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Arjanne van der Spek (1958)

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Is it luck or did it had to be this way?,….. because a few months ago if finally could purchase for the FTN collection an important and i think beautiful and intriguing sculpture by Arjanne van der Spek. It must have been some 25 years or more ago that i think Gerrit Jan de Rook introduced me to Arjanne van der Spek.  It was during the exhibition she had at the Gemeentemuseum and was joining Frank van Hemert in their joint presentation. A just starting, promising sculptor, who had finished her education and studies at the Ateliers 63 just half a decade earlier. She had her first solo exhibition at the Tanya Rumpff gallery who had started her gallery a few months earlier. I went to the gallery to see the other drawings and sculptures other than the ones i had seen and admired at the Gemeentemuseum and i really fell for her sculptures. As i explained to her a few weeks ago …they were intriguing and completely different than the sculptures i had seen before. The use of wood, steel, ceramic and tissues all in one sculpture were new to me. Unfortunately i could not afford a sculpture, but time changes everything  and a few weeks ago i was able to buy KNAP KNAP KNA from the former Klein Breteler collection, who had the work acquired from gallery de Vries in Haarlem. The work was not sold during auction, but i was able to buy it in the aftersale. I informed Arjanne that i had bought the KNAP KNAP KNAP and she was delighted to hear it found a new home. She thought it to be one of her best works and is still very fond of it so i offered it on loan when ever she wanted to use it in an exhibition:

‘Knap Knap Knap’ (2009)

a mixed media object (ceramic, wood, paint, brass) in two parts, 70x100x40 cm

Provenance: Acquired from Galerie Rob de Vries, Haarlem

It is a large work which makes it not that easy to place although outside placement under a roof is an option.

I added this work last week to the FTN art section and for those interested in buying please inquire at wvdelshout@ziggo.nl

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Gerard Verdijk selection available at FTN-art

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About a week ago i announced the cooperation with Josephine Sloet and at that same day we met and had our first ever meeting, we thought it an excellent idea to devote a separate section of FTN-blog to Gerard Verdijk of whom a selection of works will be presented that will be for sale through FTN-art / FTN-blog.  We will be making a first selection when we meet again at the beginning of January, so expect some Verdijk works by the end of February . The selection of paintings and/or drawings which will become available will be presented after the site of Josephine Sloet has gone “live” and all works presented will be for sale .  For any inquiries please refer to wvdelshout@ziggo.nl

A great announcemet to end this year filled with art and art publications and i am really looking forward to continue and offer you more art and artist publications in the year to come.

Have a wonderful and healthy 2019

sloet atelier e

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Guido Geelen (1961)

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Another artist born in the early sixties who i admire is Guido Geelen. Geelen was first introduced to me when we sold the RABO limited art editions some 20 years ago. In the series of Rabo art made available at affordable prices were works a.o. by Dolron, Diederix and ….Guido Geelen. There was a series of dutch tulips cast in bronze of which every “tulip” was different because the cast was used only once. Making this a unique piece of art. I remember we had about 10 tulips lined up to make our final choice and this work still graces our home.

It is a timeless and very powerful work born from a technique whic is classic and was used multiple times after we had bought our Tulip. The Noordbarabants Museum has several “flowers” created in this way by Geelen, but for us our TULIP is still the most beautiful. www.ftn-books.com has some Geelen publications available.

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Josef Albers and his Christmas card from 1952

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On this Christmas eve some thoughts by Josef Albers :

Wenn ich male
sehe und denke ich zunächst – Farbe

Und zumeist Farbe als Bewegung

Nicht als Begleitung
von Form, die seitwärts bewegt,
nur seitwärts verbleibt

Sondern als Farbe in dauernder innerer Bewegung

Nicht nur in Interaktion und Interdependenz
mit Nachbarfarben,
verbunden wie unverbunden

Sondern in Aggression – zum wie vom Beschauer
in direktem frontalen Uns-Anschauen

Und näher betrachtet,
als ein Atem und Pulsieren – in der Farbe

When I paint
I think and see
first and most – color
but color as motion

Color not only accompanying
form of lateral extension
and after being moved
remaining arrested

But of perpetual inner movement
as aggression – to and from the spectator
besides interaction an interdependence
with shape and hue and light

Color in a direct and frontal focus
and when closely felt
as a breathing and pulsating
– from within

Josef Albers

The card below was the original Josef Albers Christmas card from 1952

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Unfortunately this card is NOT available at www.ftn-books.com, but many other Albers item are available. a Merry Xmas from Wilfried van den Elshout and FTN books

 

 

 

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William Turnbull (1922-2012)

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In some ways the stone sculptures of William Turn bull remind of the ones i saw last year by the late Joost Barbiers. Rough pieces of stone, worked over in a way that a different object is created and which blends with its surroundings.

( above right is by Barbiers)

But where Turnbull developed his art into a colorful and sometimes joyful abstract modern art. Barbiers stayed sombre and kept working over the rough pieces of stone. Both i appreciate but in the longterm i would like to have an original Barbiers only for the outside and place it in the garden and let it blend with nature, whereas an original Turnbull would be admired and cherished inside the house and becoming an important part of the collection of Modern Art.

In 1952, he was included in the Young Sculptors exhibition at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) which had become the focal point for new art in London. Turnbull, along with Paolozzi ( a colleague and fellow art student)and Richard Hamilton and others, became a member of the Independent Group, a splinter group within the ICA which became an important forum for discussion and debate. The Independent Group has been cited as a progenitor of Pop Art, but soon after Turnbull was far from being another British Pop Art artist, going his own way and developing an art and style of his own.

Unknowingly Turnbull must have had a great influence on another dutch painter. Willem Hussem must have been inspired by Turnbull’s paintings since some of his compositions use the same patterns and colors.

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There are some nice early William Turnbull publications available at www.ftn-books.com

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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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Jean Bilquin (1938)

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I do not know what to say. Is Henk Visch the dutch equivalent of Jean Bilquin or is it the other way around? Certain is that both artists are inspired by the same objects and surroundings.

Another influence must have been the sculptures by Brancusi because a returning object is the portrait sculpture Brancusi has made in several versions.

But there is much more to discover in the works by Jean Bilquin. When you leaf through the catalogue which was published on the occasion of the Kunsthal exhibition ( 2008 ). You really feel that you are discovering an artist. An artist who is inspired by nature and people. Both subjects combining in a very personal kind of art on larger sized canvasses. This is the kind of work which always attracts me and which i want to discover further after i have visited the exhibition. The catalogue ( available at www.ftn-boooks.com) shows exactly why these works have a rare quality. The catalogue has several fold out pages which make the scale of these large paintings somewhat visible.

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Fausto Melotti (1901-1986) and Paul Klee

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One of the nicest and arguably best published catalogues i discovered recently is the catalogue which was published on the occasion of the KLEE-MELOTTI exhibition at the Musea d’Arte in the city of Lugano ( Suisse) in 2013. Personally i think the Suisse excel in their exhibitions and their catalogues which are published with these exhibitions. Take Zurich, Bern, Basel and Lugano. All cities house tremendous beautiful museums and each of them has its specialities.

This Klee-Melotti Catalogue fascinates in 383 pages and shows the relations between both artists. I did not know Melotti that well because i rarely encounter publications on him, but as soon as i laid my eyes on his works he became an instant favorite. His rows of staged sculptures look to have no connection at all, but look closely and they become one sculpture….

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i really love an artist who works in this way. For me Piet Dirkx has the same qualities. Dirkx combines objects and colors and present them as one sculpture.

The Klee-Melotti catalogue is now available at www.ftn-books.com

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Gerrit van Bakel (1943-1984)

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I always stumble upon this artist whenever i am looking for sculpture in the Netherlands in the Eighties. van Bakel is well known here because of his exhibition which were held during his life and shortly after his death in 1984. There even is an excellent website devoted to his life and works : www.gerritvanbakel.nl , but lately not much of his works are on show or included in auctions or at gallery presentations. Possibly this is because collectors keep his work in their collection because it is original, playful and accessible sculpture and the resemblance his works have with the ones by Panamarenko and Beuys. In 1984 , van Bakel was invited to hold a lecture at the university of Twente. Here follows the complete text of the lecture in english. And for the publications on van Bakel. visit www.ftn-books.com

ELEMENTS OF AN ARTIFICIAL LANDSCAPE
Lecture by Gerrit van Bakel at the Technical University Twente, 1984

Ladies and gentlemen,

I have been invited to make a speech here, but I was originally invited to put on an exhibition as well. Because my work has a somewhat technological character, the assumption was that it would be appropriate to show it in a College of Technology. That is no more than an assumption. I know that in practice it turns out differently, because people with a technological background judge art that has a technological character on the basis of its technological and not its artistic quality. If I were to put on an exhibition of my work in a College of Technology, I would therefore have to take this into consideration. I would have to make a very clear-cut selection of my work to ensure that the possibility of a response of this sort would in any case be eliminated. Quite simply this would have taken up too much of my time.
Well then, in fact I do want to make a sort of exhibition, not by placing things in a hall, but by doing something else. Something that is perhaps related to the matters that concern you as well. At least I hope so.

Before I begin I would first like to say something else. When someone makes a speech, it is taken for granted as it were that he must have an answer to certain questions or at any rate to the questions that his listeners have. This is one possibility. Another possibility is that someone who makes a speech has a question that his listeners have an answer to. As far as the first possibility is concerned, that is, whether you have questions that I have an answer to, I should tell you that my answer is 3. In other words, the question that concerns me is enormously complicated. And it is in order to find an answer that I make things and when these things are made they are able to function within the circus of the visual arts. But what comes prior to these things is in a certain sense more important than the things themselves. This means that, because I am concerned with making things when I pose these questions, the questions do not consist of words, but of objects. With how these objects manifest themselves. The origin of these phenomena is to be found in the image, in what I see, in what immediately occurs to me, before I have time to interpret it. To explain to you what occurs to me without interpreting it, I would have to show you what occurs to me. And that cannot be done. Therefore I am obliged to use words to explain what sort of images, what sort of phenomena, what sort of visible things can suddenly be generated in me. What it implies for my faculty of perception and what that in fact means.
The meaning of the things that go to make up the world of objects that is formed by our eyes or by our biological presence in the world is first of all formed by something that I would call a sort of natural landscape. Because as biological creatures we originate in the upper layers of the earth, our form has to do with the outer appearance of the earth. For this reason there is a certain connection between us and the rest of the world. It is therefore conceivable that a harmony exists on the basis of which we exist or might be able to exist. Now if we have enough to eat and drink and are no longer cold; if we have these three things, another series of transactions occurs that in any case conjures up an artificial landscape. Technology is a part of this. Many people think that this artificial landscape is not harmonious. And then in a certain sense there is the question when exactly it went wrong.
Whenever I start thinking about a harmony like this, for instance in a discussion, I always get the feeling after half or three quarters of an hour that I could be someone from the 17th century. Someone who has somewhat romantic ideas about harmony. In order to avoid this I will mention some of the elements of that artificial landscape. Not as an explanation or as a text, but more as a sort of set of footnotes. I think that this is also appropriate, because I have observed that in the few books of philosophy that I have seen, there are also a fair number of footnotes. Sometimes the whole left hand page is set aside for notes. A number of footnotes that form a sort of encyclopaedia, a sort of content that sustains me. Footnotes that when taken as a whole will I hope at any rate conjure up an image. In this sense the sequence of footnotes that I am going to offer you is a sort of exhibition. Elements of an artificial landscape. Not all of them are material elements and not all of them are entirely material. Because that’s not possible.

To begin with I would like to say something about cranes.

If we look at a crane from a distance, we see a piece of machinery which can clearly be used to shift a load. That the load can be raised and swung to the left or right. What we see then is that things can as it were be shifted on behalf of our bodies, things that we are not obliged to shift, but which we would also not be able to shift by ourselves.
In a certain sense a crane is a sort of function that pertains to a very powerful person. It has come into existence on the basis of a long technological history and a complicated sort of need to shift something from A to B. Many people think that the history of the logic of making something is always old. This is not the case. And this will, I hope, become clear from the things that I am about to recount.

The second element that I want to say something about is Buckminster Fuller. Buckminster Fuller is a man from the USA who has in a certain sense changed our thinking about construction. Not by changing our way of thinking in itself, but by applying another method of calculation to the forms in which it is manifested.

Cranes, for example, have specific dimensions and a specific precision. If this precision could be increased by a factor of 10 or a hundred, then the things themselves, the forms that result from this increased precision will have a different appearance. And Buckminster Fuller is a man who thought about this question. In the way that he conceived of technological things, including household articles, things for houses, bathrooms, cars, everything, he applied a method of thinking that was more precise than it had previously been. This meant that these things began to look different. Someone might of course say that that was all very well but the form concepts must also change with them. This is true of course, but these form concepts could only come into being because Buckminster Fuller had applied a new method of calculation. I consider this to be quite remarkable. I understand it, but even so I still think it is … incomprehensible. The fact that it is possible for a phenomenon to change if one makes a different sum.

Something very different from this, for instance, is the wood carving on the altar of the church in Xanten. Xanten is a small town on the lower Rhine. In the church there is an altar of hard wood. It is carved with religious scenes, but the work is not in relief. Or rather, they are reliefs but they are carved so deep that they become a sort of sculpture.
This wood carving is particularly curious in that we see it now with our eyes. And what makes it so incredible is that it is done by hand. It is so fragile and the carving is so refined. We cannot any longer imagine any way of being able to do this. It is not possible to imagine this way of carving wood as being an element of things that are made now. The fact is that things are no longer made in this way. In itself this is quite remarkable, because all that people at that time had at their disposal, apart from sharp chisels, a good feeling for the weight of a hammer, was a certain kind of patience and a certain kind of attention. The moment that I think or say something like this I get the feeling that I am making a criticism of our time when this sort of sophistication of form hardly exists any more, while at the same time everything is infinitely more complicated now. At least, so it seems. Nowadays in any case we know much more than people did then about how the world is. And perhaps it actually requires an element of ignorance about how the world is in order to achieve a higher level of refinement.

Something much more modern that also has an influence on the way the world appears is the felt pen.

Most of you in the audience, are holding a sort of stick. And if you apply that stick in a regular fashion to a sheet of paper, it produces stripes. From these stripes it is possible for other people to see what is on that piece of paper. This stick is something that is entirely taken for granted. It is possible that it has never occurred to anyone that this thing is an element for conveying knowledge. A small phenomenon that has to do with writing and the registration of thought processes.
Of course the elements that are used for writing have a whole history; what we have here, however, is a new element for writing. That is what the felt pen is. It made its appearance in the world more or less at the same time that I first began to draw. Twentytwo years ago a felt pen was called a ‘flowmaster’. It was a sort of long thick pen; it was shiny; it came with a small pot of ink and it looked a little bit dangerous. Like a small bomb. When you bought the pen it worked perfectly, but when you had to fill it, everything became black. Your hands. The surface of the pen. And your kitchen sink. In a certain sense that thing suggested that you couldn’t write with it. In the course of time the felt pen has been improved and made more amenable to use. And now everyone has a felt pen somewhere. When I wanted to draw with that thing it was in fact forbidden by the people who were trying to educate me. This was something quite odd, because with a felt pen you can’t give any texture to your hand, to your handwriting or to the way in which you touched the paper. It wasn’t possible to produce gradations of thickness. You always got the same flow of colour on the paper. The breadth of the strokes was more or less the same. Although the first of these pens weren’t efficient, they have become so now. But the complaints that people had about them then, I don’t hear these any more now. They are no longer relevant. This writing with equal strokes has simply become an element of the phenomena of drawings. So I don’t know whether anything has been lost as a result or if something new has been added.

Where something has in fact disappeared in the tradition of my profession, visual art, that is, is in technique. I mean technique as opposed to technology. (In Dutch the same word, techniek has various meanings, including both technique and technology, but also engineering. Translator’s note.)
Not the technology that produces a crane, but the technique, the way of doing something. In the older books about the art of painting there is at any rate some discussion about the secret techniques that were used by different schools and masters, at least by people who are now regarded as masters. About what these secrets were, what pigments they used and the order of precedence that these pigments had, and how these pigments were mixed on the palette. If you read a description of Edgar Degas’ palette, someone in fact who was active not so long ago, from the previous century, it is immediately noticeable that the man was exceeqingly knowledgeable about the materials he used. It is of course possible that an understanding of materials does not necessarily lead to craftsmanship. In any case up until the middle or the last part of the previous century the fact was that craftsmanship of this kind was a basic requirement. And that this was the basis that was necessary in order for genuine mastery to develop. And that in any case it was not possible for a painting to be beautiful if it began to deteriorate on the canvas after, say, eight years. Because then it did not exist any more.

In any case the visual arts have a very intricate history, and a very complicated sort of craftsmanship of which not much remains. This was due not so much to the fact that this paint existed, as that there were people who used this paint. By this paint I mean factory-made paint ready to use and in a tube- That in fact was done, more or less for the first time, by Vincent van Gogh. Perhaps people will think that Vincent van Gogh was important for another reason. I think in fact that this is the only reason why he was important. That he used paint straight from the tube. And that this was what was behind his craftsmanship, but he did not regard this as important. This can also be seen in his drawings. Although he was certainly able to draw he was not a craftsman in this field. Later when one comes to interpret the phenomenon of the work of Vincent van Gogh, what matters is the way that his gesture and his texture refer to his emotional constitution. And I sometimes even get the feeling that all that remains of the whole history of painting is a gesture like this.

Another element, another footnote, is the remarkable fact that at the beginning of this century the need of people to travel, by using a means of conveyance, led to the appearance of automobiles. A sort of horseless carriage initially, that could cover a distance on the road and which could transport people and goods from A to B. In my opinion, the outward form that these cars have taken makes them completely illogical. Specifically because they have an asymmetrical function while they are made symmetrically. In itself this is not so strange, but concurrently with the appearance of symmetrical cars something else occurred. This is the fact that houses that originally had been symmetrical for maybe three thousand years began to become asymmetrical round about 1910. And in fact they are now asymmetrical. I don’t know what this means, but I do know that it has taken place. There is an old painter, Richard Paul Lohse, who makes coloured squares and who argues that symmetry is in any case a monarchist phenomenon. This would perhaps explain why people get so much pleasure out of sitting in their symmetrical cars. Perhaps because it gives them a feeling of royalty.

There is something very strange about the functional aspect of technology. I think that it is an illusion to think that engineering and technology produce logical and functional things. Just think of this: a distant land where the population is perhaps poor, with not a great amount of food, and with agricultural methods that are maybe more or less primitive. These people are persuaded in one way or another to grow certain kinds of plants in this distant land. These plants are harvested and transported and end up here in very large chopping machines. This transport and these chopping machines require a considerable amount of technical knowledge: of cutting sharpnesses, of molecule thicknesses and all kinds of other things as well. But in the end the result of a whole process like this is that millions of people in a certain country are trying to give up smoking. Yes… a cigarette as a form is surely an indicator of the absurdity of the world.

There is however another function that explains why this happens. This is the need to earn money. I think that in the hierarchy of knowledge and learning a change has taken place. Or that it is possible to detect one. My point of departure is that there was once a time when philosophy for instance was a sort of mother of all forms of knowledge, was the source where everything came from, all knowledge and learning. In my opinion this is in itself not mistaken. It is however at any rate true that this is no longer the case. The situation now is that economics, which in my opinion is not a science, but a way of thinking that admittedly employs scientific methods, plays a more decisive role than does one’s grasp of a subject or any other specific quality. I don’t know if this is also significant, but a number of years ago on the 1000 guilder banknote, the painter Rembrandt was portrayed. And he is now replaced by the philosopher Spinoza. Is this due to the fact that everything that is printed on the money no longer has any meaning? I think that it is something like that. Because on the hundred guilder note there used to be an image of Michiel Adriaanszoon de Ruyter, for whom at least some people felt any respect, and on that note now there is a bird that is almost extinct. As far as that goes my idea might well make sense. There is therefore something illogical in the context within which functionality, and functional technology exist. These are illogical things that are maybe suggested by the existence of money. This is quite simply a fact. Money exists and most people covet it, in order to do things with it.

Something else that is very precious is diamonds. Two years ago I saw a photo of an enormous pit. A pit that was at least two kilometres long and perhaps a kilometre deep. In it there were a hundred thousand little stakes and ropes. And in this pit a great number of people were looking for something. It was a photo of a diamond mine in South Africa. I thought that it was so terrifying that so many people had made such a deep pit that I began to ask myself what a diamond really is. Of course I haven’t found the answer.

What I did discover is that a little stone like this, a glittering stone which does not however glitter any more than plenty of other stones, does not necessarily mean anything more than just that. In former times it certainly didn’t. A stone like this gives rise to human activities that are at first sight strange. Activities that an economist might describe as having to do with the law of supply and demand. That is all very well but that still doesn’t explain where the demand came from for people to want to possess such a tiny, brilliant and very well worked stone. It is in any case a fact that you can’t do very much with a diamond.

Another list that in itself also consists of a list concerns how one generates a comfortable temperature. There is something strange about this. I am alive now and in my life things occur that give me the energy I need to make things. I will give a short account of what has happened. When I was a little boy, we had a stove at home. This was fueled with peat. And there was an oven. This was lighted with a heap of twigs with peat on top. This served both as a means of heating and for cooking at the same time. That is just one illustration. Around 1950 there was another stove in our house. This one didn’t work on peat, nor on twigs; it had to be heted with coal nuggets. And briquettes. In 1955 there was a new stove in the room once again. This was called a ‘solid fuel stove’ and it was heated with anthracite. About 1960 the solid fuel stove had to go. It was replaced by an oil heater. An oil heater, that’s what it was called. Round about 1965 the oil heater also turned out not to work so well and a gas stove had to take its place. And around 1972 almost everyone in Holland had central heating with all its benefits. It was possible to live and work in all the rooms, etc. But in 1973 there was an energy crisis and in 1975 everyone, or at least, very many people, had once more converted those old chimneys where the stove stood and turned them into fireplaces to give a little extra heat. And to save energy. In 1980 for people who found an open hearth like this difficult, a projecting stove has appeared that has in recent years developed into a multiburner in which one can also burn twigs and peat. Whether this is logical or not, I don’t know. But it is definitely what has happened.

Something that is in fact logical, is the fact that there are screws. A piece of iron and then another piece or iron that you can wind round each other. And which fit. When you see such a logical little thing with which you can do so many things, you might think that a screw is very old. But that isn’t the case. It is true that screws existed, but the fact that one nut was interchangeable with another, is something that only came about in the 19th century. It is only since the war that there have been two or three systems for how the nuts and the bolts fit.
But the fact is that when you put a bolt in your pocket, and you buy a nut in Italy, they will fit each other. There is something very strange about this. It means that elements in the world have become mutually interchangeable. The only question is whether a thing like this did not have something like that as a consequence for humanity.

The last thing that I want to talk about is the horizon. If we take a look outside we see at the end of the world that the sky changes into ground. I have spent some time studying how this works. Especially at sunset. You can work out how far away the horizon is but this doesn’t explain how the sun goes down behind it.

There is no doubt that the sun does go down. And I can imagine that in earlier times this would be a moment of terror for primitive people. An instinctive moment for which one would need to have extra protection or shelter. What the horizon suggests to me is the idea that we as followers of this primitive way of thinking, as creatures with the faculty of looking, once upon a time came to realize that that same sun also rises.
I don’t know how long ago it is that human beings became human beings, but I can definitely guess what moment of the day it happened. In the evening, when the sun goes down.

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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