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.


References:
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.
Ellsworth Kelly Untitled ( for Obama), 2012

Ellsworth Kelly’s Fine Art Prints at VFA

Ellsworth Kelly 1923-2015

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

Ellsworth Kelly saw the big picture. He was not only careful about what he placed on his canvas or paper, but also about how his work was placed on a wall in a room.

There were several things that led Kelly to become a keen observer of the world around him and reduce what he saw to pure form and color; as a shy, frail child his mother and grandmother took him outdoors to get fresh air and introduced him to birdwatching. The shapes and colors that he saw as he looked at the birds, the plants and the trees had a profound influence on his work.

He loved to draw, reducing what he saw in nature to basic forms.

While deployed in Paris as part of a unit that designed camouflage during World War ll, Kelly fell in love with the city. He returned to Paris, and lived there for six years, after his army discharge and study at the the Boston Museum of the Fine Arts School.

It was during a visit to the Musée d’Art Moderne in Paris, that Kelly began to how he wanted to paint.  He paid more attention to the architecture of the museum than to the art on display in the building. On a trip to the island of Belle-Île, off the coast of Brittany, in the summer of 1949, Kelly found himself intrigued by the framework of the window of small cottage he was staying in and painted a simplified version of its lines in black against  a white background. That exercise was the beginning of a long career as a Minimalist artist, whose works influenced artists of post-war America.

He began making prints in the 1960s, many of which are now in the permanent collection of the National Gallery. Kelly was able to recreate the intensity and pure form of his paintings into his prints, many of which are available at VFA.

Kelly also created collaged postcards, mischievously inserting flat, colored forms onto incongruous backgrounds. He made over 400 postcards from 1949 to 2005. They are currently on display at the Tang Teaching Museum at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York. Ellsworth Kelly: Postcards will be on exhibit through November 28, 2021.

Please contact us if you would like more information about the work of Ellsworth Kelly available at VFA.


References:
Arte Fuse. Lilt, Joy and Clarity: The Prints of Ellsworth Kelly (Photo Story). October 27, 2021.
Shahrzad Rasekh. Sotheby’s Auctions TV Legend Douglas S. Cramer’s Lichtenstein Paintings & More. Gotham. October 8, 2021.
Stephen Maine. The Unexpected Humor of Ellsworth Kelly. Hyperallergic. November 3, 2021.
Daisy Woodward. Five Things You Might Not Know About Ellsworth Kelly. AnOther/Art & Photography, July 4, 2018.
Alex Katz Straw Hat Vivien, 2021

Recent Acquisitions by Alex Katz, Ellsworth Kelly

Alex Katz 1927 –

A Guggenheim retrospective of the career of Alex Katz has been in the works for more than a year and has now been scheduled for October 14, 2022 through February 20, 2023. Katz has not had a major survey exhibition since a retrospective at the Whitney Museum in 1986.

Although he’s a  consummate New Yorker, Katz’s works have been more popular in European cities than in New York. He has bucked art trends that have come and gone, and has always painted portraits and landscapes in his distinctive style bold and immediate style.

During the pandemic, Katz traveled to Pennsylvania and then his summer home and studio in Maine, before returning to his studio in SoHo. He continued to work, creating paintings and prints.

Straw Hat Vivien and Vivien with Hat, done in 2021, are recent acquisitions available at VFA. Also available is Alex Katz, a book that contains more than 300 images, edited by Katz’s son, Vincent, with a profile of the artist by art historian Carter Ratcliff, who has studied the life and work of Alex Katz for more than fifty years.

In addition to the upcoming retrospective at the Guggenheim, the works of Alex Katz will be on display at solo exhibits in Paris, Chicago, New York, Maine, Korea, Spain, the Netherlands and Austria.

Ellsworth Kelly 1923 – 2015

Ellsworth Kelly had a profound influence on art in America. He studied technical art and design at the Pratt Institute from 1941-1942 before entering the Army. He worked in the camouflage unit called the Ghost Army, and served in London, Germany and Paris. After his service and two years of study at the Boston Museum of the Fine Arts School, Kelly returned to Paris for six years. Because he was outside of the U.S., he was not influenced by the Abstract Expressionist movement that was popular at the time. The artists working in Paris had influence on his style, but it was a visit to the Musée d’Art Moderne that led to his Minimalist style. It was the windows of the museum, more than the paintings, that transformed his perspective. “Painting as I had known it was finished for me.” he said. “Everywhere I looked, everything I saw, became something to be made, and it had to be made exactly as it was, with nothing added.”

Kelly began to make prints in the 1960s. He worked with master printmakers in Paris and New York. Our recent acquisitions are lithographs that he made towards the end of his life.

The Untitled (for Obama) lithograph, of two black curves, was an homage to Barack Obama, who presented Kelly with the National Medal of Arts in 2012.

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


References:
Lucy Rees. Looking Back at Alex Katz’s Remarkable Seven-Decade Career. Galerie Magazine. December 22, 2020.
Andy Battaglia. Guggenheim Museum to Mount Retrospective for Alex Katz, New York Painter Extraordinaire, in 2022. Artnews. January 17, 2020.
Tom McGlynn. Alex Katz: New Paintings and Sculptures. The Brooklyn Rail. June 2019.
Lou Stoppard. Alex Katz: the ‘artist of the immediate’ on why his time is now. The Financial Times. November 2, 2020.

Works of Modern Masters

End of the Art World, made in 1971, is a 16-mm film that documents the works of the most avant-garde artists of the 1960s. Now available on DVD, the movie ends with the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the city of New York blowing up.

The film looks kitsch today, but the stories that brought the artists to New York, their influence on each other and on the art world are an important part of our art history.

Jasper Johns, who is still alive and working today, was just one of the many artists who moved to New York to work, study and pursue their careers as artists.

Johns and Robert Rauschenberg were two of the first artists who moved to Coenties Slip, a neighborhood in lower Manhattan along the East River. The old industrial buildings, where sails had been manufactured, gave the artists inexpensive spaces in which to live and work.

Artists on the roof of 3-5 Coenties Slip (left to right: Delphine Seyrig, Duncan Youngerman, Robert Indiana, Ellsworth Kelly, Jack Youngerman, and Agnes Martin, 1958.

They encouraged each other to push back against the traditional art that had gone before, and use everyday objects and popular cultural imagery in their work.

Ellsworth Kelly, who was influenced by James Audubon’s drawings and his own experiences observing birds, created work that used bold, but minimal, colors and shapes.

Kelly inspired Robert Indiana, another Coenties Slip artist, to give up figurative painting and concentrate on geometric, hard-edge design.

James Rosenquist rented a studio in Coenties Slip in 1960 and went from billboard painter to pop artist.

Robert Indiana and Andy Warhol in Warhol’s loft, 1964

Although they didn’t live in Coenties Slip, both Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein were part of the pop culture in New York that moved art in America through Minimalism and beyond, so that artists had, and have now, the ability to explore and invent their individual styles. Many were also great printmakers, which is why we value their work so highly at VFA.

Works of Modern Masters at VFA

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


References:
Kelly Richman-Abdou. Discover the Eclectic Influences That Shaped Ellsworth Kelly’s Avant-Garde Art. My Modern Met. July 12, 2020.
Retrospective on Artist Jasper Johns. The Garden City News. July 23, 2020.
Christie’s. LOVE story: the many sides of Robert Indiana. February 13, 2020.
Blanton Museum of Art. Kelly & The Coenties Slip. April, 2018.

Recent Acquisitions and Featured Works at VFA

Ellsworth Kelly

Ellsworth Kelly, 2012

Birds, plants, Matisse, Picasso, camouflage…these were the unexpected influences that led to Ellsworth Kelly becoming one of the most influential, avant-garde artists in America.

“A glass roof of a factory with its broken and patched panes, lines of a roadmap, the shape of a scarf on a woman’s head, a fragment of Le Corbusier’s Swiss Pavilion, a corner of a Braque painting, paper fragments in the street,” Kelly said. “It was all the same: anything goes.”

Kelly died in 2015, at the age of 92, two years after President Obama awarded him the National Medal of Arts and National Humanities Medal.

Ellsworth Kelly Oversized Postcard Set with matching stamps, 2019

In 2019, on what would have been Kelly’s 96th birthday, the U.S. Post Office released a set of postcards and stamps of his works.

Two of our recent acquisitions Blue and Yellow and Color Panels, are two of Ellsworth Kelly’s most beautifully done lithographs.

Robert Indiana

Robert Indiana, left, and his caretaker, Jamie L. Thomas, at Thomas’s home on Vinalhaven, Maine, Christmas 2014.

Robert Indiana met Ellsworth Kelly in 1956, when they were part of the young art community in Manhattan. They had a romance that didn’t last, but their influence on each others’ work endured.

Indiana died in 2018 at the age of 89, at his home on the island of Vinalhaven, Maine, where he lived in relative seclusion for nearly fifty years.

The artist’s estate has been in dispute since his death. Jamie Thomas, who was Indiana’s friend and caretaker for many years, settled with the estate, though the terms are confidential.

The Star of Hope, the building in which Indiana lived and worked and wanted converted to a museum after his death, is in very bad shape and may not be able to be salvaged, as he wished.

Much of Robert Indiana’s work remains on the island where plans for a museum are still being discussed.

Two of our recent acquisitions are unique HOPE silkscreens, available at VFA.

Yoshitomo Nara

Yoshitomo Nara‘s first international retrospective was set to open at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) in March. The museum, the largest art museum in the western United States, closed at the start of the quarantine. LACMA hoped to be open by now, but is still closed. The Nara exhibit will remain in place until the reopening.

The 60-year-old artist is one of Japan’s most celebrated and revered. His work, influenced by fairy tales, manga and American cartoons, has earned him a universal cult following.

Yoshitomo Nara
Doggy Radio, 2011
Polymer Plastic Sculpture/Radio-Touch Sensitive Volume, Nose Tuner Dial
Bluetooth/USB, Yamaha Lab Speaker System
13H X 17W X 8.5D inches
Edition of 3000
For sale at VFA

Marching on a Butterbur Leaf is one of our latests acquisitions. Also in our gallery is Nara’s Doggy Radio, a working radio with a Nose Tuner Dial, Bluetooth/USB and Yamaha Lab Speaker System.

Recent Acquisitions and Featured Works at VFA

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


References:
Kelly Richman-Abdou. Discover the Eclectic Influences That Shaped Ellsworth Kelly’s Avant-Garde Art. My Modern Met. July 12, 2020.
Artfixdaily. Art-Inspired Stamps to Buy Now to Support the USPS. June 25, 2020.
Graham Bowley. The Artist’s Caretaker: Once He Controlled Everything. No More. The New York Times. June 14, 2020.
Caroline Goldstein. Are These New Ellsworth Kelly Stamps the Most Beautiful Stamps Ever? Yes, They Are. artnetnews. May 31, 2019.
Y-Jean Mun-Delsalle. Among Japan’s Most Important Living Contemporary Artists, Yoshitomo Nara Now Wishes To Participate In Small-Scale Exhibitions. Forbes. December 15, 2019.
Cultural News. Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Yoshitomo Nara First international retrospective of the artist. March 2020.

Ellsworth Kelly at Christie’s

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

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

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

Ellsworth Kelly at Christie’s

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

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

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

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

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

Ellsworth Kelly Fine Art Prints at VFA

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

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

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

See More Ellsworth Kelly Work for Sale

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

Ellsworth Kelly: Keeping it Simple

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

Ellsworth Kelly Prints at the Shaker Museum

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

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

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

Ellsworth Kelly Exhibit at Guild Hall

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

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

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

Ellsworth Kelly Prints and Vertu Fine Art

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

See More Ellsworth Kelly Artwork for Sale

References:
Susan Dunne. Abstract Prints, Shaker Furniture In Juxtaposition At NBMAA The Hartford Courant. August 25, 2018.
https://www.guildhall.org/events/ellsworth-kelly-in-the-hamptons/
Helen Frankenthaler, Untitled (Cleveland Orchestra Print) 1978

Frankenthaler, Diebenkorn and Kelly: Prints and Woodcuts for Sale at Vertu

Among our new acquisitions are works by the great American artists Helen Frankenthaler, Richard Diebenkorn and Ellsworth Kelly. Each of these artists was a masterful colorist, who used their skills to create powerful paintings and prints.

Helen Frankenthaler

Helen Frankenthaler influenced other great artists, like Morris Louis and Kenneth Noland,  with her massive Color Field paintings.In 1960, Frankenthaler was invited to work at Universal Limited Art Editions (ULAE) studio in Long Island. ULAE was just starting up, and looking for promising young artists who would help the studio make its mark as a premier print venue.

Frankenthaler continued to make prints and woodcuts throughout her career, with both ULAE and the outstanding printmaker, Kenneth Tyler.

In 1978, Frankenthaler created a screenprint to celebrate the 60th Anniversary of the Cleveland Orchestra. An edition of this print and Flotilla, an exceptional 73 color screenprint are available at Vertu.

Inspired by Japanese ukiyo-e woodcuts of the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, Frankenthaler studied and created woodcuts that reflected, not only the ukiyo-e tradition, but the unique use of color that is a signature of all of her work.

Richard Diebenkorn

Richard Diebenkorn is best known for his large, color field Ocean Park Paintings. Like Frankenthaler, Diebenkorn expanded his work to include prints and woodcuts.

Diebenkorn was greatly influenced by his surroundings. Blue on Red shows the California that Diebenkorn saw from his studio. As with much of his work, Blue on Red is part cartography, part architecture and all bold and beautiful.

Ellsworth Kelly

Like Frankenthaler and Diebenkorn, Ellsworth Kelly used large, strong fields of color in his work. He used solid colors within geometric shapes to create his best known works. Kelly softened his approach to color with his works on colored paper, some of which are in the National Gallery in Washington, DC. Colored Paper Image XVI, is an example of the softened lines and colors Kelly used to create these amazing works from handmade paper and pulp.

Please contact us for more information about the work of these, and the other great artists, whose works are in our Vertu Fine Art Gallery.



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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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