In the context of the 40th anniversary of Galerie Pennings we searched the archives. For example, we have found the old invitations to the exhibitions from the opening of the gallery in 1979. And with that the proof that artists like Christian Boltanski have exhibited here. (see blog #9). In the collection of Harry Pennings we came across a special book called ‘The Archives’.
On December 14, 2018, Hans Eijkelboom gave an artist talk at Pennings Foundation when we had just ‘discovered’ The Archives, to which he had contributed. We showed him the book and he recognized it immediately; it was part of a group exhibition that Peter van Beveren had curated for the Provincial Museum in Hasselt.
The Archives has been published in an edition of 500. Small works by 30 artists have been included, ranging from sketches to printed matter and photography. The book was published in honor of the exhibition of the same name in 1981 in the Hasselt Provincial Museum in collaboration with Art Information Center by Peter van Beveren.
In the preface, Peter van Beveren wrote:
“During the preparation of my exhibition The Archives, the idea originated to publish an artist book instead of a catalogue. Thirty artists were invited to design one page, specially for this book. Some sent five-hundred works, others sent an idea which has been executed in every book. I do appreciate the participation of all the artists. They made this book a unique document and work of art. It is fixing an era that is subject of rapid changes. It is making the aura of a unique work of art relative; it is representing the character of my archives. The artists participating in this book have been important for the development of my archives during the latest ten years and they have been chosen because of the personal affinity to their work. (…)”
Portrait of time
The book represents a portrait of time and gives us a glimpse of the past. For us, the works now create an idea of the developments in art and art history then. The artists who contributed to this book are:
Robert Jacks, Woody van Amen, Carl Andre, Joseph Beuys, Marinus Boezem, Christian Boltanski, Daniel Buren, Michel Cardena, Christo, Robin Crozier, Geurt van Dijk, Pieter Engels, Hans Eijkelboom, Ken Friedman, Ad Gerritsen, Klaas Gubbels, Wim Gijzen, Richard Hamilton, Dick Higgins, Tommy Mew, Maricio Nannucci, Richard Nonas, Arnulf Rainer, Dieter Roth, Yves De Smet, Al Souza, Endre Tot, Timm Ulrichs, Ben Vautier and Wolf Vostell.
These artists formed the avant-garde in the 60s and 70s and had gained a place in art history in 1982, when the book was published. Nationality, style and being famous wether or not did not bring this group together. While some of the artist had earned their fame at a local or national level, other artists like Christo, Joseph Beuys, Christian Boltanski and Carl Andre were represented in Museums of modern art all around the world.
The artists from The Archives represent various styles. Carl Andre is a representative of Minimal art, Dick Higgins is one of the co-founders of the Fluxus movement, Richard Hamilton is known as an important figure for the British Pop Art. But the emphasis is mainly on conceptual art, where the concept (the idea) is more important than the implementation. An important representative is Joseph Beuys.
The exhibitors worked in various media. Both Boltanski and Hans Eijkelboom were artists who used photography as a medium. Eijkelboom had become known for his project ‘The ideal man’, in which he himself acted as a model. Ben Vautier, a Fluxus artist, used language as a medium in the form of handwritten text. His installation ‘Le Magasin’ (the store), now to be found in Centre Pompidou in Paris, is full of handwritten texts. The texts are often simple and monochrome, so that they do not distract from the message.
By paying attention to a variety of movements, media and nationalities, this artist's book has become a special document of developments in art history at a time when painting and sculpture were no longer leading media.
Harry Pennings probably visited the exhibition in Hasselt and then ordered the book (it appeared a year after the exhibition). He was in contact with a number of exhibitors. For example, Christian Boltanski participated with three other artists in 1981 in a group exhibition at Galerie Pennings. (see blog #9) Christo was no stranger to Harry either. Christo had once, as a performance, used a chair from Harry Pennings furniture store and, of course, wrapped it. (See blog #1)
by Laura van den Broek (student in art history and trainee)
This is the last blog before the summer vacation. The blog will be continued at the beginning of September.