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Antoni Tapies (1923-2012)

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It must have been some 12 years ago that i first visited Barcelona and found myself amazed and surprised by this city full of Gaudi and other modernista marvels, but the best find for me was the discovery and first visit of the Fundacio Antoni Tapies.

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The building itself is already worth visiting and the inside is even more spectacular. An old facade houses a very modern museum inside which houses the works donated by Antoni and Theresa Tapies. I loved its collection and it proved to me that Tapies his art is timeless, very spanish and cosmopolitan at the same time. Tapies is possibly , next to Picasso and Dali , the most important spanish name in Modern Art. He often uses large canvasses and on them paints with “earth” colors impressive abstract compositions and uses  matter in them.

In these matter paintings , the materials used are no longer simple media used to express an idea; they are the idea itself. That process produces a complete identification between material and form, between concept and language. Those works become opaque surfaces, walls on which the artist writes his graffiti and attaches the forms of objects or people. His identification with the work through his surname (in Catalan Tàpies means “walls”) expresses a more profound desire to break with Western dualism and blend with the material in a continuous formlessness.
Over the post-war years there was a general interest among artists on both sides of the Atlantic in material. Awareness of the atomic bomb and the new scientific discoveries aroused a strong curiosity in science, the new ideas about space-time and substance, while inventions such as the electronic microscope provided a new view of nature.
At the same time, Tàpies had developed an interest in Eastern philosophy, because of its emphasis on material, the identity between man and nature and its denial of the dualism of our society.

There are some excellent Tapies publications available at www.ftn-books.com

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Alberto Magnelli (1888-1971)

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Born in Florence / Italy, Magnelli stayed his entire life true to a mix of abstract art mixed with futurism. Not the most likely combination because in a time when his artists friends were making futurist paintings he chose the opposite road and made brightly colored still lives. Still, there are many examples of paintings in one can see shapes and movements appear in them.

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Magnelli has not become the world famous name in art people and admirers had hoped for , but his works show quality and are still showed whenever there is a an exhibition on italian painting of the first half of the 20th century. A nice french catalogue is available at www.ftn-books.com and he is one of the artist who appeared in the catalogues on italian art which were published by the Stedelijk Museum in the 50’s and 60’s.

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Yves Klein (1928-1962)

Yesterday i learned from a dutch TV program (DWDD / De Wereld Draait Door) that there is a large Yves Klein retrospective in the BOZAR museum Brussels.

Yves Klein , touched many currents in Modern Art, even was one of the participants in ZERO, but eventually developed a style of his own using in many of his works the iconic BLUE color he developed. Was it zero, action painting or performance art? Today art lovers around the world can not answer these questions , but one can see for one self what fits most, because there is a great retrospective on his art in BOZAR/ Bruxelles until the 20th of August. His monochrome blue paintings are on show together with his action paintings of blue prints of female bodies. A great show and possibly a once in a lifetime chance to see many important Yves Klein works together.

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Nowadays Klein paintings fetch record prices at auctions all over the world, but in one of his first shows In Krefeld in 1961 nothing was sold. This was followed by an unsuccessful opening at Leo Castelli’s Gallery, New York, in which Klein failed to sell a single painting. He stayed with Rotraut Uecker at the Chelsea Hotel for the duration of the exhibition; and, while there, he wrote the “Chelsea Hotel Manifesto”, a proclamation of the “multiplicity of new possibilities.” In part, the manifesto declared:

At present, I am particularly excited by “bad taste.” I have the deep feeling that there exists in the very essence of bad taste a power capable of creating those things situated far beyond what is traditionally termed “The Work of Art.” I wish to play with human feeling, with its “morbidity” in a cold and ferocious manner. Only very recently I have become a sort of gravedigger of art (oddly enough, I am using the very terms of my enemies). Some of my latest works have been coffins and tombs. During the same time I succeeded in painting with fire, using particularly powerful and searing gas flames, some of them measuring three to four meters high. I use these to bathe the surface of the painting in such a way that it registered the spontaneous trace of fire.

To prepare your self for the exhibition, know that over the decades excellent books on Klein were published. There are some available at www.ftn-books.com

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Gerard Garouste (1946)

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Gerard Garouste came to fame in the early 80’s and his since had worldwide exhibition. Painting and theater decorations made him famous outside France.

In 1980, he had his first art show at the Durand-Dessert gallery, showing figurative, mythological, and allegorical paintings. This show brought him national recognition, and then, international. His first international show took place in New York City in 1982 at the Holly Solomon Gallery. Others followed, such as those at the Leo Castelli Gallery in New York and in Sperone, Italy. He was the only French artist to be invited to the Zeitgeist at Berlin. Institutional recognition came in 1987, at the CAPC of Bordeaux (Centre d’arts plastiques contemporains de Bordeaux), where he presented a combination of oils on canvas and acrylics on homespun, and then at the Fondation Cartier.

Garouste has executed works and decorations for various endeavors: paintings for the Élysée Palace, sculptures for Évry Cathedral, the ceiling of the theater at Namur, and for the church of Notre-Dame de Talant, stained glass. In 1989, he did the curtain for the Théâtre du Châtelet.

An important step for Garouste was the founding in 1991 of the association The Source, which sets itself the task of helping culturally underprivileged young people to achieve personal development through artistic expression.

He received an order in 1996 for a monumental work for the National Library of France mixing painting and wrought iron. Sculpture and engraving were attracting him more and more, as well as illustration for all sorts of writings, from Don Quixote to the Haggadah.

In 2001, he presented at the Fondation Cartier Ellipse, an arrangement of canvasses mounted on a construction of his own design.

Since 2001, he has been represented by the Daniel Templon Gallery.

The site of www.ftn-books.com has only one title on Garouste, but it is an important one and this only publication does not mean that Garouste is not important…No , Garouste is one of the most important living french contemporary artist of our days.

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Peter Halley (1953) and THE HORN OF PLENTY

 

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1989.. Wim Beeren curated one of the iconic Stedelijk Museum from the 80’s….The Horn of Plenty.

 

Contributions by Bickerton, Cemin, Doran, Dunham, Eckart, Ziegler, Gober, Halley, Kessler, Koons, LAsker, Prince,Rollins, Steinbach, Wool and Yarber. a great list of great artists from the eighties. One thing they had in common. They were all from New York. Koons is nowadays the most famous one, but i noticed that Peter Halley is among them and beside some smaller exhibitions . He is hardly known in Europe and specially this artist deserves far better. Still the exhibition one of those from the eighties that is remembered by many followers of the Stedelijk Museum exhibitions and it was one of the last gtreat ones which gave an overview of New York modern art in the eighties. This catalogue is available at www.ftn-books.com together with some catalogues of the artist mentioned . specially the Halley is rarely encountered in the Netherlands.

 

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Lucio Fontana (1899-1968)

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For me , he is one of the greatest from Last century. Lucio Fontana has had a long career in art and joined several groups, before he became part of the ZERO mouvement.

After ZERO he stayed true to his new found form of art in which monochrome paintings were slashed with a sharp Stanley knife or manipulated with his fingers,thus altering the surface with other materials and objects. Glass was one of his favorites to use. Fontana did not become very old, but in his art career of over 40 years he was one of the front runners in Modern Art. Willem Sandberg admired him very much and because of the importance of Zero and this admiration for Fontana, Fontana received his first Amsterdam monographic exhibition in the Stedelijk Museum in 1967. Catalogue design by Wim Crouwel makes this the perfect combination for a great publication. Sandberg/Crouwel and Fontana combined in one publication is hard to beat. Since 1967 , Fontana featured in many group exhibitions on Zero and had solo exhibitions all over the world. Art collectors must pay huge sums of money to acquire a Fontana ( if ever there is one for sale/ there was one at Dorotheum and Sothebys last year, they made  specials on youtube  on these paintings)

and Museums that have one in their collection are lucky, because his paintings are nowadays “hors catagorie”. What can be had at reasonable prices? Of course some great publication at www.ftn-books.com and whenever you find a MUSEUMJOURNAAL with the special Fontana cover, do not hesitate and ….BUY IT!!!.

 

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Toon Verhoef (1946)

I have always admired the works by Toon Verhoef. The first time i met Verhoef was when i was introduced to him when he visited the Gemeentemuseum on the occasion of the preparation of an exhibition. Since i have tried to obtain a work by Verhoef for our collection, but never succeeded…… i came close when i bid on an extremely large work which came from the former collection of the Artesia bank. It was sold at AAG and when i researched the work i found out that the composition was not random, but an abstract representation of the british queen Elizabeth II parading before Aboriginal warriors.

Verhoef is for me a fascinating artist and his compositions are timeless and brilliant.

there is a nice documentary on Youtube where Verhoef explains the history of the painting and the “Elizabeth” picture.

and for a nice selection of Verhoef titles visit www.ftn-books.com

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Anselm Kiefer (1945)

It is 31 years ago that i saw a  work by Kiefer for the first time I and was really impressed . I remember the occasion….the occasion the Anselm Kiefer exhibition at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. Grey, sombre , large paintings with scenes that reminded of war, devastation and ruins .  Later i learned that the German history and the Holocaust were main themes Kiefer always used in his works. The history of Germany being one of the main subjects in his extremely large paintings. The Stedelijk Museum bought one of the paintings for its collection. “Innenraum” is a large painting ( 280 x 311 cm.)  , but small compared to other Kiefer works.

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The exhibition was a great succes and since i  encountered several other Kiefers in museums. One stands out, impressive and it’s size is overwhelming. ( almost 10 meters in length) and is a must see whenever you visit the North of Spain.

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Anselm Kiefer

Only with Wind, Time, and Sound (Nur mit Wind, mit Zeit und mit Klang), 1997

Acrylic and emulsion on canvas

473 x 944 x 22 cm

Guggenheim Bilbao Museoa

 ( the following text comes from the Art Story site)

It is the Anselm Kiefer’s monumental, often confrontational canvases were groundbreaking at a time when painting was considered all but dead as a medium. The artist is most known for his subject matter dealing with German history and myth, particularly as it relates to the Holocaust. These works forced his contemporaries to deal with Germany’s past in an era when acknowledgment of Nazism was taboo. Kiefer incorporates heavy impasto and uncommon materials into his pieces, such as lead, glass shards, dried flowers, and strands of hay, many of which reference various aspects of history and myth, German and otherwise. Influenced by his contemporaries Joseph Beuys and Georg Baselitz, as well as by postwar tendencies in Abstract Expressionism and Conceptual art, Kiefer is considered part of the Neo-Expressionist movement, which diverged from Minimalism and abstraction to develop new representational and symbolic languages.

Of course there are some nice publications available at www.ftn-books.com including the Anselm Kiefer / Stedelijk Museum catalogue from 1986
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Icônes de l’Art Moderne. La Collection Chtchoukine

 

And there we were at the Fondation Louis Vuitton for the Chtchoukine collection…..

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Linda, David , Monica and myself were looking forward to visit this exhibition. What could we expect? Great Picasso’s, the best Matisse paintings, iconic Monet’s.  and all in one exhibition …to see this must be a fantastic experience. Some of them i had seen before, like the Gauguin’s in the Beyeler and some even 100 times or more ,because these were in the Gemeentemuseum exhibition in 1996″ FROM MONET TO MATISSE”.

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Monet tot Matisse

The bowl with gold fish by Matisse is such a painting, but it were the lesser known paintings that impressed me most. There was this magnificent small Rousseau in which one could see the early days of industrialization. Airplane and balloon prominently present in the painting. Furthermore there was this Maurice Denis with the subdued pastel colors. Looking like the dejeuner sur l’Herbe but in the Denis way and a beautiful, very impressive Picasso of 3 Nude Women. But the best was at the end . The part where you could see Chtchoukine had a very good eye for the modern, because the Rodtchenko’s and Malevitch’s were the works in which you could see the transition into Modern Art.

Here above are my favorites from this exhibition and of course there are many books to be found on these painters in the inventory of www.ftn-books.com

 

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Matisse…..La Dance (1933)

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Matisse

On the location of the Museum of Modern Art in Paris, there is a basement and within that basement is one of the best kept art secrets of Paris. Open for the public, no ticket needed,……just walk down the stairs and see one of most breath taking paintings by Matisse ever.

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Matisse La Dance

The 3 works form together one large mural/painting in which elements of the Dance are depicted. Size approx. 25 x 5 meters.

No crowds, because people forget to visit this space with the Palais de Chaillot, but it is very well worth visiting and i can predict you will be in the neighbourhood, because when you visit Paris and want to have the best view on the Eiffel tower, you will stand opposite it at the Palais de Chaillot, walk another 200 meters to the left and you are standing before the LA DANCE, at least as impressive as the Eiffel tower you came for.

title: La danse

year : 1933

adresse: Palais de Chaillot, 1 Place du Trocadéro et du 11 Novembre, Paris

+: Installé dans le Palais de Chaillot en 1977