had had his first gallery exhibitions and soon after his his first major exhibition at the Guggenheim museum. Rymans paintings are highly recognizable abstract paintings and can be seen as the link between abstract expressionism and minimalism ( btw. Sol LeWitt also started his career as a museum guard). We are lucky to have al large collection of his paintings iin the Netherlands since the Stedelijk Museum started collecting his paintings from the very first years of his career. The result an impressive 11 paintings from all periods of his artistic life. Robert Ryman publications are available at www.ftn-books.com

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Ellsworth Kelly (1923-2015) and galerie Maeght

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Two iconic names in Modern Art have a long time history together. galerie MAeght must have been among the first to show works by Kelly. This contact resulted innumeral exhibitions at the the galerie Maeght. Paintings , lithographs , etchings, drawings…..every aspect of Kelly his art life have been presented at the Maeght galleries.

Ellsworth Kelly has been a widely influential force in the post-war art world. He first rose to critical acclaim in the 1950s with his bright, multi-paneled and largely monochromatic canvases. Maintaining a persistent focus on the dynamic relationships between shape, form and color, Kelly was one of the first artists to create irregularly shaped canvases. His subsequent layered reliefs, flat sculptures, and line drawings further challenged viewers’ conceptions of space. While not adhering to any one artistic movement, Kelly vitally influenced the development of MinimalismHard-edge paintingColor Field, and Pop Art. The Maeght galleries have contributed to his fame with many breathtaken exhibitions. The best is they still publish the exhibition posters which were published for these exhibitions and these posters/lithographed prints are availabble at www.ftn-books.com. Printed by Arte Paris make these the best available Kelly objects possible

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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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Pol Bury (1922-2005) and kinetic art

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Pol Bury, painter and sculptor, but his importance comes from his early participation in the Kinetic arts mouvement. It has been a long time before i appreciated Pol Bury art., but since i collected some of his Derniere Le Miroir publications by Maeght i started to know his works a little better and the time i saw one of his sculptures at Bottrop , i was convinced of the importance of Pol Bury for Modern Art. The sculpture i refer to is in the permanent collection of Bottrop and  acquired at the time of my visit the signed poster for the Bury exhibition in 1990. The poster shows the sculpture of the Bury kinetic sculpture. Like a giant flying saucer it stand in the middle of a pond , water coming out its opening. Mouvement and form , making it into a giant kinetic sculpture. This signed poster is available at www.ftn-books.com

Pol Bury about his own work:

Pol Bury: I see no point in revealing the technical details of the mechanism that drives the movement [in my sculptures]. We are too quick, nowadays, in this particular art form, to equip ourselves with the engineer’s compasses and slide rule. For me movement is a medium, like colour and line for painters. No one asks a painter for a chemical analysis of his chosen medium. The perception of movement should be immediate and obvious to the viewer; most importantly, the means used to create the animation should be invisible, and readily forgotten.

While making this blog on Bury i encountered an excellent site with many quotes on Bury and his importance. For those interested please visit:

https://www.christies.com/features/The-master-of-slowness-An-oral-history-of-Pol-Bury-6848-1.aspx

and the ones that want to inform themselves on Bury. There is a nice selection of publications available at www.ftn-books.com

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Marc Chagall (1887-1985)

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I am not an admirer of Marc Chagall. I am even one of those art lovers that does not like Chagall at all. Except there were 2 occasions i was impressed with Chagall. I remember the first time i went to the Fondation Maeght where ” La Vie ” was on display.

This painting had everything in it. Color, abstraction, symbolism and its size made it an overwhelming experience. The second time was in France too. I visited the Reims cathedral where the glass stained windows were designed by Chagall. In this religious setting everything came together again. Like the experience in Vence i had the same experience in Rheims…an overwhelming sence of piece and joy and realisation that life is great and beautiful. On the Maeght site i found this story on Chagall and for any publications on Chagall visit www.ftn-books.com

Painter born, Moïche Zakharovitch Chagalov, 7 July, 1887 near Vitebsk, in Belarus (then part of the Russian Empire), acquired French nationality in 1937 and died 28 March, 1985 in St. Paul de Vence.

Aimé Maeght met Marc Chagall for the first time in October 1947 at the opening of his retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art of the City of Paris organized by Jean Cassou to promote and celebrate the return of the painter after years of exile in the United States.

“Ida Chagall took me to her father’s house, and in the studio I was amazed when I discovered the gouaches painted in the United States and Mexico, sixty superb works that I had the chance to bring to rue de Téhéran. We all stopped the project for the first exhibition at the gallery. This meeting marked the beginning of our close and confident collaboration and a loyal friendship.” explained Aimé Maeght. This exhibition was held in March 1950. It was also the year that Chagall came to live in Vence near Saint-Paul.

When Marguerite and Aimé Maeght created the Foundation, they asked Chagall for a large painting for the room to be dedicated to him. The artist created La Vie  (1964, oil on canvas, 296 x 406 cm), a large swirling composition where real-life events and dreams that had always lived within the painter come together : the rabbi grandfather,  the marriage to Bella, the birth of Ida, the two exiles, the one from Russia by horse and the one to America by boat, musicians, acrobats and dancers, Paris all in blue and at the end of the path, the painter with the palette that appears to contemplate this epic that is larger than the adventure of one man. Above him, embracing him in her arms, is Vava his companion, the beneficial ally, who seems to be born of his painting to soothe the anxiety and torment of the creator.

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Saul Steinberg (1914-1999)

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What have the Maeght foundation , Museum Boymans van Beuningen and the Stedelijk Museum in common? They all three organized exhibitions with Saul Steinberg. This is what i thought of before i started to look at information on the internet and found the foundation of Saul Steinberg  / saulsteinbergfoundation.org. This site starts with giving an overview on his life , but soon you discover that this is one of the great sites on art on the internet totally dedicated to Saul Steinberg. Try it and if interested in the artist you soon will loose yourself completely and spent a long time on this site discovering why Saul Steinberg was important. Here is the short intro from the Steinberg foundation on the artist and please do not forget that www.ftn-books.com has some nice publications available.

Famed worldwide for giving graphic definition to the postwar age, Saul Steinberg (1914-1999) had one of the most remarkable careers in American art. While renowned for the covers and drawings that appeared in The New Yorker for nearly six decades, he was equally acclaimed for the drawings, paintings, prints, collages, and sculptures he exhibited internationally in galleries and museums.

Steinberg crafted a rich and ever-evolving idiom that found full expression through these parallel yet integrated careers. Such many-leveled art, however, resists conventional critical categories. “I don’t quite belong to the art, cartoon or magazine world, so the art world doesn’t quite know where to place me,” he said. 1 He was a modernist without portfolio, constantly crossing boundaries into uncharted visual territory. In subject matter and styles, he made no distinction between high and low art, which he freely conflated in an oeuvre that is stylistically diverse yet consistent in depth and visual imagination.

 

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Maeght edition….NOISE no. 10 LeWitt/Appel

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If ever there was a series that deserves to be collected it is the NOISE series published by Maeght editeur and sepcially the no. 10 volume within the series is exceptionally beautiful ( available at www.ftn-books.com). These publications are printed by the best in the business and are far larger sized than the usual Maeght publications. At a size 15 x 10.6 inches and in many cases spread over two pages, these publications are a true treasure trove. For instance the no. 10 issue has contributions by Karel Appel and Sol LeWitt and these artists show their best works in this publication. Check out the different issues published by Maeght and take a look at the no. 10 issue for sale at my shop.

 

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Fernand Leger (1881-1955)

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I am still in doubt for myself if i must consider Leger as one of the great artists from last century…or does he uses a ‘Trick” to compose and impress with his paintings. If one sees an extremely large sized work …it is almost in every case impressive, but as soon as it is a smaller one, the attraction is gone. I will show this with to examples. The first painting is roughly 3 x 4 meters and in the collection of the Fondation Maeght. The send is Trois Camarades in the collection of the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. The first has typical figures by Leger with an abstract pattern painred over them….. a beautiful and impressive Leger. The second one, is for me far less appealing and a “flat” painting.

Make up your mind yourself on Leger , but know that there are some excellent publications available at www.ftn-books.com including a famous Sandberg designed catalogue