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Lettering by Modern Artists

The above title is the same title as the exhibition held at the Museum of Modern Art in 1966. I recently acquired this catalogue which is now for sale at www.ftn-books.com and for me it makes clear the importance Modern Artists have for Modern typography. this is not the printed letter, but the much more free and personal lettering by artists on paper and canvas, making this a source of inspiration for modern typographers and designers and it shows clearly the way lettering can be used to make a splendid composition and be informative at the same time. A catalogue i can truly recommend.

lettering

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Henri Laurens (1885-1954)

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A long time i thought Laurens was not that important for Modern Art, but since i have seen his exhibition at the Museum Beelden aan Zee  ( catalogue available at www.ftn-books.com), I changed my ideas about his work. At first i thought him to be heavily inspired by Picasso, but in this show i discovered he really has a personal approach to art and a “signature” of his own.

left Picasso and right Laurens

He was a French sculptor best known for his Cubist collages, sculptures of nudes, and busts. The curving forms and simplified features of his oeuvre are reminiscent of ancient greek sculptures, though he also drew influence from his friendships with contemporary artists Georges Braque, Amedeo Modigiliani, Juan Gris, and Pablo Picasso. Born on February 18, 1885 in Paris, France, Laurens first worked as a stonemason before taking drawings classes and developing a strong interest in the works of Auguste Rodin. From 1914–1915 and extending until after the First World War, Laurens experimented with still lives and various new media, using wood and iron and eventually graduating to terracotta and bronze. He then went on to participate in the Venice Biennales of 1948 and 1950, and had a retrospective at the Musée National d’Art Moderne in Paris in 1951.

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Ben Shahn (1898-1969)

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Ben Shahn  is one of the older Modern Painters emerging in the 40’s and 50’s from the American art scene. Jewish background and born in Russia. After his marriage to mrs Goldstein he travelled North Africa and the great museums in Europe and this shows, because from that date the influence of Klee and Picasso can be recognized in his works. Later he developed a style of his own in which color was an important aspect in his paintings.

Shahn mixed different genres of art. His body of art is distinctive for its lack of traditional landscapes, still lifes, and portraits. Shahn used both expressive and precise visual languages, which he united through the consistency of his authoritative line. His background in lithography contributed to his devotion to detail Shahn is also noted for his use of unique symbolism, which is often compared to the imagery in Paul Klee’s drawings. While Shahn’s “love for exactitude” is apparent in his graphics, so too is his creativity. In fact, many of his paintings are inventive adaptations of his photography and that is an aspect i did not know before. The Ben Shahn catalogue designed by Willem Sandberg for the Stedelijk Museum and available at www.ftn-books.com shows exactly why i think Shahn is one of the more important painters from last century.

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Ray Smith (1959)

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I first encountered the paintings by Ray Smith in 1992 at the Barbara Farber gallery, which catalogue is also available at www.ftn-books.com. These paintings are intense and “Rock and Roll”. Ray Smith could easily be seen as the child of Picasso and Frida Kahlo.

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He is a contemporary American artist, best known for his segmented paintings and sculptures combining elements of Cubism, printmaking, art historical reference, and collage into postmodern compositions. Often relating to Surrealism in his unreal juxtapositions, Smith’s work is also characterized by a unique kind of magical realism. He frequently utilizes anthropomorphic animals in his work in a manner akin to Pablo Picasso’s Guernica, stating about the creatures in his work: “They are beasts, but they are directly attached to a blueprint of our own existence.” Born in 1959 in Brownsville, TX on family land that was part of Mexico before the Texas Annexation, Smith grew up in Central Mexico, and continued to retain a cultural and geographic tie to the country. After attending art schools in both the United and Mexico, Smith ultimately settled in Cuernavaca while continuing to travel regularly to New York. Smith’s work can be found among the collections and exhibition histories of the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, the Centre Pompidou in Paris, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

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Vladimir Tatlin (1885-1953)

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I always have liked the works by Tatlin. Being one of the first true constructivist artists he has always interested me as an artist. Inspired by Pablo Picasso he soon began to experiment with cubistic patterns, but eventually ended making pure abstract constructions. One of this constructions is only realized as a maquette because the actual work was never executed.  He began creating objects that sometimes seem poised between sculpture and architecture. Initially trained as an icon painter, he soon abandoned the traditionally pictorial concerns of painting and instead concentrated on the possibilities inherent in the materials he used – often metal, glass, and wood. He wanted above all to bend art to modern purposes and, ultimately, to tasks suited to the goals of Russia’s Communist revolution. He is remembered most for his Monument to the Third International (1919-20).

A design for the Communist International headquarters, as said it was realized as a model but never built. It crystallized his desire to bring about a synthesis of art and technology, and has remained a touchstone of that utopian goal for generations of artists since. The arc of his career has come to define the spirit of avant-gardism in the 20th century, the attempt to bring art to the service of everyday life.

www.ftn-books.com has some Tatlin titles available

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Geer van Velde (1898-1977)

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Since the early eighties i admire Geer van Velde. When i first entered our offices at the Gemeentemuseum, there was original art on the wall . Chosen by employees of the Gemeentemuseum the painting on the wall of our offices was an original large painting by Geer van Velde.

Geer van Velde was Bram van Velde’s younger brother they differ 3 years in age but their art differs even far more. Both influenced by fellow artists also living in Paris, Geer became known for his paintings winning Prizes and being admitted into the Salon des Independants . He is considered to be a member of the Ecole de Paris. The works by Geer van Velde are highly recognizable being abstract but still showing some realism in them. The use of color??  subdued not the bright colors his brother is known for. They come from the same nest but their works could not be more different .

Where Geer was known  and admired is his early years, the case with Bram was totally different. It is now since 30 years that the works by Bram are more admired. They are “classic”  made in the 50’s , 60’s and 70’s, but study them closely and you will sense that they belong in the present. These are bold and highly sensitive paintings. Both these van Velde brothers have their qualities, but maybe, in the long run, i prefer Geer.

There are Geer van Velde publications available at www.ftn-books.com

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Classic catalogues part 1 …..Picasso

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The second day for the extra focus on the classics within the inventory of www.ftn-books.com

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This time it is Picasso. Although i personally am not a great fan of Picasso, there are so many others that admire this Spanish artist and for them …take notice that this is the last day that the discount code is valid. Not only the many publicatons on Picasso are sold with a discount of 10%, but all publications and specials within the inventory go with a discount.

use : CLASSIC10 at your checkout and receive the discount.

 

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Willy Boers (1905-1978).. a dutch artist hero

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Willy Boers, Dutch art ” insiders ” will know the name and the works he stands for. But for those less familiar with the artist Willy Boers here is a short biography. Willy Boers developed his art from realistic scenes into abstract, even hard edge art over a period of some 40 years. He stood at the cradle of the first dutch modern abstract expressionist paintings. Probably influenced by Miro and Picasso he developed his art into something very typical and recognizable as a Willy Boers painting.

When i first read the catalogue EEN NIEUWE SYNTHESE ( available at www.ftn-books.com) , there were 2 artist which immediately caught my eye. There was of course Willem Hussem and ….Willy Boers.

Boers was far less familiar, because i already had seen some Hussem paintings at gallery Nouvelles Images, but it was not until 10 years ago that i finally had a chance to admire some paintings by Boers “live” . It was at the gallery of Henk Klasema who had bought the remainder of the Boers studio and was selling these Willy Boers paintings. Because he had all periods available i could discover his development into hard edge abstract art, but was mostly convinced of the art he made in the period between 1949 and 1955.

Now is finally the time that Willy Boers is being recognized for the great dutch artist he was . A true pioneer in dutch Modern Art and sometimes his works come now available at auction. Keep this in mind… Boers is still affordable, but it will not last 10 years before his art will be picked up by many more art dealers and collectors, making it far less affordable than these works are right now.

There are some nice Boers publications available at www.ftn-books.com including the which was made for his Stedelijk Museum exhibition.

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Picasso and Monet in the Gemeentemuseum

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About 30 years ago Rudi Fuchs became director of the Gemeentemuseum and one of the first things he notices was the limited amount of purchase power he had in building a new collection for the Gemeentemuseum. He wanted to expand the collection with some quintessential new works which showed the importance of the collection. At that time most of the dutch museum were all collecting the same dutch artists, because there were no funds to acquire works on the international market and thus build the same kind of collection in contemporary art. Fuchs developed an idea to sell 3 of the less important major works from the collection of the Gemeentemuseum.  Being 2 Picasso paintings and the early Monet /Quai du Louvre. All important , all very well known and probably priceless at auction. These highly important works would easily fetch over 50 million USD at that time and with the interest of that sum he would ten fold his budget for purchasing art. Politics thought different, because these works were not bought by the museum but bestowed to the museum.

This morning i remembered these paintings and realized that when they had been sold , they would have been lost for the Gemeentemuseum visitors, but even more important….with an interest rate of less than 1% , there would not have been sufficient funds to acquire anything important in todays art market. Conclusion for me that it is a good thing that they were not sold and can still be admired in the gorgeous Berlage building which houses the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag.

For those that are interested in the collection of the Haags Gemeentemuseum…please take a look at www.ftn-books.com

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Jean Lurçat et “La Creation du Monde” ( 1949)

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Jean Lurcat, is not forgotten by those who are interested in the art of the 40’s and 50’s from last century. A contemporary and ground breaking artist who’s works can be considered among the best that french art has produces in those decades.  When i have to describe his art it would be something in between a Picasso and Matisse style, but totally Lurcat and original. Sandberg recognized his importance and made an exhibition with his works in 1959 in the Stedelijk Museum.

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My interest was awakened last year , because i had the opportunity to buy possibly the most important book published with Lurcat lithographs. Published in an edition of only 99 copies, signed by the artist and numbered in print ( This is no. 20). The book LA CREATION DU MONDE, was published by Les Exemplaires with a story by Andre de Richaud and contains in total 56 original lithographs by Jean Lurcat. The book was printed by Mourlot/ Paris who was the leading printer for original lithographs in those days . Because of their qualities they were commissioned by the Galerie Maeght for their art publications too. The book is one of the highlights in my inventory and would grace many art book collection, but as always pictures tell a better story than words. Therefore i give you an impression of this magnificent publication which is now for sale together with the Sandberg designed catalogue at www.ftn-books.com