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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

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

 

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A great Museum Alphabet book / 1995

 

museum alphabet.jpgIn the very long period that i am now active  as a bookseller and collector i have seen many Alphabet books published and sold by the most famous of museums. Arguably one of the best, and certainly a personal best was the one designed by Gracia Lebbink. ( i only have a personal copy in my collection) but recently i bought another MUSEUM ALPHABET book which is nice and adventurous. It is the book published by the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. The museum published a 30 page hard paged book with details of some of the highlights within the collection, making the very youthful in a playful way familiar with the Museums collection. The book was designed and “written” by Gisela Voss and published in 1995 and is well worth collecting.  There is nothing to be found on the internet on the author, but this book is one of a series of other books she made for the Boston Museum .This book is now available at www.ftn-books.com

museum alphabet b

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Ernst Barlach (1870-1938)

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Barlach died just before the outbreak of WWII.  Kathe Kollwitz was about the same age and both were heavily influenced by the events of WWI. This war made an impression on both artists and many of their statues and sculptures  reminders of this war.

Wood was the material with which Barlach preferred to work and it has taken a very long time that his works received the appreciation they rightfully deserved to get. In the Netherlands only one exhibition was held. It was held at the Boymans van Beuningen Museum in 1961. Personally i did not take notice of this exhibition until last week when i found the catalogue.  I discovered it at the local Bookmarket and thought it had a beautiful design….yes designed by Benno Wissing and the design of the catalogue emphasized the qualities of barlach’s sculptures. The catalogue is nowavailable at www.ftn-books.com and for those visiting the Hamburg region, There are 2 Barlach museums in the region. One in Wedel and one in Ratzeburg.

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Allessandro Mendini (continued)

 

I wrote two earlier blogs on Mendini. One in 2016 and one in February this year to commemorate his accomplishments after his death at the age of 87.

Last week i found one of his earliest dutch publications. An important one, because it preceded the commission of designing the Groninger Museum. Probably the exhibition was held to introduce Mendini to the dutch people of Groningen and prepare them for the adventurous building Mendini would design for the Groninger Museum.

This publication is from 1988 , published together with Politi editore  and it is filled with the typical Mendini designs of which elements would be used outside and within the Groninger Museum.  I love this book, which is now for sale at www.ftn-books.com

mendini groningen

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A tribute to Cor Rosbeek ( 1944-2019 )

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Recently one of the driving forces in the dutch museum publications world died. I remember Cor Rosbeek as one of the most gifted of all printers in Europe. On those occasions that we met professionally he came up with practical solutions and had always in mind the quality of the finished product.

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He made the impossible possible with a printing press and found solutions for the product that were thought to be impossible to realize. One of his best publications was the Diary of Anne Frank for which he made the facsimile reprint. Cor Rosbeek was a printing genius and realized many beautiful publications with the greatest of practically all (dutch) designers. His series of Rosbeek publications is known all over the world. In these publications everything comes together….great design, typography, layout, choice of papers and subject make these publications a monument for Cor Rosbeek. Some of these highly collectable publications are available at www.ftn-books.com

 

 

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Wim Crouwel and DE VOLKSKRANT

 

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Wim Crouwel passed away some days ago and since, a great number of articles have been published on his life and accomplishments as a designer. His works will prove to be highly important for designers all over the world in the future and DE VOLKSKRANT ( one of the most important newspapers in the Netherlands) recognized that fact and devoted  a 2 page article on Crouwel in their Saturday paper. It is only on rare occasions that such a long and detailed article is published on just one person. Wim Crouwel and his works prove to be that important. The article can be found on the internet here (dutch)

https://www.volkskrant.nl/mensen/wim-crouwel-hoeder-van-het-functionele-ontwerp-en-een-onverzettelijke-rechtlegger~bf53fa62/

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Oxenaar…the year 1985…the artists : David Nash and Sjoerd Buisman

It is in 1985 that David Nash and Sjoerd Buisman are both invited by Rudi Oxenaar to make a contribution to the 50 years anniversary of the Nationaal Park de Hoge Veluwe.

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On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Hoge Veluwe National Park, the ‘Steyn-park’, designed by Henry van de Velde, is restored, ‘both in terms of the afforestation and foliage and the paving’. Furthermore, the artists David Nash and Sjoerd Buisman are invited to realize two projects each in the grounds of the Hoge Veluwe. These Growing sculptures are subsequently acquired by Oxenaar.

buisman nash

I witnissed at one time one of these growing sculptures by Sjoerd Buisman. He realized a project at the pondds of the Gemeentemuseum , by splanting sticks into the grounds of the water. Over time these sprouted into bushes along the shores of the ponds. Since i could witness the progression and growing of this sculpture it fascinated me more over time. The total length of the project was about 3 month. Ther book on the project is available at www.ftn-books.com

 

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the oldest Stedelijk Museum i have in stock is on Aug. Legras

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To be honest … i had never heard of Legras before, but the catalogue is impkrtant enough to add it to my inventory. Since this is rare. Published in a time that the world was at war and the Netherlands was neutral. What struck me, is that like many of his fellow artists Legras was charmed by North Africa. he visited countries and villages and translated his observations into drawings and paintings. This catalogue is special and a very welcome addition to all who collect the Stedelijk Museum catalogues.

legras sm a

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Gust de Smet (1877-1943)

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I have always been an admirer of the painting DE LOGE by Gust de Smet and at the time i worked at the Gemeentemuseum i have seen it numerous times and it never disappointed me. This work is so typical for the works by Gust de Smet and when you study it for a while, you begin to notice that it a bridge between abstraction and cubism, executed in a very personal way.

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There are so many object to be distinguished within the painting that it looks like a tapestrie of paintings within the painting. On many paintings by de Smet you will find, beside the figures, a still life or a bowl with fish or…. a vase filled with flowers. These objects make the painting typical de Smet.  De Smet is one of the great Belgian expressionist painters, but outside Europe he is hardly known. Undeservedly …..because De Smet makes beautiful paintings that deserve to be exhibited worldwide.

Whenever you have the chance, visist the De Smet museum in Saint MArtens LAtem and loose yourself among many great de Smet paintings.

www.ftn-books.com has some nice De Smet titles available

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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