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A recently discovered Mondrian

A few weeks ago i read an article by the  “de Speld”  ( it is an almost daily article on the backpages of the VOLKSKRANT paper), that a recently discovered Mondrian was presented to the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag to further complete its large Mondrian collection .

mondriaan smurf

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Piet Mondriaan, studio Rue du Départ

Piet Mondriaan was famous for his studios he occupied in Paris and New York and his Paris studio at the Rue du Départ was even a subject for a special exhibition at the Beurs van Berlage who had it rebuild in their main hall in 1994.

With the exhibition they produced together with the Benschop architects an impressive model kit of the studio, which even contains some of the paintings Mondriaan made in this famous studio. During the Nineties some of the DE STIJL icons were produced in Model Kit versions ( Meudon, Rietveldhuis) but this is probably the rarest of them al, since i understand it was not sold, but only presented to the sponsor and its relations. Now for sale at www.ftn-books.com

mondrian depart

 

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Carlo Battaglia (1933-2005)

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Intrigued by the catalogue i found on Carlo Battaglia, i started to look into the life of Carlo Battaglia and noticed he became friends and worked together with Robert Motherwell, Ad Reinhardt and Mark Rothko. But i noticed other aspects in his works. after seeing a large room with Battaglia paintings on photo at studio LA CITTA. I was impressed and at the same time it reminded me of Mondriaan and LeWitt

Schermafbeelding 2019-08-30 om 15.47.59 he must have been influenced by Piet Mondriaan, because just look at the similarities ….just coincidence?

left is Battaglia / right is Duinlandschap by Piet Mondriaan

On the other hand he could have been an inspirator to Sol LeWitt in later years. Battaglia is first and then comes Sol LeWitt with his Horizontal Lines.

left is Battaglia/ right Sol LeWitt

Still i like his works, This is the kind of art that inspires me and never bores.

www.ftn-books.com has publications available on all the artists mentioned

battaglia

Battaglia served in the Italian Air Force from 1958–59, and in 1962 moved to Paris. In 1967, he lived in New York City, where he established friendships with Reinhardt, Motherwell and Rothko.

In 1970, 1978 and 1980, he was invited to the Venice Biennale, exhibiting his series about Maree (“Tides”) for the first time in 1970, which introduced a theme that would be prominent throughout his life. Battaglia’s most prominent exhibitions include retrospectives at Palazzo Grassi, in Venice in 1967, Palazzo dei Diamanti in Ferrara in 1976 and the Kunsthalle Düsseldorf in 1978.

He also participated in a number of group shows about Italian contemporary art held in many international venues, including the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington in 1974, the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam in 1977 and the Hayward Gallery in London in 1978. In 1978 and 1980, he participated to the 40th and the 43rd Venice Biennale. From 1980 on, he increasingly isolated himself and painted in total solitude.

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Jo Niemeyer (1946)

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For many of us Jo Niemeyer is not the most common name in constructivist art. However Niemeyer has a loyal following of admirers in Germany and Finland. ( the 1984 Helsinki book is available at http://www.ftn-books.com).

Working with the primary colors that Piet Mondriaan used too in his STIJL period the compositions look at first glance not that original, but study them closely and you will notice a much more complex composition  with mouvement on the works by Niemeyer. making these stand out on their own. Here is the text i found on Wikipedia on the artist.

niemeyer e

Jo Niemeyer was born in 1946 in the German village Alf. He comes from a long-time artist family. His mother was a textile designer and worked in Saabrücken at the former State School for Art and Crafts, where she was in charge of a handloom weaving factory. His father began to paint at a relatively young age, in abstract and concrete art. Unfortunately, his paintings were considered to be degenerate and most of his works were destroyed or lost during WWII.

After three years of studying photography and graphic art, Niemeyer executed his first geometrical painting in 1966. He travelled in several countries, including the United States and Canada, and in Scandinavia where he was particularly fascinated by nature. In 1967, he pursued his training in industrial design at the Finnish Institute for Art “Atheneum”. He decided in 1970 to quit his job as professional photographer to become a full-time independent artist.

In Finland, he met artist colleagues Lars-Gunnar Nordstrom and Matti Kujasalo, the former director of the Finnish Academy of Art in Helsinki. In the 80s, Kujasalo asked Niemeyer to lecture about different print techniques in the graphic art department. During this time, Niemeyer built up his knowledge of Finnish architecture. It was also in Helsinki in the late 60s that Niemeyer met his wife, Tuula Partanen. in 1972 she founded Edition Partanen which specialised in silkscreen prints and publication of graphic and art portfolios. The studio was established in South Germany with a showroom in Zurich, Switzerland. Edition Partanen collaborated with artists such as Rupprecht Geiger, Matti Kujasalo, Ilya Bolotowsky and Niemeyer himself.

Niemeyer began to elaborate his big scale project “20 steps around the world” which would be installed in 1997 in the City of Ropinsalmi in Finland. In this project, he explained, the earth replaced the canvas. According to him, earth is the carrier of his artistic work being integrated into the creative process only by minimal changes. In the context of this work an arbitrarily defined route around the earth is divided systematically and exactly into 20 segments which develop to a dynamic, logarithmic progression according to the ‘Golden Section’. The 20 steps are visualized by using an installation of 20 stainless-steel elements around the globe, precisely located on continents. The location of the points is achieved by using a computer and satellite navigation.

Over the years, Niemeyer has held successful one-man and group shows in Scandinavia, Italy, Switzerland, Israel, USA, England, Japan, Argentina, and Finland. His murals in public buildings can be found in countries all around the world including Switzerland and Germany, and in Scandinavia. Featured in numerous international publications and films, his works are in public and private collections and museums including in Japan, Germany, Canada, the Netherlands, Finland, Germany and Austria. Today, Jo Niemeyer works and lives in Germany, France and Finland.

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Piet Mondriaan….Molen bij Avond

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Two days ago i was so lucky to have a camera ( phone) at hand. We were planning to have a little boat ride in the evening, but…..suddenly it started to rain and we decided not to go. However, 10 minutes later it stopped raining and while we were having a cup of coffee we decided it was still worth it to go to Vlietlanden for a 2 hour trip. We left at 18.45 hr. and were returning at aprox 20.10 when we passed this windmill just near our home. I asked for my telephone and took this photograph. 5 seconds sooner and it would not have had the effect it has now. 5 seconds later and we would have been blinded by the light of the sun. But with this result i am so pleased. I have not done anything with the photograph, because i think it is 100% ok, but 24 hrs later Google send me the same photograph which they had worked over with some filters and this is the result they produced ( second photograph).

molen bij avond

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The moment i saw it it reminded me of the Mondrian. Molen bij Avond i know so well from the years i worked at the Gemeentemuseum. There is 100 years between them, but these pictures show that there is still a very scenic the Netherlands to be found near the largest cities of this country. I have many of Mondrian’s publications available at http://www.ftn-books.com

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Michel Seuphor (1901-1999)

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Michel Seuphor…wrote a monumental biography on Piet Mondriaan and is one of the great names in constructivist art by himself. In the twenties he became friends with Joaquin Torres Garcia. For me their works are worlds apart from each other but somehow they became friends and started the artist mouvement CERCLE ET CARRE.

seuphor ni

the Netherland was not too far away for Seuphor …the result he had his exhibitions at galleries and museum in the Netherlands. Specially DEN HAAG was a well now city for him. He spent much time at the Gemeentemuseum to study Mondrian for his biography on this famous dutch abstract painter and ….he had an exhibition of his own at the Gemeentemuseum, soon followed with a gallery exhibition at the Nouvelles Images gallery ( closed now) . Both catalogues and a print by Seuphor are available at www.ftn-books.com

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Piet Mondriaan / Mondrian’s studio

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The studio of Piet Mondrian were works of art of them selves. They acted like a true work “in situ” where every item had its proper place . Because of this, the studio itself became a work of art. This was recognized by many and one of the greatest photographers from last centur even made a series of photo from the Paris studio. The same with the NY studio which was photographed by Arnold Newman.

Kertesz and Newman , two great photographers who realized that Mondrian was a very special painter and made these photographs with one purpose….. so we could see the extraordinary qualities Mondrian had when he approached a painting or an object.

There is onegreat article on Artsy where the studio’s of Mondrian are described.

https://www.artsy.net/article/artsy-editorial-mondrian-turned-studios-giant-abstract-paintings

There are some excellent publications on Mondrian and his studios available at www.ftn-books.com including a paper model kit

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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Gerrit Benner (1897-1981)

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One of my first blogs was devoted to the museum Belvedere where i encountered some wonderful paintings by Gerrit Benner. This blog is solely devoted to Benner because he deserves it. His paintings are among the first abstract paintings which still hold a link with realism in the Netherlands . These paintings are definitely inspired by nature. Skies, meadows and even an abstract cow can be determined in the compositions. Benner is a painter “pur sang” who’s works are rooted in the dutch tradition of abstract paintings. For instance Mondrian used these abstracted landscapes in his own painting from the early 20th century.

on the left a painting by Benner with Red cloud on the right Landscape with Red cloud by Piet Mondriaan

Benner is a great painter who deserves to be known outside the Netherlands and for those visiting the Netherlands. When you visit the Stedelijk, Gemeentemuseum, Belvedere and Museum Twente you surely will encounter a Benner painting in their permanent collections.

There are some very nice Benner publications available at www.ftn-books.com

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Cesar Domela (1900-1992) a member of de STIJL

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Cesar Domela an abstract constuctivist who has deservedly created himself among the best of DE STIJL artists. He was a friend of Piet Mondriaan and Theo van Doesburg, but after a few years of DE STIJL compositions he developed a stijl of his own. Wall reliefs were his specialty with curls and filled in colorful spaces these compositions became highly recognizable as Domela’s. During my time at the Gemeentemuseum i never witnessed the special Domela exhibitions , but know that the publications published with these exhibits are thought to be the best on Domela and his works. In meantime other publications have appeared, but these Gemeentemuseum publications still are the best.

http://www.ftn-books.com has a nice selection of Domela publications including a signed print in an edition of 150 cps.

Here is part of the biography the Gemeentemuseum publishes on its site:

http://www.gemeentemuseum.nl

When he died in 1992, Dutch artist César Domela left behind an oeuvre that was as substantial as it was varied. Part of it passed into the possession of his daughters, Lie Tugayé-Domela Nieuwenhuis and Anne Dutter-Domela Nieuwenhuis. They are now donating thirteen of the relevant works to the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag. The gift forms an important addition to the museum’s existing Domela collection, expanding it to provide a complete overview of the work of this multifaceted artist. From 24 November, the public will have its first chance to view this exceptionally important donation, which comprises paintings, reliefs and one sculpture, as part of a major retrospective devoted to Domela.

César Domela was born in 1900 as the youngest son of the well-known Dutch socialist politician Ferdinand Domela Nieuwenhuis. At an early age, he moved to Italy, where he rubbed shoulders with a number of avant-garde artists. Soon after that, he met Mondrian, Van Doesburg and other members of the De Stijl group, of which he himself became the youngest member in 1924. However, Domela’s artistic development took a different direction from that of most of his fellow-members. He devoted himself increasingly to the development of reliefs: three-dimensional paintings, in which he ascribed a major role to the diagonal. He also experimented with photomontages for use in the world of commercial advertising. His work was well received and in 1936 it was included in the Cubism and Abstract Art exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

After the Second World War, the reliefs came to dominate his output. In 1960 the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag purchased work by him and held a retrospective. Twenty years later, this was followed a second major retrospective of his work. Today, the museum possesses an extensive collection, focusing until the present donation principally on the photomontages and advertising material. This special relationship between the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag and César Domela is one reason why his daughters have decided to donate thirteen of their father’s works to the institution; another is the fact that the works form an excellent complement to the museum’s wider holdings. The Gemeentemuseum Den Haag is extremely proud to have been offered this gift and delighted that the Domela collection, which is so valuable a part of its core holdings, will now provide a complete overview of the artist’s entire career. The gift coincides with the official opening at the Netherlands Institute for Art History (RKD) of the César Domela archive, bequeathed and donated to the Dutch State and given into the safekeeping of that institution.

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Oval paintings …. rarely seen

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The Oval shape is the less common shape among constructivist, but is was at one time used by some great names in art. Piet Mondriaan used it and also Roy Lichtenstein was a fan and used the shape in his Mirror paintings. Put them beside each other and you will notice similarities between the two. Not only the shape , but also how the space is filled with the composition. I noticed this because a few weeks ago i went to an auction viewing and found the drawings by Henk de Looper for auction. All oval shaped and they really fascinated me.

 

Here is some information on this forgotten artist who deserves better and is represented by gallery PHOEBUS in Rotterdam.

https://www.phoebus.nl/KUNSTENAAR/Henk.de.Looper