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Felix Labisse (1905-1982)

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Felix Labisse, is for me one of the great surrealist painters from last century and i have a life long admiration for the artist and his works.

It must have been around 1970 that i visited in the company of my parents Paris. I started to grow an interest in art and limited editions because i had a membership with ARTA . a small gallery with a subscription program to buy at membership prices graphic art. My entire collection at that moment well below 5 lithographs.

Paris it was and beside the scenic neighbourhoods , museums and tourist attractions we went to shop at “galerie Lafayette”. We took the escalator and on the top floor …there it was . a true ART gallery and the first piece on show was this lithograph in a signed edition.

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I was so impressed with the lithograph that i borrowed the money with my father to buy it and since it has been in my collection. I still love the beauty of the typical Labisse female figures. It is not on the wall anymore, but is still very much appreciated as a wonderful piece of art that i cherish for being a Labisse and for being one of the first pieces of art that i ever bought.

www.ftn-books.com has some nice Labisse publications available

btw. The beautiful portrait of Labisse sitting is by Brassai

 

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Another rare Constant Cobra title

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Bibliotheque d’Alexandrie Paris # CONSTANT # 1959, NM+++/Mint–

This is how it is described in the headline of the object in my internet store at www.ftn-books.com

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You will have a hard time in finding this title on the internet and if you find it, my guess it is it will be in less condition than the one i have on offer. This is an extremely rare title and an absolute ” must have” for all serious Constant (book) collectors. It is not that thick but its contents is highly important and one of the first special Constant publications that was published on Constant.

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Just a walk in PARIS 2009…. and Fluxus

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It was about 9 years ago that me and my wife Linda visited Paris. Dropped our son together with my sister in law, nephew and niece at the gates of Disneyland Paris and went to the city.

I know Paris well and took Linda for the first time to some “arrondissements” she had never visited before. There was the 16th where i had lived for almost a year and the Rue de Seine , the Modern art district .

At one of the galleries a FLUXUS exhibition was being held with art by BEN and Saito. To make this exhibition known to the outside world an extremely nice FLUXUS poster was published. Because i had a hunch that these posters would become important i asked if i could take 4 of them with me. NO problem….. and now 9 years later there is only one of these rare posters left and available at www.ftn-books.com and in time they have proven that i was right about them. They have proven to be important and highly collectable.

 

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Meret Oppenheim (1913-1985)

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Back to back …yesterday’s blog on Dennis Oppenheim…and this one on Meret Oppenheim.

There is absolutely no family relation between these two and Meret Oppenheim has proven her importance over the years. At least there is a generation gap of two generations between these 2 artists. She became friends with Arp, Breton, Duchamp and Man Ray. The last made an important and very well known photo series of her in Paris in which she figured.

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At this time in Paris she was called and considered the MUSE of the surrealists. This series made her an instant success, but this success suffocated her too and she decided to return to Basel and start her own artist career.

She had her studio’s in Basel and Bern and for the last city she left after her death one third of collection to the Bern museum.

Perhaps her most well know work is LE DEJEUNER EN FOURRURE. A large work which was criticized by many, but what now has become one of the icons in Modern Art.

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www.ftn-books.com has some Meret Oppenheim titles available

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Assouline is a very special publisher

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In 1994, Prosper and Martine Assouline published their first book, La Colombe d’Or, on the history of their favorite hotel in the South of France, with photographs by Prosper and text by Martine. The publishing house began as a family company in the basement of the couple’s apartment in Paris and one year later, the firm opened its first office on rue Danielle Casanova in Paris. The company later opened more offices, first in New York, and then in Venice, Geneva, Istanbul, and London. The company’s first book series was the Memoire collection of books focusing on individuals and companies in fashion, jewelry, design, and art. Initial publications included books about AzzedineAlaïa, Chanel, Vionnet, and Dior. As of 1997, about half a million editions from the Memoire collection had been sold, with 27 titles on Paris in addition to others.

Assouline has partnered with fashion companies, including Poiret, Chanel, Pucci, Dior, Goyard, Coach, Andrée Putman, and Valentino to create special editions and trunks.Assouline titles have been published in multiple different languages. In 2001, Assouline published Lee Radziwill’s memoir, Happy Times, the first book of the Icons collection, which focuses on travel and style. Assouline also produces the “Impossible Collection” of books and the “Ultimate Collection”, a series of limited-edition hand-bound oversize volumes with hand-tipped illustrations.

In 2002 Assouline published the book Bright Young Things by Brooke de Ocampo.[17] Then in 2007, the company owners relocated to New York City, and that same year they began to partner with the Council of Fashion Designers of America. In 2011 Prosper Assouline was awarded the Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres from the French Ministry of Culture for his work in publishing. In 2012, Assouline produced a waterproof book on the subject of the South Pole, as well as Gaia, a book of photos taken on the International Space Station by Guy Laliberté.

In 2015, Assouline launched a “Haute Couture” furnishings collection called “Assouline Interiors”. Assouline also produces accessories, bookbags, and bindery. They have also designed private libraries and lounges in New York City in buildings including 432 Park, The Caledonia, and The Shephard. In 2016, the French Institute Alliance Française awarded the Assoulines with the Art de Vivre award for their publications.

(this is the full text as found on Wikipedia)

www.ftn-books.com has some nice Assouline publications available

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Claude Monet and abstract art

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A few months ago i encountered on Blouin.com a very interesting article on the importance of the “abstract” waterlilies paintings by Claude Monet. Because of this importance i will post the complete article in this blog and please know that www.ftn-books.com has some nice publications on Monet available.

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As hard as it may be to believe today, Claude Monet’s beloved Water Lilies series received little admiration during the artist’s lifetime. regarded as too neo-classical, or too decorative, or confusing and messy — perhaps the product of the artist’s failing eyesight — more than 200 of the monumental compositions leaned against the walls of Monet’s Giverny studio for some 30 years, unsold. After his death, 22 “Water Lilies” panels out of some 250 he had produced were installed in the Musee del’Orangerie in Paris, a gift the artist bequeathed to the French state. but they were largely ignored.

“When it opened, it stayed nearly empty,” said Cecile Debray, the chief curator of the l’Orangerie. “Everyone had forgotten these works of art. I remember one writer saying that it was a place where lovers went to hide.” It wasn’t until the 1950s, nearly 30 years after Monet’s death, that the works began to find a popular following. The Museum of Modern Art’s founding director, Alfred J. Barr Jr., bought three for the New York museum in 1955 — at an absurdly cheap price— and hung them as a panorama.

Art critics such as Clement Greenberg were arguing that Monet’s late works were the precursors to the American abstract art movement, positioning his Water Lilies in relation to Jackson Pollock‘s paintings, such as “Autumn Rhythm (number 30),” 1950. Seen that way, the works resonated with American Abstract expression and the concept of something called “Abstract Impressionism” was forged.

The Orangerie, now one of the key art attractions in Paris, is mounting an exhibition that focuses on the precise moment when these works entered into dialogue with American post-war art. “The Water Lilies. American Abstract painting and the Last Monet” runs until August 20.

With a selection of 20 major paintings by artists such as Jackson PollockMark RothkoBarnett NewmanHelen FrankenthalerMorris LouisJoan Mitchell and other key figures of American abstraction, the show juxtaposes Monet’s late works with the artists he influenced, either directly or indirectly.

“The question of influence is very delicate,” said Debray, curator of the exhibition. “Some of the artists have visited the Orangerie and Giverny, such as Barnett Newman and Ellsworth Kelly who were really influenced by Monet’s work. but some, like Pollock, were linked to Monet through Clement Greenberg, and not through themselves. It isn’t always just a simple question of influence, but how connections were made through art critics, the art market, and also museums.”

Monet embarked on the grand project of the Water Lilies series at the age of 73, and they consumed his attention for the last decades of his life from about 1914 to 1926, when he died. He intended some of them to be shown in series of three, alone in a single chamber, in what today we would call an installation, but others were standalone works.

At his home in Giverny, Monet built an enormous garden and tended to it with extreme care, expressly for the purpose of making these artworks and capturing water lilies and other scenes of nature in paint. “in French, you’d call it the aboutissement of his life’s work,” said Debray. “When you realize what you wanted to do your whole life.”

“These landscapes of water and reflection have become an obsession for me,” Monet wrote to a friend in 1909. “It is beyond my strength as an old man, and yet I want to render what I feel.”

In 1952, the Kunsthalle Zurich borrowed five Water Lilies paintings for a Monet retrospective, and the exhibition catalog lauded them as the precursors of Modern art. thereafter, they received more attention, and Barr’s purchase of the works led to the biggest wave of subsequent interest.

According to the MoMA’s book “Claude Monet’s Water Lilies,”  the connection between the late Monet paintings and the Abstract Art Movement was mostly an intellectual construct: “In the wake of World War II, the artists that would come to be known as thNewew York school developed a form of art that was radically different from their predecessors in Europe or the United states.

Works that claimed to be fatherless… made room for a putative precedent. Monet’s Water Lilies, as free from polemic as the Americans’ work was a clarion call, would come to take on a prominent role.”

By October 1957, the New York Times critic David Sylvester called Monet “the art world’s most newly resurrected deity, the painter whose standing has risen more than that of any other, as a result of post-war movements in taste,” which he called “obviously a by-product of action painting, abstract expressionism, and other activities.”

In 1958, when a fire at the MoMA destroyed the museum’s original Water Lilies paintings, Barr had to replace them immediately with others from the same series because they were such a popular draw to the museum, Debray said.

“There came a time when just to have a Water Lilies work from this series became very important to every museum of Modern art,” said Debray.

It makes sense that the museum would explore the complex history of the paintings that were designed for the Orangerie, and how American abstraction, in a way, brought about the appreciation of Monet’s late works. debray said, however, that the show doesn’t try to make simple-sum comparisons or settle into an easy narrative — there are many strands to this story.

For example, the show looks at how the monumentality of Monet’s Water Lilies was linked to Modern art  — which, following World War II, required larger and larger spaces to house it. While there are some Abstract works that clearly reflect a kind of homage or reference to Monet, others have a more theoretical or conceptual link.

Most important for the Color Field painters, perhaps, was the effect of Monet’s zooming into the surface of the water, removing all boundaries and borders and placing the viewer inside the subject itself. in an interview that the painter Ellsworth Kelly once gave to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, he explained how his work was linked to the late works of Monet:

“Painting in the Renaissance and after was like a window, and your spacial view was always through the window,” he said. “With Monet, with Cezanne, they started messing up paint and started bringing attention to the surface of the painting and you had to go up to it and see how it was done and how they did it. I feel that, in my work, the space between the viewer and the painting is the area that I want to enliven.”

Among the works on display is a 1968 reductive pencil drawing on paper by Kelly of a single water lily, part of a series of plant drawings that the abstract artist worked on throughout his career. Another work is Kelly’s “Tableau Vert,” in which one can feel the ripples of Monet’s watery surfaces in the textured greens and blues of kelly’s palette.

Another element of the exhibition is an exploration of the term “Abstract Impressionism,” which was used by Elaine de Kooning, the artist, and art critic, to describe the early colorful painterly style of Philip Guston. Abstract impressionism was also employed as a catchall for two post-war American styles: the Action painting expressed by artists like Pollock and Willem de Kooning; and the Color Field painting practiced by Rothko and Noland.

Various artists throughout the post-war era looked into Monet’s watery gardens and didn’t see flowers and light and water and sky. they saw modernity or something like it.

And as for Monet? “ I think he was against abstraction because he was a man of the 19th century,” said Debray. “He knew that what he was doing was not fashionable and people were not at ease with his radicality. I think he did it because i think it was a necessity.”

http://www.blouinartinfo.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

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Auguste Rodin (1840-1917)

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Here si a classic sculptor who paved the way for modern sculpture. You just have to visit the Rodin museum in Paris to find the most beautiful Rodin sculptures all assembled into one place and find the “studies” among them. Look at them closely …travel in time some 50 years ahead and find parts of Henri Moore and Brancusi in them. Rodin was a genius and the dutch are lucky to have some great Rodin sculptures in public collections. There are statues in the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag and the Stedelijk Museum and there are 7 sculptures by Rodin collected by Mr. and Mrs Singer which are frequently on show at the Singer Museum in Laren. The most important one is a smaller sized “THINKER” statue.

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Beside the statues , Rodin made some very impressive  (erotic) watercolors. Studies of bodies which also have an abstract quality.

Rodin erotic

There are publications on Rodin available at www.ftn-books.com

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Douglas James Johnson (1940-1998) and Jean Genet.

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This will not be an easy blog and i was in doubt if i should publish it, but these prints are so impressive that i will make an effort.

In 1948 Jean Genet published Funeral Rites. An impressive, erotic, grief stricken, despairing novel on the death of his lover. The young hero  who was shot at the barricades in the uprising of the populace of Paris against the german occupation in August 1944. Irreconcilable contradictions become the poles between which he constructs a vast, centrifugal ritual of Love, Death, ecstasy, horror, beauty, betrayal and despair. Johnson’s pictures are a translation and an expansion of these principal themes in which the love and physical excitement for his death lover remains after his death. The Hitlerian and Nazi imagery is suggested in the prints and is/was always present in the Genet novel and is the background, which together with the male nudity, gives them an uneasy feeling to the spectator. To understand  these prints it is necessary to at least read a short summary of the Genet novel. Now for the technique…. I have seen many prints during my life, but this publication with these 10 prints belongs to the very best of all. All prints are special. Not only because the print quality is excellent, but nearly on every print a special collage is fixed to enhance the print and making it stand out. All prints are numbered and signed from an edition of 80 . Numbered 30/80

On Facebook i found some further information by David Cowper on this edition.

The genesis of this series of silkscreen prints goes back to 1970-72. Johnson, who was living in Tehran at the time, had read Genet’s ‘Funeral Rites’ after a visit to France where he met and talked to Bernard Frechtman, the translator. He was fascinated by the themes of betrayal, depair and love. as well as by the strange technique of the narrative. By 1972 he had completed twelve drawings with collages based on the book. In 1975 after coming to live in France the previous year, Johnson showed them to Genet at the Karl Flinker gallery in Paris. Genet enthusiastically encouraged Johnson to have them printed and in1976 when Rob Jurka of Amsterdam saw them he suggested publishing a series of prints based on the drawings. Johnson started preparing a set of ten plates for the printer and in May 1977 spent a month in Amsterdam with the printer Hans Jansen and completed the first five prints. The last five were completed in september 1977 and the series was first exhibited by Galerie Jurka at the International Contemporary Art Fair ‘FIAC’ in the Grand Palais in Paris. October 1977. (this text was taken from the booklet Definitions of Betrayal Part 1 Funeral Rites) The Prints have also been exhibited at the Schwules Museum in Berlin within the past couple of years.

I will not post any pictures that may offend the readers but for those interested in this very special portfolio by Galerie Jurka from 1977 … here is the link to download the PDF file with the 10 prints.

pdf file : Douglas James Johnson rites b

The portfolio is available at ftn art.

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Bettina Rheims ( 1952 ) and Morceaux Choisis

It is possible that i like the photography of Bettina Rheims so much because we are from the same generation. The french hotel rooms that are a little worn are familiar to me too and these are in many cases the backgrounds of the models that Bettina Rheims uses in her photography. Whenever i find a book or special publication by Rheims , i buy it. The MORCEAUX CHOISIS title that is available at www.ftn-books.com was found in Bilbao at a local bookstore when we visited it together with the Guggenheims. Still packed and in pristine condition . another title published a few years ago was found in Paris and the last one i added ” BONKERS” in Rotterdam. The collection of Rheims publications will be expanding in the years to come , but has now grown into quite a few titles.