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François Morellet (1926-2016)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more New Dutch Constructivism and More: The Jan and Tineke Hoekstra CollectionIn 1968, Jan Hoekstra (1932-1992) bought his very first work with a bag of silver guilders saved up from a meagre starting salary: Ad Dekkers’ Van Cirkel naar Vierkant, executed one year prior. In 1967, Hoekstra’s future purchase was exhibited at the the Biennale in São Paolo and in 1968, at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. It was an auspicious start to what would expand into a world-class collection of Dutch Constructivist art and more, accrued with both a strong aesthetic sense and a clear-guided vision. The Jan and Tineke Hoekstra Collection possesses an assemblage of some of the finest works of Dutch constructivist and abstract geometric art, as well as fellow artists from abroad working within the constructivist tradition, such as François Morellet, and English artists from the Systems Group, such as Jeffrey Steele and Malcolm Hughes, hand selected by the Hoekstra’s based on a personal predisposition for the style: ‘I think I came across that sort of abstract geometric art because of my interest in typography,’ Hoekstra said in an interview for an exhibition of selected works out of his collection in 1992. ‘Books without images wherein the typeface was the only form of illustration, such as those made by Jan van Krimpen; those were the things I found beautiful until the moment I started buying art’ (J. Hoekstra quoted in an interview with Marie Hélène Cornips, ‘Keuze uit de verzameling van Jan Hoekstra’, Groningen 1992).Born in 1932 in Bommelerwaard, Hoekstra’s father was a general practitioner and a collector of antiques. Modern art had no presence in their household. Hoekstra first came into contact with it when his father took over a practice in Maarssen during World War II, where he recalled seeing Rietveld furniture for the first time. Professionally, Hoekstra followed in his father’s footsteps, eventually becoming a doctor. It was during his residency in his late-twenties at a military hospital in Utrecht that he met Tineke, his future wife.When asked where the idea came from to begin accruing art, Hoekstra laughed, explaining that his life as a collector began when he decided to move into a larger house where there were still empty spans of wall between the bookshelves (Cornips). He lived with his collection in Haren from 1970 to 1981.Hoekstra’s taste evolved over the course of his life while rarely straying far from its initial aspiration to present an overview of constructivist-inspired art. The Hoekstra Collection currently on auction can be regarded as a repertoire of his variegated phases. For Hoekstra, Ad Dekkers spoke to his early purist vision more than Schoonhoven or Struycken, both of whose works he would purchase later: ‘I think I still found Schoonhoven too lyrical, because you so clearly see that it’s hand-crafted, and the structure of the cardboard is so present. That tense smoothness of Dekkers — I found it to be an enormous challenge, something impossible — from square to circle — put into image. Dekkers appealed to me; I thought, here is someone who doesn’t think like I do. I still thought Struycken was a little too complicated then. I was looking for a simpler structure, although I did buy a perspex by Struycken at Riekje Swart later on' (Cornips). The 1968 purchase of Dekkers opened an entire world for Hoekstra, who began delving into art historical books as well as meeting with many of the artist’s contacts. One contact would be particularly fateful for his collection: the gallerist Riekje Swart (1923-2008). ‘I ended up at Riekje Swarts, and got to know Bob Bonies, Gerhard von Graevenitz, Norman Dilworth, Joost Baljeu, Ewerdt Hilgemann and herman de vries. I had a sort of urgency about me and consequently wanted to collect in the abstract-geometric direction, and sought out artists that were active at that time. It was a governable group, not a tremendous amount of people, and so I got to work systematically' (Cornips).Although Hoekstra adamantly defended his autonomy from influence of others in his collecting habits, Riekje Swart played an unassailably important role in defining the collector’s artistic groups of interest. Swart came into contact with the Dutch art scene upon moving back to the Netherlands with her family from Batavia. After finishing school she worked as a manager at a bank and it was only in the early 1960s that Swart embarked on a career-change, first becoming a gallery assistant before deciding on the importance of pursuing her own vision as a gallerist in 1964. From then until its closing in 2000, Galerie Swart promoted the most challenging and avant-garde art of its time while remaining faithful to Swart’s personal preference of systematic constructivist art. Like the post-war director of the Stedelijk Museum, Willem Sandberg, Swart insisted that appreciators of art should persistently ask themselves, what is art, and why? Swart once retorted to a skeptic of her view, ‘if there is something that sparks resistance, a power in me breaks loose’ (L. Wijers, ‘De kunst van het risico. Riekje Swart galeriehoudster’, in: Algemeen Handelsblad, 15 June 1968).Constructivism began as a movement in Russia in 1913 with Vladimir Tatlin. It would be the last significant avant-garde movement produced by 20th century Russia, but it would go on to produce the International Constructivism movement in 1922, comprising both Bauhaus and De Stijl artists. The later German and Dutch collectives, Zero and Nul, were heavily influenced by Constructivism. Bob Bonies, Ad Dekkers, and Peter Struycken — all of whose works are included in Hoekstra’s collection, belonged to a post-war generation of constructive artists, following in the footsteps of Theo van Doesburg’s 1930 manifesto for Concrete Art, which called for an adherence to rational aesthetics. This generation reacted strongly against the then-dominant position of the CoBrA group, whose work was highly emotional, colourful and expressive. The same year that Swart’s gallery opened in 1964, constructivist sculptor and painter Joost Baljeu wrote that, should one be given the choice between Pop-Art and Zero, one should always opt for the latter, as it aims not to fill the world ‘with junk’ but pure, objective truth (J. Baljeu, ‘The Constructive Approach Today’ reprinted in C. Elgin, Reconceptions in Philosophy and Other Arts and Sciences, London 1988, p. 291). He went on to cite the original statement made by early constructivist artists El Lissitzky and Ilya Ehrenberg in De Stijl magazine in 1922, which read, ‘The new art is founded not on a subjective, but on an objective basis. This, like science, can be described with precision and is by nature constructive. It unites not only pure art, but all those that stand at the frontier of the new culture. The artist is a companion to the scholar, the engineer, and the worker’ (C. Harrison and P. Wood (eds.), Art in Theory: 1900 – 1990, Oxford 1992, p. 321). Baljeu would go on to design a house in Utrecht for Hoekstra in 1969 — a project which was never to be realised, due to Hoekstra’s relocation to Groningen.Viewed through a historicist’s lens, Hoekstra began his collection by embracing the pure objective of the original constructivist movement found in the ‘tense smoothness’ of Dekkers, and then expanded outward to embrace alternative interpreters such as Schoonhoven, who embraced a more human touch, Struycken, who embodied the material future of Constructivism by incorporating new technologies, and de vries, a biologist who concentrated his work on the merging of art and science. Hoekstra’s admiration for Constructivism seems to have found an intuitive basis in Lissitzky and Ehrenberg’s 1922 declaration, assembling an entire art-historical trajectory of works in pursuit of this pure aesthetic, from Rietveld to Dekkers, Bonies and Baljeu. Hoekstra also collected works by the concurrently evolving British movement known as the Systems Group, which was exhibited at the Swart Gallery in 1973 with considerable acclaim. The Systems Group, which included artists Steele and Hughes, aspired to finding order within chaos, by denoting probable patterns within certain painterly and sculptural arrangements. By the 1980s, Hoekstra had extended his gaze to artists as diverse as Milan Kunc, Bernd Zimmer and Jürgen Partenheimer.The notion that Hoekstra sensed the historical importance of his collection is not at all far from the truth. Indeed, the collector himself spoke of this feeling while visiting an exhibition of his acquired works at the Groningen Museum in 1992, to whom he had donated a large Morellet painting twelve years prior : ‘“Hands yet unborn will caress the shafts of these columns,” these words attributed by Yourcenar to Emperor Hadrian spoke to me especially as I walked around, looking at my own collection. Indeed, I feel as if I am a sort of administrator of things that still have a future, rather than a true collector who has something around him that he can truly consider his’ (Cornips). Jan Hoekstra died just two months after viewing his exhibition in Groningen in a car accident in Ethiopia. His wife Tineke passed away in 2017. With its international reach to likeminded artists, working in one of the most historically significant artistic traditions of the 20th century, the Hoekstra Collection has already lived up to Hadrian’s words and will continue to do so for generations to come.
François Morellet (1926-2016)

2 Trames 0°, 90° (intervalles 14 cm et 17 cm)

Details
François Morellet (1926-2016)
2 Trames 0°, 90° (intervalles 14 cm et 17 cm)
titled and dated '2 Trames 0° 90° intervals 14cm-17cm 1972' (on the stretcher)
oil on canvas
140 x 140cm.
Painted in 1972
Provenance
Galerie Swart, Amsterdam.
Acquired from the above by Jan and Tineke Hoekstra circa 1972.
Special Notice

Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.
Post Lot Text
This work is registered in the archive of François Morellet under no. 72030.

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Lisa Snijders
Lisa Snijders

Lot Essay

François Morellet’s 2 Trames 0º 90º interval 14-17 is a large, black and white square with two grids, one superimposed over the other, resulting in a more complex grid with four alternately sized squares found within. The interplay of lines is such that as the viewer’s eyes are naturally guided to the central square, the surrounding grid appears to ebb and flow — a well calculated optical illusion.
Born in Cholet, France, in 1926, Morellet definitively switched to abstract art after his first solo exhibition at the Galerie Creuze in Paris in 1950. He then sought to remove the artist from his art by creating a language of lines assembled into optically-unnerving shapes, kinetic sculptures, and chance-driven artworks. In 1961, he founded the Groupe de Recherche d’Art Visuel (Visual Art Research Group, or GRAV), together with, among others, artists Francisco Sobrino, Jésus Raphael Soto, Julio Le Parc, and Jean-Pierre Yvaral, the son of Victor Vasarely. GRAV experimented with removing the individual artist from the artwork by encouraging collective authorship and audience participation. The founding of the group marked Morellet’s transition to systems-based artwork, a path he would follow for the rest of his life. Until 1975, he balanced his painting career with his position running a family business that made model cars for children.
Morellet’s sources of inspiration were many. His geometric aesthetic focus found its origins in the works of Piet Mondrian. The constraints he applied to his system-based art, as well as some of the humour woven into them, looked to the works of French novelist Georges Perec, member of the writer-mathematician group Oulipo, which advocated constrained writing techniques often based on mathematical problems. John Cage’s chance-based music suggested a sense of rhythm to be found in imposed limits. The current work, 2 Trames, with trames translating to warps, grids, or matrices, is representative of a five decade-long pursuit for the artist: that of finding beauty and complexity in repeated, simple constructions.
One of four works by François Morellet on auction from the Hoekstra Collection, the current piece is an important cornerstone of the collection’s overall representation of the international Constructivist and Systems-based artistic movements of the latter half of the 20th century, including artists such as Jeffrey Steele, Malcolm Hughes, Peter Struycken, herman de vries, Jan Schoonhoven, and Ad Dekkers. Hoekstra donated another work in his possession by Morellet to the Groningen Museum in 1980. Morellet, who remained prolifically productive until his final days, died at the age of ninety in his lifelong hometown of Cholet in 2016.

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