Derrick Adams’ Funtime Unicorns; Alex Katz on Park Avenue

Derrick Adams 1970 –

The works of Derrick Adams focus on play and leisure in the Black community. In his Floater Series he painted friends, family members, and even himself, relaxing in large, Black Unicorn pool floats.

This summer, children visiting the Channel Gardens at New York’s Rockefeller Center will be able to play on Funtime Unicorns, sculptures that Adams created as an extension of the Floater Series.

“In each one of these sculptures, my hope is that young Black boys and girls have a chance to laugh and bounce, climb and lean,” Adams said. “This is a place to make new friends – who are just as magical and colorful and who represent a more imaginative future for all of us.”

Based on the classic spring rider toys, the Funtime Unicorns will be at Rockefeller Center through September 9, 2022.

In an interview in Forbes, Isabella Lauria, Associate Vice President at Christie’s, explained why Derrick Adams has achieved such success in the art world. “His works are in the collections of The Met, Whitney Museum and The Studio Museum, among many others.” Laurie said, “This institutional focus and recognition propelled his primary market forward, and now that we have achieved a major record at auction, I firmly believe the secondary market will continue to strengthen as demand increases. I think demand for his work is driven by interest in artists working through identity politics and issues of systemic racism, while Derrick’s use of bright, happy motifs and palettes adds to the esthetic appeal and desirability, setting him apart from his peers.”

Adams has been living and working in Brooklyn for the last thirty years. He has also been creating projects to help Black artists in his hometown of Baltimore. Adams recently received a $1.25 million grant from the Mellon Foundation, with which he is establishing a cultural center known as the Black Baltimore Digital Database and a vacation retreat for Black artists.

Alex Katz 1927 –

Restaurant Daniel, on Manhattan’s Park Avenue, has begun to exhibit great art in its dining rooms. The restaurant’s initial exhibit is composed of large-scale paintings by Alex Katz.

Although Katz is best known for his figurative works, his landscapes, seascapes and flower paintings are just as extraordinary.

A retrospective of Alex Katz’s works will be on exhibit at the Guggenheim Museum in New York in October 2022. The show will include works that Katz did as a young student at Cooper Union in the 1940s.

Alex Katz currently has solo exhibits in London, Brussels, Trento and Madrid.

Please contact us if you would like more information about the works of Derrick Adams and Alex Katz available at VFA.

Chadd Scott. Derrick Adams Funtime Unicorns coming to Rockefeller Center. See Great Art. June 24, 2022.
Y-Jean Mun-Delsalle. The Auction Market Of Artist Derrick Adams Is On The Rise. Forbes. November 7, 2021.
Jonathan Goodman. Alex Katz. The Brooklyn Rail. December 2021-January 2022.

Katherine Bernhardt Does Mushrooms, William Wegman Writes

Katherine Bernhardt 1975 –

Art Basel Hong Kong was short and sweet this year. The fair was postponed from March until May because of the sharp increase in Covid cases in Hong Kong. The gallery exhibits were set up to enhance social distancing.

In spite of the obstacles, the works on exhibit represented the best of the world’s contemporary artists.

One of the highlights of Art Basel Hong Kong was the work of Katherine Bernhardt. Her bright, free-spirited paintings and prints have made her one of today’s most popular artists.

After receiving her BFA from the Art Institute of Chicago and her MFA from the School of Visual Arts in New York, Bernhardt set up a studio in Brooklyn. She worked there for more than twenty years, creating the giant paintings and prints of iconic cartoon characters, tacos and toilet paper with lots of color and tons of energy.

In 2019 Bernhardt moved back to her hometown of St. Louis. She bought three buildings in Midtown. She uses one building as her studio, one for storage and one as a gallery for local artists to display their work. Here’s a look at Bernhardt in the St. Louis studio.

She currently has an exhibit at the David Zwirner gallery in London. Katherine Bernhardt: Why is a mushroom growing in my shower? includes recent paintings using both her familiar images…like the Pink Panther…and new images like Crocs, Ditto from Pokémon and magic mushrooms.

Katherine Bernhardt’s works can be found in prominent public and museum collections, including the Brant Foundation Art Study Center in Greenwich, Connecticut the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh, the Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo inTurin, Italy, the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, DC, the Knoxville Museum of Art in Tennessee, the Portland Museum of Art in Maine, the Rubell Museum in Miami and the San Antonio Museum of Art in  Texas.

William Wegman 1943 –

A current exhibit of William Wegman’s work includes not a single photograph of his Weimaraners. William Wegman: Writing by the Artist consists of texts,  drawings, photographs, and videos that Wegman has created during his fifty year career.

Before Wegman began photographing his lovable dogs, he received a B.F.A. in painting from the Massachusetts College of Art in 1965 and an M.F.A. in painting from the University of Illinois in 1967. He went on to teach at the University of Wisconsin and then at California State College.

The photos of his dogs, with their deadpan expressions and human behaviors made them, and Wegman, international stars.

Not as widely exhibited are Wegman’s drawings and paintings, which are funny and masterful.

William Wegman: Writing by the Artist is on exhibit at the Sperone Westwater Gallery in New York through July 29, 2022.

William Wegman lives in New York and Maine where he continues to paint, draw, make videos and take photographs with his dogs Flo and Topper.

Please contact us if you would like more information about the works of Katherine Bernhardt, William Wegman or any of the other fine art available at VFA.

Valencia Tong. The Best Booths at Art Basel Hong Kong 2022, from Dazzling Large-Scale Installations to NFT Hype. Artnews. May 27, 2022.
Megan Mertz. National artist Katherine Bernhardt’s Midtown studio was once an auto shop. St. Louis Magazine. May 6, 2021.
Katherine Bernhardt: Why is a mushroom growing in my shower? David Zwirner London. Martin Cid Magazine. May 25, 2022.
Ann C. Collins. William Wegman: Writing by Artist. The Brooklyn Rail. June 2022.
Emily Watlington. Who Took the Dogs Out?: William Wegman at Sperone Westwater. Art in America. June 14, 2022.
Rauschenberg - Change from Seven Characters

Robert Rauschenberg: Seven Character Series

Robert Rauschenberg 1925-2008

There is no reason not to consider the world as one gigantic painting. – Robert Rauschenberg

Robert Rauschenberg believed that art could change the world. As a mature, successful artist, he traveled extensively around the world. In 1984, he established the Rauschenberg Overseas Culture Interchange (R.O.C.I.), sharing his expertise with artists in other countries and learning about artistic traditions from his host country’s artists. After a dozen trips to countries around the world, Rauschenberg exhibited the works inspired by his travels at the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C.

When he visited China, Rauschenberg collaborated with papermakers at the Xuan Paper Mill in Jingxian to create a series of collages based on seven Chinese characters.

To create the Seven Character Series, Rauschenberg used a base of thirty-ply paper covered with a layer of silk He then added a character to each work in pulp relief. On top of the base he placed images from posters that he found in Shanghai, attached and overlaid with a thin transparent paper. To finish off each work, Rauschenberg applied gold leaf and hung a cloth medallion on each work.

These works were included in  the ROCI CHINA exhibition held at the National Art Gallery in Beijing in 1985.

Works from the Seven Character Series are available at VFA.

Much of what led to Robert Rauschenberg becoming one of the most influential and avant-garde artists of the twentieth century  were serendipitous events. He was born and raised in a strict, religious family in the small, refinery town of Port Arthur, Texas. He planned on becoming a minister, but the ban on dancing in his family church changed his mind. His parents sent him to the University of Texas in Austin to study pharmacology, but he was expelled in his freshman year after he refused to dissect a frog. He was drafted in 1943. The letter from the draft board was his excuse not have to tell his parents about his expulsion.

He did tell the army that he was a conscientious objector, and was assigned to work as a medical technician in the Navy Hospital Corps, caring for combat survivors in San Diego. It was during one of his leaves that he visited the Huntington Art Gallery in California and saw his first oil paintings. The visit changed the trajectory of his life and he began to study art.

In 1950, he moved to New York, where he used found objects that he used to create the combines that centered around his belief that what artists create can be freely interpreted by each viewer.

When he moved to Florida’s Captiva Island in 1970, where he lived for nearly forty years, the objects he found there were very different than the ones he found in the streets of New York.

He was surrounded by beaches, and was influenced by the color and texture of the sand. The combines he created during those years are sleeker and more architectural than his earlier works.

Works that he made when he moved to Captiva are currently on view at the Gladstone Gallery in New York. The works were influenced by his travels abroad and his new surroundings off the Gulf Coast.

Robert Rauschenberg: Venetians and Early Egyptians, 1972-1974 will be on view at the Gladstone Gallery through June 18, 2022.

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

Catherine Yang. Seeing Robert Rauschenberg for the First Time, All Over Again. Hyperallergic. June 8, 2022.
Beatrice Johnson. Sand Into Stone: (Untitled) Early Egyptian and the Personal Myths of Robert Rauschenberg and Cy Twombly. Robert Rauschenberg Foundation. (June 14, 2022).

Kenny Scharf Paints the Earth, Jeff Koons Aims for the Moon

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Kenny Scharf

Kenny Scharf was born in Los Angeles in 1958. “And then, of course,” he said, in an interview with the Brooklyn Rail, “I grew up in LA and the plastic world and all the cars and the gas stations and the restaurants and every single piece of architecture was like “outer space!” Those future-y, fantasy things were my first visuals. That in combination with all the messages that were being sent out to me. That’s kind of my whole thing with the Jetsons. I identified with Elroy, that was me, I was a space boy of the future. Space, it’s so spiritual to me.”

Scharf moved to New York and earned his BFA from the School of Visual Arts in 1980. He shared a studio with Keith Haring and was part of the East Village art scene.

He moved back to LA more than twenty years ago, to be closer to his grandchildren. Like other grandparents and parents, he’s concerned about the future of the planet. His most recent show, WOODZ ‘N THINGZ, focuses on the earth’s ecosystem.

Some of his recent works are painted on old flat screen televisions. “I pour on the gesso,” he says, “create the surface. And I also love that you get this stuff from the garbage. It’s already framed. They’re ready to hang.”

Kenny Scharf sprayed graffiti in the ’80s. These days he does commissioned murals and works in a variety of media. We have painting, sculptures and fine art prints by Kenny Scharf in the VFA Gallery.

WOODZ ‘N THINGZ will be on display at the Totah Gallery in New York through June 25, 2022.

Jeff Koons

I believe that art has been a vehicle for me that’s been about enlightenment and expanding my own parameters, to give me the courage to exercise the freedom that I have in life.
– Jeff Koons

Just when it seems like Jeff Koons couldn’t think any farther outside of the box, he does. He’s now thinking outside of the stratosphere.

Koons is sending his art to the moon.

A collection of work, which has not yet been revealed, is set to be installed on the moon’s surface later this year, launched from the Kennedy Space Center.

Jeff Koons: Moon Phases is a collaboration between NFMoon, 4Space, and Pace Gallery. Each physical sculpture and its corresponding, one-of-a-kind NFT is set to land on the Moon’s surface on an Intuitive Machines Nova-C Lunar Lander in a fully autonomous mission. The intended destination for the sculptures is in an area called Oceanus Procellarum, one of the flat, dark plains on the lower elevation of the Moon’s surface. The works will be placed in a specially designed enclosed art cube.

“I’ve always enjoyed the idea of creating a global art, art that really is about every human beings’ aspiration to have a more fulfilling life. To be able to touch on meaning, what it means to be a human being,” Koons explained in a video announcing the project.

Here on earth, at VFA, we have some of Jeff Koons’ finest works for sale.

Please contact us if you would like more information about the works of Kenny Scharf and Jeff Koons available at VFA.

Jason Rosenfeld. Kenny Scharf with Jason Rosenfeld. The Brooklyn Rail. June 2022.
Kenny Scharf Talks to Trees. Interview Magazine. April 22, 2022.
Eric James Beyer. Moon Phases: An Inside Look At The NFT Project That Will Land on the Moon. NFT Now. May 23, 2022.
Jeff Koons’ New Project Will Land on the Moon. Cool Hunting. Link/Tech.

Basquiat Burglary Bungled, Takashi Murakami Combines Digital and Analog

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Jean-Michel Basquiat 1960-1988

A couple walked into the Tagliatelle Gallery in Chelsea on May 14 and took Dog Leg Study, a screenprint by Jean- Michel Basquiat, from its display. The print was in the gallery owner’s office, which also serves as a private viewing room. Security cameras caught the man and woman standing in front of the work, photographing it with their cell phones and apparently searching for information about its value.

The couple took the work, and a third-full bottle of Maker’s Mark, and tried to leave the gallery with both items. A staff member intervened and got the screenprint back, but they walked out with the whiskey.

NYPD is still looking for the pair. There is a photo of the couple, who were identified only as ‘having an unknown European accent’, walking to the gallery, but so far, no arrests have been made.

Dog Leg Study is valued at $45,000.

The works of Jean-Michel Basquiat have garnered some of the highest prices at auction in the past few years. Just four days after the botched burglary of Dog Leg Study, one of his works sold at Phillips auction for $85 million. Six years ago, Japanese collector Yusaku Maezawa bought the Untitled work at Christie’s for $57.3 million.

Takashi Murakami 1962 –

Takashi Murakami loved anime and manga as a child, and intended to study animation. Instead, he studied Nihonga, the traditional art of Japan, and received a PhD from the Tokyo University of the Arts. He went on to create his own style of art, Superflat, and brought to Japan a genre of work that transcends and combines traditional and commercial art.

His most recent exhibit, at the Gagosian Gallery in New York, contains both digital NFTs and sculptures based on the digital models. “When I work on a creative production, I make no distinction between digital and analog.” he said, “I’m always working in the context of contemporary art, and that context is all about whether I can be involved in events that manage to trigger a cognitive revolution.”

According to the gallery’s website, “The immersive viewing experience, created by RTFKT and Oncyber, is accessible online via or through a VR headset and allows access to the entire exhibition from anywhere in the world.” The gallery is accepting cryptocurrency.

An Arrow through History opened on May 11, and will be on view through June 25, 2022.

A special exhibit dedicated to Murakami is on view at the Broad Museum in Los Angeles. The exhibit features all of the museum’s Murakami works and new immersive environments. Takashi Murakami: Stepping on the Tail of a Rainbow will be on view at The Broad  through September 25, 2022.

Please contact us if you would like more information about the work of Jean-Michel Basquiat and Takashi Murakami available at VFA.

Chantal Da Silva. Man, woman try to steal $45K Basquiat painting from Manhattan gallery, police say. NBC News. May 26, 2022.
Shawn Ghassemitari. Couple Attempts to Steal a Framed Basquiat Artwork From a Manhattan Gallery. HypeArt. May 27, 2022.
Jesse O’Neill. Suspects try to steal $45K Basquiat painting from Manhattan exhibit. The New York Post. May 25, 2022.
Steve Smith. Weekend arts planner: Takashi Murakami, ‘Fat Ham,’ Eddie Palmieri. The Gothamist. May, 28, 2022.

Julian Opie’s ‘People’ in SoHo, Ugo Rondinone Curates in Long Island, Javier Calleja Collaborates

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Julian Opie

The lobby of a new office building, in New York’s SoHo district, has installed an artwork by Julian Opie to amplify the minimal design of its architecture. People 13, 2014, is an 11-inch by 144-inch LED, wall mounted work, of digitalized people walking.

The building’s offices, at 2 Crosby Street, are leased by such notable tenants as  French fashion designer Rick Owens and jewelry  designer Maria Tash.

Opie’s exhibit at this year’s Venice Biennale is a bit unusual. The Venice government would not allow the use of LED screen technology, so four of Opie’s aluminium sculptures are on show outside of the St. Regis, the newest luxury hotel in Venice.

Julian Opie’s work is also currently on exhibit at venues in Lausanne, Rome, and Shanghai. His work, in a variety of medium, are available at VFA.

Ugo Rondinone, Eddie Martinez and Sam Moyer

Swiss-born artist, Ugo Rondinone, currently has work on exhibit at the Venice Biennalle, and has also curated an exhibit at the Landcraft Garden in North Fork, Long Island.

The exhibit at the Landcraft Garden includes his own sculptures and those of Eddie Martinez and Sam Moyer, Martinez’s wife.

Martinez is is best known for his abstract figurative and still life paintings. He began creating sculptures in 2013, using found objects that he collects on the beaches around North Fork and on the streets around his Brooklyn studio.

The works of all three artists are very different in form, style and materials. Martinez’s work is  abstract and appears almost unrestrained. Rondinone’s has a more classical feel and Moyer’s work has an architectural quality.

The exhibit at Landcraft Garden will be on view from June 4 to October 29, 2022.

Javier Calleja

Spanish artist Javier Calleja said he was heavily influenced by the comics, cartoons and toys that he read and played with while growing up in Malaga in the 1970s and 1980s.

His stylized large-headed and large-eyed characters have made him an international sensation, with solo museum and gallery  exhibits in Hong Kong, Greece, Germany, Tokyo, Spain, Rome and London.

Calleja’s work has been garnering prices above estimate. At a Phillips 2020 auction, his 2019 painting, No More Stories, sold for HK$4 million (about $509561 USD), well over the 300-500k estimate.

He has collaborated with clothing companies, most recently with VANS, with his artwork on sneakers, tees and even planters.

Calleja’s work is currently on exhibit at Art Basel, Hong Kong, with upcoming shows in Paris, Athens, Tokyo, Shanghai and Dusseldorf.

Please contact us if you would like more information about the works of Julian Opie, Ugo Rondinone, Eddie Martinez, Javier Calleja or any of the other fine art work available at VFA.

KPG Funds And Intercontinental Real Estate Corporation Explore Digitalized Artwork With The Opening Of Artist Julian Opie’s “People 13, 2014”. PR Newswire. March 21, 2022.
Joanne Shurvell. Venice Biennale 2022: Highlights From The Olympics Of The Art World. Forbes. April 26, 2022.
Lee Meyer. Landcraft Garden Foundation kicks off Sculptures in the Garden 2022 on June 4. The Northforker. May 12, 2022.
Felicia Lalomia. One Minute on the North Fork: An afternoon at Landcraft Garden Foundation. The Northforker. May 30, 2021.
Design Boom. Ugo Rondinone brings human clouds, a gilded sun and colorful, burnt out candles to Venice. May 7, 2022.
Jascmeen Bush. VANS Collaborates with Javier Calleja for Footwear Capsule. Hypebea. February 3, 2022.

Björn Persson, Shepard Fairey, Derrick Adams…Making the World a Better Place

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Björn Persson 1972 –

Björn Persson is spending the next two months in Botswana, exploring the Kalahari Desert and the country’s National Preserves. As always, his mission is to photograph the wildlife that roams free, in the hope of saving the animals from poachers.

Last week, his work raised thousands of euros at OperationAid gala in Stockholm to help refugees from the Ukraine.

The Swedish-born photographer has published two books, Beauty Will Save the World and The Real Owners of the Planet. He believes that by focusing his lens on the beauty and life of endangered species, more humans will become inspired to get involved in wildlife preservation.

This trip to Botswana will get Persson closer to completing the trilogy of books that he has been working on.

Björn Persson’s photographs have been featured in National Geographic, Africa Geographic, Vagabond, Digital Camera, Wildlife and other publications.

When he isn’t taking photographs in the African bush, he lives and works in Stockholm. Persson is represented in Florida by VFA.

Shepard Fairey 1970 –

Shepard Fairey’s work is going to be on display at this weekend’s Welcome to Rockville concert  at the Daytona International Speedway. Billed as America’s Largest Rock Festival, this year’s show includes KISS’ End Of The Road Farewell Tour, KORN, Guns N’ Roses, Nine Inch Nails, The Smashing Pumpkins and more.

Fairey’s Obey/Giant artwork will be presented on 16-foot-high pillars throughout the fairgrounds.

Shepard Fairey has spent his career creating art that advocates for social justice, like his Power to the Patients Nascar design.

During January’s Art Week in Miami, Fairey completed Invent Your Future, a mural at Miami Edison Senior High School in Little Haiti.

Although he often works on large projects, in a recent interview with Barron’s, Shepard said, “My prints are the cornerstone of my art, even though I love to make paintings and huge murals and clothing. Affordable screen-prints have been the consistent thing from the beginning of my career.”

Derrick Adams 1970 –

Derrick Adams teaches at Brooklyn College, has opened a free retreat for artists, has received a Mellon Foundation Award to help build a cultural center in his hometown of Baltimore and was recently honored with the Art & Social Justice Award from the Bronx Museum of the Arts.

Adams has designed an instillation at the African American Museum in Philadelphia that continues his focus on leisure for Black Americans and the challenges they face in finding safe spaces for rest and relaxation.

Derrick Adams: Sanctuary was inspired by The Negro Motorist Green Book, an annual guidebook for Black Americans who were traveling through the U.S. during the Jim Crow Era.  It was  published by New York postal worker Victor Hugo Green from 1936 to 1967. The Green Book provided a list of hotels, restaurants, barbershops and beauty parlors, taverns, and other venues where African American travelers were safely welcomed during segregation.

Derrick Adams: Sanctuary includes about 50 pieces of mixed-media collage, assemblage on wood panels, and sculpture. The exhibit will be on display through August 28, 2022.

Please contact us if you would like more information about the work of Bjorn Persson, Shepard Fairey and Derrick Adams available at VFA.

Nadja Sayer. 20 Minutes With: Street Artist Shepard Fairey. Barron’s/Penta. February 7, 2022.
Look up! Banners by Shepard Fairey will fly over LA before Super Bowl. KCRW. February 10, 2022.
Brooklyn Street Art. Shepard Fairey Says, “Invent Your Future” in Miami’s Little Haiti. January 12, 2022.
Robbie Sequira. Bronx Museum of the Arts celebrates 50 years, Borough President Gibson among gala’s honorees. Bronx Times. May 13, 2022.
Moni Jones. African American Museum in Philadelphia: Celebrating our past, embracing the future. The Philadelphia Sun. May 6, 2022.

Warhol’s Shot Sage Blue Marilyn Sets New Auction Record

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Andy Warhol 1928-1987

Andy Warhol’s Shot Sage Blue Marilyn (1964) sold for $194 million at Christie’s New York on May 9. Bought by an unknown buyer, the work garnered the highest price achieved for an American work of art at auction.

The silkscreen is one in a series of five, based on a promotional photo of Marilyn Monroe from the film Niagara. The historical significance, alluded to in the title of the work, is that Dorothy Podber, a visitor to Warhol’s studio, pulled out a gun and shot through the stack of Marilyn silkscreens that were piled up in the studio.

Eddie Martinez 1977 –

The vibrant works of Eddie Martinez have been garnering much attention and setting records for at auction.

The Brooklyn-based artist says that he loves graffiti, but stopped painting on walls (when he wasn’t invited to), deciding that incarceration wasn’t worth the risk. He attended the Art Institute of Boston and moved to New York.

His style, that combines fine art with a flowing, street sensibility, has gotten him international recognition. He has had solo shows at the Yuz Museum in Shanghai, the Drawing Center in New York, the Bronx Museum, the Davis Museum at Wellesley College and has been featured in The New York Times, the Brooklyn Rail, Art in America and other prestigious publications and galleries.

In 2019, his High Flying Bird (2014) painting sold for $2.02 million at Christie’s.

Martinez and his wife, artist Sam Moyer, work with young artists in New York’s Free Arts program.

Tom Wesselmann 1931-2004

I find sometimes I get so excited working, especially when starting new ideas; I get so excited that I get uncomfortable. It almost feels dangerous, like I’m flirting with something dangerous. – Tom Wesselmann

Tom Wesselmann was envious of Willem de Kooning and became intrigued by the works of Henri Matisse while he studied at Cooper Union from 1956 to 1959. One of his teachers, Nicholas Marsicano, encouraged him “to find your own way. . . You can’t do what Matisse did.” Still, the  influence of Matisse can be seen in the colors and lines of Wesselmann’s works .

Wesselmann often payed tribute to the artists he admired. He sculpted with cutouts, a la Matisse, and created Maquette for Still Life with Johns and Matisse. One of his finest still life works is Mixed Bouquet with Leger and Monica Sitting with Mondrian is an homage to another great artist.

Tom Wesselmann: After Matisse will be on exhibit at the Almine Rech Paris Gallery from June 11 through July 30, 2022.

Please contact us if you would like more information about the works of Andy Warhol, Eddie Martinez or Tom Wesselmann available at VFA.

Artsy Editorial. 9 Standout Lots from the Artsy x Thurgood Marshall College Fund Auction. March 17, 2022.
Robin Pogrebin. Warhol’s ‘Marilyn,’ at $195 Million, Shatters Auction Record for an American Artist. The New York Times. May 9, 2022.
France24. Warhol Monroe portrait set to smash records at New York sales. July 5, 2022.

Takashi Murakami into the Metaverse; Keith Haring’s Works in Fort Lauderdale

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Takashi Murakami

The Broad Museum in Los Angeles is presenting its first solo exhibit of the works of Takashi Murakami. The show includes paintings, sculptures, wallpaper and installations. Highlights of the show are two gigantic paintings that were completed after the 2011 tsunami that devastated Japan. 100 Arhats, done in 2013, is 32 feet wide. In the Land of the Dead, Stepping on the Tail of a Rainbow, done in 2014, and after which the exhibit is named, is 82 feet wide.

Both works are based on Japanese and Chinese history and legend.

In a New York Times interview, Murakami explained why much of his work is bright and joyful. “I create such positive images driven by my desire to dispel my unease,” he said. “Watching the developments of the Covid situation and the war in Ukraine, I grow increasingly uneasy. And I produce more work.”

Takashi Murakami: Stepping on the Tail of a Rainbow will be on exhibit at The Broad from May 21 through September 25, 2022.

Murakami was born in Tokyo in 1962. He received his PhD from Tokyo University of the Arts in 1993. He  planned to focus on animation, but instead majored in Nihonga, a traditional style of Japanese painting. His Superflat style is a combination of both fine art and commercial art.

“Japanese culture originally came from the Eurasian continent,” he said “and my concept has been to go beyond from there into the metaverse, shooting through the history of art with a single arrow.”

Murakami is entering the metaverse with an NFT project. The project hasn’t been completed, but already has Murakami fans placing orderers way in advance.

Keith Haring

When Keith Haring was 19, studying commercial art in the Ivy School of Professional Art in Pittsburgh, he saw an exhibit of the works of Pierre Alechinsky. The free-flowing works of the avant-garde artist inspired Haring to use the bright colors and bold lines that became unique to his art.

Alechinsky is 95, living and working in Paris. He and Haring met in 1984 in Alechinsky’s Paris studio.

The Keith Haring Foundation asked Alechinsky to write about his relationship with the young artist for the show of their works at the NSU Museum:

“We are in 2022.” wrote Alechinsky,  “I am ninety-five years old. My old brain tells me that it has just found a scrap of memory. On the port side: we recognize K.H. in P.A.’s workshop in Bougival in 1984. He offers a t-shirt decorated with his hand. To starboard: we see P.A. dedicating to K.H. a Chinese ink work on writings from another era.”

Haring often acknowledged Alechinsky’s influence on his work. When the Whitney Museum held a retrospective of Haring’s work in 1997, Alechinsky was asked to loan the museum a painting for the exhibit.

The works of both artists are currently on display at the NSU Art Museum in Fort Lauderdale. Confrontation: Keith Haring and Pierre Alechinsky is on exhibit through October 2, 2022.

Please contact us if you would like more information about the works of Takashi Murakami and Keith Haring available at VFA.

Eilene Zimmerman. Dragons, Saints and a Sexy Nurse: The Art of Takashi Murakami. The New York Times/Art & Design. April 27, 2022.
Ola. Takashi Murakami Exhibition At Gagosian Bridging Virtual x Real Worlds. NFT News. April 19, 2022.
Jacob Richardson. Going Digital: Hublot and Legendary Artist Takashi Murakami Announce NFT Launch. Haute Living. April 5, 2022.
John Thomason. Keith Haring, Under the Influence, at NSU Art Museum. Boca Magazine. April 15, 2022.
Kutztown University. Schwank, Kutztown University Announce Funding for Keith Haring Fitness Park. April 25, 2022.

Kenny Scharf Honored by National Academy; Basquiat Honored by Family

Kenny Scharf 1958 –

Kenny Scharf was honored at the TriBeCa Ball at the New York Academy of Art on April 19th.

The annual event raises funds for the Academy’s programming and also gives Academy students a chance to showcase and sell their own artwork.

Scharf painted a mural at the Academy the day before the event. “My connection to the school goes way back to the ’70s, and it’s actually why I moved to New York,” Scharf said, in an interview in  Vogue magazine. “[Eileen Guggenheim (current head of the Academy)] was a visiting teacher of mine at the University of California Santa Barbara. She was a visiting teacher from New York, and it was a very big lecture hall, maybe 500 kids in there, but she was teaching 20th-century art and we were all wrapped listening to her great story-telling, but basically when she got to the factory-ing and Warhol and all the excitement about the life of an artist, basically I sold my car and moved to New York, 1977.”

Scharf was joined at the Ball by Brian Donnelly (KAWS), Brooke Shields, who is on the Academy’s Board and other celebrities and major players in the art world.

Kenny Scharf came of age as an artist in the 1980s East Village art scene, along with Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat. He was born and raised in Los Angeles, and lives and works there now, close to his grandchildren.

He lost some of his closest friends during the 1980s, from drug overdoses and AIDS. In spite of the difficulty of the times, Scharf’s work has always focused on joy, hope and optimism. He was one earliest artists to bridge the gap between illegal graffiti and street art.

Jean-Michel Basquiat 1960-1988

Jean-Michel Basquiat’s meteoric rise to fame in the 1980s was a blessing and curse. He was one of the most talented artists of his day and, sadly, died from a heroin overdose at the age of 27.

He was prolific, a true and unique artist, who painted when and where he could. He painted on canvas and board in his studio even left his mark on the walls and appliances in friends’ apartments. Basquiat worked hard and lived hard.

Basquiat’s sisters, Lisanne Basquiat and Jeanine Heriveaux, his stepmother Nora Fitzpatrick, and other extended family members, have curated an exhibit that they hope shows the true character of the artist as opposed to the Pop icon that he has become.

They have even recreated rooms, with original furniture, from Basquiat’s family home. “Not only did he sketch and paint and draw—he was a poet,” Jeanine Heriveaux said, in a Brooklyn Magazine interview. “He was an actor, he was a producer. He auditioned to be a member of a noise band. He walked the runway for Commes des Garcons in Paris.”

The show includes more than 200 never-before  or rarely seen artworks by Basquiat. King Pleasure, is the title of the exhibit and the title of a painting created by Basquiat in 1987. King Pleasure is the name of a bebop-loving bartender turned jazz vocalist whose first hit, in 1952, “Moody’s Mood For Love,” catapulted him to fame. A soundtrack of some of Basquiat’s favorite music accompanies the exhibit. Listen Like Basquiat can be accessed on the Spotify website.

Jean-Michel Basquiat: King Pleasure is currently on exhibit at the Starrett-Lehigh Building in Chelsea.

Please contact us if you would like more information about the works of Kenny Scharf and Jean-Michel Basquiat available at VFA.

John Ortved. The Artist Kenny Scharf Honored at TriBeCa Ball. The New York Times. April 22, 2022.
Kristen Tauer. Inside NYAA’s Tribeca Ball Honoring Kenny Scharf. Women’s Wear Daily. April 20, 2022.
Zachary Weiss. Brooke Shields, Naomi Watts, and More Honor Kenny Scharf at this Year’s Tribeca Ball. Vogue. April 21, 2022.
Vittoria Benzine. ‘Badassery in Action.’: New Basquiat exhibit shows the man behind the mythology. Brooklyn Magazine. April 13, 2022.
Tessa Solomon. Listen to Basquiat’s Favorite Music With Spotify Playlists Curated for a New Immersive Exhibition. ArtNews. April 14, 2022.
Carl Swanson. A Basquiat Family Reunion The artist’s sisters have put on an exhibition of his work to remind the world where he came from — and have a party. New York Magazine/Curbed. April 11, 2022.

Derrick Adams $1.25 Million Award; Susumu Kamijo and Jonas Wood at VFA

Derrick Adams 1970 –

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has just awarded Derrick Adams $1.25 million to develop the Black Baltimore Digital Database. Conceived by Adams, the database will archive important contributions by Black Baltimore artists, entrepreneurs, writers, scientists and athletes.

“The Black American experience has strong roots in Baltimore—I am both honored and eager to share this project with the city,” Adams said. “It will live as a modernized historical society, whose dedication is equally important and inclusive.”

“Our goal,” he said, “is to provide a distinct entry point for a wider network of initiatives. This will not only support our archival endeavors, but also local community building—social engagement through events, workshops, and conversation.”

Adams’ work often focuses on Black Americans at leisure. He has created the Last Resort Artist Retreat in his hometown of Baltimore, where artists, by invitation, can relax and work…or just relax.

Adams was listed (along with Susumu Kamijo) as one of the Most in Demand Artists on Artsy, the online art brokerage service, in September 2021.

He currently has solo exhibits at the Cleveland Museum and the Henry Art Gallery in Seattle.

Derrick Adams lives and works in Brooklyn, New York and teaches at Brooklyn College.

Susumu Kamijo 1975 –

Demand for the work of Susumu Kamijo has increased dramatically in the past year. According to Artsy, Kamijo’s work sold for more than six times its high estimate last May. A month later, at Phillip’s, another work set an auction record for the artist.

Kamijo was born in Nagano, Japan. He came to the U.S. when he was 16. He earned his BFA at the University of Oregon and his MFA at the University of Washington in Seattle, along with classmate, Jonas Wood.

Kamijo became fascinated with poodles when he accompanied his girlfriend, Marta, to dog shows and has made them the focus of his drawings, paintings and silkscreens.

He has had solo exhibits in New York, Los Angeles, Milan, London, Tokyo, the UK, Taiwan, Belgium, Greece and Luxembourg.

Kamijo lives and works in Brooklyn.

Jonas Wood 1977 –

For the past two years Jonas Wood has been honing his already masterful skills. His soft ground etching, Pattern couch interior with Mars Vista View, makes the observer feel as if they are sitting at home with the artist. And though Wood’s work is done in his Culver City studio, a space that he shares with his wife, ceramic artist Shio Kusaka, much of it is inspired by family and magazine photos.

Please contact us if you would like more information about the works of Derrick Adams, Susumu Kamijo and Jonas Wood, available at VFA.

Artnet News. Artist Derrick Adams Wins $1.25 Million From the Mellon Foundation to Start a Database Documenting the Black Culture of Baltimore. April 11, 2022.
Benjamin Sutton. The Most In-Demand Artists on Artsy in September. Artsy.October 5, 2021.
Ryma Chikhoune. Jonas Wood on ‘Plants and Animals,’ the Artist’s First L.A. Show in Four Years. Women’s Wear Daily. January 28, 2022.

Alex Katz Mural in Texas, Kenny Scharf: When Worlds Collide

Alex Katz 1927 –

A 35,000 square-foot, hand-painted mural by Alex Katz, was unveiled in Woodlands, Texas, a planned community just north of Houston. The mural was commissioned by the Howard Hughes Corporation to enhance the public plaza at the Woodlands Town Center.

A retrospective of Katz’s work, which will celebrate the artist’s more than seven-decade career, is scheduled to be held at the Guggenheim, New York from October 2022 through  February 2023. Katz currently has a solo exhibition in Brussels, and upcoming exhibits in London, Trento, Madrid, Austria, the Netherlands, Chicago and Maine.

Kenny Scharf 1958 –

In the summer of 2021, director Maria Scharf, released her film Kenny Scharf: When Worlds Collide. The documentary is a warm and loving look at the career of the father Kenny, one of America’s most unique artists.

Kenny Scharf was born and raised in Los Angeles. He was heavily influenced by the cartoons, Pop culture and the Cold War anxiety of the 1960s.

He moved to New York and obtained a BFA in painting from the School of Visual Arts in 1980. Scharf’s roommate was Keith Haring. Joined by Jean-Michel Basquiat and other young graffiti artists, they had a group show at the Sidney Janis Gallery in 1983 that was panned by critics. New York Times art critic, Grace Glueck, called the show, “unsettling.” “Apart from its illegality,” she wrote, “the very idea of enshrining graffiti – an art of the streets impulsive and spontaneous by nature – in the traditional, time-honored medium of canvas, is ridiculous.”

The artists persisted, and Scharf pushed back. He encouraged his fellow artists to study art history and get a sense of how to thrive in the world of museums and galleries.

Scharf went on to have successful gallery shows during the 1980s and, in 1985, his work was selected for the Whitney Museum’s Biennial. He received raved reviews, with one critic saying that his work, “leaves you with hope, joy, play and optimism, and a sense of love….”

The optimism of his works was offset by the loss of Keith Haring to AIDS and Jean-Michel Basquiat to a drug overdose.

He traveled and worked in both New York and LA for a while, and finally settled in California. He lives in Culver City, close to his grandchildren and to his friend, artist Ed Ruscha, who took part in the film.

Scharf’s works are as optimistic and as much fun as they have ever been. He has collaborated with Dior and other fashion houses and even created signature masks during the pandemic.

An exhibit of the works of Kenny Scharf, Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat is current on display at the Opera Gallery in Hong Kong.

Please contact us if you would like more information about the works of Alex Katz, Kenny Scharf, Keith Haring, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Ed Ruscha or any of the other fine artwork available at VFA.

Jennifer Bruse. Community celebrates new Art Mural by Artist Alex Katz in The Woodlands Waterway Square. Hello Woodlands. April 11, 2002.
Lorrie Parise. Community Invited To Free Celebration of New Mural, Flowers, By Renowned Contemporary Artist, Alex Katz. Woodlands Online. March 31, 2022.
Andy Battaglia. Guggenheim Museum to Mount Retrospective for Alex Katz, New York Painter Extraordinaire, in 2022. Artnews. January 17, 2020.
Time Out Magazine. Basquiat, Haring, Scharf at Opera Gallery Hong Kong. April 8, 2022.
Robert Abele. Review: ‘Kenny Scharf: When Worlds Collide’ reveals the triumph of a committed artist. The Los Angeles Times. June 24, 2021.

Honoring the Printmaker

A current exhibit at the Albuquerque Museum pays tribute to master printers. It is their skills, talents and ability to problem solve that help to create fine art prints. It is the artist, not the printmaker, who gets credit for the work, even though many fine art prints are true collaborations and many printmakers are artists themselves.

Iconic printers, like Kenneth Tyler and Ron Adams, revived the art of lithography in America. They taught many artists how to work with a lithography stone and also collaborated on design and composition.

Ron Adams (1934-2020) was a talented artist and printmaker. He attended the Los Angeles Trade Technical College, Manual Arts Adult Night School, Los Angeles City College, Otis College of Art and Design, UCLA, the University of Mexico.

Adams worked at Ken Tyler’s illustrious Gemini G.E.L. printing workshop in Los Angeles and at Editions Press in San Francisco. He left California in 1974 to found Hand Graphics Ltd. in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Ron Adams worked with Jasper Johns,  Ellsworth Kelly and other artists. He was one of the printers who helped Robert Rauschenberg with his Stoned Moon Series. The works were printed at Gemini G.E.L. after Rauschenberg was invited by NASA to witness the first moon landing. Adams sold Hand Graphics, in 1987, to focus on his own artwork.

Bill Lagattuta took over Hand Graphics and worked with Jim Dine and other artists to help them create fine lithographs. Lagattuta and Dine worked together for more than fourteen years.

The Printer’s Proof: Artist and Printer Collaborations focuses on six master printers. Each printer is also a fine artist and empathetic collaborator. A video of their works and perspectives accompanies the exhibit.

Master printers have had a profound effect on the works of many artists. Kenneth Tyler began working with artists in the 1960s. His expertise had a great impact on American artists and the rise of printmaking. He established some of the finest print workshops on both the East and West coasts of the U.S.

His most famous, and longest, collaboration was with Frank Stella. The pair worked together for more than forty years, until Tyler’s retirement in 2000. Tyler also worked with Helen Frankenthaler, Roy Lichtenstein and David Hockney.

The Printer’s Proof: Artist and Printer Collaborations will be on view at the Albuquerque Museum through May 15, 2022.

Please contact us if you would like more information about the fine art prints available at VFA.

The History Makers. Ron Adams Biography. July 13, 2010.
Nancy Zastudil. Shining a Light on the Art of the Printmaker. Hyperallergic. April 4, 2022.
Museum of Texas Tech University. Crisscross: Bill Lagattuta and Collaborative Printmaking (Series 2 of 3). January 2022.
Princeton University Art Museum. Printing without Limits: Frank Stella, Ken Tyler, and the Making of Juam. 2002.

Warhol Everywhere; VFA at PBM+C

Andy Warhol 1928-1987

Andy Warhol would probably not be surprised by all the attention he has gotten since his death, more than thirty-five years ago.

The Burger King ad, #EatLike ANDY, created a stir when it was shown at the Super Bowl in 2019. People loved it, hated it, and couldn’t stop talking about it. Thousands Googled Andy Warhol during the game. Burger King got its $5 million worth.

This year, Andy Warhol is the focus of even more attention:

A six-part documentary The Andy Warhol Diaries is on Netflix. The Collaboration, a play on stage in London, about the relationship between Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat, is on track to become a film. Andy, the musical, was staged in Lisbon last year. Warhol, by art critic Blake Gopnik, is a recently published biography. Andy Warhol: Revelation is a current exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum that focuses on Warhol’s religious works. The Bated Breath Theater Company in New York is doing Chasing Andy Warhol, a theatrical tour through the East Village.

Andy Warhol’s enigmatic personality and celebrity status often overshadows his talent and skill as an artist. The youngest of three sons of immigrants, Warhol grew up in Pittsburgh. His father died when he was thirteen.

He attended Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, where he studied commercial art and earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in pictorial design in 1949. He moved to New York after graduation and began a very successful career in magazine illustration and advertising. His illustrations were used in Glamour magazine and other prestigious publications. During the 1950s he began to exhibit his own works and his career was launched.

A silkscreen portrait of Marilyn Monroe is being auctioned by Christie’s in May. The estimate for what the print will garner is $200 million. The previous highest price for a Warhol painting at auction is $105 million, in 2013. Andy Warhol’s genius for mixing commercial and fine art changed the way the world looks at…everything.

The Palm Beach Modern + Contemporary Update

Last weekend’s Palm Beach Modern + Contemporary  (PBM+C) show was a great success. The works of Harland Miller and Bjorn Persson were especially well received at the VFA gallery. It is always a pleasure to share our love of fine art prints with art enthusiasts, especially after a two-years hiatus.

Please contact us if you would like more information about the works of Andy Warhol, Harland Miller, Bjorn Persson or any of the other fine artists whose works are available at VFA.

Laura Zornosa. Warhol-mania: Why the Famed Pop Artist Is Everywhere Again. The New York Times. March 25, 2022.
Bruce Haring. Marilyn Monroe Painting By Andy Warhol For Sale, Estimated Value $200M. Deadline Magazine. March 26, 2022.
Joshua Encinitas.Did the Real Andy Warhol Just Stand Up? Brooklyn Magazine. March 10, 2022.
John Thomason. Inside the Welcome Return of Palm Beach Modern + Contemporary. boca magazine. March 25, 2022.

VFA at the Palm Beach Contemporary + Modern Art Show

This weekend (March 24-27, 2022) Vertu Fine Art is taking part in the Palm Beach Contemporary + Modern Art Show. Part of Art Miami, the show takes place at the Palm Beach Convention Center.

The VFA gallery is focused, as always, on Fine Art Prints by many of our favorite artists.

Harland Miller-b. 1964

Harland Miller is not only a wonderful artist. He is also a writer, traveler and educator.

In the 1980s and ’90s, Miller lived and worked in Berlin, New York and New Orleans. In 2002, he was Writer in Residence at the Institute of Contemporary Art in London, and created events to celebrate Edgar Allen Poe.

He began his Penguin book cover series while painting in Paris. Homesick for England, and English, Miller bought some used Penguin and Pelican books and turned them into sardonic works of art.

On March 5, a Harland Miller painting, Amour, Amour, More Amour, 2021, sold at the amFar Gala in Palm Beach for $500,000. All of the proceeds from the gala go to HIV/Aids research.

Bjorn Persson-b. 1972

Photographer Bjorn Persson has dedicated his life to saving endangered wildlife in Africa. As head of the non-profit Smart Savannahs, he has partnered with scientists at Linköping University in Sweden to bring high tech tools to rangers in Kenya to help them stop the poaching that endangers the wildlife.

Persson lives and works in Stockholm and travels extensively to take photos of the animals that have stolen his heart. He creates his photos to show the beauty of the wildlife, to get people to appreciate how magnificent they are…and why they are worth saving.

Bjorn Persson is represented by VFA in Florida.

Harland Miller and Bjorn Persson are just two of the fine artists whose works will be on display at the Palm Beach Contemporary and Modern Art Show at the Palm Beach Convention Center. The show runs from March 24 through March 27, 2022.

You can download a free copy of our ebook: How to Identify and Buy Fine Art Prints. We published the book to share our appreciation of the craftsmanship, quality and diversity of the art form.

Please contact us if you would like more information about the works of Harland Miller, Bjorn Persson, or any of the other fine art at VFA.

Alexis Bennett. For the First Time Ever, Palm Beach Hosted an amfAR Blowout. Vogue. March 6, 2022.
Paul Gaines. From pictures to poachers: Wildlife photographer shifts his focus — with high-tech tools. The Peterborough Examiner. March 21, 2022.
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