Joan Miro: In Perspective

When I was painting the Constellations I had the genuine feeling that I was working in secret. But it was a liberation for me…I ceased thinking about all the tragedy around me.”

In 1918, when Joan Miro was 25, he had his first exhibition in Barcelona. He had already been through some difficult times. His family wanted him to give up the idea of painting and focus on a more practical career in business. Bowing to their demands, he went to business school and worked in a clerical position for two years. The result was a deep depression, followed by a case of typhoid fever.

While convalescing at the family farm in Montroig, just outside of Barcelona, Miro made art. His first exhibit was a disaster. Not only was nothing sold, but critics ridiculed his work.

Miro didn’t give up his art…he went to Paris in 1920, met Picasso, Andre Masson and other dedicated artists, and returned to Montroig to make some of the most recognizable, unique and poignant works of art ever created.

Joan Miro in Perspective

The recent retrospective of Miro’s work at the Museum of Modern Art, was accompanied by a musical program put together by Miro’s grandson, Joan Punyet Miro. Punyet Miro manages his grandfather’s estate, assists the foundations that preserve and further Miro’s work and has spent own his adult life researching and writing about his grandfather’s life and work.

Joan Punyet remembers watching his grandfather work at home. “In the morning he worked in his studio;” he said in an interview in Germany’s Schirn Magazine, “I wasn’t allowed to visit him there. But after lunch he liked to read poetry, listen to music, and between seven and eight he sat on the couch and opened all his corre­spon­dence. And as soon as he had paper in his hand, he took his pen and I could see how he with­drew into himself, working and sketching. He was in the dining room, on his sofa, alone, in very dark light, and he would draw the whole time. I was next to him and saw how he drew these magnif­i­cent things. For me these repre­sented some really special moments in my life, unfor­get­table.”

Much of Miro’s work is mystical, magical and joyful, yet it was created during times of turbulence and upheaval. Miro was born in 1893 and died in 1983. During his 90 years he experienced poverty, political unrest and a world at war.

During World War ll, Miro fled, with his wife a daughter, to Mallorca. “I was very pessimistic.” he said. “I felt that everything was lost.”  But he continued to work, even in the darkest of times. “When I was painting the Constellations I had the genuine feeling that I was working in secret. But it was a liberation for me…I ceased thinking about all the tragedy around me.”

After the war, Miro’s work was exhibited around the world, including a show at MoMA, and he gained great acclaim.

Femme et Oiseaux, one of the paintings in the Constellations series sold at Sotheby’s London in 2017 for 24,571,250 GBP, about $30.6 million.

Joan Miro’s Legacy

“It’s the young people who interest me, and not the old dodos.” Miro said, when he was 82. “If I go on working, it’s for the year 2000, and for the people of tomorrow.”

Miro’s work continues to fascinate and inspire. Please contact us if you would like more information about the work of Joan Miro available at VFA.

See More Joan Miro for Sale

References:
Katharina Cichosch. It is Difficult to Be Miro’s Grandson. SCHIRN MAGAZINE. March 5, 2016.
Joseph Nechvatal. A Creative Colony of Modernists in Coastal France. Hyper allergic. May 27,2019.
Peter Schjeldahl. Joan Miró’s Modernism for Everybody. The New Yorker. March 4, 2019.

Salvador Dali: Selfies, Symbols and Elephants

If someday I may die, though it is unlikely, I hope the people in the cafés will say, ‘Dalí has died, though not entirely. – Salvador Dali

Dali Lives in St. Pete

Salvador Dali will greet you, talk to you, take a selfie with you and even text it to you.

The extraordinary exhibit, Dali Lives, at the Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, uses Artificial Intelligence that allows visitors to have life-like interactions with the artist. He walks, he talks and, as he was before his death thirty years ago, Dali, even artificially, is larger than life.

The exhibit uses Dali’s own words to explain himself and his art, and also present-day messages to help educate visitors about the artist’s life and work. Interacting with Dali takes viewing his art to a new level, more personal and, hopefully, more meaningful, for visitors. The exhibit will be on display through December 31, 2029.

Salvador Dali’s Elephants

Sigmund Freud was a hero to Dali, and to many of the other Surrealist painters, who read his radical works, about the unconscious mins, dreams and sexuality, with great zeal. Freud, who was partial to the Old Masters and more traditional works of art, was not very impressed by the surrealists. He had a very unpleasant meeting in the 1920s Andre Breton, writer and leader of the Surrealist movement, who showed up unannounced on Freud’s doorstep and received a less-than-warm welcome.

Dali tried, unsuccessfully, to meet Freud when he was living in Vienna. The two finally met in 1938 in London, to where Freud fled to escape the Nazis. 

Freud was 81, Dali just 34 when they met, both very successful. Dali didn’t get the accolades he’d hoped for during the meeting, but Freud was not as unimpressed as Dali feared.

After the meeting, Freud wrote, to the mutual friend who arranged the meeting, “I really have reason to thank you for the introduction which brought me yesterday’s visitors. For until then I was inclined to look upon the surrealists – who have apparently chosen me as their patron saint – as absolute (let us say 95 percent, like alcohol), cranks. That young Spaniard, however, with his candid and fanatical eyes, and his undeniable technical mastery, has made me reconsider my opinion.”

Freud’s writings may have seemed, to Dali, to give legitimacy to his work. Dali’s symbols, his pairing of many symbols in his dream-like paintings, are open to interpretation…the interpretation of the dreamer and the viewer.

The elephant symbolizes good fortune, strength, even fertility in some cultures. Dali’s elephants have spindly legs and almost appear to be in flight, although their feet, which are more like bird’s than elephant’s, are anchored to the earth. In some paintings they carry an obelisk, after Gian Bernini’s 1667 marble statue in the Piazza della Minerva in Rome.

Dali titled his 1979 lithograph, available at VFA, Celestial Elephant, surrounding it with other recurring symbols…a pyramid, a figure holding a crutch, a pair of dragonflies. Like all of Dali’s works, it is fascinating…and open to interpretation.

Dali’s elephants are so powerful and recognizable, that in a new animated film, about Dali’s friend, collaborator and rival, surrealist filmmaker Luis Bunuel, Dali’s elephants can be seen parading through the streets. Dali appears in the film, as well.

Buñuel in the Labyrinth of the Turtles is about Bunuel’s experience filming Las Hurdes: Tierra Sin Pan (Land Without Bread) in the poverty stricken Las Hurdes mountains in Spain in 1933. The film is set to be released on August 16, 2019.

The Works of Salvador Dali at VFA

Please contact us if you would like more information about Celestial Elephant, or any of the other work by Salvador Dali available at VFA.

Arman: Production, Consumption, and Destruction

“As a witness of my society, I have always been very much involved in the cycle of production, consumption, and destruction.” – Arman

While Pop Art was taking hold in 1960s America, artists in France responded with the Nouveau Realisme (New Realism) movement, which questioned the idea of elevating or idealizing subject matter in art works. Arman was born in Nice, France in 1928. His father was an antiques dealer and collector and dabbled in painting, photography, poetry and played the cello. Arman completed Bachelors Degrees in philosophy and mathematics in 1946, and then he began to study art and judo. Arman’s work bridged the gap between American and European mid-century art.

Arman, Andy and Trash

As a reaction to the mid-century mass production culture, Arman began to use discarded objects…including trash…in his work. A 1960 exhibit of his work, called Le Plein (Full-up) got Arman a lot of attention, when he completely filled a gallery with trash, so full that the exhibit could only be viewed from the street. He dialed it back a bit, in later works, called Poubelles (Trash) by keeping the trash in garbage cans or in plexiglass boxes

Arman moved to New York in 1963, and fit right into the art scene. He became friends with Andy Warhol, who owned two of Arman’s Poubelles and was in Warhol’s film Dinner at Daley’s. Warhol did a portrait of Arman, Arman created a Poubelles  portrait of Warhol.

Arman’s Musical Instruments

Variations of arrangements of musical instruments became a recurring focus of Arman’s sculptures. He collaborated with a foundry in Normandy, France to create sculptures of instruments in various stages of dismemberment or in groups that formed what Arman called Accumulations. There were no objects too small or two large for Arman to use in his work. He used everything from small bottle caps to grand pianos in his assemblages. He sometimes dissected them, like he did with the violin in the Untitled bronze sculpture available at VFA, sometimes used dozens, even hundreds, of the same object to create his works. “The objects possess even in the smallest part of their being an element of recognition, “ Arman said, “and it is always exciting and fascinating to know just how far one can go without going too far in the destruction.”

Arman’s Legacy

Arman was a peace activist and served as the President of the New York chapter of Amnesty International for five years. He created the Hope for Peace Monument to celebrate the end of the civil war in Lebanon. The monument, which is more than 98 feet high, was constructed from 5,000 tons of concrete, supporting 78 military vehicles, supplied for the sculpture by the Lebanese government. It is located near Lebanon’s Ministry of National Defense. Many of Arman’s works can be found in major museums and galleries around the world, including the Boca Raton Museum of Art, MoMA, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden and the Harvard Art Museum.

Arman Sculpture at VFA

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

See More Arman Artwork for Sale

References:
Judith Benhamou-Hue. ART BASEL: LES AMATEURS DE CONTEMPORAIN BOUDENT L’ART JEUNE. Vallois Gallery. June 14, 2018
https://www.moma.org/artists/220

Summer Fun With Fine Art Prints

There’s still plenty of summer left, and lots of opportunities to see some wonderful exhibits around Boca that showcase our favorite art form: Fine Art Prints.

You can start your summer exploration of Fine Art Prints by downloading our free e-book How to Identify and Buy Fine Art Prints. It’s full of illustrations and information about the history and evolution of printmaking.

For an even greater appreciation of the fine art print, especially if you want to inspire children, or your own inner child, you can make a simple print before, and after, a visit to a gallery, using the simple Potato Print method from the Metropolitan Museum of Art:

Here are a few of the nearby venues that are celebrating Fine Art Prints this summer:

The Boca Raton Museum of Art: BEYOND THE CAPE! COMICS AND CONTEMPORARY ART

The Boca Raton Museum of Art has put together a unique show of comic book art, showcasing the talents of contemporary artists of comic books and graphic novels.

BEYOND THE CAPE! COMICS AND CONTEMPORARY ART  features prints, paintings, drawings, tapestries, sculpture, video and photography to explore the way in which artists like R.Crumb, Takashi Murakami, Elizabeth Murray, Yoshitomo Nara, Joyce Pensato, Raymond Pettibon, Peter Saul, Kenny Scharf and others use their illustrations for sheer entertainment as well as for dealing with social issues.

The Museum is open Tuesday through Sunday. Admission for children 12 and under is free.

BEYOND THE CAPE! COMICS AND CONTEMPORARY ART will run through October 6, 2019. For more information, check out the Boca Raton Museum of Art website: bocamuseum.org.

The Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens: Falling Water, Soaring Kites

Japanese prints are some of the most elegant in the world and Japanese kites some of the most exquisite. Falling Water, Soaring Kites looks at the way waterfalls are depicted in Japanese art and the way in which kites are lovingly crafted and decorated.

The Morikami hosted a Kite Flying and Kite Making event the weekend of Father’s Day, which was a huge, sold-out success.

Falling Water, Soaring Kites will be on exhibit through August 11, 2019. Brightly colored kites, in an array of shapes and sizes, are available at the Morikami gift shop. For more information, go to the Morikami Museum’s website: morikami.org/museum.

The Cornell Art Museum: Seven Solos

If you haven’t been to the Cornell Art Museum since it’s renovation, it’s worth the trip. The museum is housed in the restored 1913 Delray Elementary School building on the Old School Square campus, on Swinton Avenue in Del Ray Beach.

The current exhibit Seven Solos is a far cry from the usual walking through a gallery or museum and looking at what’s on the walls.

Seven Solos a series of immersive installations, each by a different artist, which visitors are invited to become a part of, each in a separate gallery.

Seven Solos will be on view through October 6, 2019. For more information, go to the museum’s website: cornellartmuseum.org.

Summer at VFA

We hope you are having a fun-filled summer, and that you make time to come in and visit us at VFA. Seeing the colors and textures of fine art prints in person is a joyful and wondrous experience that we love to share.

 

 

 

Vik Muniz: One Man’s Trash

More than twenty million items were lost in last September’s fire at Brazil’s National Museum, which housed Latin America’s largest anthropology and natural history collection. As archaeologists and paleontologists sift through the rubble, the U.S. Department of State and the Smithsonian have offered fourteen on the scientists, who were displaced by the fire, the opportunity to use the Smithsonian’s labs to continue their work. The global community, including governments and cultural organizations, have pledged to help to rebuild the museum.

Brazilian artist Vik Muniz, who was very outspoken about the lack of government funding and concern about Brazil’s cultural institutions, is also working with Brazil’s National Museum, to recreate relics that were destroyed in the fire, relics that will be shown to benefit rescue efforts for the museum.

Trash to Treasure

Since his 2010 documentary Waste Land (where he hired garbage pickers at the world’s largest landfill located just outside of Rio de Janeiro to make art) earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Documentary Feature, Muniz has been curating exhibitions and creating art in his studios in Rio and Clinton Hill in Brooklyn.

He curated Glasstress in Murano, Italy, an exhibit that features works, in glass, by leading contemporary artist from around the world. The exhibit opened in May and will continue through November 24, 2019.

Vik Muniz Sculpture in London

Muniz is also participating in this year’s Frieze Sculpture fair, which is currently holding the largest free exhibit of outdoor art in London. His work is displayed, along with the works of twenty other artists, in Regent’s Park.

His contribution to the fair is Mnemonic Vehicle No.2,  a giant sculpture of a Jaguar E-type Matchbox car, complete with scrapes and dings and all the signs of wear and tear that come with playing with a favorite toy. “The piece is a perfect reconstruction of a Matchbox from my childhood,” he said, “that I found in a drawer on the scale of the real car and the same materials.”

Vik Muniz Saints at Arles

For the last fifty years, photographers in France have been exhibiting their work at the Recontres D’Arles. Ansel Adams was the first American photographer to be invited to exhibit in 1974, and the inclusion of world renown photographers has been part of the program ever since.

This year, the exhibit includes nineteen photographs of Muniz’s, which depict saints as painted by the Masters, like Saint John the Baptist in the Wilderness, after Caravaggio.

Each work is a detailed collage, made of everyday objects, like buttons, sugar, torn paper, which Muniz creates and photographs. The work will be on display through September 29, 2019.

Vik Muniz at VFA

Vik Muniz use of everything from chocolate to trash in his works, led to his commission of Kate Moss, done in fake blood for Brazilian Vogue. Kate and other works, in other medium, by Vik Muniz are available at VFA.

See More Vik Muniz Artwork for Sale

References:
Meilan Solly. Around 2,000 Artifacts Have Been Saved From the Ruins of Brazil’s National Museum Fire. smithsonian.com. February 15, 2019.
Ann Binlot. Vik Muniz, the Brooklyn artist giving Brazil’s destroyed relics new life. Document Journal. May 21, 2019.
https://loeildelaphotographie.com/en/arles-2019-vik-muniz-bb/
https://frieze.com/fairs/frieze-london/visitor-information/faqs-frieze-london

Robert Rauschenberg at the Tampa Museum

Fifty years ago this month, the world watched as Apollo 11 landed on the moon and Neil Armstrong became the first person to walk on the lunar surface. Robert Rauschenberg was one of a number of artists invited by NASA to the Kennedy Space Center to witness and document the launch.

The launch inspired Rauschenberg to create the Stoned Moon Series, a series of 34 lithographs printed at Gemini G.E.L. in Los Angeles. Works from the Stoned Moon Series are in private collections and in major venues like the Smithsonian.

Robert Rauschenberg
Cover Page, Stoned Moon Book, 1970

What has rarely been seen, is The Stoned Moon Book, that Rauschenberg put together after the launch. The Stoned Moon Book contains images and text that record both his experience and impressions of the Apollo 11 mission. The book details the artist’s experience on his way to, during and after the launch. He includes photos and quotes from participants at the Space Center and at the print shop, highlighting the collaborative effort that went into the space launch and the printing of his work.

The text is joyful, hopeful and also reflects Rauschenberg’s fondness for Florida (“free orange juice, air condition, swimming pool”), where he lived and worked for more than forty years, in his studio on Captiva Island. Rauschenberg was inducted into the Florida Artists Hall of Fame in 1991. He died on Captiva in 2008 at age 82.

Four photo-collages for the book’s front and back covers and endpapers, and eleven layout pages are on display, through July 26th, at the Craig F. Starr Gallery in Manhattan.

The exhibit, Robert Rauschenberg: Stoned Moon (1969-70), includes work from the series as well as The Stoned Moon book.

Robert Rauschenberg at the Tampa Museum of Art

Robert Rauschenberg’s collages often became master prints, which included the artist’s photographs. What made his work so unique was his ability to see beauty and fascination in many of the mundane things he encountered in his daily life.

The Tampa Museum of Art has an extensive collection of Rauschenberg’s works, including some rarely exhibited photographs.

Some of the photographs that Rauschenberg took while traveling around the U.S. in 1983, will be on display at  the museum this summer. Suite 1 from America Mix-16 is a portfolio consisting of 16 photogravures from the museum’s collection.

Robert Rauschenberg: Suite 1 (America Mix-16) will be on view from August 9, 2019 through January 5, 2020.

Robert Rauschenberg Screenprints and Collage at VFA

One of the finest examples of Robert Rauschenberg’s use of photography in his work is the Statue of Liberty from the New York, New York Series, done in 1983. The serene colors and composition capture the essence of the statue, and of the city, not the usual depiction of New York.

Please contact us if you would like more information about the works of Robert Rauschenberg available at VFA.

See More Robert Rauschenberg Artwork for Sale

Summer at VFA: Featured Artists

We’re getting ready to travel up to the Market Art + Design Show at the Bridgehampton Museum in upstate New York and wanted to give you a little preview of a few of the artists whose work we’ll be featuring at the show and in the VFA Gallery.

Mel Bochner: Top Dog

In a world where there’s so much information coming at us, Mel Bochner uses language and humor to engage viewers. A master printmaker, Bochner brings texture and rich color to each of his prints.

“As an artist I like to delve into those things, like using etching, as it’s never been used before.” Bochner said in interview with Tulsa Public Radio. He says that some of his silkscreens “have a hundred different colors to make it look like one color. Even if the viewer can’t know that there are a hundred screens in that, there’s a quality to that blue that you can’t get anywhere else. There’s a uniqueness. I think anyone who really gets engaged in this thing called printmaking wants to explore all those possibilities.”

The texture in Bochner’s monoprint, Top Dog, available at VFA, comes from his use of specially handmade paper, engraving, collage and embossing.

Deborah Kass: OY YO 

In 2015, Deborah Kass’ 18 feet tall by 17 feet long aluminum OY YO sculpture was placed on the waterfront in New York’s Brooklyn Bridge Park. It read OY if you were viewing it from Brooklyn and YO if you were seeing it from Manhattan. OY YO became an instant icon after it appeared on the front page of the New York Times, and became a tourist destination, and a background for wedding photos, graduation and class photos and many, many selfies.

Much of Kass’ work is about power in art and society and she often reworks the art of 20th century  iconic male artists. Kass first created OY as a painting, after Ed Ruscha’s OOF panting and then did YO as a nod to Yo Picasso, the self-portrait Picasso did in 1901.

OY YO is currently installed in front of the Brooklyn Museum. A smaller, more manageable version of OY YO is available at VFA.

Ugo Rondinone: Untitled

Ugo Rondinone likes to work large. He creates temporary, monumental sculptures that resemble totems. Rather than fitting in with their surroundings, Rondinone’s works clash with their surroundings, like Human Nature, on display in Rockefeller Center in 2013.

Rondinone lives and works in New York. He was born in Switzerland, of Italian parents, in 1964. Like his sculptures, Rondinone’s paintings and prints are large, with brightly colored concentric circles or black and white gnarled trees.

Untitled silkscreen, available at VFA, is a large five-foot square silkscreen, that uses the wild and wonderful trademark Rondinone colors.

Alex Katz: Coca-Cola Girl

It’s been wonderful to watch Alex Katz age gracefully – both physically and artistically. He’s going to turn 92 in a few weeks and his work is as sleek and elegant as ever.

His recent Homage to Degas series of paintings and sculptures, and his simple landscapes are masterful works that showcase Katz’s refinement of his signature style. Coca-Cola Girl, available at VFA is another example of Katz’s ability to fine-tune his art.

KAWS: Ankle Bracelet

KAWS giant Companion sculpture will be relaxing at the Fujinomiya’s Fumotoppara Camping Ground this summer, giving campers a spectacular view of both the sculpture and Mount Fuji.

Kaws: Holiday at Mt Fuji will be on exhibit for just a week from July 18 to 24. Companion has already been to Seoul, Taipei and Hong Kong. If you can’t make it to Mt. Fuji,  you can view Companion, and other work by KAWS in our gallery.

Please give us a call if you would like more information about the works at VFA. Or make Vertu Fine Art part of your summer itinerary and stop by for a visit.

 

 

Featured Artwork For Sale at VFA

Here’s a look at some of the featured artwork at Vertu Fine Arts. Some of our favorite artists, like KAWS, Julien Opie and Alex Katz, are often in the news and get a lot of media attention. Many of our favorites don’t get as much attention, aren’t as mainstream and we’d like to shine a spotlight on them.

KAWS

If you’ve ever seen an interview with Brian Donnelly (aka KAWS), you see a reserved, soft-spoken man, whose demeanor belies the excitement that his works create.

KAWS works have a universal appeal, and he has had highly successful collaborations with Dior, Nike and other fashion retailers. Many of his designs are bought at cost and resell for about ten times the original retail price on line. A pair of Nike Air Jordans, that he designed in 2017, sold at retail for $350 and are resold on websites like Fight Club for as much as $2,750.

Brian Donnelly is a fine artist and designer, trained at New York’s School of Visual Arts. Last week, customers in China stormed retail stores to get their hands on t-shirts that KAWS created for Uniqlo, a Japanese fashion label. After the shopping frenzy, KAWS announced that he would no longer be collaborating with Uniqlo.

Sol LeWitt

Sol LeWitt is known as one of the pioneers of Minimal and Conceptual Art during the 1960s. LeWitt often put simple instructions on paper, so that his work could be recreated. In the mid-1950s, after getting his BFA from Syracuse University and serving in the Korean War, LeWitt moved to Manhattan, where he worked in the MoMA bookstore and met other struggling, young artists. By the 1960s LeWitt had become a successful artist, whose works are part of the permanent collections of the Tate Modern, the Centre Georges Pompidou and, ironically, the Museum of Modern Art. One of his permanent murals is in the Equitable Center in Manhattan…the building that was the site of a helicopter crash last week. LeWitt died in New York in 2007.

Sir Anish Kapoor

Anish Kapoor is a well-loved and very popular…and very controversial… British artist. He was born in Bombay in 1954 and moved to the UK in the early 1970s to study art. He became Sir Anish Kapoor in 2013, for his contribution to the visual arts.

One of Kapoor’s best known sculptures is Cloud Gate (nicknamed The Bean), a giant stainless steel sculpture in Chicago’s Millennium Park. One of the controversies surrounding Kapoor stems from his exclusive licensing of Vantablack, one of the darkest substances known, in spray-paint form. His licensing of Vantablack caused anger among other artists. Kapoor is preparing for his first solo show in China this coming fall.

Erik Parker

Erik Parker’s work is both psychedelic and serene. Parker was born in Stuttgart, Germany in 1968. He studied art at the University of Texas at Austin and at Purchase College in New York. Parker and his former teacher, Peter Saul, are currently having a joint exhibition at the Nanzuka Gallery in Tokyo. Parker’s work is part of the permanent collection at MoMA. He works from his Brooklyn studio.

Retna

Retna’s unique works are a combination of calligraphy and typography. Born Marquis Lewis in Los Angeles in 1979, Retna began his career as a graffiti artist and has gone on to exhibit at major venues around the world. He has designed for Louis Vuitton and Nike, did the cover for Justin Bieber’s Purpose album and the stage set for Verdi’s Aida at the Seattle Opera.

Richard Estes

A founder of the photo-realist painting movement in the 1960s, Richard Estes’ urban landscapes have been exhibited at the Met, the Guggenheim and are in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian. Born in Kewanee, Illinois in 1932, Estes studied at the Art Institute of Chicago. He moved to New York in 1959, lived and painted in Spain in 1962. When he returned to New York, he worked as a commercial artist until 1966, when he was able to support himself through the sale of his paintings. Estes lives and works in New York.

Featured Artwork For Sale at VFA

This is just a brief look at some of the featured artwork available at VFA. Please give us a call, or visit the gallery, if you would like more information about the works available at VFA.

Equitable Building Crash

Last Monday’s calamitous helicopter crash, into the roof of the 54-story Equitable Building on Seventh Avenue in Manhattan, killed the pilot, left wreckage and caused a fire on the roof of the building. The response of firefighters was swift. The building was evacuated and the roof fire was quickly contained. The crash is still under investigation, but it appears that rain and fog, which caused poor visibility, was the cause.

The Equitable Building has been designated both a National Historic Landmark and a New York City Landmark. As an annex to the Whitney Museum, the building is home to some of America’s finest art, including a master work by Roy Lichtenstein.

In 1984 Lichtenstein was commissioned  by the Equitable Life Insurance Company to create a public mural for the building’s lobby. The commission of a work of art by a major corporation was a fairly radical move at the time. The New York Times called it, “an event of major artistic importance. It marks a commitment to art on the part of a prominent American corporation that is as generous and innovative as any before”

Lichtenstein’s 68-foot tall Mural with Blue Brushstroke was unveiled in 1986, and still  graces the building’s atrium. The mural depicts parts of Lichtenstein’s own works as well as nods to other artists like Fernand Leger and Frank Stella. The Equitable Building also houses paintings by Thomas Hart Benton and Sol Lewitt and massive sculptures by Barry Flanagan and Scott Burton.

Roy Lichtenstein at Sotheby’s

In 1969, German photographer, industrialist and art collector, Gunter Sachs, commissioned Roy Lichtenstein to create a work for his second wife, model and actress Brigette Bardot. The result was Composition, a 6 x 2 feet porcelain enamel-on-metal panel that was installed below the sinks in the bathroom of Sachs’ master bedroom suite in the penthouse at the Palace Hotel in St. Moritz.

Sachs courted Bardot by flying over her villa on the French Riviera in a helicopter and dropping hundreds of roses. The couple was married in Las Vegas in 1966. The marriage ended in divorce three years later, but Sachs continued to collect art until his death in 2011. Composition sold at Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Day Auction on May 17 for $1,280,000, above the estimated price.

Roy Lichtenstein: The Impossible Collection

Writer and historian Avis Berman has authored a just-released 200-page hand-bound book that includes more than one hundred prints of Roy Lichtenstein’s work. Published by Assouline press, Roy Lichtenstein: The Impossible Collection details his early works like Wham! and Drowning Girl and his later interpretations of great masters like Matisse and Picasso. Roy Lichtenstein: The Impossible Collection is available for purchase on the Assouline website  for $895.

Roy Lichtenstein 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 fine art prints available at VFA.

See More Roy Lichtenstein Artwork for Sale

References:
Michael Brenson. Art View; Museum and Corporation-A Delicate Balance. The New York Times. February 23, 1986.
Martin Pengelly and Victoria Bekiempis. Helicopter crash in New York leaves at least one person dead, officials say. The Guardian. June 10,2019.
Chris Jenkins. Roy Lichtenstein Panel ‘Composition’ Up For Auction at Sotheby’s New York. Sotheby’s Arts & Collections Magazine. 
Keith Estiler. Roy Lichtenstein’s Iconic Pop Art Memorialized in New ‘Impossible Collection’ Book. Hypebeast. May 23, 2019.

Julian Opie: Walking in Melbourne

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The simplicity and clean lines of Julian Opie’s works gives them a universal appeal. His paintings and sculptures can be found in major museums and public venues around the world. His work looks just at home in London, where he was born, as it does in Indianapolis, where a campaign is going on to save one of his sculptures.

Keeping Ann Dancing in Indianapolis

The Indianapolis Cultural Trail was design more than ten years ago as an urban trail…not a trail to escape the city, but a trail that encourages people to explore the city. When the trail opened in 2008, Julian Opie’s Ann Dancing sculpture was the first piece of art to be installed on the trail. It sits at the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue, Alabama Street and Vermont Street.

Ann Dancing was supposed to be a temporary installation, but its popularity was so great that the city kept it.

The sculpture itself is made up of four panels. Each panel contains an Led-light display of a woman dancing. Each panel is over six feet tall and three feet wide. The entire sculpture rests on a red brick base, which houses the computer and components that make Ann dance.

The computer and wiring have been given temporary fixes over the years, but it needs more than that to keep Ann Dancing. “We’ve done our best to keep her dancing,” Indianapolis Cultural Trail Executive Director Kären Haley said. “There’s a lot of electrical tape, there’s a lot of wires. There’s a lot of work that has gone into keeping her dancing for as long as we have.”

The Indianapolis Cultural Trail has begun a campaign to raise $262,800 by June 29. The money will go toward purchasing new display units designed for 24-hour use and for long-term maintenance.

Breaking it Down

Julian Opie has the unique ability to break things down into their most basic elements. He has been greatly influenced by 17th and 18th-century English and Dutch portraits, and 19th-century Japanese woodblock prints.

Because his style is so primal, it is relatable to people everywhere. His work is currently on exhibit at such diverse venues as the Tokyo Opera City Art Gallery, the Toledo Museum of Art, the Wuzhen Contemporary Art Museum in China, the Gerhardsen Gerner Gallery in Oslo, Norway, the Lehmbruck Museum in Duisburg, Germany, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Krakow, Poland, the Elena Project in Seoul, South Korea, the Lisson Gallery in New York, the Eden Project in Cornwall, UK and the Fosun Foundation in Shanghai, China.

Walking in Melbourne Series at VFA

Opie starts with photographs and digitally reduces them to their basic forms. Walking in Melbourne, available at VFA, is a series that Opie did after photographing people walking through the streets of Melbourne, Australia, although they could be people walking almost anywhere on the planet.

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

See More Julian Opie Artwork for Sale

References:
Stuart Jeffries. Julian Opie: ‘I’m not sure what art is’ The Guardian. June 12, 2011.
Susan Irvine. Julian Opie: sounds original. The Telegraph.  October 4, 2008.
Domenica Bongiovanni. ‘Ann Dancing’ on Mass Ave.: Nonprofit raises money to fix sculpture. IndyStar. May 31, 2019.

KAWS: Record Smasher

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If you told art critics and collectors in the 1950s and 1960s that the cartoon creations of Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein would some day be part of the permanent collections of major museums around the globe, many would have scoffed. The same can be said, in the twenty-first century, of the works of graffiti artists like KAWS and Takashi Murakami, yet their works are entering the mainstream with surprising speed and gusto.

Brian Donnelly, who has used the KAWS tag since his early days, when he took the train from his New Jersey home to Manhattan, to put his work up on the sides of phone booths. These days, KAWS  has two studios in Brooklyn, partners with Uniqlo and Dior, and has a staff of assistances. He is married and the father of two young  children. “I had to have kids just to make it not seem weird,” Mr. Donnelly joked in a recent New York Times interview.

KAWS at Auction

The recent record sales of KAWS paintings at auction were way over estimated prices. His Sponge Bob Square Pants painting sold for $6million….ten times the initial estimate of $600,000…and $14.8 million for his album painting at Sotheby’s, a Simpson’s version of the Beatle’s Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band cover.

The way Scott Nussbaum, head of 20th Century and Contemporary Art in New York at Phillips Auction House, explains it, “The early attention to his work came from younger, emerging buyers from Asia. But now we’re seeing older, established collectors from the United States and Europe walking into our galleries and asking to see the KAWS as well as the de Kooning.”

Like Pop Art, KAWS has universal appeal and bridges the gap between commercial and fine art. KAWS characters, with XXs for eyes, have a tender, sensitive appeal. They’re recognizable and and have a special appeal to the many millennials who are showing up at auctions in New York and Hong Kong.

KAWS at the Brooklyn Museum

It’s been almost twenty years since KAWS evaded police and tagged his paintings on the street. He received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in illustration from the School of Visual Arts in New York, did some traveling in Japan and settled down in Brooklyn to live and work.

Though his works have been shown in major venues around the world, the nearby Brooklyn Museum, like other art institutions, have been cautious about giving shows to artists who have mass commercial appeal. That will change in 2021, when the Brooklyn Museum will have a show of KAWS work. KAWS currently has a show at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Detroit. KAWS: Alone Again will be on exhibit through August 4, 2019.

KAWS at VFA

Please contact us if you would like more information about KAWS work available at VFA.

See More KAWS Artwork for Sale

References:
Ted Loos. XX Marks the Spot: KAWS Goes Global. The New York Times. March 15, 2019.
Caroline Goldstein. Now a Market Star, KAWS Will Get a Survey at His Hometown Brooklyn Museum—Even Though It Initially ‘Didn’t See the Appeal’. Art net News. May16, 2019.
Scott Reyburn. Contemporary Art Evening Sales Bring $981 Million, Led by Koons and KAWS. The New York Times. May 17, 2019.
Helen Holmes. Why a Painting of spongeBob SquarePants Just Sold for $6 Million. The zxsawObserver. May 17, 2019.
Jonathan Sawyer. KAWS’ “Alone Again” Exhibition Opens at Detroit’sMuseumof Contemporary Art. May,14, 2019.

Alex Katz and His Muse: “To Paint What’s in Front of You”

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Ada was working as a research biologist at Sloan Kettering in the fall of 1957. She had recently returned from studying tumor genetics in Milan on a Fulbright when she walked into the Tanager Gallery for the opening night of an art exhibit. Alex Katz’s art was on the walls. The two met. She still maintains she was shy about visiting galleries. He’s adamant she was already a legend in the New York City art-world.

The two were married in February of 1958. Katz has now painted his wife and muse more than 200 times, and he isn’t done painting at age ninety-one. His ninety-second birthday will be at the end of July, and he still has a tenacity and strength that’s easy to catch in his eyes.

Alex Katz graduated from Cooper Union in 1949 where he received formal training in modern art theory and technique under Morris Kantor. He is highly competitive by nature, and his fierce drive and passion are noticeable in his interviews. In his words, “At Cooper, I went from someone who was basically incompetent to being the best painter in the school.” This ambition and fierce independence would lead him into new styles in art and to the development of a distinct artistic voice.

It was like feeling lust for the first time.

The summers following brought him to Skowhegan in rural Maine where he developed techniques on landscape painting and direct painting—immediately putting down what one sees on canvas. Direct painting coincided with Katz’s artistic motivation, “To paint what’s in front of you.” The school would bus their students out to the Maine countryside, and the students would paint in the open-air. Talking about his experience of direct painting, “It was like feeling lust for the first time.” For Katz, painting is an instinctual drive. Skowhegan was known at the time as a provincial school, and Cooper Union was the very center of the modern art world, but Katz was incorporating information from both worlds.

Abstract Expressionism and Realism were the two dominant trends in art in the 1950’s, but Katz was seeking an artistic language of his own. He wanted to bridge American abstract painting with the technique of the great European artists. He wanted a “big technique” like the masters, and he knew the only way to get there would cost him time. He spent ten years in flats with no hot water, borrowing paint from a friend who owned an art store.

His education in both Abstract Expressionism and Realism came to a head in the late 1950’s. He knew he was a figurative painter, but he was torn between the two dominant trends within society and within his education. His competitive and idiosyncratic personality was pushing him towards different adventures. During this pivotal point in his life, he destroyed over 1000 of his prints that he felt inadequately expressed his perspective. It was during this period in his life when he stumbled into Ada, who became the subject he would paint more than anyone or anything else.

After meeting Ada his focus turned towards portraiture and what he would term “specific” portraits. Traveling home on the subways, he would collect material, studying the faces, the colors of strangers’ clothes. During this time his paintings became larger. He scaled up to canvases as large as nine-and-a-half-feet wide by six-and-a-half-feet high. To paint on this scale he employed a technique from the Renaissance, pouncing, which he still uses today to produce his larger works. In pouncing one draws the image with small pinholes on a large brown paper, and dry pigment is then pushed through the pinholes to leave an outline.

I’m not a pop artist …

Katz says, “I’m not a pop artist, and people can’t see my work as realistic, either.” Pop art found inspiration in commercialized objects while the realistic schools would attempt to copy experience directly. Katz began to adopt some of the techniques of Pop art, especially in the use of large flat areas of color, but always found a real subject. His works translate well in prints, and feel at home enlarged to cover walls. But he had no desire to make Campbell’s soup or Marilyn Monroe the center of his focus, instead he returned over and over to the woods and coast of Maine, and his wife and muse, Ada.

Please contact us if you would like more information about Alex Katz’s prints available at VFA, or download our free e-book to learn more about the world of fine art prints.

See More Alex Katz Prints for Sale

References:
www.alexkatz.com/bibliography/selected_articles_and_reviews/
Alex_Katzs_Subway_Drawings_Give_a_Glimpse_of_1940s_New_York-Felsenthal_Julia-Vogue
www.artsy.net/article/artsy-editorial-alex-katz-on-faces-flowers-and-saying-no
www.newyorker.com/magazine/2018/08/27/alex-katzs-life-in-art
www.youtube.com/watch?v=_IZSX1vkhrU&t=2902s
www.nytimes.com/2006/08/27/style/tmagazine/painted-lady.html

Robert Motherwell Prints at VFA

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What could be more interesting, or in the end, more ecstatic, than in those rare moments when you see another person look at something you’ve made, and realize that they got it exactly, that your heart jumped to their heart with nothing in between. – Robert Motherwell

No one was better prepared to bring American art into its own than Robert Motherwell. His educational background in both art and philosophy, and his move to from his California home, to study at Harvard and then to New York in 1940, placed him in the perfect position to influence the art and artists of the time.

The 1940s were a turbulent time, when many European artists fled to New York for safety. Surrealists Max Ernst, Marcel Duchamp, and other exiled artists, influenced Motherwell’s thinking about art, and led him to embrace  automatism, the idea that art is a manifestation of the artist’s subconscious.

Motherwell’s ideas laid the foundation for Abstract Expressionism, which he named The New York School. “What I realized was that Americans potentially could paint like angels,” Motherwell said, “but that there was no creative principle around, so that everybody who liked modern art was copying it.”

The European artists in New York were getting a lot of attention, as well as exhibitions, and it was Peggy Guggenheim who helped Robert Motherwell spark his career when she asked him to be part of a collage show that included modern European artists.

Not only did the show spark his career, it also led to the use of collage throughout his lifetime.

Most painting in the European tradition was painting the mask. Modern art rejected all  that. Our subject matter was the person behind the mask.

Harvest with Two White Stripes at VFA

Harvest with Two White Stripes, available at VFA, was created in 1973. Motherwell used a box of Ernte 23 cigarettes, a German brand that was very popular in the 1920s, especially noted for its use of orange and red in its design, making it stand out from other brands at the time.

Ernte means harvest in German. The cigarettes became popular with the American troops stationed in Germany after World War ll.

To pick up a cigarette wrapper or wine label or an old letter or the end of a carton is my way of dealing with those things that do not originate in me, in my I.

Motherwell often incorporated materials that he found in his studio as part of his collages. The strong visual design of the empty cigarette package in the lithograph composition demonstrates both Motherwell’s mastery of collage and his playful intellect.

Robert Motherwell Prints at VFA

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

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The Influence of Victor Vasarely

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The Pompidou Centre in Paris recently celebrated the life and work of Victor Vasarely, the Grandfather of Op-Art, with an exhibit than spanned the more than five decades of  his work.

Born in Hungary in 1906, Vasarely dropped out of medical school, at age 23, to study with avant-garde artist, Sándor Bortnyik.  Bortnyik was a proponent of the Bahuas philosophy, which emphasized the relationship between art, society, and technology.

Vasarely moved to Paris in 1930. For nearly twenty years he supported himself, and his wife and two sons, with a successful career in commercial art. In his free time Vasarely worked on his own art, experimenting with the use of physics, color optics and quantum mechanics. The work he created during the mid-to-late-1930s, many using black and white patterns, are often considered the first works of Op-Art.

In 1955, Vasarely exhibited his work, alongside that of Marcel Duchamp, Alexander Calder and others, at The Galerie Denise René, of which he was co-founder. By the time the psychedelic ’60s rolled around, Vasarely’s work was known throughout the world, and influenced many aspects of popular culture, like fashion, music, advertisements and architecture.

Fashion designer, Giovanni Versace, was not just an avid collector, but also created textile design based on Vasarely’s work.

Vasarely also developed his Alphabet Plastique, a system in which each letter of the alphabet corresponds to a specific color, geometrical form and musical notes. He thought of it as Esperanto for the arts, which would act as a universal artistic language and make the world a better place. Many of the works that grew from this idea were methodical, analytical pieces like Dyok Positif and Collage Vert both for sale at VFA.

Throughout his life, Vasarely continued to be fascinated by the melding of art and science. He experimented with Poly(methyl methacrylate), or acrylic, which was used mainly for military applications until after World War ll. The acrylic sculpture, Holid, Moire Tower, available at VFA, is an example of Vasarely’s ability to combine form and design.

The orderly, organized and logical way in which Victor Vasarely approached his work was similar to the computer programming that we use today. Vasarely was so fascinated by computers, even in their early stage, that he insisted they be installed at the Vasarely Foundation.

The Works of Victor Vasarely at VFA

Please contact us if you would like more information about Dyok Positif, Collage Vert, Holid, Moire Tower or any of the other fine work at VFA.

See More Victor Vasarely Work for Sale

References:
Kelly Grovier. Victor Vasarely: The art that tricks the eye. BBC Culture. March 5, 2019.
Sarah Belmont. Au Centre Pompidou, Victor Vasarely nous berce d’illusions. LeParisian. April 30, 2019.
http://www.op-art.co.uk/victor-vasarely/

Photographs of Andy Warhol

Andy Warhol would have appreciated the irony of his fame resonating with today’s millennials, who were still in diapers when he died in 1987 and who have become some of the most avid collectors of Warhol’s works.

This years Super Bowl ad for Burger King, showing Andy eating a burger, the Whitney retrospective and the celebrity culture that Warhol predicted and participated in, have increased the demand for his work from here to Hong Kong.

Andy on Instagram

For the next few weeks, the Andy Warhol Foundation is posting dozens of rarely seen photographs of Andy on Instagram, with the hashtag #IntimateAndy.

Andy Warhol opening presents at his birthday party at the home of fashion designer Halston on August 7, 1979.

The photographs are part of the Andy Warhol Photography Archive at Stanford University’s Cantor Arts Center, which were donated by the Warhol foundation in 2014.

The warholfoundation began posting the photos on April 26 and will continue to post them through May 11th. The Warhol Foundation is encouraging anyone who has photos of Andy to join in and post them as well.

Warhol’s Women

Andy Warhol was often surrounded by beautiful, and often, famous men and women. Way before selfies and iPhones became part of our daily lives, Warhol carried a camera wherever he went and captured a world that existed in the hippest venues of the New York art scene.

Bianca Jagger, Andy Warhol and Debbie Harry Circa 1980S in New York City.

A look at the way Warhol depicted women in his later work is the focus of an exhibit at the Levy Gorvy in New York. Unlike the cool, commercial images of Warhol’s early work, his later works were imbued with emotional content.

In 1964, Warhol was preparing for a show at the Sonnabend Gallery in Paris. The 1960s were turbulent in the U.S. John Kennedy was assassinated in 1963, there were protests against the Vietnam War, the death penalty and racial inequality. The headlines of American newspapers inspired Warhol to create the Death and Disasters series for the Paris exhibition.

Whether a portrait of Jackie Kennedy Onassis, Dolly Parton, Aretha Franklin or Marilyn Monroe,  there is a poignant and passionate feeling that pervades the work.

Warhol Women runs from now through June 15.

Warhol’s Drawings

Andy Warhol’s skills as an artist were often overshadowed by his use of borrowed images for his Pop art. Warhol had a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. He was a commercial artist and illustrator before he became a successful Pop artist.

Warhol’s skills as an fine artist is showcased at the Sperone Westwater Gallery in downtown Manhattan. Andy Warhol By Hand: Part II, Drawings 1950s – 1960s is an exhibit of a wide range of Warhol’s drawings that showcases his masterful technique with pen and pencil. The exhibit includes more than 100 works on paper. The show runs through June 29th.

Andy Warhol Fine Art Prints at VFA

Andy Warhol was a masterful of fine art printmaker. Please contact us for more information about Andy Warhol or any of the other fine artists in our gallery.

References:
Claire Selvin. Andy Warhol Foundation to Post ‘Intimate’ Pictures on Instagram, Including One of the Pop Artist in Roller Skates. ArtNews. April 26, 2019.
Liz Cantrell. Andy Warhol Fans Have Two New Must-See Shows. Town & Country. April 25, 2019.
https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/revolver-gallerys-annual-andy-warhol-market-report-debuts-as-the-1-bestselling-art-reference-book-on-amazon-300838378.html
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
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