Deborah Kass’ OY/YO, Ed Ruscha’s Art for Paul McCartney

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Deborah Kass 1952 –

On July 4th, one of Deborah KassOY/YO sculptures was unveiled outside the Weitzman National Museum of American Jewish History on Independence Mall in Philadelphia. The OY/YO sculpture has already been added as a stop on Philadelphia tour buses.

OY/YO began as a painting. Its message resonated across language and cultures, and Kass turned it into a sculpture.

It’s especially appropriate in Philadelphia, where YO is a Philly greeting, popularized by Sylvester Stallone’s “YO, Adrian” in his Rocky movie.

The sculpture in Philadelphia is one of three large OY/YO sculptures, measuring 8 feet tall, 16 feet wide, and 5 feet deep. It’s made of aluminum and painted Lamborghini yellow.

One was installed outside Stanford University’s Cantor Art Center in 2019.  Another is outside the Brooklyn Museum and has recently been wrapped in blue, to show support for the people of Ukraine, whose colors are yellow and blue.

“I created OY/YO thinking about the American promise of equality and fairness and our responsibilities to make the country a better place for all,” said Kass. “With hate and division now on the rise, it is urgent to see our commonalities, what we share, and what brings us together.”

Deborah Kass lives and works in Brooklyn. Her works are in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney, the Guggenheim, the Jewish Museum in New York, the Museum of Fine Art, Boston, the National Portrait Gallery the Smithsonian Institution, the Fogg Museum at Harvard and other major venues.

Ed Ruscha 1937 –

I like the idea of a word becoming a picture, almost leaving its body, then coming back and becoming a word again. – Ed Ruscha

Deborah Kass said that Ed Ruscha’s painting OOF was the inspiration for OY/YO.

Ed Ruscha was born in Nebraska, raised in Oklahoma City and traveled to Los Angeles in 1956 to study art the California Institute of the Arts.

His use of words as visual content in his work has become his signature style.

His first major retrospective was held in 1982 at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. For the exhibition catalogue cover, he chose a drawing made in 1979, which features the words “I don’t want no retro spective”. Ruscha’s work became popular with Japanese collectors entering the contemporary art market in the late 1980s, suddenly driving up demand for his work. He later joked that he had become a “twenty-five year overnight sensation.”

One of his recent projects, at age 84, is the artwork for new box set of 80-year-old Paul McCartney. According to McCartney, the men have shared a friendship and mutual admiration. “I first met Ed Ruscha through my daughter, Stella,” McCartney wrote, “and since then have visited his studio quite a few times. He is a very easy going, humorous guy and ‘of course’ a very skillful painter. His treatments are ingenious and intriguing. Nancy asked Ed to paint a picture for my birthday which uses the phrase ‘For Life’ which is taken from the song ‘My Valentine’, which I wrote for her. It is a beautiful picture with the text in his usual deadpan signature style. The lettering font he uses reminds me of art classes I used to take as a teenager in the Liverpool Institute where we learned to write the alphabet in this style and I enjoyed it so much I even offered to do the lettering on one piece of George’s homework!”

The boxed set is scheduled for release on August 5, 2022.

Please contact us if you would like more information about the works of Deborah Kass and Ed Ruscha available at VFA.


References:
Tom Gralish. Scene Through the Lens | July 4, 2022. The Philadelphia Inquirer. July 4, 2022.
Danya Henninger. 10 things to know about the new OY/YO sculpture outside Philly’s Jewish museum. BillyPenn Newsletter. April 28, 2022.
Alison Fox. This Museum of American Jewish History Just Reopened in Philadelphia After 2 Years — Here’s What’s New. Travel and Leisure. June 12, 2022.
Anna Rahnanan. The Brooklyn Museum’s ‘OY/YO’ sculpture is now wrapped in blue. TimeOut. March 4, 2022.
Paul McCartney. Paintings On The Wall – Ed Ruscha/A PS from PM. March 14, 2019.
Bass Magazine. Paul McCartney Releases Boxed Set With His Three Iconic Solo Albums. June 17, 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.


References:
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.
Mel Bochner Blah, Blah, Blah, 2014

Added Dimensions: Fine Art Prints and more at VFA

It’s been wonderful to get back to seeing artworks up close and in person again. The ability to view fine art prints on line has been a valuable tool for galleries and art lovers, but there is nothing like seeing  a work in person to be able to appreciate its texture and richness.

Many of the artists whose works are in our gallery use what appear to be simple screenprint and lithography techniques. Artists, like Alex Katz, enhance their prints with lush layers of color.

An exhibit of Alex Katz‘s flower paintings are currently on view at the Thaddaeus Ropac Gallery in Seoul and will run through February 5, 2022.

Although he has always done large paintings in oil, Katz also works in other medium, like porcelain enamel on aluminum and powder coated sculptural works.

Other artists who are best known for their paintings and prints, also expand their oeuvre by using innovative and creative materials:

Donald Sultan is known for using industrial materials like tar and linoleum in his large paintings, and  flocking and diamond dust in many of his floral prints. Sultan also creates sculptures in floral motifs.

Kenny Scharf, who often uses traditional oil paint on linen for his less-than-traditional motifs, also uses some unusual combination of materials in his two and three-dimensional works. He uses diamond dust in many of his fine art prints and flocking on some of his sculptural works.

One of America’s most interesting painters and printmakers, Ed Ruscha, worked with master printmakers to create many innovate textural prints. He worked closely with master printmaker, Richard Duardo, founder of Modern Multiples, an L.A. institution for more than forty years. Zoot Soot, available at VFA, is Ruscha’s homage to Richard Duardo. Zoot Soot is a wonderful example of Ruscha’s innovate printmaking.

Like Ed Ruscha, Mel Bochner uses words and a variety of materials in his paintings and prints. “The materiality of a drawing is central to its meaning” Bochner said. “Every medium reveals something but hides something else. A change of mediums can reveal what was hidden, permitting new thoughts to emerge.” An inspired version of Blah, Blah, Blah, a recurring theme in Bochner’s works, is available at VFA.

Please contact us if you would like more information about the work of Alex Katz, Donald Sultan, Kenny Scharf, Ed Ruscha, Mel Bochner or any of the other fine artists whose works are available at VFA.


References:
Jonathan Goodman. Alex Katz/ArtSeen. The Brooklyn Rail. December 2021-January 2022 Issue.
Shawn Ghassemitari. Alex Katz’s Verdant Paintings Fill the Halls of Thaddaeus Ropac Seoul. Hype Art. December 13, 2021.

The HOPE of Robert Indiana and The Travel Log of Ed Ruscha

Robert Indiana 1928–2018

My goal is that LOVE should cover the world. – Robert Indiana

On May 19, 2018, the day before Robert Indiana died,  a New York-based copyright holder filed a lawsuit, accusing Indiana’s caretaker and a New York-based art publisher of taking advantage of the artist. A settlement was reached a few weeks ago that could open the way for Indiana’s Maine island home to become a museum.

Millions of dollars have been spent on litigation in the past three years related to Indiana’s estate, causing the  state attorney general’s office to demand an accounting of the estate’s spending.

The bickering is a far cry from the LOVE icon that Indiana created in 1965 for a Museum of Modern Art Christmas Card.

After his death, at age 89, the curators at the Smithsonian went through their archives and found, among other things, touching stories of the life of the shy, seclusive artist. They also uncovered an early version of the Christmas LOVE card, which he sent to Dorothy Miller, the Museum of Modern Art’s curator in 1964, the year before he was commissioned to create the design for the card that became an icon.

In 2008, Indiana took the four letter word HOPE and created a series of prints for the presidential campaign of Barack Obama, which raised over $1 million.

Unique monoprints of Robert Indiana’s HOPE are available at VFA.

Ed Ruscha 1937 – present

When you’re on a highway, viewing the western U.S. with the mountains and the flatness and the desire and all that, it’s very much like my paintings. – Ed Ruscha

Ed Ruscha jokingly calls himself a “twenty-five year overnight sensation.”

He was born in Omaha, Nebraska and raised in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Ruscha traveled to California to attend the California Institute of Arts and was immediately drawn to life in L.A. His work was popular in the 1960s and he was part of many exhibits, along with other Pop artists, but it wasn’t until the late 1980s, when Japanese collectors began to enter the contemporary art market, that demand for his work began to soar.

Ruscha currently has an exhibit at the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art. Many of the paintings, photographs and books in the exhibit were done in the 1960s, when he traveled from California to visit his family back in Oklahoma. Ed Ruscha: Travel Log will be on display through May 30, 2021.

His work is also on display at the Oklahoma Contemporary in Oklahoma City. Ed Ruscha: OKLA, examines the influence that Oklahoma had on the artist’s style.The show will run through July 5, 2021.

Ed Ruscha is still painting and drawing, at age 83, in a concrete-built house in the California desert, which he had designed by Frank Gehry in 1976.

Please contact us if you would like information about the works of Robert Indiana, Ed Ruscha or any of the other fine artists whose works are available at VFA.


References:
Taylor Dafoe. A Battle in the Legal War Over Robert Indiana’s Legacy Ends as His Estate Settles With the Artist’s Longtime Representative. artnet news. March 8, 2021.
Village Soup.Knox. Farnsworth announces historic bequest of 27 major Wyeth works from Betsy Wyeth. April 16, 2021.
Associated Press. Agreement could free Robert Indiana’s estate from lawsuit. March 5, 2021.
Editorial Staff. Robert Indiana’s Former Home May Become a Museum, and Other News. Surface Magazine. March 10, 2021.May 30, 2018.
Elizabeth Botten. Archives Reveal Touching Stories on the Life of Robert Indiana, the Man Who Invented “LOVE”. Smithsonian Magazine.
Harriet Lloyd-Smith. Ed Ruscha’s nostalgic ode to Oklahoma. Wallpaper Magazine. April 2021.
Letha Ch’ien. ‘Ed Ruscha: Travel Log’ at Sonoma Valley Museum of Art is a rewarding American trip. San Francisco Chronicle. April 7, 2021.

Ed Ruscha Does L.A., Michael Craig-Martin in London

Ed Ruscha Does L.A.

Ed Ruscha, c. 2005

In 1956, when he was eighteen, Ed Ruscha left his home in Oklahoma City and traveled to Los Angeles to study at the California Institute of the Arts. After graduating, he worked as a layout artist at an ad agency.

Ruscha has an extraordinary talent for casting ordinary objects and places in a new light and giving the viewer a new appreciation of their form.

Ed Ruscha
The Whisky a Go Go Club

In 1966, Ruscha mounted a motorized camera in the bed of a Datsun pickup truck and drove slowly up and down Sunset Boulevard, shooting thousands of frames in a single, continuous session. The truck moved slowly, so he put a sign on the back of the truck that read, “Please Pass.”

For over forty years, Ruscha photographed the Strip and other areas of L.A. The Getty Research Institute has launched an interactive website of Ruscha’s photos, taken between the mid-1960s and 2007.

Called 12 Sunsets, the site lets you choose a red pickup, blue Volkswagen bus or red Beetle and a year in which you can  travel along the Boulevard.

Though the Strip saw much social and artistic upheaval during the years he photographed it, Ruscha was more interested in the changing landscape design, the architecture and the signage that signaled social changes.

Ruscha worked with artist and master printmaker,  Richard Duardo, who was a driving force in the Chicano art community in Los Angeles. “It’s not artist-makes-print, but rather artist-and-printer-make-print.” Ruscha said.

After Duardo’s death in 2015, Ruscha designed Zoot Soot, available at VFA, in memory of Richard Duardo.

At 83, Ruscha still lives and works in Culver City, California.

Sir Michael Craig-Martin

Sir Michael Craig-Martin

In August of 2019, six steel sculptures by British artist Michael Craig-Martin were installed around Kinder Lake at Discover Green in Houston. It was the first exhibition of the Michael Craig-Martin’s sculptures to be seen in Texas, and only the second venue in the United States. Then came the pandemic and Craig-Martin has been sheltering in place in London, where he lives and works.

Craig-Martin, who was knighted in 2016, was born in Dublin, raised in the U.S., where he studied at the Yale School of Art and Architecture. In 1966 he moved to Britain, where he had his first solo exhibition in 1969. During the 1980s he was a tutor at Goldsmiths College, where he taught many of the emerging Young British Artists, including Damien Hirst. 

He was asked by BBC Arts to design a poster to honor the National Health Service (NHS) in Britain for its service during the pandemic. He created a poster of Gerbera Daisies, for adults and children to color in and display as a show of support for the work of NHS staff. The poster is available to download from the NHS website.

Usually Craig-Martin draws and sculpts everyday objects, but since the lockdown he’s been stuck at home and hasn’t been able to go to his studio. He’s been drawing objects from the supermarket. “Normally I’m strict about drawing mass-produced, fabricated objects, ordinary objects.” he said, “But over the past few weeks I’ve had a very good rush of work and I’ve been drawing nothing but fruit, flowers and vegetables. They are the only things I see. You can’t buy clothes, you can’t buy furniture, you can’t buy high tech. But I’m starting to see things I hadn’t noticed before. I’m struck that I’ve been able to produce dozens of drawings, where anybody could look at them and say, ‘that’s a strawberry, that’s fennel, that’s a carrot’.”

Please contact us if you would like more information about the works of Ed Ruscha and Sir Michael Craig-Mrtin available at VFA.

References:
Sebastian Smee. Ed Ruscha’s stunning Sunset Strip art project lets you tour its full length, east to west — and back in time. The Washington Post. January 9, 2021.
Tobias Carroll. “12 Sunsets” Revisits Ed Ruscha’s Visual History of the Sunset Strip. Inside Hook. January 10, 2021.
Mark Rozzo. Ed Ruscha Still Has Plenty More to Say About America. Vanity Fair. May 30, 2018.
Pascale Hughes. Sir Michael Craig-Martin on creativity under coronavirus lockdown: ‘Art doesn’t have parameters’. iNews/Culture. May 1, 2020.

Ed Ruscha’s Hollywood Celebrated in Scotland

Ed Ruscha was drawn to Hollywood like a moth to a flame. He moved to LA in 1956, at the age of nineteen, and still lives and works in Culver City. Once the glamorous headquarters of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer film studios, Culver City still attracts movie makers who want to film in the residential areas, where the nostalgic architecture has not changed in many decades. That Hollywood imagery seeped into Ruscha’s consciousness, and onto his canvasses, is no surprise.

The Mountain Series

Some of Ruscha’s most recognizable, and memorable works, are part of The Mountain Series, based on the Paramount Pictures logo. The original Paramount Pictures logo is the oldest surviving Hollywood film logo. It has been reworked over the years, but the mountain and sky, shown before the opening credits, are easily identifiable to movie goers.

Ruscha uses the mountain background overlaid with quips done with his own font, which he calls Boy Scout Utility Modern, to create works that inspire a range of emotions. “Good art,” he said, “should elicit a response of ‘Huh? Wow!’ as opposed to ‘Wow! Huh?’” History Kids, for sale at Vertu, elicits the perfect response.

Good art should elicit a response of ‘Huh? Wow!’ as opposed to ‘Wow! Huh?’”

Ed Ruscha in Scotland

In 2015, Ruscha announced that he would donate one copy of every print he makes for the rest of his life to Tate, the umbrella organization that oversees the Tate Museums. As part of this year’s Edinburgh Art Festival, in conjunction with the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, The Tate has put together an exhibit of Ruscha’s work called Music from the Balconies: Ed Ruscha and Los Angeles.

The title refers to Ruscha’s 1984 painting, The Music from the Balconies. The text in the painting, The music from the balconies nearby was overlaid by the noise of sporadic acts of violence, comes from the 1975 novel High-Rise, written by Ruscha’s friend, English novelist J.G. Ballard. The novel chronicles the moral and social breakdown of life in a luxurious apartment building. Ruscha said, ‘the phrase was a powerful thought coupled with a pictorial idea that ends in a gentle kind of clash”.

There is no mountain in painting, just prairie land, and what looks like an old Hollywood Technicolor sky. The collection of Ruscha’s works will be on display through April 2018.

Ed Ruscha at Vertu

We have a diverse collection of works by Ed Ruscha available in our gallery. Please contact us for more information about History Kids or any of the other work for sale at Vertu.

See More Ed Ruscha Artwork for Sale

Fine Artists and Master Printers

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There are artists whose vision can only be achieved by creating fine art prints. Techniques like oils, acrylics, watercolors or sculpture can not always achieve the result that the artist envisions.

The fine art prints for sale at VFA are created by fine artists, who often collaborate with master printmakers. Like a marriage, the relationship between artist and printer must be one of trust, respect and understanding. (Many of the relationships between artist and printer have lasted longer than many marriages.)

Picasso and His Printer in Paris

Intaglio printer, Roger Lacourière, worked with Matisse in the late 1920s and Picasso, beginning in the 1930s. Lacourière not only helped Picasso with his art work, he also introduced him to French art dealer Ambroise Vollard, who introduced, not just Picasso, but Cezanne, Renoir and other artists, then unknown, to the art world.

The shop was eventually taken over by Lacourière’s master printer Jacques Frélaut, and renamed “Lacourière et Frélaut.” The Atelier Lacourière et Frélaut is still a thriving business, where contemporary artists from all over the world go print their work.

Tourists in Paris pass by the workshop, with its simple facade, every day without a hint of the exciting work that is going on inside.

Chuck Close and His Printer in New York

Master printers are able to achieve the textures, colors and feel that the artist has conceived. With an artist like Chuck Close, who works with a myriad of colors and design, the print process can be very complex.

Close’s Self-Portrait, completed in 2015, took four years of work to create. This fine art print, available for sale at VFA, was done in more than 80 colors using 24 wood blocks.

Pace Prints and the Pace Gallery have been supporting artists like Chuck Close, Ed Ruscha, Keith Haring, Donald Sultan and many more, since the 1960s.

Alex Katz, Richard Diebenkorn and Their Printer in San Francisco

Crown Point Press is across the street from the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. The building was originally built in 1922 for the San Francisco News. Crown Point was established in 1962. In 1965 it began to publish prints by Richard Diebenkorn and Wayne Thiebaud.

Artists like Alex Katz, Ed Ruscha, Helen Frankenthaler and Robert Mangold have worked with the master printers at Crown Point.

The gallery at Crown Point Press is open to the public. Workshops in etching and photogravure are held every summer and are also open to the public.

Fine Art Prints for Sale at VFA

The fine art prints for sale at VFA are the works of great artists and master printers. For more information about the printing process, you can download our free Ebook: How to Identify and Buy Fine Art Prints.

Please visit or contact us if you would like more information about the work in our gallery.

Damien Hirst, ELLIPTICINE

Artwork For Sale at Vertu

These works, by some of our favorite artists, are as unique and fascinating as the artists who created them.

Damien Hirst

Hirst is often called the “bad boy” of contemporary art because of his flamboyant installations and bold attitude. What is often overlooked, is Hirst’s background as a student at Goldsmiths College in London, where he focused on the use of color. Very early in his career Hirst became fascinated with the colors of the medications in a book of pharmaceuticals and began to paint his Spots series.

Ellipticine is a beautifully crafted etching, a continuation of the Spot series that allows Hirst to continue to play with color.

David Hockney

Not intentional, but there seems to be a theme here…David Hockney is another “bad boy” of the art world…refusing Queen Elizabeth’s request to paint her portrait and refusing a knighthood, saying, “Prizes of any sort are suspect.” At age 78, Hockney still lives and works in L.A.

Two of his most fascinating works, for sale in our gallery, were done after Hockney took a hiatus from painting and concentrated on photography. His focus, at that time was on the perspective he could achieve using multiple photos of a single subject.

The Tyler Dining Room is part of Hockney’s Moving Focus Series, in which he used Cubist technique and began taking figures out of his work and placing the viewer just outside the scene.

A trip to Mexico, in 1985, inspired View of Hotel Well lll, a continuation of his experiments with perspective. Last year, Hockney had an exhibit, at the San Francisco Museum of his iPad paintings.

Jasper Johns

President Obama gave Jasper Johns the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011. One of America’s most creative and influential artists, we appreciate Johns for his skills as a printmaker.
The Critic Sees is a recurring theme of Johns’, in which looks at the way in which a work of art is perceived…not just by the public, but the artist, as well.

Roy Lichtenstein

Against Apartheid is one of more than a dozen works that were done, by a group of internationally known artists, for an exhibit in Paris commemorating the observance of International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. Other artists included in the exhibit were Robert Rauschenberg, Antonio Tapies, Wilfredo Lam and Julio La Parc.

Against Apartheid was also included in a pamphlet produced in cooperation with the United Nations Special Committee Against Apartheid.

This lithograph is not just a wonderful example of Lichtenstein’s work, but also a piece of history.

Ed Ruscha

The fun doesn’t stop for 77-year-old Ed Ruscha…or for us.

Although music is often a theme in his work, the lithograph Music, has none of Ruscha’s usual wordplay – just a play on the musical staff.

The flat bite etching technique that that Ruscha used in Real Deal is a testament to his talent as a print artist. His use of flat bite technique makes it apparent that Ruscha is still one of the most creative artists of our time.

Zoot Soot, which is handmade from newspaper and cotton thread, pays homage to Richard Duano, the Mexican-American print artist who was co-founder of the Centro de Arte Públicoarts collective in L.A. that supported and encouraged young Latino artists. Duano died in November of 2014 at age 62.

Zoot Soot is a tribute from one great American artist to another.

Please contact us if you would like more information about these works, or the many others we have in our gallery.

ed ruscha prints

Ed Ruscha: Still Disarming

Art has to be something that makes you scratch your head.

At age 77, Ed Ruscha is still putting a lot of thought…and a little bit of mischief… into his work. Ruscha is a masterful print artist, painter, filmmaker and photographer.

Mark Twain Quote

The Mark Twain Quote lithograph, one of the Ruscha’s available in our gallery as of this writing, is a fine example of the thought and humor that goes into each of his works. Using a Mark Twain quote, The Ancients Stole All Our Great Ideas, shadowing it with its German translation on a gradient background, makes the visual impact of Mark Twain Quote very powerful and does what Ruscha intends to do with all of his work: “Art has to be something that makes you scratch your head.” he said.

Ruscha’s Early Mischief

His first book of photographs, called Twenty Six Gasoline Stations, had a profound influence on the direction of pop culture, photography and mid-century art. Self-published in 1963, and selling for $3 a copy, Twenty Six Gasoline Stations contains stark, black and white photographs of twenty six gas stations along Route 66 that Ruscha passed on the trips he took from his Los Angeles home to the home of his mother in Oklahoma City, where he was raised.

In a 1973 interview, Ruscha said, “I realized that for the first time this book had an inexplicable thing I was looking for, and that was a kind of a “Huh?” That‘s what I’ve always worked around. All it is is a device to disarm somebody with my particular message.”

Making Mischief

Twenty Six Gasoline Stations is considered to be the first modern artist’s book. Ruscha sent a copy to the Library of Congress, for inclusion in its collection. It had no text, austere photos…not the kind of art book that had been seen before… and was rejected by the Library of Congress.

At that time, Ruscha occasionally did commercial art work for the fledgling Artforum Magazine, using the name, Eddie Russia. After the Library of Congress rejected his book, Ruscha took out an ad in the magazine, that read, “ REJECTED. Oct. 2, 1963 by the Library of Congress, Washington 25, D.C. Copies available @ $3.00” Today, copies of Twenty Six Gasoline Stations are part of the permanent collection of major venues, like MoMA and the Tate, and original editions of the book, are coveted by art collectors.

A signed first edition can sell for as much as twenty five thousand dollars. The 1964 Artforum Magazine, with the original ad, is also a collector’s item.

A Way With Words

Ruscha began to paint words on a trip to Paris in 1961. In 1969, he created a series of “Liquid Word” images during a two-month fellowship at L.A.’s Tamarind Lithography Workshop. Although Ruscha says that he has, “no agenda, no message”, he does focus on aspects of American culture that he finds appealing. His perspective, which he claims has a “lack of emotion” allows viewers to bring their own point of view to his work.

Ruscha said he was inspired to be an artist when, as a boy, he watched a neighbor draw cartoons with pen and ink. “I could see I was just born for the job,” Ruscha said, ‘born to watch paint dry,”

View More Work from Ed Ruscha

Photo top right: Ed Ruscha (1970) by Jerry McMillan

Left Coast Pop Art: Ed Ruscha

When most of us think of American Pop Art, we conjure images of the likes of Warhol, Lichtenstein, Haring and the New York Pop Art scene; yet a number of west coast artists are equally responsible for the establishment of the movement in America, perhaps none more so than Ed Ruscha. As sure as the Big Apple draws artists with its larger-than-life allure, L.A.’s Tinsel town provides ample counterbalance with its abundance of celluloid heroes and assorted artists who call Southern California home.

Whereas New York artists feed off the energy of running background themes – Broadway, Madison Avenue, Wall Street and the like − Los Angeles offers Hollywood, Wilshire Boulevard and the Sunset Strip. Another pertinent west coast theme is that of the “explorer’s spirit.” Perhaps this theme best suites Pop Artist Ed Ruscha, who was born in Omaha, NE and raised in Oklahoma City before heading to Los Angeles to attend art school, and never turning back. Like all transplants, Ruscha sees the bright city lights from an outsider’s perspective and is able to compellingly capture all that is grand, juxtaposed with all that is ordinary, or less.

Like all great Pop Artists, Ruscha is drawn to the irony of a culture that idolizes unnatural manifestations − such as commercialism and the Hollywood sign propped up in the Santa Monica Mountains. Ed Ruscha enjoys the ability to present the majesty of the front of the legendary sign while simultaneously taking the enamored viewer behind it, to see the emptiness underneath the sticks that hold it in place.

The blending of themes serves to best describe the works of Ed Ruscha. Beat poet combined with fine artist is one that’s regularly attributed. Marrying rhythmic words and letters with contrasting backdrops that range from monochromatic abstractions to mountain peaks, Ed Ruscha’s works ask the viewer to use both sides of the brain at once. Consuming Ruscha’s paintings and photos can require us to make sense of the context, or lack of context, belonging to a word or phrase presented, making us struggle to realize whether the artist’s intention is to be extraordinary or trite.

Word manipulation can mean many different things when referring to Ruscha’s works. The artist derives creates meaning in the movement of the words across a canvas or other media. Letter sizing, spacing and fonts all have profound effects, as does the coloring, texture and materials used to create the artist’s word imagery.

Ed Ruscha’s own description is that the words are characters that appear on stage and the backdrop images and designs create the stage they stand upon. Ruscha’s letters appear on “stage” with incredible potential for how they enter the scene, engage in formation and even their absence all serve to manipulate the work and viewer alike.

Like Andy Warhol, Ed Ruscha’s Pop Art masterpieces included photography and film in addition to his paintings and print works. For much of Ruscha’s career in the 60s and 70s, the artist was as well known for his themed photographic art books as he was for his paintings and prints. Twentysix Gasoline Stations helped to place Ed Ruscha as a Pop Icon force when it was published in 1962; the same year that the artist’s paintings were included alongside those of Warhol, Lichtenstein, Down, Hefferton, Goode, Dine and Theibaud in Pasadena Art Museum’s “New Painting of Common Objects,” a show thought to help launch the Pop Art movement.

Ed Ruscha’s photo publications – with names like Every Building on the Sunset Strip and Thirtyfour Parking Lots – are testament to the unique pioneering nature of creator. Ruscha’s paintings made known objects, like words and letters, appear abstract because of their juxtapositions to other objects and removed context. Alternately, the artist’s photographic collections took ordinary objects and infused them with new meaning by way of adding context.

If you are a collector seeking the works of Ed Ruscha, please feel free to contact us, as we’re here to help. Of course, if you’re in South Florida, please stop in to our Boca Raton Contemporary Art Gallery and say hello.

New American Pop Art at Vertu

The new year has provided for some rather unique and wonderful American Pop Art acquisitions for our VFA gallery in Boca Raton, FL. Among these are eye-popping representations from Andy Warhol’s famous Space Fruit series. This surreal collection holds a special place in the hearts of Warhol collectors, as the series demonstrates Andy’s unadulterated approach to screenprint manipulations that produced signature pieces far afield from other such Contemporary screenprints in the late 1970s.

Evidence of the popularity of such Warhol prints is the fact that as of this writing, just one of three recently acquired Space Fruit works is still available at VFA. Space Fruit-Watermelon (F&S II, 199) possesses with divine clarity all that is extraordinary about these Warhol still-life interpretations. Warhol’s Watermelon is transcendent. Bold colors applied in such a way that the viewer’s mind feels it’s consuming a collage with overlaid shapes of paper, textured with Warhol’s hand drawn lines and contrasting shadows, rendering this still life as anything but organic.

Another American Pop Artist whose works are a staple at VFA is Keith Haring. The artist’s Stones #1, a 1989 limited edition lithograph, is complete with the iconography that made Haring an icon himself. The work is pure exuberance. Whether this piece represents to the viewer the oneness of man, the joy of life, faith or anything else one derived, it clearly illustrates the artist’s genius for turning simple lines and figures into something as energized as a pulsating dance party on paper.

Another exciting acquisition of Keith Haring art now available at our Boca Raton gallery is a set of five embossed silkscreens produced toward the end of the artist’s life. If you’re a local Keith Haring collector, we recommend that you stop by and view this pristine collection of prints as a set. The quality of this powerful collection of silkscreen icons − Haring’s Radiant Baby and untitled works referred to as barking dog, yellow angel, bat x-man and three-eyed smiling face are beautiful impressive editions.

A third American Pop Artist featuring new works at Vertu Fine Art Gallery is Ed Ruscha, whose 2012 Mark Twain Quote brings dramatic depth, visually to Twain’s words. The limited edition of 60 prints, co-published with Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, displays the German version of the statement apparently floating beneath the English words. Together the words lend vision to the quote living throughout space and time, their weightlessness a counterbalance to the heaviness such a statement carries. The angle of the subject presents the initial words, “THE ANCIENTS,” as living further back in time than the following words which approach us closer to the present period.

Another Ed Ruscha now hanging at VFA is Wall Rocket. Ruscha collectors are familiar with this series of prints from the artist featuring snowcapped mountains as the backdrop for white font delivering a juxtaposed conceptual offering. You need not be a “wall rocket scientist” to appreciate the strength of this work.

With season in South Florida in full swing, our inventory of impressive Contemporary Art from the masters of Pop, Optical and Abstract Expressionist movements continue to rotate in and out of our gallery at Boca Center. If you’re seeking any number of particular works, feel free to contact us or drop in for a visit.

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Free Ebook: How to Identify and Buy Fine Art Prints

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