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Jan Commandeur (1954)

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Another painter from my generation is Jan Commandeur. Abstract lyrical work which is rooted in nature. Shadows and spots of light play with each other on his canvasses. Bright and dark places are depicted, but combined in an abstract way making the paintings related to nature, but purely abstract in its composition. A fascinating way of painting and because of their size very impressive.

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FTN books has a very nice designed catalogue on Commandeur available at www.ftn-books.com

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Edward Burra (1905-1976)

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One of the nice side effects of being artbook dealer is that you still “discover” artists which were not known to you before you started with the inventory at www.ftn-books.

One of these artist is Britisch born Edward Burra. A painte who at first glance reminded me of Beckmann and Hopper, but studying the Lefevere catalogue which is available at www.ftn-books.com revealed a totally original artist.

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Burra was a British painter and printmaker best known for his large-scale watercolor paintings, as well as for his landscapes and still lifes. The artist depicted scenes of the seedy urban underbelly and African-American culture during the 1930s in Harlem, NY. Born on March 29, 1905 in London, United Kingdom, Burra studied at the Chelsea School of Art and the Royal College of Art under Randolph Schwabe and Raymond Coxon. He frequently collaborated with artist Paul Nash and was part of Nash’s Unit One, a British group of Modernist artists that included John Armstrong, Frances Mary Hodgkins, and Henry Moore. Burra was an avid traveler, but following the outbreak of World War II found himself unable to leave the country. During this period, the artist found success designing scenery and costumes for opera, ballet, and theater. The artist died on October 22, 1976 in Hastings, United Kingdom.Today, his works are included in the collections of the Tate Gallery in London, the National Galleries of Scotland in Edinburgh, and the Art Institute of Chicago, among others and that is probably the reason why i never heard of him before, since his work is not to be discovered outside the UK.

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Walter Vopava (1948)

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I love paintings which have “infinity” in them. It is the quality i encounter in the paintings by Gerard Verdijk, but i also find them in the paintings by Walter Vopava. Abstract forms and elements combined into a landscape of abstraction with a brighter colored center making these paintings like portals to another world.

As one of the most important representatives of Austrian painting, Walter Vopava, who was awarded the Austrian Art Prize in 2011, is known for his painterly and at the same time individual and purist colour compositions. The artist studied at the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts. Today he lives and works in Vienna and Berlin. Vopava is a member of the MAERZ Artists’ Association and the Association of Austrian Visual Artists. His works have already been presented at the Wiener Secession (1994), the Museum Moderner Kunst – Stiftung Wörlen (1999), the Shanghai Art Museum (2005) and the Kunsthalle Krems (2011).

www.ftn-books.com has some Vopava publications available.

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Carry Hauser (1895-1985)

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Increasingly important and one  painter i discovered recently through a magnificent monograph/oeuvre catalogue on Carry Hauser which is available at www.ftn-books.com

I had to read some articles on this Austrian painter to know and discover myself how his art life developed through the years and it appears that the timeslot of the INTERBELLUM was artistically the most important one for him. For a quick biography…here is the entry on Wikipedia on the artist:

Carry Hauser was born in Vienna as Carl Maria Hauser into the family of a civil servant. He was educated at the Schottengymnasium and the Höhere Graphische Bundes-Lehr- und Versuchsanstalt, after which he studied at the Wiener Kunstgewerbeschule under, among others, Adolf Michael BoehmAnton von KennerAlfred Roller and Oskar Strnad. He then began his career as a painter, illustrator, theatrical designer and author, which was interrupted by World War I, for military service in which he volunteered in 1914. His war experiences made him a pacifist.

After the war he returned to Vienna, where among others he met Franz Theodor Csokor, for whose play Die rote Straße (“THe Red Street”) he designed the set in 1918. In the same year the first comprehensive exhibition of his work was held, in the museum at Troppau, and another was arranged for him by Arthur Roessler, although his earlier works had been lost during the war and could not be exhibited. He became still better-known in 1919 through his portfolio Die Insel (“The Island”).

From 1919 to 1922 Hauser was a leading member of the artists’ group Freie Bewegung (“Free Movement”), and also belonged to the artists’ society Der Fels (“The Rock”) while he lived for a time in Passau. From 1925 to 1938 he was a member of another artists’ group, the Hagenbund, of which he was president in 1927/28. In the theatrical world he was vice-president of the Vienna Theatre Guild (Wiener Theatergilde). During the 1930s in the time of the Ständestaat he was active in the Patriotic Front (Vaterländische Front).

After the Anschluss of 1938, Hauser, because of his political stance, was banned by the National Socialists from working and exhibiting. In 1939 he was given an appointment in the art school of Melbourne but was prevented from taking it up by the outbreak of World War II. His wife, Gertrud Herzog-Hauser (1894–1953), to whom he had been married since 1922, was of Jewish origin and emigrated to the Netherlands, where she managed to survive the war. Hauser went into exile in Switzerland, where he wrote Eine Geschichte vom verlorenen Sohn (1941, privately published 1945), the novel Zwischen gestern und morgen (1945) and the fairytale Maler, Tod und Jungfrau (1946).

In 1947 Hauser and his wife returned to Vienna and took part in the reconstruction. In 1952 he became General Secretary of the Austrian PEN Club, and later its vice-president, which he remained until 1972. He was also a council member of the organisation Aktion gegen Antisemitismus (“Action Against Antisemitism”) and was involved in the revival of the Berufsvereinigung der bildenden Künstler Österreichs (“Professional Union of the Fine Artists of Austria”), of which he was later vice-president.

He died in 1985 in Rekawinkel. He is buried in a grave of honour in the cemetery at Hietzing.

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Nancy Spero (1926-2009)

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I wanted to write a blog on Nancy Spero, but when studying her works and biography i stumbled upon a more than excellent article on Spero written by  Hans Ulrich Obrist. This can not be bettered so i decided to use his entire text for this blog on `Nancy Spero…enjoy.

“The one thing that artists must possess above all other qualities is immense courage,” the filmmaker and anthropologist Jean Rouch once said to me. Nancy Spero, who died on October 18th in Manhattan at the age of 83, was a woman who possessed immense courage, both in her art and in her life. For more than half a century, this courage propelled a practice of enormous imagination that moved across painting, collage, printmaking, and installation, constructing what Spero once called a “peinture féminine” that could address—and redress—both the struggles of women in patriarchal society and the horrors perennially wrought by American military might. Nevertheless, Spero’s art was ambiguous and never merely illustrative, and her treatment of these subjects came through a complex symbolic language incorporating an extraordinary polyphony of goddess-protagonists drawn from Greek, Egyptian, Indian, and pagan mythologies. She once told me that “goddesses, as is true of the gods, possess many characteristics of the eternal, which range from the tragic to transformation into a state of pleasure or even extreme excitement or happiness.”

Her prolific and tremendously inspired career was also fueled by her enduring dialogue with Leon Golub, whom she met in the late 1940s as a student at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and later married. In Paris, where they lived from 1959 to 1964, Spero produced a series of hauntingly oblique works called the Black Paintings, clearly infused with something of their mid-century Parisian, existentialist milieu. Painted at night and featuring androgynous figures and scrawled text fragments in somber colors over bright underlays, the artist once described them as “lyrical,” but also, “deathlike.” Throughout her career, Spero’s aesthetic was indeed one of the fragment, of the torn piece borrowed and fractured, the artist akin to Gilles Deleuze’s “vol créateur” who creatively steals and redirects meaning. Collage, though only one of the artist’s formal means, remained what we might call the conceptually determinant medium of Spero’s art.

Initially, Spero’s work was not openly confrontational—“not parallel, but at an angle,” she once said, paraphrasing Simone de Beauvoir. It was only with the War Series (1966–70), produced at the time of the war in Vietnam and after the couple had relocated to New York, that the terms for Spero’s subsequent overt politicization of painting were established. Its gendered bombs and helicopters, blood-spurting heads and flying insects, constructed a scatological picture of conflict as orgy. Its grotesque realism (in Mikhail Bakhtin’s sense) was all the more disturbing for what Spero once described as its “weird combination of the celebratory and the horrendous,” of the “festive and the frightening.” Kill Commies/Maypole, a work from the War Series that featured severed heads dangling from the end of maypole ribbons, was to form the basis—forty years later—of Spero’s thirty-five-foot-tall hanging mobile, Maypole/Take No Prisoners, installed in the entrance hall of the Italian Pavilion at the 2007 Venice Biennale. The relation of repetition and difference between the two works paralleled that between the conflict in Southeast Asia in the 1960s and America’s recent war in Iraq, casting a “terrible continuum” of death and destruction into relief.

Spero specialized in the dissection of conflict. The series of scroll works entitled Codex Artaud that she created between 1971 and 1972 further used collage to produce startling juxtapositions of text and image, their horizontality and the linearity of their elements recalling hieroglyphics, the shards of text taken from Antonin Artaud’s writings exposing her “anger and disappointment at the art world and at the world as a whole.” By this time, Spero had become heavily involved in activist groups operating in and around the New York art world, joining the Art Workers Coalition in 1968 and Women Artists in Revolution in 1969, and becoming a founding member of the women-only cooperative gallery A.I.R. in SoHo. The empowerment of women artists through these activities found symbolic form in Notes in Time on Women, an encyclopedic work Spero first presented in 1979. Taking the form of a 210-foot-long scroll charting the status of women through historical time, it featured figures of athletic women, both ancient and modern, who hopped, skipped, and jumped among quotations from a myriad of sources, many of which spoke to both the implicit and explicit misogyny in the canon of male European philosophers.

From the 1980s onward, Spero exerted a powerful influence on younger generations of artists while continuing to be highly prolific herself. Many of her later works are defiantly hopeful and celebratory, a tenor reflected in her use of particularly strong colors during this time. For instance, a mural produced in the highly charged locale of Derry, Northern Ireland, honored the political actions of the city’s women with a frieze of Greek goddesses and contemporary athletes alongside images of Derry women, while in a 2001 mural on the walls of the 66th Street station in New York City’s subway we see the dynamic figure of an opera singer in a golden gown, lifting and lowering her arms in song beneath the Lincoln Center, home to the Metropolitan Opera.

Nancy Spero continued to work with this sense of hope, despite having suffered the loss of Leon in 2004 and problems with her own health, and amid the deepening of America’s political crisis and international injustices. Spero’s art was suffused with this very human hope, which she saw as being grounded in the intractability of human struggle. Her work was never crudely utopian—as she told me, “utopia, like heaven, is kind of boring.”

Beyond a body of pioneering and exceptional work spanning more than half a century of tumultuous social change, this sense of hope will be her legacy. It was an everyday hope that she lived and breathed, and a hope for today rather than tomorrow: “I don’t know about the future yet because everything is subsumed in the present.” She liked to quote Susan B. Anthony in saying, “Failure is impossible.”

www.ftn-books.com has several titles available on Nancy Spero

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Josephine Sloet (continued)

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In my last meeting with Josephine she spoke of spending the summer at Marcillac-St.Quentin. She explained that she had had hardly any time to start or finish new work, but planned to paint again in her Marcillac-St.Quentin studio. 2 paintings were ready to be shipped over there, but first she had to attend the opening of a new exhibition , which starts at the beginning of May. After the opening she would leave for France. I am really looking forward to see her new paintings since it has been a while i saw new work. The splendid  and ultimate monograph on Gerard Verdijk took all her time. Still i now want to focus on one painting that i have in my personal collection for almost a year now. It comes from the former Hans Bronsgeest collection and it is hung opposite Horizontal/Vertical by Gerard Verdijk.

Both paintings blend with our interior . One is from 1994 the other from 1993 and in many ways these paintings are related to each other. It feels like both artist have used the same color scheme in those days and these canvasses are fully abstract. “Infinity” is “just arround the corner” in both paintings and their colors match too.

A selection of Josephine Sloet paintings is availabel at www.ftn-blog.com ( see pages on Josephine Sloet) for more information please inquire at wvdelshout@ziggo.nl

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Floris Arntzenius (1864-1925)

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Floris Arntzenius is one of those painters who can be called a dutch impressionist. His touch is not as sunny as the French impressionists, but more subdued and influenced by weather and seasons in the Netherlands, making his paintings less bright and cheerfull. Still his depicting of daily life and townscapes makes his work of a rare quality. His painting can be compared with that of Jan Toorop, but where Toorop changed his style for several times during his life, Arntzenius stayed true to classic dutch impressionist scenes.

left Arntzenius / right Toorop

 

The Gemeentmuseum Den Haag has some very nice Arntzenius paintings in its collection and has published several catalogues over the years of which some are available at www.ftn-books.com

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Pierre Bonnard (1867-1947)

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A wish of mine was for a very long time to add a Bonnard painting to my collection, Knowing at the same time that it is an unrealistic and certainly impossible wish. I have been looking for Bonnard paintings in all major museums. found them and they always impress. They have some realistic elements, a lot of abstraction and truly magnific atmosphere. Bonnard catches the light as no other painter does. A brushstroke and technique which resembles the pointillist technique of painting and with this technique he created a style of his own. the result highly recognizable paintings which always fascinate.

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It took a very long time before finally his works were considered to be the very best from the century. There were two exhibitions in the late Nineties which contributed to this recognition ( Tate and Moma)

Wikipedia describes why his paintings are one of a kind:

Bonnard is known for his intense use of color, especially via areas built with small brush marks and close values. His often complex compositions—typically of sunlit interiors and gardens populated with friends and family members—are both narrative and autobiographical. Bonnard’s fondness for depicting intimate scenes of everyday life, has led to him being called an “Intimist“; his wife Marthe was an ever-present subject over the course of several decades She is seen seated at the kitchen table, with the remnants of a meal; or nude, as in a series of paintings where she reclines in the bathtub. He also painted several self-portraitslandscapes, street scenes, and many still lifes, which usually depicted flowers and fruit.

Bonnard did not paint from life but rather drew his subject—sometimes photographing it as well—and made notes on the colors. He then painted the canvas in his studio from his notes. “I have all my subjects to hand,” he said, “I go back and look at them. I take notes. Then I go home. And before I start painting I reflect, I dream.”

He worked on numerous canvases simultaneously, which he tacked onto the walls of his small studio. In this way he could more freely determine the shape of a painting; “It would bother me if my canvases were stretched onto a frame. I never know in advance what dimensions I am going to choose

www. ftn-books.com has some nice Bonnard titles available

 

 

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Peter Pontiac (1951-2015)….Infanticide

 

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This is the farewell exhibition of the Groninger Stripmuseum . It stops after this appealing exhibition in which comic artist show that beside their talents as comic artists they are in many cases also serious and very accomplished painters. Here is the painting that struck me most. It is INFANTICIDE by the late Peter Pontiac.

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I am an admirer of Peter Pontiac for a long time now and this painting shows in an excellent way that there is more to his art than his stand alone comics. www.ftn-books.com has some nice Peter Pontiac items and limited editions available.

 

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weekly Piet Dirkx : SHALL I COMPARE THE TO A SUMMER’S DAY

 

dirkx shall i compareThis is a line from a Shakespeare sonnet . Piet Dirkx finds his titles everywhere and notes them on cigarboxes and Moleskine note books  and this is probably one of the most illustrous of all. The work of art is also exceptional. The first time i saw it was at the first Piet Dirkx exhibition in the Ravesteijnzaal at the Haags Gemeentemuseum and this was the second work i acquired for my collection and never regretted it. It is long work of art , measuring aprox. 200 cm and its height being ca. 15 cm. The lat is tiles and signed and dated by Piet Dirkx. The work consists of 14 small paintings on wood , placed on a special lat.