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Josep Vallribera (1937)

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Vallribera in his art, books and of course his personal history has its roots strongly planted in the Spanish soil. Influences of Miro, Chilida and Tapies one can recognize in his works , but his abstract art is also personal and original . Vallribera is known in his own country, but throughout his career he mainly was presented in Germany where he had multiple gallery and museum presentations. The book that is now for sale at www.ftn-books.com was published by the gallery Carinthia and gives an almost perfect overview of Vallribera and his art.

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Cesar Manrique (1919-1992)

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Because i encountered a nice publication on this obscure painter , i decided to write a blog on the artist. The main part of this text comes fromT the Cesar Manrique devoted site. They did an excellent job in making more information available on Manrique

César Manrique Cabrera was born on April 24,1919 in Puerto Naos, Arrecife (Lanzarote), the son of Francisca y Gumersindo. His father was a food merchant and his grandfather a notary public. César preceded his twin sister Amparo by just a few minutes. He had another sister and brother all of whom are alive today. Don Gumersindo came from Fuerteventura of good family background and emigrated to Lanzarote.

The Manriques constituted a typical middle class family, without financial burdens. In 1934, his father bought a lot in Caleta de Famara and built a house next to the ocean. This house left a visible impression that lasted his lifetime, he remembered with joy:” My greatest happiness is to recall a happy childhood,five month summer vacationsin the Caleta and the Famara beach, with its eight kilometers of clean and fine sand framed by cliffs of more than four hundred meters high that reflected on the beach like in a mirror. That image has been engraved in my soul as something of extraordinary beauty that I will never forget in all of my life.”

He participated as a volunteer in the Spanish Civil War on Franco’s side. His experience of the war was atrocious and he refused to talk about it. In the summer of 1939, once the war was over, César returned to Arrecife. He returned still wearing his military uniform. After greeting his mother and siblings, he went up on the flat roof, took off his clothes, agrily stepped over them, sprayed them with petroleun and burned them.

At the end of the Spanish Civil War, he entered the La Laguna University to study Technical Architecture, which he would abandon after two years. In 1945 he travels to Madrid and enters with a scholarship, to the Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando, where he would graduate as Art Professor and painter.

In the Fall of 1964, following the advise of his cousin Manuel Manrique, a New York Psychoanalyst and writer, Cesar traveled to that city where he stayed until the summer of 1966. He was the guest of Waldo Diaz-Balart, a Cuban painter, who lived in the Lower East Side, at the time, a neighborhood of artists, journalists, writers, and bohemians. Later he was able to obtain through his cousin Manuel’s friendship with the Director of the Institute of International Education, which was sponsored by Nelson Rockefeller. a generous grant which allowed him to rent his own studio and produce a number of paintings which he exhibited with success in the prestigious New York gallery “Catherine Viviano” .
While in New York, he would write his friend Pepe Dámaso “(…) more than ever I feel true nostalgia for the real meaning of things. For the pureness of the people. For the bareness of my landscape, and for my friends (…) My last conclusion is that MAN in N.Y. is like a rat. Man was not created for this artificiality. There is an imperative need to go back to the soil. Feel it, smell it. That’s what I feel.” He began to feel nostalgia for Lanzarote.

” When I returned from New York, I came with the intention of turning my native island into one of the more beautiful places in the planet, due to the endless possibilities that Lanzarote had to offer. ” .

And this is the present reality: It is impossible to imagine Lanzarote as it stands today without César Manrique. He was a painter, sculptor, architect, ecologist, monument preserver, construction advisor, planner of urban developments, outliner of landscapes and gardens.

Those who knew Manrique only superficially ignored the load of puritanism that ruled his conduct. Manrique was really a frugal man, he didn’t drink, didn’t smoke and didn’t allow others to smoke next to him, he regularly went to bed very early and got up at dawn, and began work in his studio very early.

He died at the age of 73 in a tragic car accident, on the 25 of September 1992, next to the Fundacion, near Arrecife. The irony of fate had it that he would encounter death in a car accident, as he loathed the massive amount of vehicles

http://www.ftn-books.com has the best publication on Cesar Manrique now available.

 

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the Spanish Pavillion 1937

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Last week i spend 2 days in Madrid and visited the Reina Sofia museum, because i wanted to show my son and his friend the “Guernica” painting by Picasso. The painting was shown for the first time in the spanish pavillion in 1937. The Republican government sought to garner international support by assembling modern works by sympathetic artists that express powerful and overt political outrage, including a large painting of an upraised fist by Joan Miro and unveiled on the ground floor was Picasso’s Guernica. But not only because of the art the building was important. Its architecture was certainly avant-garde for that time. Simple materials and influenced by le Corbusier the building itself was far ahead of its time.

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The Spanish Pavillion in the Paris International Exhibition of T937 aimed at getting support from the international community in their detense of the Spanish Republic. The Government commissioned the Pavillion to the architects Josep Lluis Sert and Luis Lacasa, who designed a modern and low-cost building, with elements and materials From the traditional Spanish culture. It was consciously built as a modest and cosy space, featuring referents of a modern architecture inherited from Le Corbusier. A reasoned sample of art, culture and propaganda was shown in it, with an intention of bearing witness to the horrors of war while highlighting the optimism and ongoing productivity of the Government. The building housed the works of Alexander Calder, Josep Renau, Joan Miro, Julio Gonzalez, Alberto Sanchez and José Gutierrez-Solana amongst others. Yet, the most internationally acclaimed piece was Picasso’s Guernica, commissioned by the Government as a main artistic appeal.

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The above text comes from the model kit of the Spanish pavillion 1937 which is now available at http://www.ftn-books.com

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Lettering by Modern Artists

The above title is the same title as the exhibition held at the Museum of Modern Art in 1966. I recently acquired this catalogue which is now for sale at www.ftn-books.com and for me it makes clear the importance Modern Artists have for Modern typography. this is not the printed letter, but the much more free and personal lettering by artists on paper and canvas, making this a source of inspiration for modern typographers and designers and it shows clearly the way lettering can be used to make a splendid composition and be informative at the same time. A catalogue i can truly recommend.

lettering

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Yves Tanguy (1900-1955)

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Look at the portrait and you think Tanguy is a punk from the Seventies, but he is far from ….

He is rooted in the surreal mouvement of the mid Twenties from last century and met with artists like Dali, Miro and de Chirico and found himself in the middle of a surrealistic art mouvement. His paintings are typical for surrealism, but because of the landscape qualities  and the typical Tanguy surreal elements they more look like abstract forms in a landscape than other typical surreal paintings that always have a realistic element in them.

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For me Tanguy’s art goes beyond surrealism and is more an abstract kind of art than surreal. In the Netherlands there was a painter who had the same qualities. Pieter Ouborg started as a surreal painter but later he developed an art language of his own. Turning surreal elements into abstract elements. This is the same what i think Tanguy does. Turning forms in to abstract elements and composing them in the landscape of the painting.  www.ftn-books.com has Tanguy titles available

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Willy Boers (1905-1978).. a dutch artist hero

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Willy Boers, Dutch art ” insiders ” will know the name and the works he stands for. But for those less familiar with the artist Willy Boers here is a short biography. Willy Boers developed his art from realistic scenes into abstract, even hard edge art over a period of some 40 years. He stood at the cradle of the first dutch modern abstract expressionist paintings. Probably influenced by Miro and Picasso he developed his art into something very typical and recognizable as a Willy Boers painting.

When i first read the catalogue EEN NIEUWE SYNTHESE ( available at www.ftn-books.com) , there were 2 artist which immediately caught my eye. There was of course Willem Hussem and ….Willy Boers.

Boers was far less familiar, because i already had seen some Hussem paintings at gallery Nouvelles Images, but it was not until 10 years ago that i finally had a chance to admire some paintings by Boers “live” . It was at the gallery of Henk Klasema who had bought the remainder of the Boers studio and was selling these Willy Boers paintings. Because he had all periods available i could discover his development into hard edge abstract art, but was mostly convinced of the art he made in the period between 1949 and 1955.

Now is finally the time that Willy Boers is being recognized for the great dutch artist he was . A true pioneer in dutch Modern Art and sometimes his works come now available at auction. Keep this in mind… Boers is still affordable, but it will not last 10 years before his art will be picked up by many more art dealers and collectors, making it far less affordable than these works are right now.

There are some nice Boers publications available at http://www.ftn-books.com including the which was made for his Stedelijk Museum exhibition.

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Arshile Gorky (1904-1948)

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Friend of famous surrealists like Breton, Tanguy and Matta, but above all finding his own way in painting . Influenced by Picasso, Cezanne and later Miro, Gorky received several exhibitions in the Netherlands. The dutch public was spoiled by the exhibitions in the Stedelijk and Boijmans and this was something different. It wasn’t abstraction as they encountered it in the fifties and sixties, but it also was not surrealism as the Boijmans had had on show.

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It was a symbiosis between cubism and surrealism and this combination made Gorky stand out from the other painters from his generation and for this combination he would become known after his suicide in 1948. There are some nice Gorky publications available at www.ftn-books.com

 

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Willi Baumeister (1889-1955)… a constructivist?

 

Personally i consider, like Jurrie Poot, ( he wrote a short article on Baumeister in the Stedelijk Museum Bulletin) a constructivist. But a constructivist who became more free with every painting finally resulting in a style which was a cross between Malevich, Miro and in the Netherlands …Willy Boers.

Born at Stuttgart, where in 1911 he enrolled at the Art Academy as a pupil of Adolf Hölzel. Trip to Paris in 1912 where he discovered the work of ToulouseLautrec and Gauguin. Another trip to Paris in 1914 with Oskar Schlemmer; this time he became an enthusiastic admirer of Cézanne. From 1919 date his first Mauerbilder (wall pictures). A third stay in Paris in 1924, where he came into contact with Ozenfant, Le Corbusier, Fernand Léger and, some years later, the Abstraction-Creation group ( 1932). He taught at the Fine Arts School in Frankfort from 1928 to 1933, when he was dismissed by the Nazis and condemned as a “degenerate painter.” Thereafter he lived a retired life in Stuttgart and worked on in solitude until the end of the war; earned his living during this period by working in a printing plant. Appointed to a professorship at the Stuttgart Academy of Fine Arts in 1946. In 1947 he published a book, Das Unbekannte in der Kunst, written four years earlier. His work has been represented in most of the major post-war exhibitions in Europe, and also at the exhibition of German Art of the Twentieth Century, held in 1957 at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. Baumeister retrospectives organized at Documenta ll ( Kassel, 1959) and at the 1960 Venice Biennale.

www.ftn-books.com has some nice titles on Willi Baumeister

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Barcelona and Antonio Gaudi

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In the next 2 weeks many people will visit the city of Barcelona. 2 instant tips…first if you like cigars, go to Gimeno on the Ramblas, secondly beware of pickpockets. They operate in groups in the crowded streets like the Ramblas but also in the Subway. They group around you, press against your body without no reason and somebody within the group of pickpockets, steals your wallet. But that said, this blog is not about the negatives of Barcelona, but the great places you can visit. 2 absolute musts are the Fundacio Antoni Tapies and the Fundacio Joan Miro. These are two of the smaller sized museum in Barcelona. Both you can visit within a visit  of 1,5 hours and then you have seen the best Museums in Barcelona ( my opinion) and most importantly on the same location you can see the magnificent Mies van der Rohe Barcelona Pavilion.

But Barcelona is much much more and one of the highlights you will encounter every time you turn a corner in the city center is the great architecture. Of course there is Gaudi , but also Jujol. Musts are the casa Mila,the Park Güell and the ver going on project of the Sagrada Familia and by Jujol there is his famous Centre Jujol Can Negere.

If you want to prepare your visit there are some nice publications at www.ftn-books.com

 

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Pierre Soulages

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In contrast with the colorful works by Daniel Buren, This blog on Pierre Soulages. The master of black and white from France. I have not seen many works by him in the real, but what i have seen impressed me very much. One of the last museums i visited in France was the Centre Pompidou in Metz. The new museum which houses a few of the extremely large works from the Centre Georges Pompidou Museum. Among them a very impressive large Soulages.

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Only for this painting alone the museum is worth visiting. Bu there are a few others worth mentioning. A very impressive large Miro and one of the best Louise Nevelson sculptures i have ever seen.

But back to Soulages. Soulages is the French counterpart of Pollock and recognized as one of the great  abstract expressionists in the world. His works have been on show in several European Museums, but a few years ago  a special Soulages museum opened in Rodez. Became interested in Soulages? Then Visit the museums Georges Pompidou ( Paris and Metz) and the Soulages museum in Rodez. A great excuse for a trip to France …..

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and prepare your visits with some available books at www.ftn-books.com