Sol LeWitt: Cube Without a Corner and Cube Without a Cube at VFA

The execution is a perfunctory affair, the idea becomes a machine that makes the art.
—Sol LeWitt

If you’re a Sol LeWitt fan, and haven’t had a chance to see the Wall Drawing Retrospective at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (Mass MoCA), there’s still plenty of time. Thanks to the Yale University Art Gallery and other donors, the exhibit will be on display until 2043.  Sol LeWitt: A Wall Drawing Retrospective, opened to the public on November 16, 2008, a year and a half after LeWitt’s death. Beginning in 2004, LeWitt helped to design and plan the retrospective, which covers about an acre of wall space. On exhibit are 105 drawings by LeWitt, made over a 38 year period.

LeWitt stressed that his ideas are more important than their execution. “The execution is a perfunctory affair,” he wrote, “The idea becomes a machine that makes the art.”  He wrote detailed instructions, and created drawings and plans, for his assistants to follow.

It took over six months to install the exhibit. A team of twenty-two of LeWitt’s experienced assistants, some of whom had worked with him for many years, organized the drafting and painting. They were assisted by thirty-three student interns from Yale, Williams College, the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts and fourteen other colleges and universities, along with local artists and graduate and postgraduate students from leading art programs around the country.

Sol LeWitt’s Letter to Eva Hesse

Sol LeWitt helped to establish the Minimalist and Conceptual Art movements of the postwar era. His works appear to be simple, geometric designs, but they are carefully crafted, well-thought out and, often so complex, that they required written instructions for assistants to follow, in order to execute them properly. There was also a droll humor in LeWitt’s work, like Cube Without a Corner and Cube Without a Cube, a sculpture created in 2005, available at VFA.

LeWitt was also a generous artist and often invited young artists to display their work alongside his, to help them gain recognition. He was also a good friend to other artists, like sculptor Eva Hess, who often had self-doubt about her own life and work. The two remained friends until Hesse’s untimely death in 1970, at age 34.

LeWitt wrote a letter to Hesse, in 1965, to encourage her to keep working at her art. LeWitt’s letter was read by actor Benedict Cumberbatch, as part of the British Letters Live series, where extraordinary letters, written over the centuries from all around the world, are read by distinguished performers. LeWitt and his wife named their youngest daughter, Eva.

The Work of Sol LeWitt For Sale at VFA

Please contact us if you would like more information about Cube Without a Corner and Cube Without a Cube or any of the other fine art work available at VFA.

See More Sol LeWitt Work for Sale

References:
Jennifer Huberdeau. Sol LeWitt: 10 years in. The Berkshire Eagle. November 9, 2018.
Neda Ulaby. Sol LeWitt: Conceptual Art Pioneer Dies at 78. NPR. April 9, 2007.
Andrew Russeth. Here Are the Instructions for Sol LeWitt’s 1971 Wall Drawing for the School of the MFA Boston. The Observer. October 01, 2012.
https://massmoca.org

Julian Opie: Inspired by Boredom

I don’t invent or imagine things, just notice and record them. The choices about scale, style, language, materials and reference are my tools. I choose normal things because I must know them intimately and feel they are common currency so they can be turned into symbols. I don’t draw parrots or flamingoes, I like the boring as it’s only when you are bored that you can see. – Julian Opie

Julian Opie: Walking in Melbourne at the National Gallery of Victoria

When Julian Opie was asked to do a show in Melbourne, Australia, he got in touch with a local photographer and asked him to set up cameras in various locations around the city to photograph passers-by. The photographer sent Opie hundreds of photos, which became the basis for Opie’s Walking in Melbourne series, available at VFA.

“Some 60 drawings later,” Opie said, “I have a palette of characters and have been using them in a range of paintings and statues. Each one throws up surprises and opportunities that I could not invent – a tattoo or a tasselled dress, a goatee or the logo on a T-shirt. I have one group from the middle of the city and one from the beach. By making groups of six walkers I get a street crowd, and a list, and a kind of fashion parade.”

The Julian Opie exhibit at the National Gallery of Victoria  includes portraits, landscapes and urban themes, all in Opie’s simple, pop style. The exhibit, currently on display, will run until February 17, 2019.

The Universal Appeal of Julian Opie

Since the 1980s, when Julian Opie emerged as an  influential figure on the British art scene, his work has garnered universal appeal. Opie’s works are in the collections of the National Portrait Gallery in London, the Tate, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Victoria & Albert Museum, the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, the Essl Collection in Vienna, the Institut Valencià d’Art Modern in Spain, the Israel Museum in Jerusalem and Takamatsu City Museum of Art in Japan.

His work has recently been included in a home by Seoul-based designer, Teo Yang. The house itself is a hanok, a traditional Korean house, first designed and built in the 14th century, many of which have been disappearing to make way for modern developments.

The hanok was traditionally built to fit naturally into its surroundings, complimenting the land and fitting in with the seasonal changes that nature brings. Every detail is carefully thought out, and with that in mind, Teo Yang chose Julian Opie’s work for the home’s living room. Opie’s work is equally at home in Seoul as it is in London, Miami or Melbourne.

Walking in Melbourne Series at VFA

Walking in Melbourne, 1 through six in the series , is available at VFA. Each 25 x 62 inch relief print is framed in white, as specified by Julian Opie.

Please contact us if you would like more information about Walking in Melbourne or any of the other fine works available at VFA.

See More Julian Opie Work for Sale

References:
Stephanie Bunbury. Fish in the water wall and model crows: Julian Opie’s ‘groovy’ art comes to NGV. The Sydney Morning Herald. November 17, 2018.
Ellie Stathaki. Traditional South Korean architecture meets innovation in a renovated hanok house.Wallpaper*. December 26, 2018.
https://www.ngv.vic.gov.au/exhibition/julian-opie/

Max Bill: Standing the Test of Time

The orbit of human vision has widened and art has annexed fresh territories that were formerly denied to it. – Max Bill

Max Bill was one of the most accomplished and multitalented artists of the twentieth century. Bill worked as an architect, painter, graphic and industrial artist, sculptor, designer, teacher and politician. He was able to combine fine art, science and design to create art, buildings, furniture, fonts and sculpture.

Bill was born in Switzerland in 1908. After apprenticing with a silversmith, he attended the Bauhaus in 1927, where he was heavily influenced by his teachers, including Paul Klee and Wassily Kandinsky.

He moved to Zurich in 1929, where he began a career as a designer, whose work influenced many of the modern artists who came after him.

Max Bill’s Timeless Designs

A recent issue of Forbes magazine called Max Bill’s Chronoscope watch design,”one of the best.” “The Chronoscope remains incredibly faithful to the original designs Bill produced in the 1960s,” according to Forbes,  “adding all the quality available to a modern manufacturer.”

Bill designed the watch for the Junghans watch company in 1962 and the design has continued to be manufactured each year for the last fifty-six years. The original watches are collectors items and the current pieces are coveted for their timeless design.

Before the Chronoscope, Bill designed one of the world’s most classic kitchen clocks, one of which is part of the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art. The clock was designed by Bill, along with some of his students at the Ulm School of Design in Ulm, Germany, which he founded in 1953.

“Functional design considers the visual aspect, that is, the beauty, of an object as a component of its function,” Bill said,  “but not one that overwhelms its other primary functions.”

Max Bill’s Concrete Art

Max Bill was part of the Concrete Art movement, which began in 1930. It was an anti-impressionist movement, which advocated using clarity and mechanical painting techniques with simple elements.

Bill embraced the practice in all of his work. He used clear, clean lines in his designs of everything from buildings to furnishings.

His paintings and prints appear simple, but they are well thought out, and even the colors and materials he used were often more complex than they appear at first glance.

One of the requirements of Concrete Art, listed in the group’s manifesto in 1930, was that:

A work of art must be entirely conceived and shaped by the mind before its execution. It shall not receive anything of nature’s or sensuality’s or sentimentality’s formal data. We want to exclude lyricism, drama, symbolism, and so on.

That philosophy can be seen in Max Bill’s paintings and prints, like Combillation, a screenprint available at VFA, that Bill did on four plastic panels in 1970. His unique use of color, material and design reflect the Concrete Artists’ desire to keep things simple and relatable.

The first line of the Concrete Art manifesto is: Art in universal. Max Bill remained true to the manifesto throughout his long, illustrious career, until his death in 1994.

Max Bill Work at VFA

Please contact us if you would like more information about Combillation, or any of the other fine works available at VFA.

See More Max Bill Work for Sale

References:
Sean Lorentzen. Forbes. Junghans Max Bill Chronoscope Is Still One Of The Best Minimalist Watches. July 20,2018.
Emma Calder. Junghans timepiece snaps up Red Dot Award just weeks after release.WatchPro. May 10, 2018.
SwissInfo.Two Winterthur museums honour Switzerland’s “universal artist”. January 30,2008.
https://www.moma.org.

Andy Warhol For the Holidays

Celebrating Andy Warhol at VFA

I have Social Disease. I have to go out every night. If I stay home one night I start spreading rumors to my dogs.” – Andy Warhol

Andy Warhol partied a lot, especially during Christmas, a holiday that he loved to celebrate. In 1956, sixty-two years ago, Andy Warhol designed his first Christmas cards for Tiffany & Co. They were so successful that Tiffany asked him to design more. Warhol made Christmas cards for Tiffany until 1962…the year he exhibited his first Campbell’s Soup Cans.

Warhol’s art blended commercial and fine art and his energy and life style ramped up the New York art scene. At Vertu, when we think of the holidays, we celebrate the works of Andy Warhol, and remember how much fun it is to see his use of colors and composition, often sprinkled with a little diamond dust.

Andy Warhol at the Whitney

If you’re lucky enough to be spending the holidays in New York this year, you’ll be able to see the largest Andy Warhol exhibition since a  1989 retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art, just two years after his death, and the largest exhibition the Whitney has ever devoted to a single artist.

ANDY WARHOL — FROM A TO B AND BACK AGAIN contains over 350 of Warhol’s works, ranging from his early days as an illustrator, his POP Art, films, flower paintings, performance art, installations, photos and portraits, including a section on his MAO paintings, drawings and screenprints.

Warhol based his MAO works on a portrait done by Chinese artist Zhang Zhenshi. Zhenshi’s portrait was used for the frontispiece of Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-Tung, known as The Little Red Book. A must-have for Chinese citizens during Mao’s rule, more than one billion copies of the Little Red Book were translated and distributed world-wide, making Zhenshi’s portrait of Mao the most widely reproduced artwork in the world.

MAO, 1972, available at VFA, was inspired by the news coverage Warhol read about then President Nixon’s trip to China in February 1972 to visit China. Nixon’s trip, during the Cold War, was the first visit by a sitting American president to the People’s Republic of China, which was considered an enemy nation.

Everybody’s always asking me if I’m a Communist because I’ve done Mao.”

ANDY WARHOL — FROM A TO B AND BACK AGAIN, at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, runs through March 31.

Andy Warhol Fine Art Prints at VFA

Please contact us if you would like more information at MAO, Shoes or any of the other Fine Art Prints for sale at VFA.

See More Andy Warhol Work for Sale

Roy Lichtenstein’s Continued Legacy

Last summer, the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation announced that it was going to shut down and give the remainder of its assets to museums. About 400 works were donated to the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York and thousands of documents were given to the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art. The documents are being digitized to make them accessible to the public.

The latest Lichtenstein Foundation donation is a $5 million gift to the Smithsonian to create an endowment that would process and digitize material about artists whose works are historically underrepresented in the collections of American Museums, including African Americans, Asian Americans, Latinos, Native Americans and women.

Roy Lichtenstein and Comic Book Artists

Comic books became a major American industry with the publication of the Superman comic in 1938. Most of the artists whose work Roy Lichtenstein copied are no longer alive and he never met most of them, but he did meet Irv Novick, the artist who drew the original WHAAM! comic. The panel Novick drew was done for the January-February 1962 DC comic All-American Men of War #89.

Novick studied at National Academy of Design in New York. His career as a comic book artist lasted from 1939 until the 1990s.

According to an interview with Novick in Mike Richardson and Steve Duin’s book Comics: Between the Panels … Novick and Lichtenstein met while they were both serving in the military during World War ll:

He (Novick) had one curious encounter at camp. He dropped by the chief of staff’s quarters one night and found a young soldier sitting on a bunk, crying like a baby. “He said he was an artist,” Novick remembered, “and he had to do menial work, like cleaning up the officers’ quarters.

“It turned out to be Roy Lichtenstein. The work he showed me was rather poor and academic.” Feeling sorry for the kid, Novick got on the horn and got him a better job. “Later on, one of the first things he started copying was my work. He didn’t come into his own, doing things that were worthwhile, until he started doing things that were less academic than that. He was just making large copies of the cartoons I had drawn and painting them.”

Irv Novick died in 2004. Neither he, nor any of the other artists whose work Lichtenstein commandeered, received acknowledgment for their original work and the controversy over those omissions continues in the comic book world.

Roy Lichtenstein’s WHAAM! is in the permanent collection of the Tate Modern.

Roy Lichtenstein’s Point of View

British art critic, Alastair Sooke, sees Roy Lichtenstein’s work as more than just an appropriation of comic strips. “Lichtenstein took something tiny and ephemeral” Sooke said, “– a throwaway comic-strip panel that most people would overlook – and blew it up so that it was a substantial oil (and acrylic) painting more than 2m (6.5 ft) wide and 1.7m (5.5 ft) high. Here, he was saying, was a contemporary equivalent of a grand ‘history painting’, once considered the highest and most challenging branch of art. In the years after it was executed, people began to understand WHAAM! as a prophetic critique of America’s involvement in the Vietnam War.”

Lichtenstein was not only influenced by comic book artists. His sense of style and composition was also influenced by Chinese artists, whose work he discovered in a book that he bought in France during the war. The Chinese influence can be seen in works like Nude from the Brushstroke Series, available at VFA.

Lichtenstein himself saw little distinction between artistic styles. “There is a relationship between cartooning and people like Miro and Picasso which may not be understood by the cartoonist,” he said, “but it definitely is related even in the early Disney.” Virtual Interior -Portrait of a Duck is a fine example of Lichtenstein’s style and composition.

Roy Lichtenstein’s Fine Art Prints at VFA

Please contact us if you would like more information about Nude from the Brushstroke Series, Virtual Interior -Portrait of a Duck or any of the other fine works for sale at VFA.

See More Roy Lichtenstein Work for Sale

References:
Archives of American Art Announces Pivotal Gift from the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation. Smithsonian Institution Archives of American Art. October 24, 2018.
Jack Cowart. Don’t Try This At Home (or Alone). The Brooklyn Rail. December 11, 2018.
Brian Cronan. How Comic Book Artists Handled Roy Lichtenstein Using Their Work. Comic Book Resources. September 18, 2018.
Mike Richardson and Steve Duin. Comics: Between the Panels. Darkhorse Books. 1998.

Donald Sultan Prints and Sculpture at VFA

Texture has always been an important part of Donald Sultan’s work. Tar, rubber and linoleum give his works texture and depth. Sultan became familiar with industrial materials when, as a boy, he hung out at his father’s tire shop in Asheville, North Carolina. When Sultan moved to New York in 1975, after receiving his MFA from the University of Chicago, he supported himself by doing construction during the day and painting at night.

As a struggling young artist, Sultan used tar, linoleum and other industrial materials, which were inexpensive and readily available to him on job sites.  The use of industrial materials gave his work a substance and feel that hadn’t been seen before in the art world. By the 1970s his work was receiving critical acclaim and he was able to work as an artist full time.

His series of Disaster Paintings, done between 1984 and 1990, were industrial landscapes of events taken from newspaper clippings. The use of tar, linoleum, rubber and plaster lent themselves to his paintings of man-made objects, and the disasters that can befall them. The square linoleum tiles, mounted on Masonite or wood, gave Sultan a grid to work with, and he began to make use of the grid for his early domino paintings.

As he began to paint more traditional fruits and flowers, he kept the grid and the tough materials, and the contrast between the industrial texture of his materials and the delicacy of his subjects gave his paintings extraordinary and unique qualities.

Donald Sultan Prints at VFA

When Donald Sultan began making prints, he worked with Parisian printmaker, Aldo Crommelynck, the same master printer Picasso worked with. More recently, Sultan has worked with Mixografia, whose specialty is fabricating textured and three-dimensional prints.

Japanese Pines, available at VFA, is one of the finest examples of the quality of work that Donald Sultan has produced with Mixografia. Sultan also uses enamel inks and flocking to create remarkable surfaces on his prints, like Lantern Flowers Red, also for sale at VFA.

He also incorporates diamond dust, another industrial material, into some of his prints, which, when combined with fine paper, creates a unique quality to his work. Blacks and Blues, for sale at VFA, is another superb example of Sultan’s sensibility.

Donald Sultan Sculptures at VFA

Going from textured surfaces to creating sculptures was a natural progression for Donald Sultan. He uses aluminum and Cor-Ten steel, a copper chromium alloy steel that has a high level of resistance to weathering. Sultan’s delicate flower sculptures, like Cor-Ten Poppies and White Tulips and Vase are further examples of his unique ability to combine industrial materials and fragile subject matter.

Donald Sultan’s Prints and Sculptures at VFA

Please contact us if you would like more information about Japanese Pines, Lantern Flowers, Cor-Ten Poppies, White Tulips and Vase, Blacks and Blues or any of the other fine works available at VFA.

See More Donald Sultan Prints and Sculpture for Sale

References:
Calvin Tomkins. Object Lessons. The New Yorker. April 5, 1999.
Smithsonian American Art Museum. Donald Sultan: The Disaster Paintings. May 26, 2017.
https://mixografia.com/artist/donald-sultan

Ellsworth Kelly at Christie’s

It took the New York art world a while to understand and embrace the simple and elegant style that  Ellsworth Kelly had cultivated during his six years in Paris in the 1950s.

Even when Kelly was a child, he saw the world in terms of its basic elements. He liked to tell the story of running around the neighborhood with his friends one Halloween night, when he saw forms through a window that he found intriguing. He left his friends to take a closer look at the abstract configuration. “I saw a red, shape, a blue shape, and a black shape,” he said, “I had to find out what it was.” He looked in the window and saw only furniture, curtains and the ordinary things that make up a room. As he slowly backed away, the shapes he had seen began to form again. He said that experience was, “very close to seeing my first abstraction.”

Kelly drew and painted things exactly the way he saw them, transforming the real into simple, abstract form and color.

Ellsworth Kelly at Christie’s

Ellsworth Kelly moved to New York in 1954. He lived at Coenties Slip, on the southeast tip of Manhattan, along with such great artists as Agnes Martin, James Rosenquist, Jack Youngerman and LOVE artist, Robert Indiana.

Kelly and Robert Indiana became close friends and, in 1957, Kelly gave Indiana a painting of an orange peel. The work, titled Orange Blue or Orange Peel, has an inscription on the back that reads, “EK 1957 FOR ROBERT AN ORANGE PEEL FROM PIER 7.”

Robert Indiana died this past May, at age 89. Indiana wanted his historic home on the Maine island of Vinalhaven to be turned into a museum, but the fate of the estate and its contents have been mired in legal disputes.

Indiana’s estate attorney has auctioned off some of Indiana’s personal collection, including Ellsworth Kelly’s Orange Peel.

The painting was auctioned at Christie’s New York a few weeks ago. Orange Peel was estimated to sell for $900,000 – $1,200,000. The price realized was $2,772,500 … more than double the estimated high.

Ellsworth Kelly Fine Art Prints at VFA

Like the simplicity of Orange Peel, Ellsworth Kelly’s uncomplicated style lent itself to his creating refined contour drawings of plants and flowers. In the 1960s, Kelly worked with Paris printers, Maeght Éditeur, to create the Suite of Twenty-Seven Lithographs. In 1964, he exhibited in Paris at Galerie Maeght, owned by Aimé and Marguerite Maeght, who printed many of Kelly’s plant series.

Leaves, available at Vertu Fine Art, was done as part of the Suite. Leaves and other works from the Suite of Twenty-Seven Lithographs can be found in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Tate and many other major galleries and museums.

Please contact us if you would like more information about Leaves or any of the other fine artworks available at VFA.

See More Ellsworth Kelly Work for Sale

References:
Mark Shanahan. Auction of paintings will help repair late artist Robert Indiana’s Maine home. Boston Globe. November 17, 2018.
Karen Wright. The Artist’s Studio: Ellsworth Kelly. Vanity Fair. July 17, 2012.
Elisa Wouk Almino. Ellsworth Kelly Explains His Relationship to Abstraction. Hyperallergic. September 2, 2016.

Tom Wesselman: In Perspective

A recent show of Tom Wesselmann’s work, at the Musee National de Monaco, looked at Wesselmann’s use of the female form. Wesselmann’s series of nudes, done as abstracts in the era of post-abstract expressionism and during the Pop era, was a radical innovation in the early 1960s, when he began his Great American Nude series. He reduced the female figure to its bare essentials…lips, breasts and pubic area…which was a departure from the post-Victorian images of the female form.

What Wesselmann said he was trying to do with his work was, “to make figurative art as exciting as abstract art.” He succeeded, not only as a figurative artist, but also as a Pop artist. His large, colorful female forms, with their isolated erogenous zones, were the equivalent of the billboard product ads used to entice consumers. Rather than objectifying women, Wesselmann used the female body as a construct for the abstract.

As a young man, Wesselmann was interested in becoming a cartoonist but, after being accepted to Cooper Union in 1956, he moved to New York and was inspired to draw and paint in a more classic style by the art he saw in museums and the artists he met in school and at galleries.

Wesselmann’s life also took an upturn in 1957, when he met fellow student Claire Selley, who became his model and wife. Claire Seated with Robe Half Off, available at Vertu Fine Art, is just one of the many works for which Claire was the model.  The couple was together, for more than forty years, until Wesselmann’s death, in 2004.

Tom Wesselmann’s Steel Works

The 1980s marked the beginning of a shift in focus for Wesselmann. He went from working on shaped canvas and collage to working in steel and aluminum. He created  both freestanding sculptures as well as sketches etched into flat metal surfaces. Wesselman etched his first works by hand until he got hold of an industrial laser. He also spent a year working with, and learning from, metalwork fabricator Alfred Lippincott. Wesselman developed a technique that allowed him to replicate his paintings in metal. He created both figurative and still life works, like Wildflower Bouquet, available at VFA.

Tom Wesselmann’s Homages

The art that Tom Wesselmann saw when he moved to New York changed his life. He often paid tribute to the artists whose work he admired, especially Matisse. One of Wesselmann’s most interesting works is his Still Life with Johns and Matisse, which he not only painted, but also turned into a sculpture. The Maquette for Still Life with Johns and Matisse, is available at VFA.

Tom Wesselman’s Works at VFA

Please contact us if you would like more information about the works of Tom Wesselmann for sale at VFA.

See More Tom Wesselman Work for Sale

References:
Hermione Hoby. Great American Nudes artist Tom Wesselmann was no sexist, say the women in his life. The Guardian. January 19, 2016.
http://www.tomwesselmannestate.org/tom-wesselmann-at-nouveau-musee-national-de-monaco/

Robert Motherwell: Bought and Found

Robert Motherwell Sets Record at Auction

Robert Motherwell’s At Five in the Afternoon set an auction record for the artist in May. The ten-foot long painting sold for $12.7 million at Phillips Auction House. Five in the Afternoon is just one in a series of Motherwell’s Elegy paintings and prints that the artist worked on, and refined, over the course of many years.

Motherwell initially did a sketch of the painting as an illustration for a magazine project that was never completed. He put it away and forgot about it until he came across it, during a move, about two years later. Motherwell said that he was of a generation that was greatly influenced by the Spanish Civil War and, subsequently, World War ll.

The painting is an homage to Spanish poet Federico García Lorca, who was thought to have been killed by right-wing extremists in 1936. His poem, Lament for Ignacio Sánchez Mejías, was a eulogy to Mejías, a bullfighter and poet, who was killed after being gored by a bull, at five in the afternoon, on August 11, 1934.

The first version of the painting was lost to Motherwell in his divorce settlement with ex-wife Helen Frankenthaler. Motherwell was not happy about losing the work and so he did a better…and much larger…version of At Five in the Afternoon in 1971, while also working on his Basque Series.

Most of the works from the Elegy series are in museums, but Chicago-based designer and collector, Holly Hunt, bought At Five in the Afternoon from Motherwell’s gallery in 1981. She’s moving, downsizing and decided to sell the painting.

Stolen Robert Motherwell Returned by Feds After Being Tucked Away in a Garage for Forty Years

An unidentified man was helping his mother clean up her garage in upstate New York, when he came across a large painting with Robert Motherwell’s name on the back of the canvas. The man did an internet search and then called the Dedalus Foundation, which Motherwell set up in 1981, to educate the public about modern art. He asked the Foundation  to authenticate the painting.

Jack Flam, the president and CEO of the Dedalus Foundation, did some research and realized the painting was one of a few dozen paintings that went missing in 1978, when they were moved from one storage unit to another. Flam called the FBI. The Feds art crime investigators determined that the man’s father, who died in the 1990s,  had worked for the storage company at the time the paintings were stolen. They believe that the son did not know that the painting was stolen. The untitled work was returned to the Dedalus Foundation.

Robert Motherwell Works at Vertu Fine Art

Robert Motherwell was a masterful printmaker. He spent the early months of 1970 at the Kelpra Studio in London, working on silkscreens for the Basque Suite and other works. In 1972 he set  up his own print shop and, the following year he began working with master printmaker Kenneth Tyler at Gemini G.E.I.

Please contact us if you would like more information about Robert Motherwell’s Black and Blue from the Basque Series, Harvest with Two White Stripes or any of the other fine art prints available at VFA.

See More Robert Motherwell Work for Sale

References:
Eileen Kinsella. The FBI Has Recovered a Crimson Robert Motherwell Painting Stolen 40 Years Ago by a Moving Man. artnetnews. July12, 2018.
The Washington Post.Robert Motherwell painting stolen in 1978 in New York is returned. July 13, 2018.
Katya Kazakina. Holly Hunt’s Robert Motherwell painting fetches $12.96 million.Crain’s Chicago Business. April 12, 2018.
John Yau. Another Look at Robert Motherwell. Hyper allergic. June 7, 2015.
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ignacio_S%C3%A1nchez_Mej%C3%ADas
www.aaa.si.edu/collections/interviews/oral-history-interview-robert-motherwell-13286#transcript
Frank Stella Sinjerli-Variation III (Axsom 117), 1977

The Continuing Evolution of Frank Stella’s Prints

Frank Stella changed the art world in so many ways. His Black Painting series launched the minimalism movement in the mid-twentieth century and his collaboration with printmaker Ken Tyler pushed the envelope and changed the way artists create, and the public views, fine art prints.

The Evolution of Frank Stella Prints

Frank Stella began creating prints in earnest at Ken Tyler’s workshop in Los Angeles in 1967. When Tyler opened Tyler Graphics, Limited in New York, the two men began a collaboration that continued until Tyler closed up shop in 2000. Until the 1980s, Stella’s medium of choice was lithography. Tyler and Stella began to incorporate collage, paint, linocut and marbling on handmade paper to create prints that had a quality and texture that had never before been seen in prints.

They continued to push the envelope, doing relief printing with aluminum and magnesium plates for etching and building up the surfaces with plywood block prints. They would often do more than 100 runs of sequences for each print. As their process evolved, so did the images. Stella’s prints are a far cry from his first Black Paintings. His work has evolved from flat black surfaces, to works of great color and texture and expansive sculptures.

An exhibit of some of Frank Stella’s finest print series is currently on display at the Princeton University Art Museum. Frank Stella Unbound, Literature and Printmaking consists of  four sets of huge prints, all done between 1984 and 1999. Each series was inspired by a work of literature, like Herman Melville’s Moby Dick and Italo Calvino’s Folk Tales. The Princeton exhibit is on view through September 23, 2018.

The Death of Frank Stella’s Early Champion

Art dealer Lawrence Rubin died on August 16 at his home in Zurich at age 85. Rubin was born in Brooklyn and raised in the Bronx. He studied art history at Brown University, Columbia and at the Sorbonne in Paris. Rubin opened the Galerie Lawrence in Paris in 1961. He gave Frank Stella his first solo show in Europe and the two became close friends, even owning a country house together at one time.

Rubin exhibited Frank Stella’s Polish Village series in 1971, one of the most memorable exhibits for each of them. It was a success for Rubin and the start of a new chapter in Stella’s career.

The Polish Village series was based on 1979 book called Wooden Synagogues, which was given to Stella by architect Richard Meier. The book contains pictures of geometric wooden buildings that were damaged during the Second World War. The images inspired Stella to create more than 100 works made of paper, felt and canvas.

In a 2016 lecture in Havana, Stella said that there were two things that he found compelling about the Wooden Synagogues: 

One was that there was a kind of geometry in the construction, the wooden construction, which I would call interlocking-ness: interlocking parts that are interesting as a kind of geometry.

The other thing that was compelling was that the trace of the destruction of these synagogues was from Berlin to Warsaw to Moscow. The development of abstraction in the twentieth century traces that same path, from Moscow to Warsaw to Berlin and back.”

Frank Stella Prints at Vertu Fine Art

Please contact us if you would like more information about the Frank Stella fine art prints available at the Vertu Fine Art Gallery.

See More Frank Stella Prints for Sale

References:
Roberta Smith. Lawrence Rubin, Art Dealer and Supporter of Frank Stella, Dies at 85 The New York Times. August 31, 2018.
PHAIDON Understanding Stella: The Polish Village series February 2018.
Thomas Hine Frank Stella prints at Princeton: Dazzling technique in search of a story The Philadelphia Inquirer August 29, 2018.
Vik Muniz: Reaction to Brazil Museum Fire

Vik Muniz: Reaction to Brazil Museum Fire

On the night of September 2, a fire spread through the National Museum of Brazil in Rio de Janeiro, destroying 90 per cent of its collection…about 20 million items.

Brazilian artist, Vik Muniz, reacted to the fire as many other Brazilians did, with great sorrow. Muniz posted an Instagram message, which read, “Five years ago I temporarily lost my memory after a motorcycle accident and it struck me deeply. Worse than death is the full awareness of loss. There is no worse dread and sadness than not being able to remember what you have been and loved to be, of the things, people, and events that made you what you are. The National Museum in Quinta da Boa Vista, at this moment, burns in flames and with it a significant part of our past. It is extremely sad to think that a country is built on its history, and that from now on our future will have to be erected on the precarious ashes and rubble inherited from an inveterate neglect of our cultural and material heritage. The memory with the ashes in a chronic amnesia of overwhelming consequences goes, especially at a time when our deficit with reality becomes something really disturbing. This is a time of great shame and sadness for us and for those in whom we entrust the custody of our history.”

The museum, a palace that was once the home of Brazilian royalty, was founded in 1818 and housed one of the largest collections of natural history and anthropological artifacts in the Americas.

The exact cause of the fire has not yet been determined. Tragically, the building’s smoke detectors were not working and the fire hydrants near the museum didn’t have water in them, so firefighters had to bring water to the site from a nearby pond.

The museum has been underfunded for years, so underfunded that the museum’s own employees got together to cover the cleaning staff’s salaries.

Muniz, like many other Brazilians, was saddened by the fire. Much criticism was leveled at the government for spending massive amounts of money for the 2016 Olympics and the FIFA World Cup in 2014, but leaving institutions for the arts and sciences poorly funded.  The BBC reported that, in the last 10 years alone, fires have destroyed eight buildings in Brazil dedicated to science and the arts.

Brazil is currently undergoing a political and economic crisis. The outcry of Brazil’s art and science community may help to preserve what is left of the country’s rich heritage.

Vik Muniz at the Chrysler Museum

The Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, Virginia is currently exhibiting a wide range of Muniz’s work. Photography and the Rebirth of Wonder includes over 100 works that the artist has created from a range of unusual materials like chocolate syrup, diamonds, trash and, most recently, grains of sand.

This exhibition has been co-organized by the Foundation for the Exhibition of Photography, Minneapolis/New York/Paris/Lausanne, and the High Museum of Art, Atlanta and runs through October 14, 2018.

Works of Vik Muniz at Vertu Fine Art

Please contact us if you would like more information about the work of Vik Muniz or any of the other fine art work at VFA.

See More Vik Muniz Artwork for Sale

References:
Eleanor Cummins The Devastating fire at Brazil’s National Museum illuminates a global problem. Popular Science. September 6, 2018.
Mark St. John Erickson Pictures: “Vik Muniz: Photography and the Rebirth of Wonder Daily Press. August 18, 2018.
Mariana Simoes Brazil’s National Museum Goes Up in Smoke, Leaving Brazilians Heartbroken and Angered Hyperallergic September 3, 2018.

Ellsworth Kelly: Keeping it Simple

I’m interested in the space between the viewer and the surface of the painting – the forms and the way they work in their surroundings. I’m interested in how they react to a room.
— Ellsworth Kelly

Ellsworth Kelly Prints at the Shaker Museum

Ellsworth Kelly and his husband, photographer Jack Shear, began collecting Shaker furniture in 1970. Like his paintings, prints and sculptures, Kelly realized that the Shaker furniture was, “simple and well-structured and in the same categories that I like to make paintings.”

The couple furnished their home in Columbia County, New York with Shaker furniture and objects. When Kelly died in 2015, the furniture was donated to the Shaker Museum in Mount Lebanon, New York.

It’s easy to see the similarities between the simple, elegant and harmonious designs of both Kelly’s work and Shaker furniture, which led to the current exhibition at the New Britain Museum of American Art. Line and Curve: The Ellsworth Kelly and Jack Shear Shaker Collection from Shaker Museum | Mount Lebanon with Prints by Ellsworth Kelly combines furniture from Kelly and Shear’s collection with a selection of iconic Kelly prints from the 1960s through the 1980s. The exhibit at the Shaker Museum will run through December 31, 2018.

Ellsworth Kelly Exhibit at Guild Hall

Ellsworth Kelly studied at the Pratt Institute, the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Ecole nationale superieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris, and began his career at a time when other artists were experimenting with Abstract Expressionism, Cubism and Fauvism. Kelly’s minimalist work was not easily categorized and his bold colors, dynamic design and irregularly shaped canvasses had a profound influence on the artists who came after him.

Two of the most significant influences on his work were the birds that he watched with his grandfather and the camouflage unit to which he was assigned, when he joined the Army in 1943. The colors of the birds and the patterns and shadows he designed in the army impacted his art and his career. Kelly’s career spanned more than sixty years. During the 1960s, Kelly took two long sabbaticals in the Hamptons which, according to Guild Hall guest curator Phyllis Tuchman, “his palette became bolder and more assertive, the scale of his canvases grew larger, and his preoccupation with shaping established him as a pioneer of the times.”

Ellsworth Kelly in the Hamptons includes work that Kelly created during those trips. On exhibit are rarely seen paintings, drawings and photographs inspired by the Hamptons. The exhibit, at Guild Hall in East Hampton, New York, runs through October 8, 2018.

Ellsworth Kelly Prints and Vertu Fine Art

Please contact us if you would like more information about the work of Ellsworth Kelly or works of the other fine artists available at Vertu Fine Art.

See More Ellsworth Kelly Artwork for Sale

References:
Susan Dunne. Abstract Prints, Shaker Furniture In Juxtaposition At NBMAA The Hartford Courant. August 25, 2018.
https://www.guildhall.org/events/ellsworth-kelly-in-the-hamptons/

Jeff Koons and the Kardashians

In 2013, Jeff Koons’ Balloon Dog sold for $58.4 million at Christie’s, making it the most expensive work by a living artist sold at auction. Koons work, and the artist himself, are iconic America, so it’s no surprise that he would be on the Kardashian radar. What’s also no surprise is that they could get it so wrong.

Jeff Koons and the Kardashians

This is, technically, not news about Jeff Koons, but a story that is too wacky to pass up. It happened on a recent episode of Keeping Up With the Kardashians. Kris Jenner and her daughter, Khloe Kardashian, were sitting in Kris’ office when Khloe asked her mother about a balloon dog bookend that was on the shelf.

Jenner told her daughter that it was a Jeff Koons. ‘Jeff K-O-O-N-S‘ and suggested that Khloe go to, ‘like an art class.’ Khloe said, ‘You can’t art-shame people just for knowing less than you.’

Khloe need not feel art-shamed, since her mother also got it wrong. The bookend is a knockoff that sells for $55. Koons sent the company that sells them a cease-and-desist letter in 2011, saying that the balloon dog bookends violate his copyright. Koons was unsuccessful in bringing a suit against the company that makes and sells the bookends.

The Kardashians may not be able to tell the difference…but Jeff Koons fans certainly can.

Jeff Koons Talks About His Success

Jeff Koons was the speaker at this year’s annual David Rockefeller lecture on arts and business. He talked about his ascent from working at the membership desk of the Museum of Modern Art in the 1970s, to his career as a Wall Street commodities trader in the 1980s and, finally, his success as an artist.

Koons told the audience that there was a time when he created art for the pleasure of creating art, and that he sold his work at a loss for a long time. “If you trust in yourself, ” he said, “you’re also in the position to experience the transcendence and becoming of success.”

The David Rockefeller lecture series began in 1966, to encourage business leaders to form alliances with art institutions and artists.

Getting Ready for Art Basel Hong Kong

Jeff Koons ‘gazing ball’ paintings and sculptures will be on display at the 2019 Art Basel Hong Kong exhibit. Koons says that the gazing balls allow each viewer to be a part of the art work. “The viewer,” Koons told an interviewer, “that’s what it’s about, that’s really what art is. The object is something other than art – it’s a transponder, it stimulates, it excites but it doesn’t have potential. The viewer has potential.” Art Basel Hong Kong begins in March, 2019.

Jeff Koons at VFA

Jeff Koons use of materials, like vinyl, steel, porcelain, titanium and aluminum to create flawless surfaces that look simple, but belie the craftsmanship the goes into each of his works. At Vertu Fine Art, we have Jeff Koons signature balloon porcelain sculptures for sale in our gallery. Please contact us if you would like more information about Balloon Dog, Split Rocker or any of the other fine works available at VFA.

See More Jeff Koons Artwork for Sale

References:
Laura Pitcher. Art Critics on ‘Art Shaming’: Yes, It Exists and Khloe Kardashian Kind of Deserved It. The Observer. August 15, 2018.
Gabriella Angeleti. Jeff Koons on transcendence. The Art Newspaper. June 6, 2018.
Fionnuala McHugh. From porn-star wife’s nether regions to Balloon Dogs: Hong Kong-bound Jeff Koons talks ‘plastic art’, selfies and Art Basel. Post Magazine. March 30, 2018.

Chuck Close: Battle for Artists’ Royalties is Over

The works of Chuck Close have garnered historically high prices at auction.  Close and other artists would like a percentage of the auction price, but, after a seven-year legal battle, the judges of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal said that’s not going to happen.

The History of Droit de suite

The practice of droit de suite, French for right to follow, began in Europe at the end of the nineteenth century. The idea was to help “starving artists” and their families receive some compensation from the sale of their work. Resale royalty laws for artists are in effect in more than sixty countries, including Australia and most of the countries in the European Union.

The droit de suite laws vary from country to country and, in the United States, it has only been in effect in California. The California Resale Royalty Act became law thanks, in part, to Robert Rauschenberg. Rauschenberg sold his 1958 painting Thaw to art collector Robert Scull for $900. When Scull sold part of his collection at a Sotheby’s auction, and the painting went for $85,000, Rauschenberg began his campaign to have artists compensated for their work when it is resold.

He was initially unsuccessful, but in 1976 the California Resale Royalty Act finally became law. The Act gave artists a royalty payment, under limited circumstances, and only in California.

Chuck Close’s Legal Battle

In 2011, Chuck Close, Laddie John Dill and Robert Graham’s estate filed a suit against Christie’s, Sotheby’s and eBay that asked for royalties after the resale of their work. A few weeks ago, the court shot down the California law, saying that it conflicts with the federal Copyright Act.

The  copyright law protects composers, writers, filmmakers and other creators, who may receive royalties for their work, but does not do the same for visual artists. The copyright law’s first-sale doctrine states that once a copyright owner sells work for the first time, they lose control over future sales.

Chuck Close at Auction

What Chuck Close, and the other artists who brought the suit, were hoping for, was a part of the proceeds from high auction sales.

Close’s portraits have commanded high price at auction.  Phil, 1983 portrait of Phillip Glass, sold at Sotheby’s New York in 2006 for $3.2 million. His 2007 Self-Portrait sold at Christie’s New York for $2.4 million in 2015. Close’s record stands at $4.8 million, for John, 1971–72, which sold at Sotheby’s New York in May 2005. Close’s estimated net worth has been estimated at $25 million.

Chuck Close For Sale at VFA

Please contact us if you would like more information about the Chuck Close Artwork for sale at VFA.

See More Chuck Close Artwork for Sale

References:
Jori Finkel Appeals court largely strikes down California’s artist resale rights law The Art News July 10, 2018.
Angela M.H. Schuster New York’s Richest Artists: Cindy Sherman, Chuck Close and More The Observer December 10, 2014
Rain Embuscado Here Are Chuck Close’s 10 Most Expensive Works at Auction artnet news July 14, 2016.
Robert Indiana Prints

Robert Indiana: Mysteries Surround Artist’s Death and Estate

Robert Indiana died on May 19th, at age 89, at his home on Vinalhaven Island, more than an hour’s ferry ride off the coast of Maine. The day before he died, a federal lawsuit was filed by the Morgan Art Foundation, which claims to hold the rights to several of Indiana’s best-known work, accusing New York art Publisher, Michael McKenzie and Indiana’s caretaker, Jamie L. Thomas, of taking advantage of the aging artist.

“They have isolated Indiana from his friends and supporters,” the lawsuit says, “forged some of Indiana’s most recognizable works, exhibited the fraudulent works in museums, and sold the fraudulent works to unsuspecting collectors.” McKenzie and Thomas have filed a countersuit.

An FBI agent, investigating possible art fraud, requested an autopsy. Maine’s Medical Examiner’s office said that foul play was not suspected, but the cause and manner of death was ruled undetermined and may be changed if new information presents itself, which leaves the door open for future investigation. Indiana’s Vinalhaven Island home was emptied of art works for probate, but many pieces are still missing. A court hearing is scheduled for August 15.

The Irony of LOVE for Robert Indiana

Born Robert Clark in New Castle, Indiana on September 13, 1928, he took his home state’s name as his own after he moved to New York in 1954. Indiana began to draw at a very young age, was valedictorian of his high school graduating class, served three years in the U.S Air Force, studied at the Art Institute of Chicago, the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Edinburgh University and Edinburgh College of Art, before moving to New York.

The LOVE image became an icon when Indiana used it for a design on a 1964 Christmas card commissioned by the Museum of Modern Art. The image became wildly popular with the general public. Cities around the world commissioned Indiana to do LOVE sculptures and the U.S. Postal Service used the design for an 8-cent Valentine’s Day stamp in 1973 that sold more than 300 million copies, and became one of the best-selling commemorative stamps in history.

Indiana’s design was used on t-shirts, mugs, paperweights and posters, all without any financial gain for the artist, who didn’t have a copyright on the original design. “Everybody knows my LOVE,” he told an interviewer in 1976, “but they don’t have the slightest idea what I look like. I’m practically anonymous.”

To make matters worse, art critics and collectors accused Indiana of being a commercial sell-out and stopped buying his art. In 1979 Indiana moved to Vinalhaven and worked in relative seclusion. His 2008 HOPE poster, unveiled at the Democratic National Convention, renewed Indiana’s reputation and awakened a renewed interest in his art. In 2013, the Whitney held an retrospective of his work. Indiana’s will is being challenged. The legacy of his work and the future his Vinalhaven home are in dispute.

Robert Indiana at VFA

Please contact us for more information about The Bridge or any of the other fine art work available at VFA.

See More Robert Indiana Artwork for Sale

References:
robertindiana.com
Bob Keyes Foul play ruled out in death of Robert Indiana, but the saga is far from over Portland Press Herald. Posted July 20 Updated July 21.
Anny Shaw and Jillian Steinhauer Will Robert Indiana’s legacy get stuck in legal battle? The Art Newspaper July 19, 2018.
The Associated Press Pop Artist Robert Indiana’s Cause of Death ‘Undetermined’ July 20, 2018
Free Ebook: How to Identify and Buy Fine Art Prints

Free Ebook: How to Identify and Buy Fine Art Prints

We believe that the more you know, the more you will appreciate fine art prints.

In our Ebook you’ll learn:

  • A short history of prints from the earliest woodcut to contemporary processes
  • Which artists most influenced the making of fine art prints
  • What questions to ask when buying prints
  • The fundamentals of print identification
  • Terms and techniques for identifying fine art prints
Learn More