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van Gogh and Ruscha by David B.

It was a few days ago that David B. published on Facebook some photographs he had taken. Without knowing  where these were taken I immediately ralized that these could have been made some 50 even 120 years ago.

I refer to the Hollywood sign paintings by Ed Ruscha and the landscapes around Arles by Vincent van Gogh.

Without knowing, we have learned to look at objects, landscapes and forms like we are our own artists and  these observations must have influenced us in the way we look at the world around us and take and create our own art with the many pictures we nowadays can take with camera’s and phones. It even proves that art is important for those who have an open mind towards it. Learning from the art and artists they have encountered in museums and galeries, to create their own interprations of the world around them.

http://www.ftn-books.com has some very nice Ruscha and van Gogh titles available.

 

 

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Georg Gerstner (1928-2019)

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Georg Gerster is considered as one of the true masters of Aerial photography and the best way to prove this is to have one look at the series he made for Swissair. This is sheer brilliance and all posters feature a photograph which you must study first to understand. In many subjects there is a form of abstraction , but the reality is it is just  a compostion from a photograph taken from high above the subject. He started this way of Photography in 1963 and visited over 100 countries to make his fantastic photographs. He is considered as one of the pioneers in this metier  and will be remembered for many “classic’ aerial photographs

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Between 1971 and 1996 the swiss master of aerial photography Gerster created 60 poster for swissair, together with graphic designer Emil Schulthess, Hans Frei or Karl Gerstner.

He was born in Winterthur, Switzerland, on April 30th, 1928 and studied classical languages at his local grammar school, before reading German and English at Zurich University, where he also received his doctorate. From 1950 to 1956 he was science editor of the Zurich Weltwoche. Since 1956 he has been a freelance journalist specializing in science reporting and aerial photography. He has undertaken extensive visits to every part of the world, including Antarctica.

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By pursuing this line of reasoning, Georg Gerster has turned aerial photography into something more probing, something that, with luck, may prove a contemplative, philosophical instrument encouraging greater reflection.

His way of viewing the world has caught on and found many imitators. Georg Gerster consoles himself with the thought that imitation is still the sincerest form of flattery.

For two decades Georg Gerster’s aerial photographs for Swissair’s posters and calendars had contributed substantially to the airline’s image.

Gerster worked on a regular basis for the Neue Zürcher Zeitung and the Washington-based National Geographic Magazine. Today he works for the Swiss online news platform Journal21. Further his works are known among Photography- and Artlovers and are part of several Art Portfolios.
Georg Gerster died 90 years old, outside Zurich on February 8th, 2019. 

gerstner swissair

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Gerard Petrus Fieret (continued)

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In 2004 the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag received a donation from Gerard Petrus Fieret, containing over 1000 photographs, drawings and other collectable items. This gift grew the collected Fieret works in the collection of the museum considerably making it the largest Fieret collection in the world. To remember the donation and to please the artist the artist was invited to make a live exhibition in which he made his drawings in one of the rooms of the museum and decorated the walls with these drawing.  If i remember well , Fieret entered the museum for some five weeks, greeting the doorman in a very grumpy way ( yes he was a grumpy old man at that time~), walked the museum hall , entered the designated room and started to draw. Drawing after drawing came out of hands and the publicity department decided to use the event to anounce an exhibition of this huge gift by the artist. They selected 81 drawings from the already considerable pile of drawings and bundled these into a specially made poster and send these out to the press ( all in house made) to announce the Fieret exhibition. Only a few dozen of these press kits were made, making this one of the most desirable and collectable Fieret items. The press kit is now for sale at www.ftn-books.com

fieret tekent d

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Nasreen Mohamedi (1937-1990)

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There are not that many artists that have emerged from India and made a name for their selves in western art, but Nasreen Mohamedi is certainly one of them. Crown on her exhibition history was the REINA SOFIA exhibition in 2014 ( book available at http://www.ftn-books.com ). At this occasion, a large number of her line drawings and paintings were for the first time to be seen in Europe and with this exhibition she established her self as being one of the truly visionary original artist coming from outside the western art world.

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Born in Karachi in 1937, before moving to Mumbai in her youth, and living and teaching in Vadodara until her final days, Mohamedi remains one of the most under-recognised artists of the 20th century. At the time when Indian Modernists were painting the colours and chaos of their homeland, Mohamedi worked alongside peers such as MF Husain, Tyeb Mehta and VS Gaitonde. Yet she was virtually alone amongst her peers because she broke away from the mainstream practice of figurative painting in post-Independence India. She has often been compared to Canadian abstract painter Agnes Martin and American minimalist Carl Andre. “‘Nasreen Mohamedi’ reveals the artist’s significant contribution to Modernism that expands the boundaries of Western art history and offers an opportunity to reconsider the meaning of abstract art,” reads the exhibition note. Mohamedi passed away at 53  in 1990, from a rare neurological disorder.

The obscurity in relation to the chronology and description of Mohamedi’s works have confounded curators and art historians. Her evolving language is seen through early abstract brushwork and figurative oil and watercolour, to her grid-based drawings and those in pen and ink.

While her line drawings are the most popular aspect of her oeuvre, what is also fascinating is Mohamedi’s photographic prints, known for their unique architectural quality. A well-travelled artist, Mohamedi took photographs in several places in the Middle East (she lived in Bahrain briefly in her youth), the US and Japan, apart from various cities in India including Chandigarh. her photographs, which highlight geometric shapes and lines in her surroundings through particular crops, mirrored how Mondrian began his path to abstraction, a reason why the two exhibitions will open simultaneously.

Another significant aspect is Mohamedi’s diaries, which reveals the artist’s mind at work. On display at Tate Liverpool are extracts, notes and source material she kept in her studio.

mohamedi

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Lee Boltin ( 1917-1991 )

bolton portrait

I know of some dutch photographers who specialize in photography of art objects and catalogues. There are Gerrit Schreurs and Erik and Petra Hesmerg of course, but i had never heard of Lee Boltin. Reading about him i learned that he photographed one of the most iconic exhibitions from the 20th Century. Boltin documented the Tutanchamon exhibition and its objects. This was new to me , because the reason of this blog was a recent addition on signs and other letter related photographs he made during the Fifties in his home town New York. I liked the book and its photographs and beside being a historical document it is also a highly collectable book from a great photographer. so i bought it and it is now for sale at www.ftn-books.com

Mr. Boltin photographed several important exhibitions and collections, including the contents of the ancient Egyptian king Tutankhamen’s tomb for the book “Tutankhamen: The Tomb and Its Treasures” in 1977, and the Nelson A. Rockefeller collection, which was the subject of “Masterpieces of Primitive Art,” published in 1978.

Born in New York City in 1917, Mr. Bolton trained at the American Museum of Natural History, where his early photographs focused on pre-Columbian and Eskimo art. In 1954 he left the museum to work on his own. His photographs have appeared in museums around the United States and in Europe, as well as in art books and other publications.

boltin jail keys

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Christopher Williams (1956)

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Last month i sold one of the two available copies of the Boijmans Christopher Williams catalogue and I started to study it more closely when I started packing it. I liked these photographs and started to read about Christopher Williams.

Christopher Williams grew up surrounded by the film and television industries, which would inform his future artistic production. His father worked in Hollywood as a special effects artist. As a child, Williams met filmmaker Oskar Fischinger in the German émigré’s home studio, where he first saw flip books and abstract animated films. In the late 1970s, he studied at the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) under the first wave of West Coast Conceptual artists, including John Baldessari, Michael Asher, and Douglas Huebler. He went on to become one of his generation’s leading Conceptualists, exploring ideas and their political implications through the structures of contemporary photographic practice. He is currently professor of photography at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, one of Germany’s oldest art schools, which educated such artists as Joseph Beuys, Gerhard Richter, and Sigmar Polke.

 

Deeply invested in the histories of photography and film, Williams has produced a concise body of work that furthers a critique of late capitalist society and the ways that it is supported and ruled by marketing and media images. The works in MoMA’s collection belong to his major photographic project For Example: Dix-huit leçons sur la société industrielle (For Example: Eighteen Lectures on Industrial Society) (2003-ongoing). The project takes its title from French sociologist Raymond Aron’s 1962 book which compares modes of production in Fordist capitalism (a model based on industrialized mass production and consumption) and the Soviet planned economy (a model based on a centralized system of state ownership). Williams puts photography itself at the core of the project, featuring numerous images of precision optics—including sectioned cameras, lenses, analogue darkrooms, and light meters—isolated against pristine backgrounds, like fetish objects. Taken together, these pictures of cameras and photographic accoutrements suggest a series of lessons covering the conditions of the spread of advertising and the modernizing impulses of industrial society in the aftermath of the Cold War.

For Example: Dix-huit leçons sur la société industrielle also includes pictures of tires, chocolate bars, apples, and female models—emblems of the consumer culture of mass-media society—reflecting Williams’s fascination with Pop art and German painting of the early 1960s, which often pictured these items with ironic and critical overtones. This ambivalence is also reflected in his pictures, which emulate regular advertisements but include tiny yet deliberate imperfections, such as the moles and laughing lines on a model’s face, which are not retouched or airbrushed as in a regular ad. Employing a film director’s approach, Williams has spent the past 35 years pursuing an artistic practice that examines the theoretical and political history of photographic technology in the larger political terrain.

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Man Ray and Lee Miller (5)

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Although Man Ray insisted that he didn’t take student apprentices, the successful model Lee Miller relocated to Paris for a chance at working with the iconic artist. She became his photographic assistant, his muse and, later, his lover. The romance was short and sweet, but the two-year relationship was a productive one. Before finding herself as a photographer and becoming an active member of the Surrealist movement, Miller discovered the solarisation technique Man Ray would later trademark. She is also credited for many of the artist’s photographs taken between 1929 and 1932, as she stepped in while he worked on his paintings.

The following titles are available at www.ftn-books.com

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Dr. Erich Salomon ( 1886-1944)

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Erich Salomon (28 April 1886 – 7 July 1944) was a German-born news photographer known for his pictures in the diplomatic and legal professions and the innovative methods he used to acquire them.

Erich Salomon memorial Born in Berlin, Salomon studied law, engineering, and zoology up to World War I. After the war, he worked in the promotion department of the Ullstein publishing empire designing their billboard advertisements. He first picked up a camera in 1927, when he was 41, to document some legal disputes and soon after hid an Ermanox camera usable in dim light in his bowler hat. By cutting a hole in the hat for the lens, Salomon snapped a photo of a police killer on trial in a Berlin criminal court.

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Beginning in 1928, Salomon worked for Ullstein’s Berliner Illustrirte Zeitung as a photographer. With his multilingual ability and clever concealment, his reputation soared among the people of Europe. When the Kellogg-Briand Pact was signed in 1928, Salomon walked into the signing room and took the vacant seat of the Polish delegate, and took several photos. He is one of only two known persons to have photographed a session of the U.S. Supreme Court.[1]

After Adolf Hitler came to power in Germany, Salomon fled to the Netherlands with his wife and continued his photographic career in The Hague. Salomon declined an invitation from Life Magazine to move to the United States. He and his family were trapped in the Low Countries after Germany invaded in 1940. Salomon and his family were held in the Westerbork transit camp, then for almost five months in Theresienstadt concentration camp and were deported from there to the Theresienstadt Family Camp in May 1944. He died in Auschwitz on 7 July 1944.

The Dr. Erich Salomon Award is a lifetime achievement award for photojournalists given by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Fotografie (other languages) (German society for photography). http://www.ftn-books.com has the Stedelijk Museum catalogue from 1981 available.

salomon stedelijk

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Helena van der Kraan (1940-2020, continued)

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A few months ago i wrote a short ” IN MEMORIAM” on the occasion of Helena van der Kraan’s passing away on her birthday at the age of 80 years,Bbut what i did not mention was that there was a very nice retropective on her ” Bears ” series at the Fotomuseum Den Haag, only one problem……Covid 19 made it for us almost possible to visit, but now that the museums can be visited again, we went to the Fotomuseum, Gem and Kunstmuseum to get an artistic “update” including the Bear series retrospective by Helena van der Kraan.

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helena beren b

Personally i love her  almost classic  way of photography, Linda was less charmed, but both we agreed that the combination of GEM and Fotomuseum ( also a Wegman exhibition) was time very well spend. Another reason to write this short blog is that i found a signed copy of the 1986 book published by van Beveren/Haags Gemeentemuseum and perhaps this shows best why i think that Helena will be remembered as one of our great photographers. Every photo is “classic” and timeless and where the photographs of her compatriot Saudek are getting more and more dated, the photographs of Helena grow on you and ripen and gain in quality by the year.

The exhibition shoudl have been closed on the 21tgh of UAgust , but because programs are continued at many of the museums the Helena van der Kraan Bear series is still to be viewed at the Fotomuseum. I do not know how long it still will be there, but i urge you to go when you have a chance.

Helena van der Kraan publications are available at www.ftn-books.com

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Jock Sturges (1947)

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For some Sturges work is controversial and is considered erotic photography for me Sturges is the American counterpart of Lucien Clergue who places his nudes in a landscape and blends them with nature . the result spectacular photography. His series of sea and sand photographs reminds me of the series Sturges has made of youth along the shore of the sea. But as an example a less controversial photo below. This is a classic beauty.

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Jock Sturges is an American photographer known for his large-format portraits of nude adolescents. His black-and-white prints capture subjects on naturist beaches in the United States and France. The controversial nature of his imagery has raised concerns throughout his career, but Sturges has remained steadfast, photographing his subjects—often alongside their families—over several years. “My hope is that my work is in some way counter-pinup,” the artist said of his work. “A pinup asks you to suspend interest in who the person is and occupy yourself entirely with looking at the body, fantasizing about what you could do with that body, completely ignoring how the person might feel about it.” Born in 1947 in New York, NY, he served in the US Navy before studying perceptual psychology at Marlboro College in Vermont. While studying for his MFA in photography from San Francisco Art Institute Sturges began taking nude photographs of communes in Northern California. In 1990, the artist’s studio was raided by the FBI and attempts were made to charge him with child pornography, all attempts have been unsuccessful. Sturges has published several books of his photographs, including Life~Time (2008), and his works are held in the collections of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Denver Museum of Art, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The artist currently lives and works in Seattle, WA. The below publication is available at www.ftn-books.com

sturges camera