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Paule Vézelay (1892-1984)

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Paule Vezelay was  recognized for her art in the last stage of her career and is not that knoewn an artist. Still the TATE organized a retrospective in 1983 . Not many publications have been published during her life, but some small publications are still to be found on the internet. One is availabel at http://www.ftn-books.com.

the following text comes from Wikipedia:

Vézelay was born Marjorie Watson-Williams in Bristol, a daughter of the pioneering ENT surgeon, Patrick Watson-Williams (1863-1938). Before the First World War she trained for a short period at the Slade School of Fine Art and then at the London School of Art. She first gained recognition as a figurative painter, had her first London show in 1921 and was invited to join the London Group in 1922. She moved to France in 1926 and changed her name to Paule Vézelay possibly to identify herself with the School of Paris. In 1928 she abandoned figurative painting and made her first abstract work (which is now lost) and from then on worked exclusively in an abstract mode. In 1929 she met André Masson whom she fell in love and lived with for four years. Working side by side, they both painted dreamlike surrealist works.[2] Vezelay became well respected in modernist Parisian art circles and was elected in the 1930s to membership of the French abstract movement, Abstraction-Création, which was largely established as a reaction to Surrealism.

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On the outbreak of the Second World War Vézelay moved back to London, but had difficulty in gaining recognition from the British art establishment, possibly because of her identification with Paris at a time when the London art world was beginning to acquire its own separate and different reputation. However, in 1952 she was invited by Andre Bloc, president of the Parisian constructivist abstract movement Groupe Espace, to form a London branch of that movement. After many difficulties and the refusal of some leading British abstract artists to join (including Victor Pasmore), she was successful in forming a small group of painters, sculptors and architects who held an exhibition in the Royal Festival Hall in 1955 which anticipated many elements of the much better known 1956 Whitechapel Gallery exhibition, This is Tomorrow. In the 1950s she made textile designs for Metz of Amsterdam and Heals of London. In many of her works, Vézelay’s abstract imagery, such as floating quasi-biomorphic shapes, was outside the main characteristics of the constructivist approach. She had a lifelong aim of creating works which were “pleasing and happy” – not terms generally associated with Constructivism. However, her view that ‘pure’ abstract art enhanced the environment, and her involvement with Groupe Espace in the 1950s which promoted the concept of a synthesis (or close collaboration) between architects and abstract painters and sculptors, place her at least in part within the Constructivist tradition. Her post-war textile designs for Heals also place her firmly within the 20th century Modern Movement.

The Tate gave Vézelay a retrospective exhibition in 1983 – a late recognition of the quality of her work and her significant place in art history as one of the first British artists to embark on a lifetime exploration and development of abstraction.

Paule Vézelay was also included in Pallant House Radical Women exhibition, focusing on the works of Jessica Dismorr and her contemporaries, in early 2020.

paule vezelay

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Nasreen Mohamedi (1937-1990)

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There are not that many artists that have emerged from India and made a name for their selves in western art, but Nasreen Mohamedi is certainly one of them. Crown on her exhibition history was the REINA SOFIA exhibition in 2014 ( book available at http://www.ftn-books.com ). At this occasion, a large number of her line drawings and paintings were for the first time to be seen in Europe and with this exhibition she established her self as being one of the truly visionary original artist coming from outside the western art world.

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Born in Karachi in 1937, before moving to Mumbai in her youth, and living and teaching in Vadodara until her final days, Mohamedi remains one of the most under-recognised artists of the 20th century. At the time when Indian Modernists were painting the colours and chaos of their homeland, Mohamedi worked alongside peers such as MF Husain, Tyeb Mehta and VS Gaitonde. Yet she was virtually alone amongst her peers because she broke away from the mainstream practice of figurative painting in post-Independence India. She has often been compared to Canadian abstract painter Agnes Martin and American minimalist Carl Andre. “‘Nasreen Mohamedi’ reveals the artist’s significant contribution to Modernism that expands the boundaries of Western art history and offers an opportunity to reconsider the meaning of abstract art,” reads the exhibition note. Mohamedi passed away at 53  in 1990, from a rare neurological disorder.

The obscurity in relation to the chronology and description of Mohamedi’s works have confounded curators and art historians. Her evolving language is seen through early abstract brushwork and figurative oil and watercolour, to her grid-based drawings and those in pen and ink.

While her line drawings are the most popular aspect of her oeuvre, what is also fascinating is Mohamedi’s photographic prints, known for their unique architectural quality. A well-travelled artist, Mohamedi took photographs in several places in the Middle East (she lived in Bahrain briefly in her youth), the US and Japan, apart from various cities in India including Chandigarh. her photographs, which highlight geometric shapes and lines in her surroundings through particular crops, mirrored how Mondrian began his path to abstraction, a reason why the two exhibitions will open simultaneously.

Another significant aspect is Mohamedi’s diaries, which reveals the artist’s mind at work. On display at Tate Liverpool are extracts, notes and source material she kept in her studio.

mohamedi

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Stephen Buckley (1944)

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I do not know this for certain, but because i could not find many pictures of Stephen Buckley, my guess is he is an introvert perhaps even a shy person and this picture of his character would fit the art that he makes. Large in size and very abstract, but filled with figures that are not very common and certainly not constructivist. There seems to be a mouvement in his paintings, realized by dividing the space , bending the canvas or shifting pannels from each other. This way of setting up the composition and expressing himself makes his paintings very authentic.

For more than forty years Buckley has concerned himself with addressing the major themes of the twentieth century through a personal style oscillating between the matiere of Schwitters, the dandyism of Picabia and the intellectual rigour of Duchamp by deconstruction and reconstruction. Eventually self-reference was inevitable and there is now a large portfolio of themes, references, motifs and symbols which are continually reworked and reinvented. Scale has always been significant from the 20 foot La Manche (1974) to a great number of ‘carry on’ sized works over a period of years.

www.ftn-books.com has a nice Buckley publication available

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Sarah Lucas (1962)

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Another young bBritish artist who emerged in the early Nineties in a wave of young British artists. Others from her generation rose to fame in the same years. Among them Gary Hume and Damien Hirst. They had one thing in common. All were added to the Tate collection at a very young age and collected by Saatchi. Personally i am not a great admirer of her works. For the same reasons  i am not a great admirer of Hirst his works, but sometimes you have to look twice and try to discover the meaning of her(in many cases) masculine constructions to confront and dissect their nature.

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Her pieces represent a fantastical world and playfully employs unrealistic ideals to unearth obscene paradoxes created by those very constructions. These works are constructed and well thought over and perhaps that is the quality i do not like about them.

www.ftn-books.com has some Sarah Lucas titles available

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Mark Wallinger (1959)

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The first time i took notice of the works by Mark Wallinger was when i learned that this artist was presented at the Tate modern and that Saatchi took an interestb in the artist. The second occasion was when i actually owned a true signed Mark Wallinger. Nothing very special because it was a Christmas Momart edition but still an original work of art signed by the artist himself.

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From that time on i occasionally encountered works by him, but never in the Netherlands, because to my knowledge non of the larger museums have works by Wallinger in their collections. Still there must be an interest for this artist because when you compare the black and white eighties paintings by Armando there are quite some similarities to be found in use of color and composition

Nevertheless for more books and publications on WALLINGER and the late ARMANDO please visit www.ftn-books.com

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Barbara Hepworth (1903-1975)

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I have always thought that the large sculpture outside the Congresbouw / World forum( by Oud) in Den Haag was a sculpture by Barbara Hepworth, but just a few years ago i discovered that i was mistaken and that the sculpture was by Pevsner.

My mistake and when you really look more closely there is a large difference between the art of these two artists. The Hepworth sculptures are much more related to the sculptures by her fellow student and contemporary artist Henry Moore and her later husband Ben Nicholson. There are quite a few sculptures of her in the Netherlands because in the sixties several exhibitions were held at which occasions her works were sold.  Some of the best Hepworth catalogues are available at www.ftn-books.com

The Tate gallery has an excellent introductory text on Hepworth which they published on the 2015 Hepworth exhibition. Here is part of tghis text, but you can find the complete introduction at

https://www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/dame-barbara-hepworth-1274/who-is-barbara-hepworth

Who is she? 

Barbara Hepworth was a British sculptor, who was born in Wakefield, Yorkshire in 1903. She was a leading figure in the international art scene throughout a career spanning five decades.

Who were her peers?

Hepworth studied at Leeds school of Art from 1920–1921 alongside fellow Yorkshire-born artist Henry Moore. Both students continued their studies in sculpture at the Royal College of Art in London. Both became leading practitioners of the avant-garde method of Direct Carving(working directly in to the chosen material) avoiding the more traditional process of making preparatory models and maquettes from which a craftsman would produce the finished work.

From 1924 Hepworth spent two years in Italy, and in 1925 married her first husband, the artist John Skeaping, in Florence; their marriage was to last until 1931. 

From 1932, she lived with the painter Ben Nicholson and, for a number of years, the two artists made work in close proximity to each other, developing a way of working that was almost like a collaboration. They spent periods of time travelling throughout Europe, and it was here that Hepworth met Georges Braque and Piet Mondrian, and visited the studios of PicassoConstantin Brancusi, and Jean Arp and Sophie Taueber-Arp. The experience was a hugely exciting one for Hepworth, for she not only found herself in the studios of some of Europe’s most influential artists, which helped her to approach her own career with renewed vigour and clarity, but also found there mutual respect. The School of Paris had a lasting effect on both Hepworth and Nicholson as they became key figures in an international network of abstract artists. 

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Hans Haacke (1936)

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His career spans now a period of nearly 60 years and he has always been a frontrunner in the world of art. Perhaps yu can compare him with Damien Hirts, but do not forget that there is a difference of time between them of 3 decades. Haacke never reached the stature of a Damien Hirst, but when his works emerged and were introduced into the art scene… literally every large and important Modern Art museum in the world wanted a piece of the action. Haacke was “hot”. Moma , Tate and Museum Ludwig all started to collect Hans Haacke at a large scale.

In 1978 Haacke was asked for a one man show at the van Abbemuseum / Eindhoven ( catalogue available at www.ftn-books.com)  and with this show, the Netherlands started to know Hans Haacke as an artist. Nowadays his art is less prominent present in the collections of these large museums, but i am convinced this will change in the not so far away future, because i think Haacke is important for the art of Seventies and Eighties. A forerunner for the art made by the well respected British artist like Hirst and Tracey Emin. Haacke deserves a place among them. His contribution to art is a valuable one and deserves to be recognized as such.

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Yayoi Kusama… a zero artist

Kusama stands for me as “ZERO”.

Being one of the first to have participated as a Zero artist Dancing together with Jan Schoonhoven (in the nude)

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and after that building an oeuvre on just one pattern…the Polka dot.

i love these artist that stay true to their belief. Kusama is not the only one. Leblanc, Peeters and Schoonhoven ,all from this generation , stayed true to their art ” inventions” developing it into something very perosmnal , recognizable and in many cases a beautiful and impressive work of art.

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Kusama participated in the first ZERO/Nul exhibition in the Stedelijk Museum, but beside that she had her Retrospektives held all over the world including the Tate Modern where a large rRetrospektive was held in 2012. Now she has turned into a grand old lady of  Contemporary Art and perhaps together with Louise Bourgeois  and Georgia O’Keefe she has given a feminine touch to Modern Art. http://www.ftn-books.com holds some excellent Kusama titles in its inventory.

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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 http://www.ftn-books.com has some of these titles available.

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Alan Charlton (1948)… monochromes in grey

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For me Alan Charlton stands for British Minimalism. Characterized by the color Grey, he makes constructivist shaped monochrome paintings. This is in short how you can describe the works  by Alan Charlton. There were not many occasions that i have seen his works in Museums, but i remember at least to have seen three times his works. First at the van Abbemuseum, secondly at the Stedelijk Museum and thirdly at the Tate Modern. On all three occasions i thought these works were magnificent. I saw these works quite some time apart from each other, over a period of over 15 years they were viewed, but I always was impressed with the monochrome grey’s, each slightly different from each other making these a true color scale of grey’s.

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They blend into their space and because of their monotony and regular shapes they become a part of the room they are exhibited in. It takes some time to appreciate them , but once you do , there are few more exciting paintings and therefore better artists than Alan Charlton, who makes these wonders in grey.

Alan Charlton titles are available at www.ftn-books.com