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Sam Francis (1923-1994)

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Sam Francis is a subject for a blog a long time overdue. Since i have been admiring the works by Sam Francis for many years now and of course there is a special connection with the Netherlands, because he has had many solo exhibitions in this country for over 30 years and not at the less important museums and galleries but at the very best ones. First there is of course the exhibition at the Stedelijk Museum with the beautiful Wim Crouwel designed catalogue. secondly there are the gallery exhibitions at gallery Delaive and third there is the Museum van der Togt/Cobra Museum exhibition. All of these exhibitions were accompagnied by beautiful large catalogues and available at www.ftn-books.com

My first interest in Sam Francis was raised in the early Nineties when i collected Swatch watches. Together with my brother in law we searched for the earliest of these watches and bought, collected and resiold them and one of these watches was a Christmas special by Sam Francis. We had multiple copies of this rare watch and the last one was sold some 5 years ago. Still whenever i hear the name Sam Francis i am reminded of this swatch collection. But from that time on i noticed that there is more to Sam Francis than just his Swatch watch. Just read this short biography which can be found on the Sam Francis site too:

Sam Francis (1923 – 1994) occupies a prominent position in post-war American painting. Although associated with the Abstract Expressionist movement and Clement Greenberg’s Post-Painterly Abstraction, unlike many American painters of he time he had direct and prolonged exposure to French painting and to Japanese art which had an individual impact on his work.

On leaving the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1944 owing to illness Francis took up painting as a hobby. He decided to make this a serious undertaking studying under David Park in 1947 and completed his BA and MA at the University of California. He was greatly influenced by Abstract Expressionism particularly the works of Clyfford Still and Jackson Pollock. In his use of space on the canvas to allow free circulation of strong colour and the sensitivity to light Francis developed his own style by the time his studies had ended.

Francis moved to Paris in 1950 where he met Jean-Paul Riopelle who was to remain an important influence, and study of Monet’s Waterlilies had a profound impact on his work. From a very muted palette of greys and whites he returned to the qualities of light and colour producing such works as Big Red 1953. He continues to develop the use of white space and increased the dimensions of his paintings for greater emphasis. During his period in Europe he executed a number of monumental mural paintings.

Francis returned to California in 1962 and was then influenced by the West Coast School’s preoccupation with mysticism and Eastern philosophy. Blue had become a more dominant feature of his work since 1959 inspired by personal suffering and the great joy of becoming a father for the first time in 1961. This led to combinations of hard colour and more disciplined structures with centrally placed rectangles during the 1970s. Eventually these more rigid structures gave way to looser configurations sometimes of snake-like forms with web-like patterns. Blue, sometimes brilliant, remained an important part of many later works.

The above publications and other Sam Francis publications are available at www.ftn-books.com

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Hildo Krop (1884-1970)

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Hildo Krop is truly the one and only city sculptor of the city of AMsterdam. When you see an ornament at a building or a statue on a square there is a fair chance that it was done by Hildo Krop. Krop was active in the period that Amsteram had its biggest growth .

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It was in preparation of the Olympic games of 1928 and many new buildings and parks were built in those days and if one wanted to make them more beautiful with a sclpture or statue, Hildo Krop was the artist of choice for many new projects in those days.

This was recognized by the Stedelijk Museum who devoted an exhibition to Krop in 1964 and had Wim Crouwel design the catalogue with the exhibition. Since that year there has been a growth of interest in Hildo Krop as an artist which resulted in a Museum devoted to Hildo Krop….location Amsterdam and on the internet at : http://hildokrop.nl

The Wim Crouwel publication is available at www.ftn-books.com

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Alessandro Mendini dies at the age of 87

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Within 24 hours two great artists have died shortly after each other. Yesterday, Karl Lagerfeld died and this morning i learned that the architect of the Groninger Museum and the founder of the Studio Alchemia mouvement has died 24 hours before. I am a great fan of Mendini and in the Nineties i was glad to hear that he was chosen to be the architect of the Groninger Museum. Since i have visited the museum numerous times and i am always impressed with the wealth of details within this great Mendini building.

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Allessandro Mendini, a greart multidisciplined artist , but above all a friendly, kind personality. 16th august 1931 – 18th February 2019

Some of Mendini’s publications are availabel at www.ftn-books.com

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Gerard Garouste (1946)

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Garouste is now one of the grand “old”  mater painters in France, but that has not always been the case. From the mid Seventies until the early 80’s he was one of the angry young French wild painters who rose  to fame with (extremely) large paintings of which many were brought together in the Bordeaux CAPC museum in 1987.

Since his star rose in France and abroad and now he has the stature of one of the great 20th century painters…and deservedly so, because his paintings are one of a kind and you will not lightly forget a Garouste painting once you have seen one. Unfortunately these are far too large for any private collection and i am personally not the greatest fan of his smaller works. The best you can do is buy one of the great catalogues which is publiched in one of the last 3 decades and emerge in the world Garouste has created with his impressive paintings.

The CAPC catalogue is available at www.ftn-books.com

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Pyke Koch (1901-1991)

 

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For me Pyke Koch stands for the paintings of Bertha van Antwerpen and de Schoorsteenveger, both paintings are in the collection of the Gemeentemuseum en are part of a very small oeuvre of around 120 paintings. This makes this artist one of the hardest to collect in the Netherlands and it is therefore that it is a true accomplishment by Dirk Scheringa that he collected so many of Koch’s paintings. Beside Scheringa, that Centraal Museum is known for his larger collection of Koch paintings.

Koch’s paintings of formidable women captured the public’s imagination: with Mercedes of Barcelona (1930), Bertha of Antwerp (1931) and The shooting gallery (1931), Koch gained a reputation as an artist who used his highly perfected technique to create an idiosyncratic fantasy world, both ominous and bitingly ironic. His Nocturne (1930) even caused a scandal: the small temple at night, surrounded by dimly lit façades on a city square, is, after all, a public urinal – and a notorious meeting spot for homosexuals.

In this exhibition, Koch’s work is displayed in the context of his contemporaries – not just of Dutch artists like Carel Willink, Raoul Hynckes and Charley Toorop, but also of Georg Grosz, Anton Räderscheidt and Christian Schad, as representatives of the German Neue Sachlichkeit (New Sobriety movement). In addition, short documentaries compiled by Ad van Liempt capture the mood of those years.

In this way, the exhibition seeks a deeper understanding of Koch’s artistic career and inspiration while exploring the political complexities of the Interbellum: the period in between the two world wars. It also aims to put Koch’s affiliation with fascism into perspective and thereby to add some nuance to the debate on ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ that has continued unabated since 1945. Now that rightist populism is on the rise all across Europe and an anti-democratic voice is becoming more strident, this re-examination of the Interbellum is highly relevant.

After the Second World War, Koch was condemned for his fascist sympathies and was banned from exhibiting his work for one year. But his friends and colleagues remained faithful to him. In 1950 he and a number of colleagues represented the Netherlands at the 25th Venice Biennale. And in 1955 he was offered a solo exhibition in Amsterdam’s Stedelijk Museum by its director and renowned member of the resistance, Willem Sandberg. By that time he was exploring new avenues in his work, painting a series of portraits and scenes with strong references to Piero della Francesca, one of the great masters of early Italian Renaissance work. He also revived his fondness for the so-called ‘naive’ art of Henri Rousseau. His Sleeping gypsy (1897) inspired Koch’s Resting somnambulist, of which he painted four versions between 1959 and 1971.

Koch continued to work as an artist until 1980. His last painting, The tightrope walker III (1980), can be interpreted as a metaphorical self-portrait in which Koch takes stock of his life and work. In a bare and shabby room with two doors leading to stairs going up and going down, a man balances on a rope, his head covered by a cloth. It is a desolate scene, and a poignant finale to an impressive oeuvre. www.ftn-books.com has some nice Pyke Koch publications available, including the 2 versions the Stedelijk Museum published of this Crouwel designed catalogue

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Ben Vautier / Fluxus and Basel

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People who follow this blog , know of my love for Ben Vautier. Not only because he is one of the most original and consistent artists from the last 100 years, but also because there is always some humor just around the corner. Unfortunately  I have missed the most important Vautier exhibition from the last 10 years. It was held at the Tinguely Museum in Basel :

Ben Vautier. Is everything art?

21.10.2015 – 22.01.2016

Ben Vautier has been on the scene since the late 1950s as an artist, performer, organizer, linguistic inventor, and re-thinker of art. He is one of the pioneers of the Fluxus movement in Europe and, as a comrade-in-arms of the École de Nice, a close friend of artists such as Arman, Yves Klein, Martial Raysse, and others. He is known for his text images, which, using brief, pithy phrases, equally question and challenge life and art. Ben Vautier has the first comprehensive retrospective in Switzerland dedicated to him at the Museum Tinguely. Alongside an overview of the first 20 years of his creativity, Ben sets up in Basel more than 30 rooms as he comments on various social, artistic, and political topics and takes a stance. In total, the show exhibits far in excess of 400 works by the artist, who is still very active to this day.

Still what remains is one of the best and certainly one of the most beautiful books on Vautier’s art. It has a simple brown cover, but is filled with iconic Ben “paintings” from hs first 20 years as an artist and published as only the Suisse can publish art /museum catalogues. The print is exceptionally good, the lay out superb and the contents…..well all BEN, making this one of the most collectable books i recently offered on www.ftn-books.com

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Alexander Calder Stedelijk Museum catalogues by Sandberg

There are 3 Calder catalogues published by the Stedelijk Museum ( 1947,1959 and 1969). 2 of them are available through www.ftn-books.com. The first 2 were designed by Willem Sandberg and the last one by Wim Crouwel. Many colelctors like the 1959 catalogue , this because of the bald design and great prints on the cover, but for me the 1949 is the best, much more subtle and a catalogue that shows the design path Sandberg is going to take. Choice of paper, typography and illustrations make this the perfect early Sandberg publication.

 

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Tapio Wirkkala (1915-1985) an Iittala visionary.

Like Andries Copier in Netherlands, you probably have seen and perhaps are even using the designs by Tapio Wirkkala. Born in Finland his designs are certainly influenced by Scandinavia design. They are without any unnecessary details , clean and clear. Most of them have been published by Iittala and among them there are such iconic designs like the Thule and Tapio glass series .

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But he also had his free projects in which he developed beautiful ceramics. Wirkkala had a solo exhibition in the Stedelijk Museum in 1976 for which Wim Crouwel designed the exquisite catalogue. The catalogue itself has become rare since there have been a worldwide recognition of Wirkkala as a truly original designer and artist, but www.ftn-books.com has this catalogue available together with other catalogues on Finnish designs and art.

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Josef Albers Museum / Quadrat Bottrop and its amazing poster publications.

It must have been in december some eight years ago that me, my wife and Ellis my sister in law decided to make a small detour to Bottrop after vsiting the Alsace region. When we arrived there were were impressed by the surroundings of the museum. a park and a sculpture garden next door to the museum building itself. Of coursse we came over there to see the Josef Albers paintings, but after the visit we started to see what wonderful items the bookshop was selling. Among them….posters, special prints and Josef Albers furniture.

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I bought the posters , because they were there for sale in all sorts of appearances. Specila prints, silks screened, signed and even limited editions and they were not exported or could not be ordered only bought on site. That is the reason why we returned one year later and i bought more of them. Making them a substantial part of my inventory. Most of them are sold out now, but i am fortunate to be able to offer them. These are among the very best exhibition poster sin the world by some of the grewatest names in Art today. The posters i bought are available at www.ftn-books.com…just search for Albers or Bottrop.

 

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Wim Crouwel and Willem Sandberg publications found.

3 maal incl arp a

I am always on the look out and searching for the best catalogues that are published by rhe Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. The best catalogues were published in the 50’s and 60’s and designed by Willem Sandberg and Wim Crouwel and i am proud to say that i have managed to colelct a wonderful collection of their catalogues and possibly one of the largest collections available on the internet. Many of thier publications are sold and collected all over the world and because of that i sell these catalogues to many collectors. The 3 titles i present in this blog weere sold out during the last 6 months, but….. i was lucky to find these with a colleague and now i have them again in my inventory. Just search for them at www.ftn-books.com .

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They are expensive catalogues , but take my word these will become impossible to find in a few years and when they come on the market they will be even more expensive. The power of these titles is that they are more like works of art. The Arp (1960) has woodcut printing on the outside and inside and the Soto cover is a kinetic object because of the thread on the outside (1969). The Steinberg….yes one of the first publications with fold out pages (1953).

3 maal incl arp b