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Wim Crouwel (1928-2019)

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This morning i heard that one of the most influential designers from our time, Wim Crouwel, has died. The last years of his life he suffered Parkinson disease, but he was still going strong and must have looked forward to the retrospective of his works being opened later this  month at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. What better way to commemorate this great artist than to show a selection of the many items designed by him. www.ftn-books.com

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And to finish one of my personal favorites. Wim Crouwel will be an example for many designers in the decades to comewerkman crouwel aa.

 

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Jean Pierre Raynaud (1939)

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Raynaud has had a long career in Modern Art and until recently he was the perfect artists artist. Known and appreciated by his colleagues, but outside the inner circle of artists hardly known. He has had a fairly successful exhibition at the Stedelijk Museum in 1968, which catalogue was designed by Wim Crouwel, but beside that exhibition it lasted over 30 years in the Netherlands before the DE PONT museum decided to have another  Raynaud exhibition in 1999.

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( both catalogues available at www.ftn-books.com).

Of course Raynaud has had his exhibitions at galleries and museums, but the appreciation of collectors was not there. However in recent years his works have become more popular among collectors and since 2000 the appreciation of his works and prices start to rise. His works are characterized by the use of primary colors and in many a grid is used and part of the composition . There are several Raynaud publications available at www.ftn-books.com

 

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Ben Nicholson (1906-1978)

 

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There are not many photo portraits to be found of Ben Nicholson. This must have been an artist who did not searched for fame, but developed his style of painting in a very thorough way over the years. Started as many of his fellow artists in a figurative way, but influenced by Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth ( who would become his second wife) he developed a very personal way of abstract painting. These are the ones i admire most of Ben Nicholson.

They have a constructivist quality and lightness in them which make these paintings very easy to like. The influence of Barbara Hepworth makes his art even more complete. Perhaps he is a little bit forgotten, but every decade a renewed interest is there, which results in a tremendous exhibition.

www.ftn-books.com has some very nice Nicholson publications available including the Willem Sandberg designed Stedelijk Museum catalogue from 1954

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Dutch Graphic Roots – Cor Rosbeek

An important site on dutch graphics and dutch designers can be found over here:

https://www.dutchgraphicroots.nl

Here is the latest example of this site. This one is on Cor Rosbeek. One of the driving forces behind Rosbeek printers.

Cor Rosbeek

 

“Impossible doesn’t exist” and “I’m not selling print, I am selling trust.” Two sayings that characterize Cor Rosbeek who, together with his brother Jean, for long years ran Rosbeek printers in Nuth. The first maxim refers to the dedication shown by this printing house since 1963 to always deliver the best of the best, the highest of high quality print, and to be willing to listen closely to graphic designers. The Rosbeek’s capability to listen to and work with designers became legendary. The second saying indicates how supple and subtle they managed to perform their intermediary role between clients and designers. Rosbeek in Nuth, in the southern province of Limburg, were not just printers, they were actively participating partners in the print production process; they were important contributors to cultural developments.

 

The jury of the Best Book Award 1990 posing on the stairs in Stedelijk Museum. Cor Rosbeek second from left

The young Cor Rosbeek never showed any ambition of becoming a printer like his father. He’d rather become a commercial representative and drive flashy cars. Art wasn’t his cup of tea either: “I didn’t have the urge to create.” But Cor at age sixteen had to cope with his father’s sudden demise. As the oldest Rosbeek son he had to jump in and continue the family business. Born in 1944, he had grown up in the family home above the printer’s shop where his father produced all sorts of commercial print for small industries and for private people living in the area of Hoensbroek. His father’s prewar dreams of becoming the chief of the in-house printing shop at Bata’s shoe factory were disturbed by WW II. The Czech-born Bata owners, of Jewish descent, escaped to England. But Cor Rosbeek the elder knew about printing and by hard work single-handedly managed to build up a small business of his own, with only his sons, Cor junior and Jean, and their younger sister helping out when it was busy. In his off time, father Rosbeek liked to make music. He could play no less than thirteen different musical instruments.

The best ever
Cor Rosbeek went to trade school. Bent over maps and atlases he fantasized about other worlds. On Saturdays he put on his fashionable shoes and went dancing: rock and roll. But he was ambitious. He wanted to surpass his father and move on to a better world, he had an open mind as well as an eye for the modern times, and he explored whatever cultural life there was in his remote corner of the Netherlands. It was only later that he fell in love with the printing profession. “From that moment on no one could stop me, I wanted to be the best.”

Interior at Rosbeek in Nuth

His first client, the paint producer Jo Eyck whose company became a part of the Sikkens group and their distributor for Limburg, had taken over his own father’s management position around the same time as Cor. Jo Eyck was fascinated by anything related to art and design and already collaborated with designers. He was a perfectionist and a demanding client. Cor Rosbeek admitted he learned much from Jo Eyck: “Everything you do, should be done well and with quality in mind. Jo always aimed for a position in the quality-conscious market of architects, project developers and their clients. I noticed this was a highly effective approach. In his Heerlen head office Jo Eyck organized exhibitions about the role of paint in art, presenting artists such as Richard Lohse, Ad Dekkers, and Peter Struycken. He collected contemporary art and bought Wijlre castle to turn it into a private museum. He had architect Wiel Arets build a glass pavilion for a part of his art collection, the Hedge House, open to the public.” A second influential contact was with interior architect Herman Zeekaf, who sold modern furniture in Heerlen. With Zeekaf, too, Cor Rosbeek developed close ties. Zeekaf designed the new building for the printing company as well as later extensions and renovations.

Goodwill publications
The production of high-quality print in collaboration with leading designers became Rosbeek’s goal. The brothers looked at printers such as Meijer in Wormerveer and Steendrukkerij De Jong & Co in Hilversum, where graphic designers produced daring print projects including the famed Christmas editions of Drukkersweekblad en Autolijn and the Kwadraat series published by De Jong & Co. In their own region, Rosbeek acquired assignments through designers like Baer Cornet and Geert Setola from clients such as furniture producer ’t Spectrum, Océ van der Grinten copiers, Stork machines, and Randstad (temp workers). Wim Crouwel was one of the first designers coming “all the way from the West” to collaborate with Rosbeek on work commissioned by fashion importers Kreymborg. Jan Bons brought his calendar designs for Van Ommeren shipping. Others followed, bringing with them a growing number of clients, including Art Unlimited and the Rijksmuseum. These clients came from all over the Netherlands.

Many of these publications by Rosbeek are available at www.ftn-books.com

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Felix Vallotton (1865-1925)

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Felix Valotton is without a doubt one of those less familiar names in Modern Art, but still he is very important for the development of modern Art as we know it, because when you look at his works more closely you can discover the fundaments of abstraction.

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In 1893, he became a member of Les Nabis, a semi-secret, semi-mystical group of young artists, mostly from the Academie Julian, which included Pierre Bonnard, Ker-Xavier Roussel, Maurice Denis, and Édouard Vuillard, with whom Vallotton was to form a lifelong friendship. While the Nabis shared certain common ideas and goals, their styles were quite different and personal. While he was a member of the Nabis, he kept his distance; his jocular title among the Nabis was “The Foreign Nabi”, [10] Vallotton’s paintings in this period reflected the style of his woodcuts, with flat areas of color, hard edges, and simplification of detail. His subjects included genre scenes, portraits and nudes. Examples of his Nabi style are the deliberately awkward Bathers on a Summer Evening (1892–93), now in the Kunsthaus Zürich, and the symbolist Moonlight(1895), in the Musée d’Orsay.

His paintings began to be noticed by the public and critics; Bathers on a Summer Evening, presented at the Salon des Indépendents, was met with harsh criticism and laughter.  But they also woodcuts also attracted considerable and growing attention and clients, and he became financially secure. Between 1893 and 1897, he received many commissions for illustrations from notable French newspapers and magazines, including La Revue Blanche, and from foreign art publications, including The Chap-Book of Chicago. He also made woodcuts for the covers of theater programs and book illustrations. One of his prominent patrons was Thadée Natanson, the publisher of the Revue Blanche, and his wife Misia, who commissioned many important decorative works from the Nabis. Through the Natansons Vallotton was introduced to the avant-garde elite of Paris, including Stéphane Mallarmé, Marcel Proust, Eric Satie, and Claude Debussy.

During the Nabi period, he also produced a remarkable series of woodcuts. His woodcut subjects included domestic scenes, bathing women, portrait heads, and several images of street crowds and demonstrations—notably, several scenes of police attacking anarchists. He usually depicted types rather than individuals, eschewed the expression of strong emotion, and “fuse[d] a graphic wit with an acerbic if not ironic humor”. Vallotton’s graphic art reached its highest development in Intimités (Intimacies), a series of ten interiors published in 1898 by the Revue Blanche, which deal with tension between men and women. Vallotton’s woodcuts were widely disseminated in periodicals and books in Europe as well as in the United States, and have been suggested as a significant influence on the graphic art of Edvard Munch, Aubrey Beardsley, and Ernst Ludwig Kirchner. In 1898, he produced one of his most important series of woodcuts,

By 1900, the Nabis had drifted apart. One source of the division was the Dreyfus affair, the case of a Jewish army officer falsely accused of aiding the Germans. The Nabis were divided, with Vallotton passionately defending Dreyfus. He produced a series of satirical woodcuts on the affair, including The age of the Newspaper,which were published on the first page of Le Cri de Paris on January 23, 1898, at the height of the affair.

Another major event during this period was his marriage to Gabrielle Rodrigues-Hénriques, a upper middle class member of the Paris artistic and social elite. The union also brought to his household three children from her previous marriage. After a brief honeymoon in Switzerland, they moved to a large apartment on near the Gare Saint-Lazare train station. He also established a solid relationship with the Bernheim family and their gallery, which presented a special exhibition devoted the Nabis, including ten of his works. The marriage brought him financial security, and he gradually abandoned woodcuts as his main source of income. Thereafter he devoted his attention almost entirely to painting. www. ftn-books.com has some titles on vallotton available.

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Graham Sutherland (1903-1980)

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When i looked for information on Sutherland I found this excellent article on the WIDEWALLS site.

One of the leading British artists of the 20th century, Graham Sutherland was widely known for his prints and paintings. Despite some other names coming to mind before him when talking about the art history, such as David HockneyFrancis Bacon, or Lucian Freud, there was a time when Sutherland ruled undisputed. From mid-1930’s, when he established his identity as a modern painter, to the 1950s, when his influence began to wane, there was a widespread consensus amongst fellow artists and critics that Sutherland was the most exciting and compelling voice in contemporary British painting.[1] He was even commissioned to paint a portrait of Winston Churchill, in what turned out to be one of the most famous cases of the subject disliking the artwork, which eventually led to its destruction.

Sutherland’s artistic career included several significant changes in direction. After specializing in engraving and etching, he began achieving fame as a printmaker. His early pastoral prints display the influence of the English Romantic Samuel Palmer, whereby prefiguring Sutherland’s later involvement within the Neo-Romantic movement in Britain. However, the famous 1929 Wall Street Crash bankrupted many of his collectors, thus forcing Sutherland to turn to other sources of income. He worked as an illustrator until he visited Pembrokeshire, becoming completely captivated by it, and subsequently, turning to painting as a primary medium for his expression. The artist continued to draw inspiration from Pembrokeshire countryside and its enthralling anthropomorphic natural forms for the rest of his life.[2] When working on landscapes, Sutherland’s working method included seizing on a detail such as a dead tree, boulder, thorn bush, everything that according to the artist, required a separate existence. He would sketch this on the spot, and later a studio painting would evolve. Sutherland wasn’t the first to do so – many landscape artists before him had done pretty much the same, but his studio hand moved considerable further from what his outdoor eye had seen. Neo-romantic at the core, his work inspired others such as Paul NashJohn Craxton, and John Piper. Over time, Sutherland began to reveal himself as a vivid colorist with an original sense of harmonies. He somewhat banished the dark and heavy tones which he had used earlier, though preserving the sharp black and white oppositions and using acid pinks and mauves, orange and light blue, emerald, chrome yellow, and scarlet.

www.ftn-books.com has some nice Graham Sutherland titles available

 

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the oldest Stedelijk Museum i have in stock is on Aug. Legras

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To be honest … i had never heard of Legras before, but the catalogue is impkrtant enough to add it to my inventory. Since this is rare. Published in a time that the world was at war and the Netherlands was neutral. What struck me, is that like many of his fellow artists Legras was charmed by North Africa. he visited countries and villages and translated his observations into drawings and paintings. This catalogue is special and a very welcome addition to all who collect the Stedelijk Museum catalogues.

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Lawrence Weiner (1942) + discount

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Lawrence Weiner and the Netherlands is a combination which now exists for almost 50 years. His connections with dutch directors and curators is legendary and he has made several special projects with them in dutch. Weiner is considered as a post minimal artist and one of the founders of Conceptual art and that is the reason why his works blend so well within the collections of the more important dutch museum. The van Abbemuseum, Stedelijk and Gemeentemuseum have all works by Weiner in their collections.

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But Weiner is much more than a conceptual artist. He is a book designer and poet at the same time  and these little sketches with words can be blown up into facades and objects with words. One of the most memorable to me was the facade at the Ljubljana Modern Art museum with a Weiner object on one of the outside museum walls. Impredssive, recognizable. So to celebrate the longtime history that Lawrence Weiner has with the Netherlands there is a discount this week of 10%  on all items at www.ftn-books.com . use the discountcode : LawrenceWeiner10 and receive a 10% discount on all items including some marvelous Lawrence Weiner publications.

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Julio Gonzalez (1876-1942)

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This blog was long due, because i personally think he is one of the all time greatest sculptors. The first time i noticed his works was some 30 years ago, ehren i first bought the Willem Sandberg designed publication that was publihed on the occasion of the 1955 Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam exhibition. This ia a classic by Willem Sandberg. A beautiful photo of Gonzalez in his studio on the cover  and with the use of the typical 2 kinds of paper within the catalogue. A brown rough paper for the text and the white paper for the photographs. these catalogues by Willem Sandberg are becomong more scarce by the year, so pick these up while you can.

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Back to Gonzalez who’s works can be characterized as a symbiosis between the surreal and abstract forms. These abstract sculptures or masks are fascinating to look at  and with the use of scrap metal you always wonder what parts were used to make the composition. Is it something fabricated?….. or is it the original part which is used? Either way, the result is striking, their sizes not too small and not too large, these sculptures are to be admired by all.

www.ftn-books.com has some nice Julio Gonzalez titles available

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Sam Francis (1923-1994)

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Sam Francis is a subject for a blog a long time overdue. Since i have been admiring the works by Sam Francis for many years now and of course there is a special connection with the Netherlands, because he has had many solo exhibitions in this country for over 30 years and not at the less important museums and galleries but at the very best ones. First there is of course the exhibition at the Stedelijk Museum with the beautiful Wim Crouwel designed catalogue. secondly there are the gallery exhibitions at gallery Delaive and third there is the Museum van der Togt/Cobra Museum exhibition. All of these exhibitions were accompagnied by beautiful large catalogues and available at www.ftn-books.com

My first interest in Sam Francis was raised in the early Nineties when i collected Swatch watches. Together with my brother in law we searched for the earliest of these watches and bought, collected and resiold them and one of these watches was a Christmas special by Sam Francis. We had multiple copies of this rare watch and the last one was sold some 5 years ago. Still whenever i hear the name Sam Francis i am reminded of this swatch collection. But from that time on i noticed that there is more to Sam Francis than just his Swatch watch. Just read this short biography which can be found on the Sam Francis site too:

Sam Francis (1923 – 1994) occupies a prominent position in post-war American painting. Although associated with the Abstract Expressionist movement and Clement Greenberg’s Post-Painterly Abstraction, unlike many American painters of he time he had direct and prolonged exposure to French painting and to Japanese art which had an individual impact on his work.

On leaving the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1944 owing to illness Francis took up painting as a hobby. He decided to make this a serious undertaking studying under David Park in 1947 and completed his BA and MA at the University of California. He was greatly influenced by Abstract Expressionism particularly the works of Clyfford Still and Jackson Pollock. In his use of space on the canvas to allow free circulation of strong colour and the sensitivity to light Francis developed his own style by the time his studies had ended.

Francis moved to Paris in 1950 where he met Jean-Paul Riopelle who was to remain an important influence, and study of Monet’s Waterlilies had a profound impact on his work. From a very muted palette of greys and whites he returned to the qualities of light and colour producing such works as Big Red 1953. He continues to develop the use of white space and increased the dimensions of his paintings for greater emphasis. During his period in Europe he executed a number of monumental mural paintings.

Francis returned to California in 1962 and was then influenced by the West Coast School’s preoccupation with mysticism and Eastern philosophy. Blue had become a more dominant feature of his work since 1959 inspired by personal suffering and the great joy of becoming a father for the first time in 1961. This led to combinations of hard colour and more disciplined structures with centrally placed rectangles during the 1970s. Eventually these more rigid structures gave way to looser configurations sometimes of snake-like forms with web-like patterns. Blue, sometimes brilliant, remained an important part of many later works.

The above publications and other Sam Francis publications are available at www.ftn-books.com