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Flip Bool and Fotografie in Nederland

This is the title of a series of three Exhibitions that Flip Bool curated for the Haags Gemeentemuseum at the end of the Seventies / early Eighties. Flip is a true expert on the subject and because of his expertise these exhibitions have become the standard for all photography exhibitions on dutch photography after. It established the names of Schuitema and Besnyo as being highly important and shone a light on the designers Piet Zwart  and Kiljan as a photographer. Flip Bool and photography is a combination that produced some of the best publications ever on the subject of dutch photography. Many of the Flip Bool written books are available at http://www.ftn-books.com

 

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Project KATSHOEK

Without knowing . The VOORMOLEN company made an artist book which contains contributions by the very best artists from the Netherlands from the Sixties. Katshoek was an architectural project in the rebuilding of Rotterdam after WWII. New architectural design , enhanced with art from the very best of dutch artists.

Together with the project the Voormolen company made an artist book. with contributions by Boezem, Bonies, Dekkers, Dibbets, Eikelenboom, van Elk, Gribling, Koetsdier, Manders, n, Rous, Schuitema, Graatsma, Slothouber, Staakman, Struycken, Volten

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the above publication is also in the collection of several dutch museums and now available at www.ftn-books.com

Katshoek office building

Heer Bokelweg became the connection between Schiekade and the Rotte Tracé, a wide road from the centre to the motorway to Utrecht. The Katshoek building was the first structure built on this new and wide city boulevard.

Katshoek multi-tenant building on Heer Bokelweg.

Katshoek multi-tenant building on Heer Bokelweg.

Foto Kramer/Rotterdam City Archives

What a contrast between the large modern building faced in white Kirchheimer limestone and the Oude Noorden district behind it! The huge structure has been built on Heer Bokelweg in the Zomerhof District.

It was originally designed as a multi-tenant building for small industries that had previously been housed in temporary structures in the area. However, this plan was dropped on account of the drastic increase in construction costs since the plan was launched in 1959. The idea now is to house ten large offices in the building, among them probably, subject to approval by the city council, a number of municipal departments. In addition, the Voormolen contracting firm that built the structure hopes to move from its current address on Westersingel into the new building on Heer Bokelweg in early 1968.

Het Vrije Volk, 28 September 1967

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Flashy perspective drawing of Katshoek multi-tenant building.

Bouw, 1966

The post-war Basis Plan for the centre of Rotterdam earmarked Heer Bokelweg as a main access route into the new city from the north-east; an entrance between ‘gateways’ like the Shell building and the Schieblok to the renewed Hofplein and Coolsingel. Heer Bokelweg later became the connection between Schiekade and the Rotte Tracé, a wide road from the centre to the motorway to Utrecht. The Katshoek building was the first structure built on this new and wide city boulevard. After completion of the building the widening was extended on the north side, including an unsophisticated gap punched in the Hofbogen viaduct. But the changing insights of the early 1990s are visible on the southern side in the narrowing of the street with the construction of the Scala apartment complex beside the RAC garage, which today houses the city archives.

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Model of Katshoek multi-tenant building.

Stedenbouw, 1968

Multi-tenant building

The sturdy seven-floor concrete-frame building is designed as a multi-tenant building, but it differs considerably in both layout and architecture from Maaskant’s other multi-tenant buildings such as the Industriegebouw, Groothandelsgebouw and Verzamelgebouw Zuidplein. According to Maaskant expert Michelle Provoost, this is an atypical work for Maaskant. “Especially the facade, which is very flat. You don’t see that very often in Maaskant’s buildings. The facades of his buildings are usually very expressive.”

The exterior is indeed fairly flat, with sleek bands of fenestration in aluminium profiles and stone cladding. The interior and the columns along the lower volume on Almondestraat are finished in bush-hammered concrete, a technique used to leave the concrete surface rough. The use of luxury materials gives the building a strongly representative feel. The floors of the two halls of the main staircases and of the shopping gallery are finished in Jura stone. The walls of the halls and the ground-floor columns feature exposed concrete adorned with a relief, while the entrances to the staff lifts are finished in white anodized aluminium.

The angle on the front facade is elegantly highlighted by the stone bands that continue as a vertical series of balconies.

Clearing the way for cars

The widening of Heer Bokelweg cleared the way for cars, but the building facilitates cars in other ways too. A car park for 250 vehicles was built behind the building and was directly connected to the office volume. In addition, an Aral petrol station was built on the triangular site between Heer Bokelweg and Almondestraat. And so the number of petrol stations within a 100-metre radius came to three!

Artwork

Art plays an important role in the building. The facade features an entrance relief by André Volten (1925-2002), one of the best-known abstract sculptors of the post-war period, whom Maaskant frequently worked with. The piece (Untitled, 1968) is a facade element with circular segments. The lines of the architecture are repeated in the work and distorted to form a new image. It was originally made of stainless steel and stone, but during renovation it was painted black along with the columns, ruining the effect. An art event was held in the entrance hall to mark the opening of the building in 1968.

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Advertisement for NV Aannemingsmij. v/h H & P. Voormolen, proud builder and owner of the Katshoek multi-tenant building.

Stedenbouw, 1968

Until 21 December, the ground floor of the new Katshoek office building in Rotterdam is the venue for an exhibition that is as unusual as it is striking. At the invitation of Voormolen, the contractors responsible for building Katshoek, sixteen artists were given an opportunity to express themselves creatively with all sorts of construction materials.

Het Parool, 14 December 1968

It was, according to organizer Bob Bonies, a remarkable project:

“After all those exhibitions, which always consisted of the finest possible arrangement of existing works, I wanted to try another approach. I proposed inviting a number of Dutch artists to create their contribution inside that wonderful space by using construction materials supplied by Voormolen. Including engines, blowers and the like. And with the help of skilled workmen from Voormolen. It was an expensive project, but I immediately received full cooperation.

I chose sixteen artists: the cool guys Dekkers, Manders, Koetsier, Struycken and myself, Boezem, Dibbets and Van Elk with their micro-emotive art, the kinetic artist Staakman, Eikelenboom with his utopian situations, Rous, who makes a sort of minimal art, André Volten, Paul Schuitema with his colour scheme and his alphabet and the Slothouber-Graatsma team from the Cubic Construction Centre. And Gribling with his space structures.”

Het Parool, 21 December 1968

Today

The building housed the offices of Robeco, Procter & Gamble Benelux and a number of municipal departments. Owing to its out-of-the-way location, the building later fell out of favour. The current tenants are OMA and Havensteder.

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Nicolaas Petrus de Koo (1881-1960)

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de Koo was one of the most important of all PTT employed designers. He started as an interior and book designer, but soon after found his way into designing for the dutch postal service PTT. PTT has a long standing history with the best designers in the Netherlands. Schuitema, Piet Zwart and also de Koo have had their history with PTT.

( Piet Zwart designed HET BOEK VAN PTT, available at www.ftn-books.com)

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de Koo designed some of the most iconic of all PTT designs. Among them letterboxes,  printed matter, labels and signs.

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The Gemeentemuseum Den Haag had a special exhibition on de Koo in 1988 and with it a very nice thini catalogue was published for this occasion. The book was originally published in 400 copies, but there was no interest in this publication and at the time the Berlage building was renovated , all of the remaining copies were destroyed. My guess is ther are some 100 copies being sold over time, making this one of the rarest of all Eighties publ;ications of the Gemeentemuseum and i now have an excelent copy for sale at www.ftn-books.com

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Paul Schuitema (1897-1973) and dutch design.

Just a screenshot from my computer when i searched for some information on Paul Schuitema and instantly you see the importance of Schuitema for dutch design.

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Here it is the ultimate combination between a spectacular lay out, great typography and photo montage resulting in a highly recognizable style….this is Paul Schuitema. Schuitema a contemporary of Piet Zwart, was not as well known as Piet Zwart , but both did their ground breaking work in the Interbellum and can be considered as extremely important for graphic design. Schuitema differs from Piet Zwart.

Where Piet Zwart excels in Typography and lay-out, the photo montage is the part in which Schuitema excels. Both are important, not only because they are essential in the development of dutch design, but more and more they are recognized as being important for graphic design all over the world in general and their influence can be found everywhere. This imporance is underlined by orderes on these 2 artists from all over the world.

The Gemeentemuseum has both artists in its collection and because of the former curator Flip Bool , these collections are possibly the most important in the world.

When you come to the Netherland check the exhibitions at the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, maybe you are lucky and there is a special exhibition on one of them. If not know that www.ftn-books.com has some nice books available on both these graphic designers.

 

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Kustavs Klucis / Klutsis (1895-1938)…photomontage posters

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Gustav Klutsis (Latvian: Gustavs Klucis, Russian: Густав Густавович Клуцис) (January 4, 1895 – February 26, 1938) was a pioneering Latvian photographer and major member of the Constructivist avant-garde in the early 20th century. He is known for the Soviet revolutionary and Stalinist propaganda he produced with his wife and collaborator Valentina Kulagina.

This is how Wikipedia starts on this Russian photographer . What Klucis makes important for me is not the Constructivist part in his biography. For me his use of photomontage in the context of the rapidly changing times make his works spectacular. I had never heard of Klucis before, but because the Gemeentemuseum held and exhibition on Klucis in 2008 i became an instant admirer.  Together with this exhibition a catalogue was “in-house” published in a very limited edition ,which shows in an excellent way the importance of Klucis. I believe the edition size, because of the printing “on demand” situation, was only 250 copies .  It makes it difficult to find, but the good thing is….. i have it in stock and the catalogue is available at www.ftn-books.com.

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Here is part of the text published by the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag:

From 1913, Klucis studied at the City Art School in Riga. In 1915, when the city was attacked by German troops, Klucis was conscripted into the imperial Russian army and ordered to Ochsta near St Petersburg, where he subsequently studied at the Art Academy. In the days following the October Revolution of 1917, he volunteered to join the Ninth Regiment of the Latvian Red Infantry in defence of Lenin. Inspired by Malevich and Constructivism, he also began around this time to produce art in support of the emerging Communist state.

In 1919 Klucis produced a series of drawings, photomontages and paintings entitled Dynamic City, showing that he wanted to turn Malevich’s Suprematism into a more concrete artistic movement. Developing alongside Tatlin, Pevsner and Gabo, he became one of the first Constructivists, producing work that exemplifies the political engagement and spirit of innovation that inspired this Russian movement. Around 1919, he discovered photomontage, which he himself later described as a new kind of art for the masses: the art of the Socialist revolution.

From this time on, Klucis was offered a series of prestigious design commissions. These included, for example, one for the 1928 Spartakiade (the Soviet Union’s alternative to the Olympic Games). Klucis designed a series of postcards and a poster establishing a clear link between sport and revolution. In all, he produced over a hundred poster designs, many of them relating to the Five Year Plans and supporting the collectivisation of agriculture and the large-scale industrialisation of the Soviet Union.

Gustavs Klucis was arrested on 17 January 1938 and accused of belonging to a Latvian terrorist organisation (such ‘random’ political purges were a feature of life under Stalin). He was taken away and for many years his wife, artist Valentina Kulagina (1902-1987), knew nothing of his fate. In 1956 his family heard that he had died of heart failure in a labour camp in 1944. It was not until 1989 that they were informed that he had in fact been shot in Moscow on 26 February 1938.

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Anton Martineau (1926-2017)

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Yesterday, AntonMartineau died. He proclaimed himself the last of a great generation , together with Appel and Lucebert ( personal friends) he became known as an abstract painter, but never belonged to the Cobra movement. Born in the middle of the Red Light district in Amsterdam  a fortuneteller told him in his early youth that he would become a painter and a writer. He studied with one of the great designers in these days Paul Schuitema and was successful both as a painter and a writer. www.ftn-books.com has only one title of this fascinating artist available , but it is an important one. It contains both poetry and drawings by this great dutch artist.

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The little documentary on Youtube is in dutch , but shows what a wonderful and colorful Martineau was