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Henk Peeters….ECHT HENK PEETERS

 

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A blog on a  very speciual multiple that was published on the occasion of the Henk Peeters Retrospective at the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag in 2011. On that occasion a reprint of the famous Nul/Zero 1964 catalogue was made in a small edition. It is the catalogue with the ZERO presentations by Armando, Peeters and Schoonhoven. All of these legendary artists have now passed away, but Peeters realized the importance of that catalogue and from that facsimile edition Peeters took some 20 copies and made multiples out of them by Stitching the front , back and inner work together and sign them with ECHT PEETERS. This has become one of the rarest of the later Peeters multiples and now one of those multiples is for sale at www.ftn-books.com

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Henk Peeters (b. The Hague, 1925-2013)) was the most active member of the Dutch Nul group, notably with regard to the organization; he made the international contacts, organized the international ZERO (Nul) exhibitions at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, and wrote on the theory of art. It was also he who first actively participated in international exhibitions with artist groups such as the German ZERO, the Italian Azimuth, and with artists Yves Klein, Yayoi Kusama and Lucio Fontana. He initiated the (utopian) project “Zero on Sea,” with more than fifty participating artists from over ten countries, and remained true to the fundamental concept of the Nul movement right up to his death in 2013. He sought to use his works of art to make the viewer conscious of his environment; he wanted to bring about a sensitive consciousness-raising, as it were. The materials that Peeters selected for his works frequently had a very tactile appeal, while he simultaneously created a certain untouchability; thus he stuck candle tapers behind plastic foil, or placed mesh in front of cotton wool. He also used fire on canvases, leaving behind traces of thick smoke, or burned holes into plastic, the so-called “Pyrographies.” With these – often white – works he was visually closely related to the German ZERO artists, but there was also a clear relationship with Nouveau Realisme; Peeters also used ready-mades, which he bought in inexpensive stores and isolated in the work of art. In these, he had a preference for modern, clean, industrial materials, such as plastic and nylon. He once said: “with my work, I have always wanted it to look just as fresh as if it was in the HEMA (the Dutch chain store). It must not be artified… I had no need for artistic cotton wool.” Henk Peeters also worked with natural processes, such as light and water reflections, and with ice, rain, snow and mist. Art and life should be joined together inextricably. And thus, in 1961 Henk Peeters became a work of art himself, when Piero Manzoni appointed him as one; this was certified and signed by the Italian artist. Until his death (Hall (NL), 2013), Henk Peeters restored artworks from the Nul period and remained an active spokesman for the group.

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The three Henk Peeters …Nul/Zero editions

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Yes, it took a period of over 50 years for Peeters to become the household name in Zero art as he is now. Shortly before his death in 2013  there was a retrospective exhibition at the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag. At that occasion the famous Nul/Zero catalogue from 1963 was published as a facsimile. The original catlogue is an extremely hard find these days and when you encounte a copy. The condition in most of the cases is not what you had hoped for. At one time www.ftn-books.com had the the original, the facsimile and the multiple signed Peeters edition available, but that was a long time ago. All sold out at record prices, but now i am lucky to have bought the best copy i have ever owned. The condition is MINT_ and it is now available at www.ftn-books.com.

Here are the images of the originalNul/Zero book now available  condition is MINT-

and these are my pictures from the multiple by Peeters published on the occasion of his Retrospektive:

 

For those interested in Peeters history read here the text the Gemeentemuseum published at the occasion of the Henk Peeters Retrospective:

10 September 2011 till 12 February 2012

HENK PEETERS

‘The world is going to change radically.’ Henk Peeters (b. The Hague, 1925) said so more than once. The statement was an expression of his deep desire for a Communist society. It was not to be, but Peeters remained an idealist. Together with Armando and Jan Schoonhoven, he founded the Nul group – the Dutch arm of the international ZERO movement (including artists like Piero Manzoni en Lucio Fontana), with which he maintained close contacts. Their art was all about eliminating the artist’s personal style and elevating everyday life to art through the use of ordinary materials. Peeters used cotton wool, feather and hair in his artworks and even ‘drew’ and ‘painted’ with smoke and fire. This autumn, the Gemeentemuseum’s Willem Cordia Room welcomes the first ever one-man show of Henk Peeters’ work from the 1960s. A major installation involving bags of water will be recreated especially for the occasion. It was originally on show at the successful international ZERO-0-NUL exhibition held at the Gemeentemuseum in 1964.

Peeters was a spider in the web of the international ZERO movement of the 1960s and it was thanks to his efforts that the big Zero/Nul exhibition was held in the Netherlands (partly at the Gemeentemuseum in the The Hague, the city where the Nul group enjoyed its heyday). He disseminated and published Nul and ZERO manifestos and even today is an important source of information for researchers and writers concerned with the history of ZERO and Nul.

Peeters elevates everyday life to art; he believes in the synthesis between the two and wants to make art accessible to everyone. This was also the ideal of the Nul movement; Armando used ordinary gloss paint and Schoonhoven cheap extra-thick wall paint as part of the effort to undermine the elevated status of the artwork. Peeters also used materials that needed no personal handling; he used cotton wool, feathers, hair, smoke and fire to create works that may not exhibit the personality of the artist in the handling of their materials, but are nevertheless capable of conveying great sensitivity through their texture and relief.

A deep-rooted democratic principle underlies Peeters’ art, choice of materials and personal philosophy. The socialist ideals inculcated in him during his childhood are a major motivation for all his activities – of which there have been many. In addition to being an artist, Peeters has also been at various times a museum education officer, an art school teacher, a typographer, a creative arts therapist, a curator, an organizer, an activist, a television-maker and an advisor to public institutions.

The exhibition is realized in close cooperation with the ZERO foundation, Düsseldorf.

To mark the occasion of the forthcoming exhibition, the catalogue of the Haags Gemeentemuseum’s 1964 exhibition Zero (Mack/Piene/Uecker) – Nul (Schoonhoven/Armando/Henk Peeters) is to be republished as multiple.

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Henk Peeters a very special composition

Later this year i will devote another short blog to Henk Peeters. Peeters has become world famous for his contributions to the art world as a ZERO / NUL artist. Since yesterday i added a small composition by Henk Peeters to my inventory. A s good as his best Informal and Zero paintings, but on a very small scale this is a great little piece of art and now available at www.ftn-books.com

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ZERO….the second exhibition

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NUL zero Stedelijk Museum

Mid sixties ZERO became an important part within the exhibition and collection program of the Stedelijk Museum. a.0. Jan Schoonhoven being one of the artists being presented. Zero had become “main stream” and accepted and therefore it was time for a large overview of what was and had become ZERO/ NUL. Wim Crouwel was asked for the design of the 2 catalogues. One with text and one with images. Both are exceptional designs executed in a glossy silver , perfect measurements and simple but beautiful typography.

( set is available at www.ftn-books.com)

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Informele Kunst exhibition / 1983

Yes ….34 years ago i was a rookie and just had walked into the museum world and there there was this exhibition which i could not understand. An exhibition on INFORMELE KUNST in Nederland en Belgie ( dutch language) in the Schamhart wing with at the entrance an extremely large painting by Jan Cremer. At the time it was painted he asked a price for it of 1 million guilders.

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At that time a ridiculous amount of money for a work of art, but time passes and if i had known what i know on art now i would have started collecting these works which were within the exhibition. names? Schoonhoven, Leblanc, Cremer, Peeters, Armando, Verheyen, Gentils, Mortier. If only……….

A pity I did not start collecting these artists, because then the time was perfect to buy at reasonable prices. Prices started to rise from that year on and the end is not in sight. What remains is the excellent catalogue which is still available at www.ftn-books.com