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Basel…the perfect museum city

 

We always travel the Alsace in the second half of the year between September and December, visit the Christmas markets and pick up some wine at our preferred wineries. If ever we have some spare time and only if there is a nice exhibition, we go to Basel city. You do not need a special “vignet” if you do not travel beyond the Basel / Bale city limits. Certainly do not lunch or drink a coffee in Basel because prices are far too high, but instead visit one of the 3 famous museums within the Basel city limits. First there is the Beyeler Museum ( By Renzo Piano), which is beside the Gemeentemuseum my favorite museum of all time, second there is the Kunstmuseum and third but not least there is the Tinguely Museum ( by Mario Botta). All worth visiting. Entrance fee of all three museums is steep too, but when you save on your coffee and lunch these three museums are well worth visiting. www.ftn-books.com has publications from all 3 museums available.

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Alfred Hofkunst (1942-2004)

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The First Hofkunst items i had in collection were the Pop Swatch series he made for Swatch. These watches were “specials” and sold among the groceries and vegetables in which these specials were presented and sold as ordinary groceries. The small edition of them made them highly collectable items and because of that and as soon as i had acquired them with much physical and financial effort, i sold them to another collector with a nice profit. It was at the height of the Swatch watches craze. A craze where simple plastic, but highly accurate and reliable watches fetched prices as much as 30 times their original value. In retrospect these watches were not worth this kind of money, but nowadays that prices have normalized and you might want to collect these specially designed watches. Alfred Hofkunst was one of the first that was invited to make a special for the newly introduced POP watches and came up with this series including a cucumber, bacon & egg and pepper watch.

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Hofkunst himself is a well known Suisse artist who was friends with Jean Tinguely and  Bernhard Luginbühl and can be considered as one of the most important Suisse artist from last century. Of all these 3 artists www.ftn-books.com has catalogues and posters available. Unfortunately Hofkunst died too early at the age of 62.

 

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Alice Aycock (1946)

1983, Just 3 years after i started my career at the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, the museum made an exhibition with Alice Aycock. Within the Schamhart buidling the complete floor was covered with large kinetic sculptures by Aycock and at that time i could not appreciate them at all. Now 35 year later i wished i had the same knowledge at that time that i have know, because recently i leafed through the catalogue and it struck met that these works were not only great in dimensions, but even after 35 years fascinating. Where Tinguely made his kinetic sculptures in the Sixties. Aycock made them in much more modern and industrialized/high tech versions in the Eighties and after. Alice Aycock has received international fame with her sculptures.

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What remains to me is a wonderful catalogue ( available at www.ftn-books.com) and the memory of meeting a great artist and beautiful woman back in 1983.

To give an impression of her more recent works here is a video on her 2010 presentation:

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Ben Vautier / Fluxus and Basel

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People who follow this blog , know of my love for Ben Vautier. Not only because he is one of the most original and consistent artists from the last 100 years, but also because there is always some humor just around the corner. Unfortunately  I have missed the most important Vautier exhibition from the last 10 years. It was held at the Tinguely Museum in Basel :

Ben Vautier. Is everything art?

21.10.2015 – 22.01.2016

Ben Vautier has been on the scene since the late 1950s as an artist, performer, organizer, linguistic inventor, and re-thinker of art. He is one of the pioneers of the Fluxus movement in Europe and, as a comrade-in-arms of the École de Nice, a close friend of artists such as Arman, Yves Klein, Martial Raysse, and others. He is known for his text images, which, using brief, pithy phrases, equally question and challenge life and art. Ben Vautier has the first comprehensive retrospective in Switzerland dedicated to him at the Museum Tinguely. Alongside an overview of the first 20 years of his creativity, Ben sets up in Basel more than 30 rooms as he comments on various social, artistic, and political topics and takes a stance. In total, the show exhibits far in excess of 400 works by the artist, who is still very active to this day.

Still what remains is one of the best and certainly one of the most beautiful books on Vautier’s art. It has a simple brown cover, but is filled with iconic Ben “paintings” from hs first 20 years as an artist and published as only the Suisse can publish art /museum catalogues. The print is exceptionally good, the lay out superb and the contents…..well all BEN, making this one of the most collectable books i recently offered on www.ftn-books.com

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Arman (1928-2005)

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Arman stand for Armand Pierre Fernandez, I encountered his name today and remembered our visit to the cemetery of Père-Lachaise, the place where so many frnech and foreign celebrities are buried and remembered. There was of course the “shrine” of Jim Morrisson, who died in Paris and is still remembered by many admirers. His grave is full with grafiti and names of them and at an another side of the place there was a beautiful poetic grave of Arman.

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The grave was covered with violins and made quite an impression on me. Arman was one of the founders of the group Nouveau Realisme and can be seen as the European part of the Pop Art mouvement. In France this group grew famous with works by Spoerri, Klein and Tinguely , but the works by Arman stand out by their own. Accumulations of objects arranged and repeated on canvasses were his trademark. Including many times the use of Violins. This combination of violins in his works and for his shrine was remarkable to me. Some of his books are available at www.ftn-books.com

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Niki de Saint Phalle (1930-2002)

A few months ago i dedicated a blog to Jean Tinguely who’s exhibition in the Stedelijk Museum can be seen until the 15th of March. Within this exhibition there are some excellent examples of Tinguely letters illustrated by his wife Niki de Saint Phalle.

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Niki et Jean

Of course she was in the beginning the wife of….but on her own she has become famous with a highly original and recognizable oeuvre. Illustrations , sculptures, books and paintings. became her world after she had divorced from her first husband. Autodidact , she first made very masculine art, but in the mid sixties she made a 180 degrees turn and “invented” the Nana. Niki de Saint Phalle’s version of the super woman. An expressive figure painted in bright colors . This became her trademark and this figure was used in multiple exhibitions. As a statue, as an entrance for an exhibition ( Stockholm), as a fountain and hanging from the ceiling as an angel. She made these statues/sculptures from polyester and plastics and because of these frequently used materials she became ill and had to move to the US for the cleaner air in San Diego. This helped her , but after a long sick bed she finally died in 2002.

SInce her art has become more important every year. At auction her works are in high demand. She had major exhibitions in Japan, in the Tinguely Museum/ Basel and Centre Pompidou and every year i notice that her books are sought after more an more. Even the small decals which she made for the Tinguely Museum are sold rapidly. So find still some publications at www.ftn-books.com as long as they last.

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ZERO….the second exhibition

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NUL zero Stedelijk Museum

Mid sixties ZERO became an important part within the exhibition and collection program of the Stedelijk Museum. a.0. Jan Schoonhoven being one of the artists being presented. Zero had become “main stream” and accepted and therefore it was time for a large overview of what was and had become ZERO/ NUL. Wim Crouwel was asked for the design of the 2 catalogues. One with text and one with images. Both are exceptional designs executed in a glossy silver , perfect measurements and simple but beautiful typography.

( set is available at www.ftn-books.com)

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The DYLABY correspondence

Yesterday, i dedicated my blog to the Tinguely exhibition in the Stedelijk Museum and promised to blog on the correspondence for the DYLABY ( Dynamisch Labyrinth) exhibition. Possibly the most important exhibition in the Stedelijk Museum in the 60’s.

I blogged on the DYLABY catalogue some months ago…available at www.ftn-books.com,

but this extremely large and complex exhibition required thorough preparation. In the current Tinguely exhibition there is a showcase in which the letters from the invited artists are presented and because i have a great admiration for Tinguely and Sandberg , i had to photograph the correspondence for my own archives. Because the light above and the glass in between make it hard to make a good quality photograph, there is a shadow cast on the paper, but still text and names can be read and i think it is nice for all interested to read about the invitations and preparations for the DYLABY exhibition. Let me know what you think about them!

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The Jean Tinguely exhibition at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam

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Jean Tinguely ….one of my art heroes …. he had his first exhibitions in the Netherlands in the Stedelijk in the mid sixties and since, his works have been on show in many theme and group exhibitions, but never again in a large retrospective until now.

But now there is one in the Stedelijk Museum and this one is on show until the 5th of March 2017. What can i tell you about this one….it is a nice show, but…….it never has the impact one experiences when visiting the Tinguely Museum in Basel , because it lacks the space, grandeur, size and number of machines/works to show all aspects of his works. I really missed the extremely large mechanical works. I caught one on a video of his funeral

and beside the one in the collection of the Stedelijk there is only one other one, a wall covered with a very large one, but that is all.

Not that the exhibition is not worth visiting…it really is …. but i was not knocked of my feet. Still i had a chance to make some nice photographs of the (DYLABY documents/ in a blog next week) documents on show and was amazed to see the correspondence Tinguely and Nikki de Saint Phalle had with Edy de Wilde ( the former director of the Stedelijk). On an A4 text, drawings, and illustrations were combined into great works of art.

This is an exhibition to visit for the smaller items like the documents and remember to visit the Tinguely Museum in Basel to get the best overview of his mechanical works.

See the ones in the Stedelijk as an entree to a dinner in which the side dishes steal the show.

There are a great number of Tinguely publications available at www.ftn-books.com

including some original drawings by Meta Matic 10

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DYLABY…Raysse+Tinguely+de Saint Phalle+Rauschenberg

DYLABY stands for Dynamisch Labyrint. It was one of the iconic sixties exhibitions (1962) in the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam . A melting pot of modern art with some of the greatest names. Tinguely, Niki de Saint Phalle, Robert Rauschenberg and Martial Raysse. Planned “chaos”, but once you take a closer look and study the plan which came with the exhibition catalogue, you can clearly see that everything is planned. It now is over fifty years ago, but what still remains is the catalogue…. not only a souvenir, but an important art historic document, because of the event DYLABY was but also for its appearance. A complete inside in the exhibition.

…..and the series of photographs by Ed van der Elsken is one of the best he ever shot.

available at www.ftn-books.com

Artist/ Author: Robert Rauschenberg, Raysse, Niki de Saint Phalle, Daniel Spoerri, Jean Tinguely, Per Olaf Ultvedt Title : DYLABY ( Dynamisch Labyrint ) Publisher: Stedelijk Museum, 1962 Number of pages: 24 pages plus 4 page cover/ foldout page and separate plan of the exhibition Text / Language: dutch and english Measurements: 10.2 x 7.5 inches Condition: near mint extra information on this item: This DYLABY catalogue belongs to the top 3 of most wanted and searched Stedelijk Museum catalogues, but there is more this copy because it still holds the separate plan for the exhibition ( see picture). Catalogue photo’s by Ed van der Elsken which makes it even more special. This same catalogue is now in the permanent exhibition on the works by Jean Tinguely in the Tinguely Museum. Published with no.314