Damien Hirst Burning His Paintings / KAWS Honored at the Hirshhorn / Reimagining Count Chocula

Damien Hirst 1965 –

On September 9th, Damien Hirst will begin to burn about 5,000 pieces of his art.

The move is a calculated act that he calls The Currency. Hirst created 10,000 small oil paintings on paper that he linked to corresponding NFTs in 2021. Buyers who bought the NFTs for $2000 were given a choice: keep the NFT or trade it for the physical painting. Holding on to both is not an option.

Many of Hirst’s creations have focused on the relationship between the art market and the money market. In 2007, he unveiled For the Love of God, a platinum cast of an 18th-century human skull encrusted with 8,601 diamonds. The work sold for around $100 million. One of the questions that the work brought up was how a work of art is viewed; by it’s intrinsic value, the cost of material, its historic value, or any of the other practical and emotional values that humans place on each work.

In a March interview with the Art Newspaper, Hirst said, “This project explores the boundaries of art and currency — when art changes and becomes a currency, and when currency becomes art. It’s not a coincidence that governments use art on coins and notes. They do this to help us believe in money. Without art, it’s hard for us to believe in anything.”

According to Heni, the NFT tech company that is working with Hirst, 5,149 physical artworks were exchanged and 4,851 NFTs remain. Each work is numbered, each has a unique title. Those that correspond to the remaining NFTs will be displayed, then burned, at Hirst’s London gallery. A few will be burned every day, beginning on September 9th. There will be a closing event during Frieze Week in October when the remaining paintings will be set on fire.

Hirst’s works are always thoughtful and provocative. They have served him well. According to the 2020 British Sunday Times Rich List, Hirst has a property portfolio worth about $175 million. His estate includes a mansion overlooking Regent’s Park, and a 2,000-piece art collection that included works by Picasso and Francis Bacon.

Brian Donnelly aka KAWS 1974 –

Brian Donnelly, the artist known as KAWS, was the guest of honor at this years annual Hirshhorn Ball. The theme of the Ball was a celebration of Pop Art and contemporary artists who pushed the boundaries of art and culture.

Hirshhorn Director, Melissa Chiu said of KAWS: “He’s probably one of the most agile artists we know, being able to collaborate with not just other artists, but those in the fashion and music worlds.”

“We look forward to collaborating with him in the future.” she added. Hopefully, she meant that the Hirshhorn will add a KAWS’ sculpture to its collection.

The award was presented to KAWS by reggaeton superstar J Balvin, who is a friend and collector of KAWS’ work.

General Mills has just released four limited-edition Monster Cereals with box designs by KAWS. Count Chocula, Franken Berry, Boo Berry and Fruit Brute characters have KAWS’ signature Xed-out eyes. A code on the back of specially marked boxes give fans of the cereals a chance to win a set of collectible monster toys designed by KAWS.

Please contact us if you would like more information about the works of Damien Hirst and KAWS available at VFA.

Harriet Sherwood. Damien Hirst to burn thousands of his paintings to show art as ‘currency’. The Guardian. July 26, 2022.
Eileen Kinsella. Burn, Baby, Burn! Damien Hirst Will Set His Own Drawings Aflame in the Culmination of His Grand NFT Experiment ‘The Currency’. July 26, 2022.
Kate Brown. Damien Hirst Is Still the UK’s Richest Artist—With a Net Worth of $384 Million, According to the Sunday Times’s ‘Rich List’. Artnet News. May 18, 2020.
Roger Carlin. Is a KAWS Celeb Sighting Cause for Speculation? Smithsonian Magazine. June 2, 2022.
Halisia Hubbard. General Mills’ classic Monster Cereals are back with a reimagined look. NPR/Pop Culture. August 11, 2022.
Nasir Akalvi. General Mills taps New York pop artist KAWS for monster-themed cereal revival. Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal. August 2, 2022.

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

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.

Supernatural Art at VFA

The Art Gallery of New South Wales recently commissioned Takashi Murakami to create a work for its permanent collection.

Murakami created a 30 foot long by 10 foot high painting, that he titled Japan Supernatural: Vertiginous After Staring at the Empty World Too Intensely, I Found Myself Trapped in the Realm of Lurking Ghosts and Monsters, that depicts a battle between spirits and samurai, bound together by a giant cat.

“Making this painting was super difficult. For one year I have had no life,” Muakami said.

The work is made up of 502 individual silkscreens and was purchased by the gallery for an undisclosed seven-figure amount and is the centerpiece of the gallery’s current exhibit Japan Supernatural.

Japan Supernatural

The exhibit explores the art history of Japan’s folklore, which is rich in stories of spirits, goblins and shape-shifters, through the works of past masters and contemporary artists like Takashi Murakami and Chiho Aoshima, whose works are available at VFA.

The Edo period in Japan, 1606-1868, saw changes in the culture that gave much of the population more time for leisure activities and more time to focus on art and culture. Combined with the advances in woodblock printing, artists were able to illustrate stories of the supernatural, which were popular during that time, and distribute their work to a wide audience.

Toward the end of the Edo period, tales of the supernatural went out of style. It wasn’t until the middle of the twentieth century that Japanese manga artists and filmmakers seemed to rediscover the old spirits and demons and to reimagine them for the modern world.

Films like Totoro and Spirited Away resonated with audiences around the world and have become a part of our global culture.

Takashi Murakami

Takashi Murakami has a studio just outside of Tokyo, where he employs about 350 workers. At age 57, he is the founder of the Superflat art movement and a superstar in the art world. In 2017/2018 his work in international auctions attracted turnover of $18.3 million with a top price of $8.8 million, according to Artprice.com. 

His superflat style and the other-worldly content of his works, give them a supernatural feel and universal appeal.

In works like Champignon and Jellyfish Eyes, available at VFA, Murakami imbues his subjects with mystical qualities.

Chiho Aoshima

Chiho Aoshima is one of the artists who has been nurtured at Kaikai Kiki, Takashi Murakami’s artist collective, where she was an assistant in Murakami’s studio.

Born in Tokyo in 1974, Aoshima has a degree in economics, but her passion for art led her to create surreal scenes in the superflat style.

Her works, like Building Head-Palm Trees and Japanese Apricot, available at VFA, explore the relationship between humans and nature.

Aoshima’s works are also included in the Japan Supernatural exhibit, on display until March 8, 2020.

Supernatural Art at VFA

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

Clarissa Sebag-Montefiore. Takashi Murakami, Japan’s rock star artist, unveils 10-metre ‘stupid cat painting’. The Guardian. November 1, 2019.
Shona Martin. Superflat to supercat: Sydney buys a multimillion-dollar artwork. The Sydney Morning Herald. October 25, 2019.
Larissa Hjorth. In Japan, supernatural beliefs connect the spiritual realm with the earthly objects around us. The Conversation, RMIT. October 30. 2019.
Emma Joyce. Five Haunting Characters to Seek Out at Sydney’s ‘Japan Supernatural’ Exhibition. Concrete Playground. January 22, 2020.
Roy Lichtenstein Artwork for Sale

Roy Lichtenstein: Drawing in the Dark

In 1962, New York gallery owner, Leo Castelli, chose to represent Roy Lichtenstein. He had seen the works of Andy Warhol and James Rosenquist, and considered representing one of them, but it was Lichtenstein who made the cut.

The gallery show, which ran from February 10 to March 3, was the first exhibit of Lichtenstein’s comic book paintings, a big change from the Abstract Expressionist paintings,  filled with emotional content, that gallery goers had gotten used to seeing. The comic book paintings sold out and made Lichtenstein, at age 39, a legend in the art world.

By the time Lichtenstein had his second solo show at the Castelli gallery in September, 1963, his work had been shown in museums and galleries around the country. Roy Lichtenstein’s exhibit ushered in the era of Pop Art.

I like to pretend that my art has nothing to do with me.
— Roy Lichtenstein

Drawing in the Dark

It was a series of unrelated, but significant events, that led to Roy Lichtenstein’s creation of images based on comic strips and advertisements. Lichtenstein was born and raised in New York. He showed a talent for art and music at a very early age and his talent was encouraged by his parents.

He was drafted and sent to Europe in 1945, where he drew, studied art and hoped to stay to attend art classes at the Sorbonne. His plans changed when he was called back to New York because his father was ill. After his father’s death, Lichtenstein returned to Ohio State University, where he had studied art with Hoyt L. Sherman after graduating high school and attending classes at the Art Students League. Sherman taught at Ohio State for more than fifty years. He had read a story about Rembrandt that influenced the way he taught his students.

When Rembrandt was a young artist, the story went, he was inside his father’s windmill, and noticed that when the windmill blades cut off the light, the images that he retained in his mind’s eye remained very clear and distinct.

Sherman created a Flash Room at Ohio State, a darkened room where images would be flashed on a screen and the students would have to draw what they had seen. The U.S. Navy and Army Air Corps used Sherman’s method to teach pilots and gunners to quickly identify aircraft as friendly or enemy. Lichtenstein credits Hoyt L. Sherman with having a major influence on his work, especially on his ability to create crisp compositions.

Roy Lichtenstein Etchings and Screenprints at VFA

As Roy Lichtenstein’s work evolved, he explored sculpture, printmaking and created many commissioned murals. In January 2017, Masterpiece was sold for $165 million. The proceeds of the sale will be used to create a fund for criminal justice reform.

Please contact us for more information about the works of Roy Lichtenstein available at VFA.

See More Roy Lichtenstein Artwork for Sale at Vertu Fine Art

Frank Stella Sinjerli-Variation III (Axsom 117), 1977

The Continuing Evolution of Frank Stella’s Prints

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

The Evolution of Frank Stella Prints

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

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

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

The Death of Frank Stella’s Early Champion

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

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

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

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

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

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

Frank Stella Prints at Vertu Fine Art

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

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

Helen Frankenthaler: Tough and Transparent

Transparent on Canvas

Helen Frankenthaler’s unique innovations with paint and canvas bridged the gap between Abstract Expressionism and Color Field painting.

Her technique of using oils diluted with turpentine directly on very large, unprepared canvas, created a field of transparent color. The effect produced intriguing, water color-like, diaphanous sweeps of color that carried with them little evidence of a brush stroke.

In 1953, art critic Clement Greenberg brought artists Morris Louis and Kenneth Noland to Frankenthaler’s New York studio to show them Mountains and Sea. Louis was inspired by the work and called Mountains and Sea “the bridge between Pollock and what was possible.”

Frankenthaler was not just concerned with color, but also with the gestural and spontaneous quality of her work. “A really good picture looks as if it’s happened at once.” she said, “It’s an immediate image. For my own work, when a picture looks labored and overworked, and you can read in it – well, she did this and then she did that, and then she did that – there is something in it that has not got to do with beautiful art to me. … I think very often it takes ten of those over-labored efforts to produce one really beautiful wrist motion that is synchronized with your head and heart, and you have it, and therefore it looks as if it were born in a minute.
‘What concerns me when I work, is not whether the picture is a landscape, or whether it’s pastoral, or whether somebody will see a sunset in it. What concerns me is – did I make a beautiful picture?”

The Tough Side

During the 1950s, the New York art scene was pretty much an all-boys club, and Frankenthaler had the determination and toughness to promote her work.

She had met Clement Greenberg when she was at Bennington College and asked him to see her work at a New York gallery. Greenberg agreed to attend the exhibit…if there was booze. Her long association with him was her entrée into the New York art scene.

Frankenthaler’s career began with her first major exhibition in 1950 and continued until her death in 2011.

Last year, the Gagosian Gallery in Beverly Hills hosted an exhibition of Frankenthaler’s work. The exhibit was curated by John Eldrfield, the former chief curator of MoMA, who recounted, in a Los Angeles Times interview, how he came to meet Frankenthaler and, eventually, write a book about her.

“My first contact with her was after I’d done a show of fauvism at MoMA.” Elder field said. “She left a note at the information desk saying, “Just saw your show. It was so wonderful, would love to see you.” A couple of days later, the phone rings. It’s Helen Frankenthaler. She says, “Did you get my note?” I said, “Yeah.” She said, “And you didn’t think to call me?”

‘She invited me to her studio for a drink. She said, “I just finished reading your catalog for the show. I don’t suppose you would want to write a book about me?” I said, “I have a day job. I can’t do this.” But 10 years later, that’s what I was doing.”

The Work of Helen Frankenthaler for sale at VFA

Please contact us for more information about the screenprints and woodcuts by Helen Frankenthaler available at VFA.

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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.

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  • A short history of prints from the earliest woodcut to contemporary processes
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