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Alan Charlton (1948)… monochromes in grey

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For me Alan Charlton stands for British Minimalism. Characterized by the color Grey, he makes constructivist shaped monochrome paintings. This is in short how you can describe the works  by Alan Charlton. There were not many occasions that i have seen his works in Museums, but i remember at least to have seen three times his works. First at the van Abbemuseum, secondly at the Stedelijk Museum and thirdly at the Tate Modern. On all three occasions i thought these works were magnificent. I saw these works quite some time apart from each other, over a period of over 15 years they were viewed, but I always was impressed with the monochrome grey’s, each slightly different from each other making these a true color scale of grey’s.

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They blend into their space and because of their monotony and regular shapes they become a part of the room they are exhibited in. It takes some time to appreciate them , but once you do , there are few more exciting paintings and therefore better artists than Alan Charlton, who makes these wonders in grey.

Alan Charlton titles are available at www.ftn-books.com

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A special Donald Judd publication, 1993

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The Sikkens foundation chooses every year an artist for their prestigious Sikkens Award and in 1993 the honor was Donald Judd’s. He received the award for his entire oeuvre and delivered a lecture/speech on the subject and the importance of Piet Mondriaan on that occasion.  The title “SOME ASPECTS OF COLOR IN GENERAL AND RED AND BLACK IN PARTICULAR”. For years i tried to find the little book which was published on that occasion and presented to the invited audience. A beautiful little book , cahier stitching, designed by Rutger Fuchs, with a typical Donald Judd cover and finally i have found one for www.ftn-books.com. The book is not the perfect copy i would have wished for. On a scale from 1 to 10 i would rate it as 7.5 ,but given the fact that only about 400 copies have been published this is the best copy which is on the market at this moment and possibly the only one for a long time to come available and for sale, because these are scarce and extremely hard to find.

So if you think the Judd publication is  a “ghost” publication….it is not ! It is real!. Here is a short impression.

judd sik a

 

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Donald Judd and the Chinati foundation

Marfa Texas…that is where the Chinati Foundation is settled. The Foundation was an initiative by Donald Judd who founded this in 1979. Since buildings were eerected and exhibitions were being held with friends and admired artists. There were exhibitions with works by John Chamberlain, an installation by Dan Flavin occupying six former army barracks, and works by Carl Andre, Ingólfur Arnarsson, Roni Horn, Ilya Kabakov, Richard Long, Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen, David Rabinowitch, and John Wesley. Each artist’s work is installed in a separate building on the museum’s grounds.

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One of the main buildings is called the Arena. It was built in the 1930s as a gymnasium for the soldiers at Fort D.A. Russell. After the fort closed in 1946, the gym floor was torn up for the wood, and sand was laid to provide an indoor arena for horses. In the mid 1980s, Judd restored the building, which was largely dilapidated. Judd left the long strips of concrete that had originally supported the wooden floor, and filled the intervening spaces with gravel. For practical considerations, Judd poured a large concrete area by the kitchen at the south end, and a smaller area at the north end of the building’s interior. These two areas comprise half of the total area of the building. Judd also added a sleeping loft and designed the outer courtyard, which includes areas for eating, bathing, and a barbecue. There are two works by David Rabinowitch installed in the building: one on the ground floor (Elliptical Plane in 3 Masses and 4 Scales, 1971-72) and one in the loft (6-Sided Bar, III, 1969). These works are on long-term loan from the Judd Foundation.

Chinati is like a Disney park for the Minimal art admirer. Everything breathes Minimal Art and the Judd designs make it even more special. There  are some very nice Donald Judd books available at www.ftn-books.com including one publication by the Chinati foundation.

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Minimal Art by Judd, Andre and LeWitt

I chose these 3 artists to tell you something on Minimal Art in the Netherlands. These 3 artists were the first to be invited to have an exhibition on Minimal Art in 1968,. The exhibition was curated by Enno Develing and the catalogue published with this exhibition has become one of the rarest of dutch museum catalogues from the last half century. I am fortunate to still have it available in PDF, because this one was so rare i decided, at the time i was working as a bookseller/publsher for the Haags Gemeentemuseum to buy one to turn it into PDF files and so making it available for collectors and visitors. Thanks to Ap Gewald, who had the original copy and lent it to me for this purpose, this project became possible. A good decision, because it has become a very hard to find catalogue and because of its importance it is still available for students and collectors alike in PDF.

For all customers ordering in the next week, i make this catalogue available on request and sent it by Wetransfer. But because of this long time relation of these 3 artists, all three of them have made special editions with the museum shop. Sol LeWitt made painted tiles, Carl Andre small copper plates in editions of 1/1 and Donald Judd, made brightly colored furniture for the bookshop in the early nineties. Of course these products are all completely sold out, but what is still available, but is increasingly becoming more scarce every day, is the Museum publications and artist books by these artists. Specially Sol LeWitt works are harder to find each

 

month, but i am proud to have one of the 1972 editions by Sol LeWitt in my inventory. It is the Macerata edition of 8 original /signed silkscreens by Sol LeWiit in its original white plastic container.

https://ftnbooks.myshopify.com/admin/products/448412805

And because we have to celebrate a milestone on Facebook there is of course a discount code (valid for only 2 days) , which gives a 10% discount : FBminimal10

Please take a look at the many beautiful Minimal Art books that are available at:

www.ftn-books.com

lewitt-2015

 

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John Wesley (1928)

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Pop artist John Wesley is one of the lesser known Pop Art artist for us Europeans. There was of course this great 1993 exhibition in the Stedelijk Museum, but since few other exhibitions were being held in this part of the world. Still, Wesley is a much more famous in the US, but has never reached the popularity of the other Pop art artist like Warhol and Lichtenstein.

The spareness of his technique often seems more akin to the school known as Minimalism, however, and indeed his closest personal associations were with artists such as Dan Flavin and Donald Judd, the latter of whom wrote a laudatory essay on Wesley’s early work and later set aside a space for him at his complex in Marfa, Texas. Wesley himself considers his work to be aligned with Surrealism, and many of his paintings since the 1960s have taken this dimension yet further, while retaining an extremely limited range of colors and a sign-like flatness. Several retrospectives of his work have been held, the most recent at the P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center in 2000, but since it is quiet except for some gallery presentations. This artist deserves much more , because his works really stand out from the other Pop Art artist and have a quality of their own. www.ftn-books.com has beside some very nice Pop art books, the famous and rare Stedelijk Museum catalogue from 1993 available.

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John Wesdley is represented by the David Kordansky gallery who has some nice examples of his works on their site :

http://davidkordanskygallery.com/artist/john-wesley/

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Lawrence Weiner (1942)

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Lawrence Weiner is one the the leading artists within  Conceptual Art .

The first time i daily encountered a work by Lawrence Weiner was when curator Flip Bool of the Gemeentemuseum had bought a magnificent large one for the entrance hall. I noticed the forms and strong meaning of the sentences used and learned to appreciate it.

Since, i have been collecting books on Weiner in every possible way . Other museum publications, abroad art locations, galleries and auctions all had some in them, so over the years a small collection was formed and some are available at www.ftn-books.com

Later i realized that so many publications were published in the Netherlands, because he frequently stayed over here and made contributions to many other museums in the Netherlands. Notably tothe van Abbemuseum and the Stedelijk Museum have. Both have several works by Weiner in their collections.

The last time i encountered a work by Weiner (unexpectedly) was in Ljubljana, where at the facade of the Modern Art Museum a large Weiner was fixed. It gave me the same feeling as the one in the Gemeentemuseum. It changes the way you look at something and makes you think about its text…..it is great art.

 

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the prints of Frank Stella (1936)

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Two reasons to devote a blog to Frank Stella. First there is an acquisition by the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag which i do not understand. For me it is a “stand alone” work of art with no relation with other works within the collection and at the time i saw it , i recognized it as a Stella, but was not very impressed by it. I would have thought the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam would have bought a work by Stella, because it fits in….but at the Gemeentemuseum it looks to be “a stranger at our midst”. Still Frank Stella is a great print maker and one of the reasons for this blog is to point out a very fine publication the Stedelijk Museum has published in 1970. The design was done by Wim Crouwel, but the best is there is a highly original “blind print” used as cover for this great catalogue.

It is one of the most spectacular catalogues from the 70’s with its embossed cover. A special artist cover which relates to one of the first “shaped canvases” use of multiple papers and ink colors. Typical Crouwel design. Book measures 10.8 x 8.2 inches, contains 78 pages plus cover. text in dutch and english.

Frank Stella is an important artist, has made some great works of art, but especially his minimal early works are for me among his best, including this great 1970 catalogue.

The Wim Crouwel / Stella catalogue from 1970 and other Frank Stella publications are available at www.ftn-books.com

 

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Francois Morellet (1926-2016)

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It was 7 years ago that the Peter Stuyvesant collection was sold by Sothebys Amsterdam. Within this collection there were some very important Morellet paintings. Large , complex and typical Morellet. As i learned later one of them was bought by Joop van Caldenborgh. The initiator and founder of the Museum Voorlinden in Wassenaar. This painting was fantastic and showed for me why Morellet has become one of my favorite painters of all time.  The painting from the BAT collection was estimated between 20.000 and 30.000 euro, but had a hammer price of euro 432.750. Which is 14x the maximum estimated price.

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For us “mortals” this is completely out of reach, but still some great works by Morellet can be had at affordable prices , because Morellet contributed in many ways, to excellent publications in which original silkscreens or lithographs were included. One of these publications is available at www.ftn-books.com ( for availability inquire/ p.o.a.), together with many other rare Morellet publications from the 60’s and 70’s.

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After a short period of figurative/representational work, Morellet turned to abstraction in 1950 and he adopted a pictorial language of simple geometric forms: lines, squares and triangles assembled into two-dimensional compositions. In 1961, he was one of the founders of the Groupe de Recherche d’Art Visuel (GRAV), with fellow artists Francisco Sobrino, Horatio Garcia-Rossi, Hugo DeMarco, Julio Le Parc, Jean-Pierre Yvaral (the son of Victor Vasarely) and Joël Stein, François Molnar and Vera Molnar (the last two left the group shortly after). Morellet began at this time to work with neon tube lighting.

From the 1960s on, Morellet worked in various materials (fabric, tape, neon, walls…) and in doing so investigated the use of the exhibition space in terms similar to artists of installation art and environmental art. He gained an international reputation, especially in Germany and France, and he was commissioned to create work for public and private collections in Switzerland, Great Britain, Italy, the Netherlands and the U.S.A.

Morellet , french, but in his approach to art more cosmopolitan, because he must be influenced by the minimal artists that were starting to appear on the art scene during the 60’s and early 70’s. He experimented with lines, grids, and light and developed an art form recognizable as being Morellet. an important artist and for me personally one of the greatest from last century.