Visitors to our gallery, looking for unusual and inspirational holiday gifts, have inspired us to feature the works of artists who thought outside the box…as many artists do…and whose works are iconic, ironic, sardonic and even a little sentimental.

Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol

Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol were both looking for ways to go beyond Abstract Expressionism and take their work in a different direction. In the early 1960s both Lichtenstein and Warhol were using comics to create paintings and, though Warhol worked as a commercial artist and Lichtenstein as a college professor, their presentations of Pop culture was similar…they presented an objective image and allowed the viewer to decide how to interpret each work.

Roy Lichtenstein. Brushstroke on Canvas and Reflections on Crash

For Lichtenstein, it was using the brushstroke, which Abstract Expressionist painters often wielded with abandon, taking it one step further, and making the brushstroke itself the subject of the painting. Brushstroke on Canvas, available at Vertu, is just one of a series that Lichtenstein did as a nod to Abstract Expressionist painters who liked to show off their brushstrokes.

Reflections on Crash was also part of a series which Lichtenstein was inspired to do when he looked at paintings that were matted, framed and put behind glass for exhibit. He became interested in the way reflections of the light on the glass often obscures part of the painting. Lichtenstein used bars of Ben Day dots and paint stripes to create the effect of reflections on a work of art behind glass. He said that he liked being able to obscure certain parts of the painting with the reflection effect, and pick and choose the parts of the painting that he wanted the viewer to focus on.

Andy Warhol. Mao and Brooklyn Bridge

Warhol did many portraits of Chinese Communist leader Mao Zedong, some more bizarre than others, as if Mao was a commercial commodity that could be adapted to fit the propagandizing needs of the advertiser. for the version of Mao that is currently in our gallery, he used a picture of Mao that was on the cover of the 1966 publication Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-Tung, also known as the Little Red Book, as a template.

The Brooklyn Bridge screenprint was done for the Brooklyn Bridge Centennial in 1983. Limited editions were sold to help fund the commemoration celebrations. The bridge itself took fourteen years to build and cost the lives of about twenty construction workers. The original signed silkscreens were highly coveted by collectors of Warhol’s work and by New Yorkers who have a fondness for the engineering marvel.

Mel Bochner. BLAH, BLAH, BLAH

The son of a sign painter, Mel Bochner has used words to explore their power, and their limits, and has used paint in much the same way. The process he employs for some of his word paintings is an intricate and unusual one. He etches the letters into a plastic base, fills each letter with paint and then uses a high-powered press to push the paint onto black velvet. The results, due to the differences in the manufacture of oil paints and to the nature of velvet, creates an industrial effect that enhances each letter.

Bochner says that he likes to see how viewers react to his paintings. He says that he has seen a lot of people take pictures of themselves in front of BLAH, BLAH, BLAH. Judging by the many versions he has done and the many ways that is has been used, BLAH, BLAH, BLAH seems to have a universal appeal.

If you’re thinking outside the box this holiday season we invite you to browse through our gallery of extraordinary works.