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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. 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 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

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Tate Modern….SOUL OF A NATION: ART IN THE AGE OF BLACK POWER

 

This morning the Volkskrant mentioned and reviewed another Tate Modern exhibition in which afro-american artists have the leading role. I did not visit this exhibition , but it will be on my list should i visit London in the coming months. The exhibition will be open until the 22nd of October and shows the importance of afro-american artists in the sixties and seventies. None of them have become the household names in Modern Art as we know now and perhaps the only artist who reached “star” status by the end of the eighties was Jean-Michel Basquiat, but he originally was born in Brooklyn and part Haitian, not Afro American.  Then i realized that my inventory has very few books on or by Afro American artist. Is it because their art is less appealing? I do not think so, The Dawoud Bey and Kara Walker books i have, show great art, but i think the true reason is that Afro American artists did not get a good platform to show their art in the best possible way. Fewer Museum and gallery exhibitions have been organized  with them than with non afro-american artists and that is the reason this exhibition is important and possibly paves the way for artists from other cultures and countries which are lesser known. The mentioned artists Bey and Walker are available at www.ftn-books.com

 

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Alberto Giacometti (1901-1966) at Tate Modern

I just received by Blouin art info the announcement that a large Giacometti retrospective will be held at Tate Modern. read the Blouin article below:

Tate Modern, London presents a retrospective exhibition of works by Alberto Giacometti

Alberto Giacometti (1901-1966), celebrated sculptor, painter, and draughtsman, traced the shifting enthusiasms of European art before and after the Second World War in his remarkable career. As a Surrealist in the 1930s, he devised innovative sculptural forms, sometimes reminiscent of toys and games. As an Existentialist after the war, he led the way in creating a style that summed up the philosophy’s interests in perception, alienation, and anxiety. Although his output extends into painting and drawing, Giacometti is most famous for his sculpture. He is perhaps best remembered for his figurative works that helped make the motif of the suffering human figure a popular symbol of post-war trauma.

The exhibition reasserts Giacometti’s place alongside the likes of Matisse, Picasso, and Degas as one of the great painter-sculptors of the 20th century. Through unparalleled access to the extraordinary collection and archive of the Fondation Alberto et Annette Giacometti, Paris, this wide-ranging exhibition brings together over 250 works. It includes rarely seen plasters and drawings which have never been exhibited before and showcases the full evolution of Giacometti’s career across five decades.

The exhibition is on view through September 10, 2017 at Tate Modern, London, Bankside, London SE1 9TG, UK.

Alberto Giacometti publications are available at www.ftn-books.com

 

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Agnes Martin (1912-2004)

The 3rd blog on a female artist. Tate, Moma, Lacma, Guggenheim, Centre Pompidou, Stedelijk Museum…..They all have in common that they have a work or works by Agnes Martin in their Permanent collections. Martin is considered by most as a Minimal artist but she herself thinks more of herself as an abstract expressionist painter. Anyway ,she is absolutely one of the most important and original artists from the 20th century. Personally i think her paintings have a unique quality. More Minimal than abstract, but made with a technique that is typical Agnes Martin. The Guardian says the following on Martin.

A late starter, Martin kept on going, working at the height of her powers right through her 80s; a stocky figure with apple cheeks and cropped silver hair, dressed in overalls and Indian shirts. She produced the last of her masterpieces a few months before her death in 2004, at the grand old age of 92. But she was also so deeply ambivalent about pride and success and the ego-driven business of making a name for yourself that in the 1960s she abandoned the art world altogether, packing up her New York studio, giving away her materials and disappearing in a pickup truck, surfacing 18 months later on a remote mesa in New Mexico.

When she returned to painting in 1971, the grids had gone, replaced by horizontal or vertical lines, the old palette of grey and white and brown giving way to glowing stripes and bands of very pale pink and blue and yellow. “Sippy cup colours”, the critic Terry Castle once called them, and their titles likewise address states of pre-verbal, infantile bliss. Little Children Loving Love, I Love the Whole World, Lovely Life, even Infant Response to Love. And yet these images of absolute calm did not arise from a life replete with love or ease, but rather out of turbulence, solitude and hardship. Though inspired, they represent an act of dogged will and extreme effort, and their perfection is hard-won.

Martin’s work is in museums and collections across the world, and changes hands for millions of dollars at a time. All the same, she hasn’t achieved quite the renown of her mostly male contemporaries in abstraction, partly because the subtleties of her paintings are almost impossible to reproduce in print.
I think there is one exception. the excellent poster that was an original silkscreen for the Quadrat Bottrop exhibition. It is still available at www.ftn-books.com
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Bridget Riley

 

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Yesterday we visited the exhibition of Bridget Riley in the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag. ( the exhibition is till open until the 15th of October 2016).

A fascinating show on the Curved paintings she made from the early sixties until 2014. Paintings which are extremely detailed painted and very well thought out. The sketches and colored cardboard models show the way in which Riley makes these projects from idea into a large canvas. Walking through the exhibition ( yes passing these paintings) shows the effect these patterns have on your eyes. Waves and curves begin to dance before your eyes and show that a still painting can have the effect of movement in your perception. Fascinating to discover this Optical illusion and certainly very effective Op Art . Riley stayed true to this way of painting and did not produce many of these paintings over the years. These paintings take a long time to paint, but when they are ready they are  all masterpieces.

Her first solo exhibion she had at the Gallery One in London in 1964, after that she was invited for the Biennale in Venice and het break through exhibition ” The Responsive Eye” in the Museum of Modern Art in 1965.

Her works can be found in Modern Art Museums all over the world, but the Tate modern has the largest collection of them.

Look at the pictures i took at the exhibition and get an impression how she meticulously prepares each new painting. www.ftn-books.com has some nice early Riley titles available including the leperello which was published on the occasion she received the Sikkensprijs in 1992.