Mel Bochner: Hired, Fired, Admired

Mel Bochner at the Jewish Museum

Mel Bochner moved from Pittsburgh to New York in 1964, at the age of 24, to pursue his art career. He visited the Jewish Museum to see Jasper John’s White Flag and met an old classmate who was working as a museum guard. Bochner needed work, and his classmate said that a guard had quit the day before and there might be an opening. There was an opening, and Bochner was hired as a museum guard. (The guard who had quit the previous day was Brice Marden.) Bochner worked as a guard during the day, then went back to his twenty-one dollar a month Manhattan apartment, to paint at night. After about a year on the job, he was caught napping in a quiet corner, and fired.

Scenes from the Collection

Fast forward fifty years, and Mel Bochner’s work is being exhibited, along with other pieces from the museum’s vast collection…many of which have never been seen before. The Jewish Museum’s curators will be rotating the exhibits over the next two years, choosing from the more than 30,000 objects in the permanent collection, arranging them in seven separate displays on the third floor.

On exhibit currently is Mel Bochner’s Joys of Yiddish, his painting of Yiddish words that describe a variety of annoying people, in a way that only Yiddish words can do. From kibbitzer (someone who gives unwanted advice) to meshugener (a crazy person), the Joys of Yiddish, like much of his work, spans the bridge between words and art.

Mel Bochner Voices

A new book, Mel Bochner Voices has been published by Yale University Press. Written by Jeremy Sigler, a poet and lecturer in sculpture at Yale, the volume contains color plates of more than thirty unpublished paintings and an essay by the author, and looks at the way Bochner has combined language and painting and the emotions they inspire. Bochner was a teaching assistant at Yale in 1979 and an adjunct professor in 2001.

Mel Bochner’s Work at VFA

Versions of Mel Bochner’s Blah, Blah, Blah have been seen around the world…not just as paintings, but also as murals, billboards and even as sky writing. Blah, Blah, Blah and Head Honcho (one of the works from Bochner’s Thesaurus Series) are available at VFA.

Please contact us for more information about Blah, Blah, Blah, Head Honcho or any of the other works for sale at VFA.

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Robert Rauschenberg: Erasing the Rules

Robert Rauschenberg: Erasing the Rules

The retrospective, Robert Rauschenberg: Erasing the Rules, has traveled from the the Tate Modern in London, to MoMA in New York and is now at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. The show, which includes more than 170 works by Rauschenberg,  will be on exhibit through March 25th.

The title of the show references the Erased de Kooning Drawing that Rauschenberg created in 1953. Always curious, always pushing the boundaries of art, Rauschenberg wanted to create a work of his own by erasing the work of another artist. Rauschenberg held Willem de Kooning in high regard, and decided to ask him for a drawing that he could erase.

“I bought a bottle of Jack Daniels,” Rauschenberg said, “and hoped that he wouldn’t be home when I knocked on his door. And he was home. We sat down with the bottle of Jack Daniels and I told him what my project was and he understood it. And he said, ‘I don’t like it, but I understand what you’re doing.’ And he pulled something out and he said, ‘I’m going to make it so hard for you to erase this.’ And it took me about a month, and I don’t know how many erasers to do it.”

The  Erased de Kooning Drawing wasn’t shown for a few years after it was created, but word got out about his project and the work became well known, even before it was shown.

Combining Art, Technology (and Other Stuff)

Rauschenberg was born in Port Arthur, Texas in 1925. His parents were Fundamentalist Christians, his father an avid hunter. Rauschenberg served in the navy from 1942 to 1945, then studied at the Kansas City Art Institute, the Academie Julian in Paris, Black Mountain College in North Carolina and, from 1949 to 1952, went to the Art Students League in New York. He was a well-trained artist, and a curious one, who explored the use of unexpected materials in multiple media. Rauschenberg was a painter, photographer, lithographer, choreographer and performer who never fit into any category, and whose work influenced every postwar art movement since Abstract Expressionism.

After a trip to Yellowstone Park, Rauschenberg was inspired to create Mud Muse, a vat containing  two tons of bubbling mud, activated by a recorded sound track. Mud Muse was done in 1968, before the dawn of the digital age. Rauschenberg had Mud Muse engineered by scientists at California’s Teledyne Technologies.

Mud Muse is part of a permanent museum collection in Sweden, and has traveled to London and the U.S. accompanied by a technician who ensures that the mud is of the proper consistency (like yogurt) and that the mud bubbles in response to the to the sound levels.

Primal and Technical

Just as he combined the primal mud and technical components in Mud Muse, Rauschenberg combined primal printing on stone with space travel. In 1969, Rauschenberg was invited by NASA to witness the launch of the Apollo 11 mission to place man on the moon for the first time. Combining crayon and tusche on lithography stone and images supplied by NASA, Rauschenberg created the Stoned Moon Series, the title reflecting both the primal stone printing process and the technical achievement of science.

Robert Rauschenberg Prints at VFA

Please contact us for more information about work from the Stoned Moon Series, or the other extraordinary work by Robert Rauschenberg available at VFA.

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Jasper Johns Prints: In it for the Long Run

The Long Run at MoMA

Jasper Johns is one of the artists featured at the Museum of Modern Art’s exhibit called Long Run.  Each work, made after 1970, was done by an artist who was at least 45, although many were older. Included in the exhibit are works by Georgia O’Keeffe, Louise Bourgeois, Melvin Edwards, Gerhard Richter, Frank Stella, and many others. Many artists, like Jasper Johns, were young and hungry and eager to shake up the art world when they produced their seminal works.”>Jasper Johns is one of the artists featured at the Museum of Modern Art’s exhibit called Long Run. 

Each work, made after 1970, was done by an artist who was at least 45, although many were older. Included in the exhibit are works by Georgia O’Keeffe, Louise Bourgeois, Melvin Edwards, Gerhard Richter, Frank Stella, and many others.

Many artists, like Jasper Johns, were young and hungry and eager to shake up the art world when they produced their seminal works.

Johns painted Flag, his best known work, in 1954, when he was just 24 years old. His early works bridged the gap between abstract expressionism and the movements that followed like Pop, Minimalism and Conceptual Art. The early works also set auction records for prices paid for work done by a living artist.At age 87, Johns is still working and continues to perfect his techniques.

Jasper Johns as Printmaker

Johns began making prints in 1960 and has continued to produce prints throughout his career, often repeating objects, numbers and symbols that that give his work an iconic familiarity.

He didn’t just make prints of his paintings, but also make paintings from his prints. Johns’ experiments with lithography have allowed him to reinvent his existing images.

His process of using several colors on the many etched plates required for each of his works allows for a variety of textures and colors in each print.The National Gallery of Art is home to nearly 2,000 of Jasper Johns’ proofs.

Jasper John Prints at VFA

Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg were together for six years in the 1950s. During that time they each produced some of their greatest works.

Johns was devastated when they broke up, and used imagery based on The Bridge, a poem written by Hart Crane in the 1930s:

What whisperings of far watches on the main
Relapsing into silence, while time clears
Our lenses, lifts a focus, resurrects
A periscope to glimpse what joys or pain
Our eyes can share or answer – then deflects
Us, shunting to a labyrinth submersed
Where each sees only his dim past reversed…

Crane, who had a history of depression, heavy alcohol use and confusion about his sexuality, committed suicide in 1932, at the age of 32, by jumping from the deck of a steamship sailing back to New York from Mexico. Johns and Rauschenberg put aside their differences, but there was always a sense of rivalry between them. The image of the outstretched hand and periscope recur in many of Johns’ works, like Periscope l, for sale at VFA.

Also available at VFA is Untitled, a work from the Geldzahler Portfolio, which was commissioned in 1998 by the Estate Project for Artists with AIDS as a fundraising initiative, organized by Henry Geldzahler, the first curator of 20th-century art at the Metropolitan Museum and New York City’s Commissioner of Cultural Affairs, and an Untitled color intaglio done in 2012, when Johns was 82.

Please contact us for more information about the works of Jasper Johns, or any of the other fine art available at VFA.

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Donald Sultan: From Disasters to Poppies

Last Stop for Disaster Paintings Tour

The Disaster Paintings, that Donald Sultan created during the 1980s and early 90s, began touring around the U.S. last year. The tour began at the Lowe Art Museum in Miami, went to the Smithsonian and other major museums and is making its final stop at Nebraska’s Sheldon Museum of Art from January 26 through May 13, 2018.

Each painting, like Early Morning May 20 1986 was made from a newspaper photograph of an industrial disaster. Sultan used industrial materials, linoleum, tar and masonite, to create the images.

“Linoleum,” Sultan said, in an interview at the Smithsonian, “is our modern interior landscape. Originally, linoleum was made to be fake marble.”

From Disasters to Poppies

Donald Sultan has continued to use industrial materials to create his works, but his subjects continue to evolve.

Sultan went from painting catastrophes to painting dominoes, buttons then poppies. “Paintings talk to you and,” Sultan said, “they tell you what you have to do next. It’s a compulsion.”

Sultan followed-the-dots. He used the linoleum squares to create grids, on which he arranged a series of dominoes, then  buttons, smoke rings, the flowers he saw on lanterns in his garden, and finally, poppies.

Although Sultan uses heavy, industrial materials to create his work, they have a quality of lightness about them. He used Cor-Ten steel to create Poppies sculptures that have the same lightness underneath their rugged exterior.

Linoleum is our modern interior landscape. Originally, linoleum was made to be fake marble.

Donald Sultan Prints

A masterful printmaker, Sultan has been making etchings, then aquatint, printed on roofing copper.

“What I like about prints, is that it has to keep its handmade, art quality. It has to be run through a press manually, so it continues the concept of industrial working”

Early in his career, Sultan was among a small group of influential American artists who frequently collaborated with Picasso’s master-printer Aldo Crommelynck. He now works with printers closer to his Manhattan studio, creating works like Blacks and Blues, a screenprint with diamond dust and Lantern Flowers, silkscreened with enamel inks and flocking, both for sale at VFA.

Donald Sultan for Sale at VFA

Please contact us for more information about Cor-Ten PoppiesBlacks and Blues, Lantern Flowers or any of the other Donald Sultan sculptures and prints available at VFA.

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Marc Quinn’s Art and Science

Marc Quinn’s Latest Self

The National Gallery of Australia’s current exhibit, HyperReal takes a look at the history of hyperrealism in art that began in the 1960s and has evolved into the twenty-first century.

A highlight of the exhibit is Marc Quinn’s most recent sculpture Self, a self-portrait that documents the changes of Quinn’s face as he ages.

Quinn has made a Self  sculpture every five years since 1991. He spends five months collecting more than ten pints of his own blood, pouring into a mold of his head and freezing it in a specially built case filled with silicone.

Marc Quinn, born in London, the son of a potter and a physicist (who, Quinn says, actually worked on experiments that involved freezing), studied art history at Cambridge and became fascinated with Rembrandt, who created nearly one hundred self-portraits.

Quinn’s five existing Self portraits, by the artist and of  the artist, are on display in venues around the world. The 2006 version of Self  is part of the collection of the National Gallery of London.

“It’s like artwork on life support,” he says, “and I’m still alive, so it’s about the miraculous power the human body has to reproduce itself.”

The HyperReal exhibit at Australia’s National gallery runs through February 18, 2018.

Stealth Kate

When Marc Quinn observed people in the British Museum admiring fragmented ancient statues, he wondered how the same viewers would react if actual people, with the same missing parts, were to walk into the gallery. Most of the art lovers reactions, he thought, would not be the same. “It was interesting to me,” Quinn said, “to see what is acceptable in art, but unacceptable in life.”

This led Quinn to create a series of marble sculptures, using models who were missing limbs.  “As I made the series of works,” he said, “I realised that they were also about what a beautiful body is, and how narrow our vision of that is, and about the connection between inside and outside.”

Quinn continued to explore the perception of body image and perception. Since 2006 he has made studies of English supermodel, Kate Moss.

“Human beings often create images, begin to worship them and then forget the images were initially invented by them.” he said, “They are left with an abstract image that is impossible to measure up to. This is the basis of all celebrity and religious imagery.”

What Quinn says of his depiction of Moss is, “This is not a portrait of a person, it’s a portrait of an image twisted by our collective desires.”

The Blue Planet

Just like fingerprints, the iris is one of the body’s most individual parts, another way that Quinn has used the body’s unique biological features to create rare and unique portraits.

Quinn created the series from photographs he took with a special close-up lens.

Marc Quinn’s Works for Sale at VFA

Please contact us if you would like more information about Stealth Kate, Blue Planet or any of the other fine art work for sale at VFA.

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References
https://nga.gov.au/hyperreal/
Bloomberg News Marc Quinn on Brilliant Ideas August 3, 2016.
http://marcquinn.com/artworks/single/peter-hull1

A Big Year for David Hockney

David Hockney at the Met

David Hockney turned 80 in July and has been creating memorable works of art for nearly sixty years. The Met is honoring Hockney with a retrospective that includes his most iconic works from 1960 to the present. The David Hockney exhibit, on display now, will be at the Met through Feb 25, 2018.

David Hockney at the Opera

Since 1982, David Hockney has been doing production design for the San Francisco Opera. Last month Hockney was presented with the San Francisco Opera Medal, the company’s most prestigious award, for his more than 35 years of service to the company.

Celia Birtwell, David Hockney’s Muse

In the 1960s, Hockney was primarily known for his portraits. Celia Birtwell, a British textile designer, was one of Hockney’s muses. Birtwell was married to fashion designer Ossie Clark. Hockney painted them often, both individually and as a couple.

Mr. and Mrs. Clark and Percy, part of the Tate’s collection, is one of  Hockney’s greatest works.

Although their marriage didn’t last and Clark was stabbed to death by his former lover in 1996 at age 54, both Birtwell and Hockney are doing well and remain friends to this day.

The 1974 film A Bigger Splash, taken from the title of his most well-known swimming pool painting, sheds some light on the relationship between Hockney and Birtwell. The film’s director, Jack Hazan, followed Hockney from 1970 to 1973 during the time that Hockney was in a turbulent relationship with his partner, Peter Schlesinger. The film was both unscripted and scripted and is a fascinating look at the life of the artist during an important period in his life.

In a 2017 Guardian interview, Birtwell said, “The first time I spotted David was at Portobello market. I was with a friend who knew him. He just stood out – he always has. He had on a corduroy jacket – and had the dyed blond hair. Ossie was better friends with him, and used to stay in his studio. I think he finds me a little bit ridiculous, but there is a fondness there. If I amuse him, then that’s a compliment. It definitely works both ways – he’s very funny.”

Hockney used one of his portraits of Birtwell, Celia with Green Hat as an inspiration for a 1985  cover of Paris Vogue. The magazine featured a 41-page spread of Hockney’s photocollages and the cubist-style work that they inspired.

David Hockney at VFA

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Jeff Koons Sculptures at VFA

Jeff Koons sculptures are instantly recognizable, and coveted, around the world. His latest creations include his well-known characters, like the money, rabbit and dog and his Master Series for Louis Vuitton skillfully combines the classics with the commercial.

Jeff Koons Sculptures in the U.S.

His 45-foot tall Seated Ballerina was on display at Rockefeller Center this summer, Jay-Z performed at the V Festival in front of a Koons Balloon Dog sculpture, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) is in the process of constructing a giant Balloon Monkey in the middle of LACMA’s Los Angeles Times Central Court.

Jeff Koons At Home and Abroad

The former U.S. ambassador to France, Jane Hartley, asked Jeff Koons to come up with a sculpture to honor the victims of the 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris.

Koons’ concept is a hand holding a bouquet of tulips. The finished sculpture will be placed in a plaza with a distant  view of the Eiffel Tower. Construction has been delayed because the pavement on the plaza is not strong enough to support 30 ton, 40 foot high sculpture. The sculpture is being paid for through a private foundation at an estimated cost of $3.9 million.

Jeff Koons has collaborated up with Louis Vuitton to create purses and backpacks printed with works by great masters like Rubens, Da Vinci and Monet.

Not only has Koons fashioned the designs on the bags, he’s also reconfigured the Louis Vuitton logo with his own initials for the front of each bag, something the luxury design house has never before permitted.

Each bag also has a tag on the handle in the shape of Koons’s iconic inflatable rabbit and a biography and portrait of the painter whose work he used for the bag’s design.

Rabbits, Monkeys, Swans and Dog Balloon Sculptures

For more than 40 years,  Jeff Koons has been creating works that are entertaining, accessible and flawlessly crafted and designed.

Koons was born in York, Pennsylvania in 1955. He studied painting at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore and the Art Institute of Chicago. He arrived in New York in 1976 and worked at the MoMA membership desk and then as a commodities  broker to support himself while working at his art.

Working in series and using recurring images, Koons work has become recognizable around the world and record setting at auction.

Recent acquisitions at VFA include Koons’ Rabbit, Monkey and Swan porcelain balloon sculptures. The works are quintessential Koons, using porcelain to create the look of mylar.

Koons says that his work is a celebration of what it is to be human. His work is not only technically flawless, it is also joyful and winsome…like Balloon Dog and Split Rocker.

Jeff Koons Sculptures at VFA

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Frank Stella in Fort Lauderdale, London and Paris

Frank Stella spends lives and works in New York and, at 81, he and his paintings still do a lot of traveling.

Frank Stella in South Florida

The NSU Art Museum in Fort Lauderdale is celebrating its 60th anniversary with an in-depth exhibit of works done by Frank Stella during his 60-year career.

The exhibit, Frank Stella: Experiment and Change includes paintings, drawings, prints and sculptures that showcase the artist’s evolving use of colors, shapes, shaped canvas, materials and techniques.

In an interview with the Huffington Post, Stella said that he was pleased to have his works exhibited in South Florida. “The NSU Museum, for one, is in an interesting modernist building designed by the American architect Edward Larrabee Barnes.” he said. “I had visited the museum before and admired many of the works inside. I had also worked with the exhibit’s curator, Bonnie Clearwater, in the early 2000s on an exhibition of my art at the Museum of Contemporary Art in North Miami, and when she approached me about this show, it was a no-brainer for me to say yes because of my relationship with her and my fondness for the museum.”

Frank Stella: Experiment and Change, which showcases about 300 works, is currently on display and will run through July 8, 2018.

Frank Stella in London’s National Gallery

London’s National Gallery has included Frank Stella’s work in its current exhibit, called Monochrome: Painting in Black and White. The show includes monochromatic works by old masters like Giacometti and modern masters like Frank Stella and Josef Albers.

Frank Stella’s early Black Paintings, done in the 1950s, brought him early recognition before he was twenty-five. The Black Paintings were not just a reaction to, but a way to try to understand the structure behind abstract expressionism. “In a way, it was trying to find out what was under the chaos because the chaos of abstract expression is so powerful. I think to a certain extent it’s easy to see that underneath the painting that seemed so wild in America, was the structure of painting in Europe up until the late 30s, which was basically Cubism and Surrealism.”

Monochrome: Painting in Black and White is at the National Gallery in London until February 18, 2018.

Frank Stella in Paris

Being Modern: MoMA in Paris is an exhibition that has been organized by MoMA and the Fondation Louis Vuitton. It features works collected by MoMA from its inception in 1929 to the present day.

Included in the more than 200 pieces on display are works by Frank Stella, Paul Cézanne, Gustav Klimt, Paul Signac, Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Giorgio de Chirico, Edward Hopper, Max Beckmann, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Marcel Duchamp, Alexander Calder, René Magritte, Walker Evans, Willem de Kooning and Jasper Johns. Many of the works have never been shown in France before, including Andy Warhol’s 1962 Campbell’s Soup Cans.

The Fondation Louis Vuitton was established in 2006 to promote and support contemporary art. It’s housed in a building designed by American architect Frank Gehry.

Being Modern: MoMA in Paris runs through March 5, 2018.

Frank Stella at the VFA Gallery

Please contact us for more information about Black Stack or any of the other works by Frank Stella  and the other fine artists available in our gallery.

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If You Like Alex Katz’s Flowers, You’ll Love Donald Sultan’s…

Though a generation apart, both Alex Katz and Donald Sultan are expert painters, printmakers and sculptors, whose works share a clean, crisp style and sharp focus on subject. Both artists have had a really good year, with the inclusion of their works at Miami Art Week.

Alex Katz

At age 90, Alex Katz says this is, “the most productive time in my whole life, right now.” He’s finished painting some enormous, atonal Maine landscapes, a new technique for him, which are on exhibit in London and New York.

Katz’s work is also on exhibit at the Boca Raton Museum of Art. The museum is showing a group of rarely seen small paintings, which he uses as preliminary studies for his widely known larger works.

It’s still Katz’s practice to produce small paintings, which have different colors and textures than his large paintings. Seeing the brush strokes and forms on the small paintings gives the viewer a peek into the transformation of Katz’s ideas from preparatory work to finished paintings and prints.

Alex Katz: Small Paintings is currently on exhibit and runs through April 8, 2018.

Donald Sultan

Donald Sultan’s Disaster Paintings, done between 1984 and 1990, were exhibited at major venues around the country this year. Starting at the Lowe Art Museum in Coral Gables with a stop at the Smithsonian Museum of American Art, the paintings depict catastrophic disasters that Sultan gleaned from newspaper photos.

When asked why he stopped painting disasters, Sultan said, in a Forbes interview, “People asked me why I quit and it was because the imagery I was using became pervasive. That’s not why I did them. I did it because that was the way the world was going. Part of the American way of painting was industrial. I never was comfortable with illustration; I was interested in the way paintings were made.”

Sultan went on to explore the use of color, texture and design, using tar on linoleum squares and precise patterns of dots, beginning with dominoes and, eventually, flowers.

The Flowers of Alex Katz and Donald Sultan

Although their techniques and approaches to subject are different, both Alex Katz and Donald Sultan approach the depiction of flowers with great care and precision. Both artists render their works, paintings, prints and sculptures, with apparent simplicity of design and color, although the simplicity is deceptive.

The Works of Alex Katz and Donald Sultan at VFA

Please contact us for more information about Spring Flowers, Blacks and Blues, or any of the other fine works by Alex Katz and Donald Sultan available at VFA.

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References:
https://www.forbes.com/sites/adamlehrer/2016/08/31/iconic-painter-donald-sultan-shows-seminal-1980s-works-the-disaster-paintings-on-national-tour/#3da00e3c11f9
https://americanart.si.edu/exhibitions/sultan

Andy Warhol’s Santa Claus: Naughty and Nice

Christmas is when you have to go to the bank and get crisp money to put in envelopes from the stationery store for tips. After you tip the doorman, he goes on sick leave or quits …”                                           -Andy Warhol, 1977

The quote makes Warhol sound a bit like Scrooge but, by 1977, Warhol had a giant bank account and had created some of the most wonderful artwork the world has seen…which looks like the work of someone who loved Christmas.

The holidays were pretty meager for Warhol when he was a child, sometimes getting just an orange for Christmas. As Byzantine Catholics, the family celebrated Christmas on January 6, after all the hoopla had died down.

As an adult, Warhol really got into the spirit of the holiday—which is all things Warhol relished; it’s kitsch, commercial and personified by a Pop idol—Santa.

Andy Warhol’s Christmas Cards

Every year, since 1954, the Museum of Modern Art has chosen Christmas Card designs by the world’s greatest artists for its retail store for the holiday season. Andy Warhol, Picasso and Robert Indiana are among the many artist’s who created special cards for MoMA.

Warhol also did a lot of work for Tiffany’s and, in 1956 he was commissioned to do a Christmas card. The simple and elegant card that he created was so successful that Tiffany’s published a Warhol card every year through 1962.

The Christmas designs that Warhol created…and there were many… were executed with such care that makes it very apparent that Andy Warhol had a soft spot for Christmas. In December of 2014, Christie’s held a Warholiday sale of Warhol’s holiday cards, drawings and photographs.

Andy Warhol and Santa Claus

Andy Warhol created a portfolio of ten prints for his Myth series, each depicting an imaginary icon that was both famous and commercially successful. The Myth series included Superman, Uncle Sam, Mickey Mouse, Dracula, The Star (Greta Garbo as Mata Hari) and, of course, Santa Claus.

Warhol often dressed as Santa on Christmas, had his friends dress up as  Santa and took photos of department store Santas. The Santa in the Myth series was taken from a Polaroid of  a department store Santa…maybe a little more naughty or mischievous than the Hallmark Santa…but still iconic and, oh, so Warhol.

Santa Claus and Other Works by Andy Warhol at VFA

Santa Claus, sprinkled with diamond dust, of course, is for sale at VFA. Please contact us if you would like more information about Santa Claus or any of the other Andy Warhol art for sale at VFA.

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LOVE for the Holidays: Robert Indiana

Since 1954, MoMA has asked artists to submit Holiday Card designs for its retail shop. Cards have been created by such greats as Picasso, Alexander Calder, Andy Warhol and Jim Dine. One of the most enduring, and endearing cards was created by Robert Indiana in 1965.

Indiana’s symbol of LOVE spoke to the peace and love generation and was embraced…and duplicated…around the world.

The first of many LOVE sculptures was completed by Indiana in 1970 and went on a tour of major cities in the U.S. before being taken to its home at Wichita State University. The response to the sculpture was so positive, with large crowds coming out to see it, that Indiana began to make more.

There are now versions of the LOVE sculpture in many cities throughout the U.S, Europe and Asia. There are Spanish versions and a Hebrew version in Jerusalem.

Tough LOVE in Philly

Last week, about three hundred people waited in line at Philadelphia’s LOVE Park to buy a 3 x 3 inch piece of granite, salvaged during the park’s renovation, carved with Robert Indiana’s LOVE design. But the crowd was turned away because city officials said they didn’t have the proper permission to sell the LOVE bricks and would have to work out copyright issues with Indiana.

One of Indiana’s LOVE sculptures, which has been in Philadelphia since 1976, was removed for restoration during the park’s renovation. Indiana’s representatives told city officials that it had been painted the wrong color during the last restoration … thirty years ago. The original colors of the sculpture were red, green and purple. Possibly because the purple faded, conservationists painted the sculpture red, green and light blue. The LOVE sculpture is scheduled to go back to the park at the beginning of 2018.

Bitten by LOVE

For all the ubiquity of the LOVE symbol, Indiana, as its creator, has remained relatively unknown, except in art circles. “Everybody knows my LOVE,” he said in a 1976 interview, “but they don’t have the slightest idea what I look like. I’m practically anonymous.”

LOVE didn’t make him rich or famous. He didn’t copyright his design and he had a hard time getting a patent because trademark courts refused to grant a copyright for a single word. So, LOVE flooded the market on mugs, t-shirts and paperweights and critics, wrongly accused him of being a commercial sell-out.

Robert Indiana became a recluse, living and working on the remote island of Vinalhaven, Maine. “LOVE bit me,” he said in an NPR interview. Still, the work of one of America’s finest artists and printmakers, conjures good feelings and is one of the world’s most loved symbols.

Robert Indiana at VFA

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Tom Wesselmann and More Pop Masters in Miami; James Rosenquist Tributes in Tampa and Around the World

Early works by Tom Wesselmann, James Rosenquist, Andy Warhol, Claes Oldenberg, Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Jasper Johns and other Pop greats are on display at the Warehouse in Miami. The works are part of the Martin Z. Margulies Collection being exhibited at the Warehouse in the Wynwood Arts District.

All proceeds from the Warehouse exhibitions benefit the Lotus Village, a residential facility with support services for women, youth and children experiencing homelessness in the community. The Warehouse exhibit runs through December 10, 2017.

Tom Wesselmann

Looking back at Tom Wesselmann’s work is a good reminder of the progression of his work and the evolution of his use of materials. From his early collage work, which is on display at the Warehouse, to his later use of laser-cut steel, Wesselmann’s work helped to push modern art to place where the focus was on gesture, space and composition.

James Rosenquist

James Rosenquist, who lived and worked in Florida, died in New York on March 31, 2017. Retrospectives and homages to the great artist are taking place around the globe.

Besides being included in the Warehouse show, a retrospective called James Rosenquist: Painting as Immersion runs through March 4, 2018 at the Museum Ludwig in Cologne and an homage to Rosenquist is being held at the University of South Florid (USF) in Tampa, a city where Rosenquist worked with printmaking studios for more than thirty years.

The exhibition James Rosenquist: Tampa, at the USF Contemporary Art Museum, which runs through December 9, focuses on the work that Rosenquist did at USF’s Graphicstudio and at three other printmaking studios in the Tampa Bay area.

James Rosenquist was inducted into the Florida Artists Hall of Fame in 2001.

Tom Wesselmann, James Rosenquist and More Masters of Pop at VFA

Please contact us for more information about the works of Tom Wesselmann, James Rosenquist and the other fine artist whose work is for sale at VFA.

Retna, Et Cetera…

Retna in West Palm Beach

The grand opening of the Restoration Hardware building on Okeechobee Boulevard is scheduled to have its grand opening on November 19th. A mural by Retna is on the eastern wall of the building. The project was done in conjunction with the West Palm Beach Art in Public Places program.

One of the requirements of Public Places program is that each new art project contribute at least one percent of a project’s cost. Retna’s work, valued at $500,000, meets that requirement.

Retna is based in Los Angeles, but has been doing public projects around the world and currently has a solo exhibition at the Maddox Gallery in London. He designed sets for the San Francisco Opera’s production of Aida and created the cover for Justin Bieber’s Purpose album.

Shepard Fairey Damaged

A documentary, called Obey Giant, that traces Shepard Fairey’s career, is going to premier on Hulu this month. Academy Award-winning documentary filmmaker James Moll and Golden Globe-winner James Franco are the executive producers of the film.

The film is set to be released on November 11, the same day that Damaged, a show with about 200 new paintings, is scheduled to open in a Chinatown warehouse in Los Angeles.

In a New York Times interview, Fairey explained that he is not just looking at societal problems, but trying to find solutions. “Our approach to the environment is damaged, our political system is damaged and our communication with each other — especially through social media — is deteriorating,” he said,“But this show is not all about me being angry and apocalyptic; I’m trying to diagnose problems and move forward.”

“As angry as I am, I think that in times of division, scapegoating and hatefulness, it’s important to look for common humanity,” he said. “I think respecting human dignity is really punk rock right now.”

Club 57: Film, Performance, and Art in the East Village, 1978–1983 at MoMA

Keith Haring, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Kenny Scharf were just three of the many artists who met, performed and partied at Club 57 during the 1970s and 80s.

Located in the basement of a Polish Church on St. Marks Place in the East Village, Club 57 was a place where artists could present their works without being bound by rules or expectations. No discipline or medium was off limits and the club helped to encourage to the growth of many talented artists in film, graphics, fashion design, music and whatever else came along.

The MoMA  show, Club 57: Film, Performance, and Art in the East Village, 1978–1983, looks at the history of Club 57 and its influence on the art world.
The show will run through April 1, 2018.

Retna, Et Cetera at VFA

We have works by Keith Haring and other Club 57 artists available in our gallery. Please contact us if you would like more information about these or any of the other work available at VFA.

Carlos Rolón/Dzine: Hybrid Lush Works

Carlos Rolón is an internationally known artist, whose work reflects his childhood home life and culture. Born in Chicago in 1970, Rolón uses Dzine (pronounced design) or Carlos Rolón/Dzine as his professional name.

Rolón’s parents are from Puerto Rico and, growing up, his house evoked the rich culture found on the island. His work reflects the abundance of color, kitschy tchotchkes and over-the-top furnishings that filled his childhood home, where his mother had a nail salon and he and his father, and father’s friends, watched boxing matches.

Rolón studied painting and drawing at Columbia College in Chicago.

My father, who wanted to be a Salsa musician, ended up a factory worker.” he said, “My mother, who wanted to be a beautician, ended up working at a supermarket. Not that there’s anything wrong with this, but there still were dreams deferred.”

Career

Rolón created street art and abstract paintings early on in his career, but was drawn to Kustom Kulture, a uniquely American way of customizing cars, hair, fashion … anything that can be made glitzy and kitsch.

A trip to Europe led to Rolón being offered a solo exhibition in Japan in 2003, which sold out before the opening.

In 2007, Rolón was invited to exhibit at the Venice Biennale in the Ukrainian Pavilion. He customized a speedboat, called Dnipro, with nine TV screens, 22 speakers with lights, 8 amps, a Chevy chrome engine with neon Lighting, original 1963 chrome trim and side mirrors from a Chevy Impala, custom bucket seats, ostrich leather interior, Pioneer CD/DJ equipment with an Alpine touch screen videos, a laser light show and a smoke machine, much to the delight of the crowds in Venice.

Although he works in many media, Rolón’s installations have garnered most attention.

In 2011, he set up two nail art salons in New York, one at the New Museum and one at Salon 94 Gallery, which eventually traveled to the Standard Hotel during the 2012 Art Basel Miami Beach.

The Imperial Nail Salon, complete with manicurist, was based on the nail salon that his mother ran from his childhood home, after she picked him up from kindergarten. “We would have lunch of cottage cheese and tomatoes,” he said, “watch ‘General Hospital,’ and then her friends would come over, all these beautiful women, sitting around gossiping. I loved having them and the sense of community that created.”

The feelings that Rolón are able evoke through his work are universal, even though they are based on his singular life experience, as an artist of Puerto Rican descent raised in Chicago. “I love creating beautiful objects that are excessive, slightly obnoxious, and, in fact, somewhat ridiculous.” he said.

Rolón is a recipient of the Joan Mitchell Foundation award for Painting and Sculpture. His work can be found in the collections of the Bass Museum of Art in Miami, the Brooklyn Museum, the City of Chicago Public Art Collection Deagu Art Museum in South Korea, Deag, the Museo de Arte de Ponce in Puerto Rico, the Museum Het Domein, Sittard in The Netherlands, the Museum of Contemporary Art in San Diego as well as other public and private collections.

Carlos Rolón/Dzine still lives and works in Chicago.

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Jean-Michel Basquiat: New Highs, With and Without Warhol

Basquiat Work Sets New Record at Auction

Jean-Michel Basquiat’s 1982 Untitled painting became the most expensive American work ever sold at auction. After a bidding war at a Sotheby’s auction in New York in May, Untitled sold for $110.5 million, nearly three times the expected price.

The winning bidder was 41-year-old Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa, who posted an Instagram message reading, “I am happy to announce that I just won this masterpiece. When I first encountered this painting, I was struck with so much excitement and gratitude for my love of art. I want to share that experience with as many people as possible.”

Last year, Maezawa paid $57.3 million for another untitled work by Basquiat.

Besides being the most expensive work by an American artist ever sold at auction, it is also the highest price ever paid for the work of an African-American artist and the first piece of art done after 1980 to exceed $100 million.

Basquiat and Warhol Collaborations Set New Record at Auction

Andy Warhol became a mentor to Basquiat, and Basquiat became an inspiration for Warhol. After not actually picked up a paint brush for almost twenty years, in 1982, Warhol collaborated with the then 23-year old Basquiat on a series of paintings. The idea of artists working together on a single project was the brainchild of Swiss art dealer, Bruno Bischofberger. The symbols used by each artist is clearly demarcated in each work, like Wahol’s General Electric logo and Basquiat’s victorious boxer, and they meld beautifully in each work.

Two of their collaborative works, both of which were owned by Tommy Hilfiger, were auctioned on June 28th. Both exceeded estimated highs.

Sweet Pungent sold for $5,675,643 and New Flame for $3,083,441.

Radiant Child Wins 2017 Awards

Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, written and illustrated by Javaka Steptoe, won the 2017 Caldecott Award, the 2017 ALA Loretta Scott Award and was nominated for the 2017 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary work.

Steptoe used his own collage works to illustrate the picture book for children that tells the story of a young Basquiat, who drew everything he saw with unbridled enthusiasm.

The name Radiant Child was given to him by art critic Rene Ricard in a 1981 Artforum Magazine article.

The book is a wonderful way for children to learn about Basquiat and understand that you don’t have to color inside the lines to be a great artist.

Jean-Michel Basquiat work for sale at VFA

Please contact us for more information about Flexible by Jean-Michel Basquiat or any of the work for sale in our gallery.

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