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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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Fabio de Sanctis (1931)

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Fabio De Sanctis was born on Rome on 7-2-1931. He studied in Rome. After the war De Sanctis came into contact with the word of the visual arts, making friends with various artists who worked in the capital.
At eighteen he enrolled in the Faculty of Architecture in Rome, and part of his interests were absorbed by the university and the problems of his chosen discipline. During this period he executed tempera drawings, a few oils, and some ceramic sculptures.



He was graduated in 1957 and opened an architectural office,participating in competitions and designing buildings for private and public clients.
As he followed the execution of his designs, he developed a knowledge of the materials and techniques involved in the realization of his ideas.
His relations with artists sometimes led to joint efforts in the making of buildings and interiors

A fascinating artist because his surrealist art was of a kind rarekly seen. There are not many surrealist painters who use sclupture to express them selves. One exception I know of some Dali sculptures, but most them make paintings. There are not that many publications on the artist, but there is one i have in my inventory and it presents itself as one of de Sanctis sculptures. …. a true artis book and available at www.ftn-books.com

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Max Ernst (1891-1976)

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Without any focus on Ernst i have maneged to collect many titles on this artist. The first time i noticed hsi name is when i was very much interested in the the Fantastic / HET FANTASTICHE in de Kunst ( book availabel at www.ftn-books.com

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Max Ernst, in full Maximilian Maria Ernst, (born April 2, 1891, Brühl, Germany—died April 1, 1976, Paris, France), German painter and sculptor who was one of the leading advocates of irrationality in art and an originator of the Automatism movement of Surrealism. He became a naturalized citizen of both the United States (1948) and France (1958).

Here is the excellent entry from the Encyclopedea Britannica

Ernst’s early interests were psychiatry and philosophy, but he abandoned his studies at the University of Bonn for painting. After serving in the German army during World War I, Ernst was converted to Dada, a nihilistic art movement, and formed a group of Dada artists in Cologne. With the artist-poet Jean Arp, he edited journals and created a scandal by staging a Dada exhibit in a public restroom. More important, however, were his Dada collages and photomontages, such as Here Everything Is Still Floating (1920), a startlingly illogical composition made from cutout photographs of insects, fish, and anatomical drawings ingeniously arranged to suggest the multiple identity of the things depicted.

In 1922 Ernst moved to Paris, where two years later he became a founding member of the Surrealists, a group of artists and writers whose work grew out of fantasies evoked from the unconscious. To stimulate the flow of imagery from his unconscious mind, Ernst began in 1925 to use the techniques of frottage (pencil rubbings of such things as wood grain, fabric, or leaves) and decalcomania (the technique of transferring paint from one surface to another by pressing the two surfaces together). Contemplating the accidental patterns and textures resulting from these techniques, he allowed free association to suggest images he subsequently used in a series of drawings (Histoire naturelle, 1926) and in many paintings, such as The Great Forest (1927) and The Temptation of St. Anthony (1945). These vast swamplike landscapes stem ultimately from the tradition of nature mysticism of the German Romantics.

In 1929 Ernst returned to collage and created The Woman with 100 Heads, his first “collage novel”—a sequence of illustrations assembled from 19th- and 20th-century reading material and a format which he is credited with having invented. Soon afterward he created the collage novels A Little Girl Dreams of Taking the Veil (1930) and A Week of Kindness (1934).

After 1934 Ernst’s activities centred increasingly on sculpture, using improvised techniques in this medium just as he had in painting. Oedipus II (1934), for example, was cast from a stack of precariously balanced wooden pails to form a belligerent-looking phallic image.

At the outbreak of World War II, Ernst moved to the United States, where he joined his third wife, the collector and gallery owner Peggy Guggenheim (divorced 1943), and his son, the American painter Jimmy Ernst. While living on Long Island, New York, and after 1946 in Sedona, Arizona (with his fourth wife, the American painter Dorothea Tanning), he concentrated on such sculptures as The King Playing with the Queen (1944), which shows African influence. After his return to France in 1953, his work became less experimental: he spent much time perfecting his modeling technique in traditional sculptural materials.

In the meantime i have collected many Max Ernst titles at www.ftn-books.com

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Yves Tanguy (1900-1955)

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Look at the portrait and you think Tanguy is a punk from the Seventies, but he is far from ….

He is rooted in the surreal mouvement of the mid Twenties from last century and met with artists like Dali, Miro and de Chirico and found himself in the middle of a surrealistic art mouvement. His paintings are typical for surrealism, but because of the landscape qualities  and the typical Tanguy surreal elements they more look like abstract forms in a landscape than other typical surreal paintings that always have a realistic element in them.

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For me Tanguy’s art goes beyond surrealism and is more an abstract kind of art than surreal. In the Netherlands there was a painter who had the same qualities. Pieter Ouborg started as a surreal painter but later he developed an art language of his own. Turning surreal elements into abstract elements. This is the same what i think Tanguy does. Turning forms in to abstract elements and composing them in the landscape of the painting.  www.ftn-books.com has Tanguy titles available

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Felix Labisse (1905-1982)

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Felix Labisse, is for me one of the great surrealist painters from last century and i have a life long admiration for the artist and his works.

It must have been around 1970 that i visited in the company of my parents Paris. I started to grow an interest in art and limited editions because i had a membership with ARTA . a small gallery with a subscription program to buy at membership prices graphic art. My entire collection at that moment well below 5 lithographs.

Paris it was and beside the scenic neighbourhoods , museums and tourist attractions we went to shop at “galerie Lafayette”. We took the escalator and on the top floor …there it was . a true ART gallery and the first piece on show was this lithograph in a signed edition.

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I was so impressed with the lithograph that i borrowed the money with my father to buy it and since it has been in my collection. I still love the beauty of the typical Labisse female figures. It is not on the wall anymore, but is still very much appreciated as a wonderful piece of art that i cherish for being a Labisse and for being one of the first pieces of art that i ever bought.

www.ftn-books.com has some nice Labisse publications available

btw. The beautiful portrait of Labisse sitting is by Brassai

 

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Giorgio di Chirico (1888-1978)… surrealist?

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Di Chirico was the founder the scuola metafisica art movement, which profoundly influenced the surrealists. But was he a surrealist or more a classic baroque painter  who by chance composed his compositions in surreal surroundings and there fore looked like a surreal painter. Any way he was considered by many surrealists to be an example for them and for sure one can see influences of di Chirico in the early paintings by Dali. Empty land and cityscapes with an occasional figure in them.

Di Chiricos pictures are different and most famous for the eerie mood and strange artificiality of the cityscapes he painted in the 1910s. Their great achievement lies in the fact that he treats the scenes not as conventional cityscapes – as perspectives on places full of movement and everyday incident – but rather as the kinds of haunted streets we might encounter in dreams. They are backdrops for pregnant symbols or even, at times, for collections of objects that resemble still lifes. De Chirico’s innovative approach to these pictures – an approach rather like that of a theatrical set designer – has encouraged critics to describe them as “dream writings.” They are, in other words, disordered collections of symbols. And this points to their difference from the so-called “dream images” of later Surrealists such as Salvador Dalí, which appear to want to capture the contents of a dream with a camera. www.ftn-books.com

 

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Pieter Ouborg, Painter of the unknown (1893-1956)

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Outside the Netherlands Pieter Ouborg is hardly know, but compare this artists to his contemporaries he stand out with a “language” which is original and imaginative. Strange, sometimes surreal and even cildlike ( Yes, he befriended Appel and other Cobra artist). STill he did not become the great name people who admired him hoped for. Still he was admired by his fellow artists and during his life he received some very nice retrospectives in the Stedelijk Museum and the Haags Gemeentemuseum. It si hard to describe his art, but if i must make a comparison it must be Wols ( i wrote a short blog on Wols some weeks ago). For those visiting in the near future , here is the list of collections that has Ouborg works in them: ( and of course the books on www.ftn-books.com)

  • Gemeentemuseum Den Haag
  • Dordrechts Museum in Dordrecht
  • Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam
  • Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven
  • Groninger Museum in Groningen
  • Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam
  • Stedelijk Museum Schiedam in Schiedam
  • Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam
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Joel Peter Witkin (1939) and Erwin Olaf (1959)

 

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1983, well before the fame and celebrity status of Erwin Olaf, there was this photographer who was presented in an exhibition in the Stedelijk Museum…Joel Peter Witkin was his name and his photographs balanced between absurd realism and surrealism. The same kind of photographs Erwin Olaf made in one of his first series CHESSMAN (1988). This series must have been strongly inspired by Witkin, since it depicts the same kind of absurd subjects, props and even the tone/color and atmosphere in the photographs are the same.

This series by Olaf was the first to make his work known among collectors and since, he has developed a style of his own, with completely staged photographs with a typical sixties/seventies atmosphere, but if you think his first series CHESS MEN was original and typically Erwin Olaf, than first have a look at Joel Peter Witkin and than judge again. Both mentioned publications and others on Witkin and Olaf are available at www.ftn-books.com.

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Wols (1913-1951)

 

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Wols is the pseudonym of Alfred Otto Wolfgang Schulze. Wols is not very well known by many, but if you ask among curators…. who is the the best Lyrical Abstract painter in the world?….. There is over 50% chance they will mention WOLS as being the most important one. Not only a painter , but also a very gifted photographer, Wols is possibly the artist which i learned to appreciate the most over the past 4 decades. In the beginning i did not understand his art at all, but when you see more of his art in relation to what others did at that time you notce that his art was “new” and intuitive and his photographs had a surreal quality in them. Wols is an artist you will discover in the coming years , because worldwide several shows with his art are planned . Wols is an artist to be discovered, his art is in many ways fascinating and even rooted in religious art. And because i myself am a Wols admirer i managed to collect a nice inventory with Wols publications There are some nice Wols publications which are  available at www.ftn-books.com . You may find an excellent article on Wols at http://glasstire.com/2013/12/06/wols-a-misinterpretation/

 

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Salvador Dali – ” Fille de Quinze ans “

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I have been a long time admirer of Salvador Dali and from the 70’s on ( The Boymans van Beuningen exhibition ) i have been visiting museums with Dali’s in their collections. The Boymans in the Netherland has the largest collection of Dali’s in the Netherlands, but everywhere in the world works can be found. In my youth i had one desire…owning an original Dali. It did not happen until i purchased an etching by the artist and together with an original lithograph, these are still the only works i was able to collect from Dali. The good thing is … i still like them and both are hanging on my walls. The etching FILLE DE QUINZE ANS comes from a series of etchings and was published in an edition of only 150 / signed copies. The paintings by Dali can only be purchased by a few people in the world , but the graphic works are still reasonably cheap to buy, so pick them up whenever you have a chance, but be careful…. there are many counterfeits on the market!

There are some nice books on Dali in my shop at www.ftn-books.com