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Henri-Edmond Cross (1856-1910)

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Why I did not think of Cross before I do not know, but it is a fact that Cross is at least as import as Maximilien Luce (he painted the portrait above this blog) and Henri Le Sidaner. His name did not become the household name like the ones of Seurat and Signac became, but his works are not less important than the ones by these. Cross his works are more intimate and reflect nature mainly of the French South Coast.

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Cross became in his time one of the artists who embraced neo-impressionism and the pointillist way of painting.

Cross’s paintings of the early- to mid-1890s are characteristically Pointillist, with closely and regularly positioned tiny dots of colour. Beginning around 1895, he gradually shifted his technique, instead of using broad, blocky brushstrokes and leaving small areas of exposed bare canvas between the strokes. The resulting surfaces resembled mosaics,and the paintings may be seen as precursors to Fauvism and Cubism In the Pointillist style, minute spots of paint were used to blend colours harmoniously.

What most people do not know is that Henri Matisse was a great admirer of Henri-Edmond Cross and that the influence of Cross can be discovered in the early paintings of Matisse. This alone makes Cross of importance in Art’s history.

www.ftn-books.com has a nice title on his sketches available

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Willem Sandberg a 1961 publication

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Willem Sandberg has designed many publication for the Stedelijk Museum. Starting as early as 1939 until in the early 60’s he finished designing publications for the Stedelijk and Wim Crouwel took over this task. In those 25 years he rarely made a large sized publication. This book is the exception. In collaboration with Meulenhoff publishers the Stedelijk Museum published its highlights and asked Sandberg to be the designer. A Large sized book of 12.1 x 10.6 inches  containing over 200 pages, linnen bound with dustcover. Sandberg took the typical elements ( use of multiple sorts of paper) of his Stedelijk designs and incorporated these in his own way into this much larger publication. The extra size makes the art even more impressive.

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This book is now for sale at http://www.ftn-books.com and has been included in the ever expanding inventory of Stedelijk Museum catalogues. I know that sometimes these emerge and come to the market, but i rarely have seen one at a reasonable price. This one, includes the dustcover, which is almost every time missing ans it is now for sale. A Willem Sandberg masterpiece which has been under valued for far too long.

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Národní Galerie Praha / Trade Fair Palace

We went for a short visit to Prague last weekend and walked over 30 miles within 3 days to explore the city. One of our first destinations was the Narodni Muzeum at the Trade Fair Location. It is at least a little confusing, but spread over Prague there are about six Narodni museums on all kinds of subjects. This Trade Fair Palace was the one i had on my list for a long time and been wanting to visit for some decades now, but never had a chance to, because Prague was out of the way for us but this weekend we finally went and were not disappointed. At the time of its construction (completed in 1928), this was the largest building of its kind in the world and the first Functionalist building in Prague. Today it serves the needs of the National Gallery. Knowing its age you must admire its architecture….a true avant-garde building which is unique, but because of its functionality hard to admire. It looks old and worn but the light within the buildling is unique.

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It houses one of the best International collections i have ever seen and its historic value is beyond any doubt. One of the first rooms you enter consists of a mini exhibition which , organized elsewhere would draw hundreds of thousands of visitors. The quality of the paintings and sculptures is superb and deserves to be visited and admired by many more than the handful of visitors we encountered during our visit.

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The small room houses a Picasso, Matisse, Bonnard, Seurat, Monet, Renoir, Degas statue, Maillol and ( personally i am not a great van Gogh fan) a spectacular and beautiful van Gogh.

We were so surprised to find so many of these beautiful paintings and to discover some great Czech art. It was a very nice visit and made us even more like the collection, because we specially came to visit the Giacometti exhibition, but in it’s wake we were treated on some of the most beautiful and surprising art i have seen lately.

Of course http://www.ftn-books.com has on all these artists some nice publications.

 

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Georges Rouault (1871-1958)

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When i mention the names Matisse and Marquet you will probably draw the conclusion that i want to write a blog on Fauvism, But no, these names, together with Manguin and Camoin, belong to the circle of friends around Georges Rouaul. Who certainly was also influenced by them, but distilled from their ideas a style of his own. An expressionist way of painting which was highly influenced by religion. Rouault is one of thsoe artist who believed that his painting was a way of devotion. The Christian faith informed his work in his search for inspiration and marks him out as perhaps the most passionate Christian artist of the 20th century: first of all, in the theme of the passion of Christ. The face of Jesus and the cries of the women at the feet of the cross are symbols of the pain of the world, which for Rouault was relieved by belief in resurrection. Perhaps this is the reason why i do not like his work that much. It is not that i oppose to religion in art ( i like the way Muilwijk and Mulders use religion in their art) but his paintings are dark and troublesome and hardly positive. In many cases you can feel and experience the pain. That is perhaps the reason why these paintings still have a quality of their own, but for me personally they are “diificult” and dark paintings and not the ones i will search for in a museum. http://www.ftn-books.com has some Rouault titles available.

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Hendrik Jan Wolter (1873-1952)

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Hendrik Jan Wolter is not on show in many Museum collections, however his works appear frequently at auctions in the Netherlands. It took at least 20 years of auctioning, but now his works fetch average to good prices ( 1000-5000 euro) and deservedly so, because according to many his impressionist works belong to the best impressionist works made in the Netherlands in the 20th century. he knew Theo van Rijsselberghe, Seurat and Signac and was greatly influencedx by all 3 without becoming a pointilist “pur sang” his works are more a cross between the pointillists and impressionists meeting with Matisse.

Here are some examples of his works:

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Boats in sorts and kinds were his passion, because on the majority of his paintings you will encounter boats. A fascinating artist who becomes increasingly important in the Netherlands. www.ftn-books.com has some nice Hendrik Jan Wolter publications available.

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Jean Lurçat et “La Creation du Monde” ( 1949)

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Jean Lurcat, is not forgotten by those who are interested in the art of the 40’s and 50’s from last century. A contemporary and ground breaking artist who’s works can be considered among the best that french art has produces in those decades.  When i have to describe his art it would be something in between a Picasso and Matisse style, but totally Lurcat and original. Sandberg recognized his importance and made an exhibition with his works in 1959 in the Stedelijk Museum.

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My interest was awakened last year , because i had the opportunity to buy possibly the most important book published with Lurcat lithographs. Published in an edition of only 99 copies, signed by the artist and numbered in print ( This is no. 20). The book LA CREATION DU MONDE, was published by Les Exemplaires with a story by Andre de Richaud and contains in total 56 original lithographs by Jean Lurcat. The book was printed by Mourlot/ Paris who was the leading printer for original lithographs in those days . Because of their qualities they were commissioned by the Galerie Maeght for their art publications too. The book is one of the highlights in my inventory and would grace many art book collection, but as always pictures tell a better story than words. Therefore i give you an impression of this magnificent publication which is now for sale together with the Sandberg designed catalogue at www.ftn-books.com

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Heinz Berggruen (1914-2007)… AAA publications

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What is the resemblance between Ernst Beyeler and Heizn Berggruen? ….. both are grand masters of the Modern Art dealer world, both have become famous and both have started their own galleries and the result was that in the end they both had their own museum. Beyeler in Riehen and Berggruen in Berlin.

This blog tells something about the history of Heinz Berggruen, who started his art dealer career with buying some Paul Klee’s in a time that money was scarce and good quality art and appreciation of modern art even more problematic. Still he bought one of his first water colours by Paul Klee for $ 100,- of a jewish person who was in need of money. This way he started dealing and collecting art and continued to do so , even after he resigned from his Paris gallery in 1980, and continued building his own collection into one of the great collections of modern art in the world. The collection contained, Paul Klee, Braque, Klee, Matisse, Giacometti and a very large collection of over 80 Picasso paintings. All this great art made it invaluable. The result …he wanted  the collection to stay together and sold his collection to the Berggruen Museum at a reduced price where his collection is now on show. Over 100 masterpieces still together at one place, the Berggruen Museum.

http://www.smb.museum/museen-und-einrichtungen/museum-berggruen/home.html.

What made me look up the story of HeinZ Berggruen?  About two years ago i had a chance to buy a small collection of Berggruen catalogues at auction and had the final bid. At home i was struck with these beautiful little books. In many cases there was original art in them or on the cover. The best for me is the Arp catalogue , but all these small gems together give a great impression of the quality Heinz Berggruen realized with his art publications of his favorite artists. These are all AAA publications.

The ones in the picture are for sale at www.ftn-books.com

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Henri Cartier Bresson (1908-2004)

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If ever there is a photographer who is recognized as one of the greatest ever, it is Henri Cartier Bresson. Being a Magnum photographer you can see and discover many known and unknown photographs by Henri Cartier Bresson on this site:

http://pro.magnumphotos.com/C.aspx?VP3=CMS3&VF=MAGO31_10_VForm&ERID=24KL53ZMYN

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What it also shows is the power of black and white photography. It is in many cases far more authentic and beautiful than color photography and Heni Cartier Bresson proves that he is one of the most original and talented . Beautiful compositions and catching the very best important moments to make the perfect photograph.

www.ftn-books.com has some nice books on Henri Cartier Bresson , including the excellent Sandberg designed catalogue for his Stedelijk Museum exhibition in 1963.

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Ernst Wilhelm Nay (1902-1968)

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Another artist of whom i saw work for the first time in the Stedelijk Museum was Ernst Wilhelm Nay. The first impression you get it is a modern version of Matisse, but studying it in more detail you find differences and a style which is completely original. I found an excellent article on Nay in the ART DIRECTORY which i copied .

Ernst Wilhelm Nay studied under Karl Hofer at the Berlin Art Academy from 1925 until 1928. His first sources of inspiration resulted from his preoccupation with Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and Henri Matisse as well as Caspar David Friedrich and Nicolas Poussin. 
Nay’s still lifes, portraits and landscapes were widely acclaimed. In 1931 Ernst Wilhelm Nay received a nine-months’ study bursary to the Villa Massimo in Rome, where he began to paint in the abstract Surrealist manner. On the recommendation of the Lübeck museum director, C.G. Heise, Nay was given a work grant financed by Edvard Munch, which enabled Nay to spend time in Norway and on the Lofoten Islands in 1937. The “Fischer- und Lofotenbilder” represented a first pinnacle of achievement.
That same year, however, two of his works were shown in the notorious exhibition of “Degenerate Art” and Ernst Wilhelm Nay was forbidden to exhibit any longer. Conscripted into the German armed forces in 1940, Nay went with the infantry to France, where a French sculptor placed his studio at Nay’s disposal. In the “Hekatebildern” (1945-48), featuring motifs from myth, legend and poetry, Nay worked through his war and postwar experiences. 
The “Fugale Bilder” (1949-51) proclaim new beginnings in a fiery palette and entwined forms. In 1950 the Kestner Gesellschaft Hannover mounted a first retrospective of Nay’s work. The following year the artist moved to Cologne, where, with the “Rhythmischen Bildern” he took the final step towards entirely non-representational painting. In them he began to use colour purely as figurative values. From 1955 Nay’s painted “Scheibenbilder”, in which round colour surfaces organize subtle modulations of space and colour. These are developed further in 1963-64 in what are known as the “Augenbilder”. A first one-man-show in America at the Kleeman Galleries, New York, in 1955, participation in the 1956 Venice Biennale and the Kassel “documenta” (1955, 1959 and 1964) are milestones marking Nay’s breakthrough on the international art scene. 
Ernst Wilhelm Nay was awarded important prizes and is represented by work in nearly all major exhibitions of German art in Germany and abroad.

Nay publications are available at www.ftn-books.com

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Matisse and Sandberg

Sandberg as a curator admired Matisse as an artist and Sandberg as an artist must have been inspired by Matisse, when he made his famous paper cuttings because of his illness. Matisse himself called it “painting with scissors”. Could this have been the inspiration for Sandberg to use modelled torn papers for his book designs? Because these torn pieces of paper together with the lay-outs made the Sandberg publications highly personal and iconic. There is of course a difference, but the period in which these works of art existed is the same so it is not unlikely that his paper torn pieces were inspired by Matisse. The designs by Sandberg are now in, what are considered, classic publications and now used worldwide as examples of great design .

Printed on paper, they easily survived 50 years or longer, however it is totally different with the Matisse cut-outs. These have to be restored now to conserve them for future generations and i know of two projects which have taken place in the last 10 years. There is of course the large cut out composition LA PERRUCHE ET LA SIRENE 1952/53 from the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam collection which was totally restored and made future proof for the decades to come and there was a project in the Beyeler in which one could follow the progress of the restoration /conservation of a large canvas titled ACANTHES, 1953.

 

Both works are on show again in all their splendor and show exactly why Matisse is possibly the greatest artist from last century. Great art in great museums and for those that want to read on both artists…visit www.ftn-books.com for some nice publications.