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Sonsbeek…an exhibition park near Arnhem

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A City and its Exhibition

It was in 1948 that a councillor, a VVV tourism official and the mayor of Arnhem launched an initiative for a contemporary art exhibition on a scale unprecedented in Europe. Their aim was to give the city which had experienced so much destruction during the Second World War a totally new appeal.

Processing the traumatic wartime experience

Sonsbeek ’49 opened that following year with over two hundred works displayed along the paths in the park. Most of these were figurative sculptures created since the turn of the century. A recurring theme among the newer works was the processing of Holland’s traumatic wartime experience, such as Nel Klaassen’s monumental Honour the Woman which still stands in Arnhem.

Connected to the present

In subsequent editions of the exhibition, the idea was the same. Sculptures by internationally renowned artists were presented to Arnhem’s public: Auguste Rodin, Ossip Zadkine, Henri Moore, Pablo Picasso, John Rädecker and Hildo Krop. After each edition the Arnhem council selected some of the exhibited works for permanent display in the city. Often, these were works that referred to the war, such as Ossip Zadkine’s Phoenix which found a permanent place in front of the town hall. Since the beginning, SONSBEEK has always been closely concerned with contemporary issues and current affairs.

Selected by a curator based on a specific theme

After the first four editions, one every three years and each similarly presented, SONSBEEK seemed to have become a tradition. Until in 1971 SONSBEEK broke with that tradition and quite literally went off the beaten track with a show compiled for the first time by a curator and expressing a specific theme. Sonsbeek Buiten de Perken was assembled by Wim Beeren, then chief curator at Amsterdam’s Stedelijk Museum. The exhibits abandoned their pedestals, some even left the city and the country. Prominent conceptual artists such as Claes Oldenburg, Wim T. Schippers, Robert Smithson and Nam June Paik turned the exhibition into a milestone for avant-garde art. SONSBEEK became synonymous with progressive and experimental, thematic art shows.

SONSBEEK has constantly played a pioneering role through its novel presentations of art in public space. In collaboration with the curatorial collective ruangrupa, SONSBEEK once again brought art to the public in 2016. SONSBEEK ’16: transACTION marked the start of a quadrennial, the 12th edition will take place in 2020.

www.ftn-books.com has some of the Sonsbeel catalogues still available

 

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Charlotte Dorothée barones van Pallandt (1898-1997)

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One of the more classic sculptors in the Netherlands. She is probably the most well known sculptor from the last century. Possibly the reason is, that it is believed that she gave lessons to the young Princess Beatrix , who is a gifted amateur sculptor herself and has always admired van Pallandt.

For me van Pallandt stands for one of the very best catalogues the Stedelijk Museum has ever published and Eja Siepman van den Berg, who was the first to win the Charlotte van Pallandt prize for sculpture. van Pallandt is a classic sculptor and a great technician, but besides her fantastic technique, i always get the same feeling when i see her sculptures. I am a little bored. Great for a first look , but when studied for a longer time i loose interest where as the sculptures by Eja Siepman van den Berg grow on you and with every possible angle and lighting the sculpture shows itself differently and fascinates. Better judge for yourself…..On the left a van Pallandt portrait , on the right ” stapje” . by Eja Siepman van den Berg.

One exception… the statue by van Pallandt of the former Queen Wilhelmina…almost abstract in its approach, but the outline and posture are certainly that of Wilhelmina. See it from a distance and it is an abstract blur, come closer and it is Queen Wilhelmina determined to lead a small country.

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www.ftn-books.com has some publications on van Pallandt available including the mentioned Stedelijk Museum catalogue.

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Arthur Spronken (1930- 2018)

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A few weeks ago Arthur Spronken died, Famous in the South of the Netherlands with his horse sculptures. He has become each decade of more importance for the dutch sculpture scene. His statues are widely spread in public spaces in Limburg and because of their size in most cases outside.

What do i think of Spronken as a sculptor and his sculptures. To me they look like classic sculptures , influenced by the “classic” Chinese Tang hors ceramic horses. Their legs in most cases missing , leaving a muscular torso of the horse and in most cases there is “action and mouvement ” in the torso.

A little like the technique the futurists used to use within their paintings, suggesting a mouvement. After his initial fame in Limburg, his sculptures spread over the Netherlands. Making sculptures in public places in towns like Amsterdam, Haarlem and Zwolle. I respect his craftsmanship but his sculptures never fascinated me enough to buy a small one for my collection,. They come up for auction regularly and their prices are still on the verge of affordable. His sculptures are nice to look at and they draw your attention immediately when you encounter them, but for me the do not intrigue long enough to collect them.

Arthur Spronken has had some important exhibitions in the Netherlands. Among them Beelden Aan Zee and the Frans Hals Museum and www.ftn-books.com has some nice titles on the sculptor Arthur Spronken. What i personally like about Spronken is the catalogue which was made for the van Bohemen/Spronken Stedelijk Museum exhibition in 1968. A designed catalogue by Wim Crouwel.

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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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Piet Dirkx….the publications (1)

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During the time i filled my Piet Dirkx daily in the last 2 years, i frequently looked into the publications that i have on and by Piet Dirkx and each time it struck me that these were all quite special. Covers out of the ordinary, special binding and one even one resembling the famous Moleskine notebooks that Piet uses for his notes and drawings nowadays.

Some of these are still available at www.ftn-books.com. Not all are listed… so inquire for the ones in store, but if not in the inventory of www.ftn-books.com keep looking and searching for them , they really are still out there to be picked up.

dirkx selectie a

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Richard Long (1945)

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Hamish Fulton and Richard Long…. Two artist who i learned to appreciate in the time that Rudi Fuchs was director at the Gemeentemuseum. Long was nominated 4 times for the prestigious Turner price , but only won it once in 1989 for White Water Line.

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Since i first saw works and publications i have seen Richard Long his works on many occasions and one of the most recent ones was at the Guggenheim Bilbao museum. Each time the lines, circles and labyrinths look random, but this is not true. The placement of the stones and paint is strict and makes it free whitin the object , but it has very strict boundaries making it perfectly shaped. The way each work is created is described and laid down in drawings i a way that each work can be re-cretaed at any other place than it was first was created. It is somewhat the saem as with the walldrawings by Sol LeWitt who uses the same method . The art work is the sketch/drawing and materials and can be re-created anywhere as long as you have the original drawing belonging to the work.

What makes Richard Long stand out from other contemporary artists is that many of his publications are also artist books which hold beside the works, photography and word “sculptures” by Long and www.ftn-books.com has some of these titles available.

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Pearl Perlmuter (1915-2008)

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A forgotten artist she is. One  whom i stumbled upon when i listed some of Wessel Couzijn’s publications

https://ftn-blog.com/2018/01/16/wessel-couzijn-ii-now-for-sale/

Pearl Perlmuter (New York, September 23, 1915 – Amsterdam, May 8, 2008) was a Dutch-American sculptor.
Pearl Perlmuter grew as the daughter of orthodox Eastern European Jews in New York City.

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She studied law at Fordham University School of Law and attended evening classes sculptureat the prestigious Art Students League of New York (from 1940 to 1943 by William Zorach and from 1943 to 1945 by Ossip Zadkine).
She made at this time to know the painting of Willem de Kooning and Jackson Pollock, both representatives of the abstract expressionist movement.
In 1945 she met the Dutchman Wessel Couzijn, a Jew who had emigrated to the United States.
He had also registered at the Art Students League.
This meeting led to a marriage between the two in December 1945.
In 1946 Couzijn Wessel and his wife returned to Amsterdam, where they had hoped to build a career, but where it mostly Couzijn was that the orders received.
From 1963 to 1967 she taught at the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague and from 1977 to 1981 at the Academy of Art and Industry in Enschede.
In 2008 she died at the age of 92.

 

perlmuter

Publications on Perlmuter are scarce, but www.ftn-books.com has one publication available

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Cesar Domela (1900-1992) a member of de STIJL

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Cesar Domela an abstract constuctivist who has deservedly created himself among the best of DE STIJL artists. He was a friend of Piet Mondriaan and Theo van Doesburg, but after a few years of DE STIJL compositions he developed a stijl of his own. Wall reliefs were his specialty with curls and filled in colorful spaces these compositions became highly recognizable as Domela’s. During my time at the Gemeentemuseum i never witnessed the special Domela exhibitions , but know that the publications published with these exhibits are thought to be the best on Domela and his works. In meantime other publications have appeared, but these Gemeentemuseum publications still are the best.

www.ftn-books.com has a nice selection of Domela publications including a signed print in an edition of 150 cps.

Here is part of the biography the Gemeentemuseum publishes on its site:

www.gemeentemuseum.nl

When he died in 1992, Dutch artist César Domela left behind an oeuvre that was as substantial as it was varied. Part of it passed into the possession of his daughters, Lie Tugayé-Domela Nieuwenhuis and Anne Dutter-Domela Nieuwenhuis. They are now donating thirteen of the relevant works to the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag. The gift forms an important addition to the museum’s existing Domela collection, expanding it to provide a complete overview of the work of this multifaceted artist. From 24 November, the public will have its first chance to view this exceptionally important donation, which comprises paintings, reliefs and one sculpture, as part of a major retrospective devoted to Domela.

César Domela was born in 1900 as the youngest son of the well-known Dutch socialist politician Ferdinand Domela Nieuwenhuis. At an early age, he moved to Italy, where he rubbed shoulders with a number of avant-garde artists. Soon after that, he met Mondrian, Van Doesburg and other members of the De Stijl group, of which he himself became the youngest member in 1924. However, Domela’s artistic development took a different direction from that of most of his fellow-members. He devoted himself increasingly to the development of reliefs: three-dimensional paintings, in which he ascribed a major role to the diagonal. He also experimented with photomontages for use in the world of commercial advertising. His work was well received and in 1936 it was included in the Cubism and Abstract Art exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

After the Second World War, the reliefs came to dominate his output. In 1960 the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag purchased work by him and held a retrospective. Twenty years later, this was followed a second major retrospective of his work. Today, the museum possesses an extensive collection, focusing until the present donation principally on the photomontages and advertising material. This special relationship between the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag and César Domela is one reason why his daughters have decided to donate thirteen of their father’s works to the institution; another is the fact that the works form an excellent complement to the museum’s wider holdings. The Gemeentemuseum Den Haag is extremely proud to have been offered this gift and delighted that the Domela collection, which is so valuable a part of its core holdings, will now provide a complete overview of the artist’s entire career. The gift coincides with the official opening at the Netherlands Institute for Art History (RKD) of the César Domela archive, bequeathed and donated to the Dutch State and given into the safekeeping of that institution.

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Eva Hesse (1936-1970)

A sad short life with deportation, a mother committing suicide and ending after only 34 years with a fatal brain tumor. This is in short the life of Eva Hesse, but during the only 10 years she was active as an artist she left the world some beautiful and imaginative works of art.

Not just one portrait above this blog , but a series because i found so many beautiful pictures of her surrounded by her works that it appears as if she is part of the work itself. It is now nearly 50 years that she died, but there is a strong demand for her works now and it shows in my inventory at www.ftn-books.com, because after having a handful publications on the shelf, there is only one publication left.

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Bert Frijns (1953)

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If ever there is one “glass” artist who deservees to be called original in his approach to the medium of glass, it is Bert Frijns. The first time i saw some of his glass vases presented in the Haags Gemeentemuseum in the inner garden, they were soon filled with rain water, make them appear even more fragile. But the water did not harm them, no it enhanced the capture of light, making the glass vase like a solid sculpture. The form , also highly original and it stayed one of the trademark forms of Frijns. Frijns had multiple museum and gallery exhibitions in the Netherlands, but the first one which i saw by this artist stayed with me forever.

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Great works of art and with the exhibition one of the first Gracia Lebbink designed exhibition catalogues for the Gemeentemuseum which is finally available through www.ftn-books.com. The short biography comes from www.acquestarte.com

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Born in 1953 in Ubach Worms, The Netherlands. From 1973 until 1980 he studied at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam and, after graduation, he attended specialist courses at the Department of sculpture and glass.
Since 1991, Bert Frijns lives with his family on a farm on an island of Zeeland, the southwestern province of the Netherlands. Surrounded by the North Sea and living in contact with nature, the artist is daily inspired by the landscape of the area.

Glass, water, light and movement are the main ingredients of the works of Bert Frijns. With minimalist simplicity and a strong sense of poetry, the artist has worked with these elements for almost three decades. The interaction of sculpture, light and space surrounding are common features in all his works.
Frijns also adopts an extremely complex and specific method of working the glass. Although his finished works seem simple, they are actually the result of a lengthy and difficult technic. His works are distinguished by their sheer beauty, stripped of frills or decorations. Since the glass sculptures are also filled with water, it creates an additional visual element.To date, Frijns has exhibited his works in many  museums and galleries around the world: in the Netherlands, Germany, United States, Indonesia, Japan, Switzerland, Belgium, Sweden, England, Israel and Australia.

Some of his creations are part of collections of some well-known museums: the Museum Jan van der Togt, the Jewish Historical Museum, the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, the Museum of Modern Art in Arnhem, the Frans Hals Museum, the Haags Gemeentemuseum, the Landesmuseum in Kassel, the Ernsting Stiftung and the Jewish Historical Museum in New York.