Helen Frankenthaler

Helen Frankenthaler, Katherine Bernhardt at VFA

Helen Frankenthaler 1928-2011

In a recent New York Times interview, New York-based art adviser, Kim Heirston, noted that “it took more than 60 years for works by the admired Color Field painter Helen Frankenthaler to break through the $1 million barrier at auction. “Now it takes a nanosecond.”

Frankenthaler’s work had a profound influence on mid-twentieth century art. Her soak stain technique, pouring thinned oil paint on canvas, ushered in Color Field Painting and led to the Minimalist movement.

When acrylic paints were made for artists’ use in 1956, Frankenthaler experimented with acrylics. She found that they delivered bright colors and handled well.

Her work was well received and she began to exhibit at major American and international venues. Her paintings were shown at the Venice Biennale in 1966 and at the United States Pavilion at the 1967 International and Universal Exposition in Montreal.

In the 1960s, Frankenthaler became interested in, and  proficient at, printmaking. Her woodcuts, like Snow Pines, available at VFA, are especially masterful. She continued to create woodcuts and lithographs, inspired by landscapes, through the last years of her life.

Helen Frankenthaler’s works are currently being shown at the Contemporary Art Museum at the University of South Florida in Tampa, alongside those of LA-based Canadian artist, Heather Gwen Martin.

The Lyrical Moment: Modern and Contemporary Abstraction by Helen Frankenthaler and Heather Gwen Martin will run through July 30, 2022.

Katherine Bernhardt 1975 –

Work by Katherine Bernhardt sold above estimate at the recent Phillips London Summer 2022 Sale. She is one of the artists whose works will be on exhibit at the inaugural Frieze in Seoul, South Korea this September.

Bernhardt’s uniquely bold and colorful works have garnered her international attention.

She received her BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, her MFA from the School of Visual Arts. Bernhardt  lived and worked in Brooklyn until 2019, when she returned to her hometown of St. Louis. She bought an auto shop in the downtown area and turned it into a studio and gallery, where she exhibits the works of local artists.

Bernhardt’s works are part of the permanent collection of the High Museum, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, the Rubell Museum, the Portland Museum of Art, the Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo and other major museums and galleries around the world.

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


References:
Max Lunn. The Biggest Lie About Abstract Expressionism. Hyperallergic. July 11, 2022.
Scott Reyburn. London Modern and Contemporary Auctions: A Market Minus the Froth. The New York Times/Art and Design. July 1, 2022.
Alina Cohen. Helen Frankenthaler in the Spotlight This Summer. Galerie Magazine. June 8 2017.
Artnet News. Hot Lots: 5 Artworks That Spectacularly Outperformed Expectations During London’s Summer 2022 Day Sales/Work by Katherine Bernhardt, Paul Thek, Caroline Walker, and other artists shattered their estimates this season. July 12, 2022.
Kabir Jhala. Perrotin and Pace galleries announce Seoul expansions—while other Western dealers test Korean waters via group show. The Art Newspaper. July 14, 2022.

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.

A New Look at Helen Frankenthaler

Fierce Poise: Helen Frankenthaler and 1950s New York

Fierce Poise: Helen Frankenthaler and 1950s New York was recently published by Penguin Press. The book was written by Alexander Nemerov, an arts and humanities professor at Stanford University and an esteemed scholar of American art. His father, Howard Nemerov, had a link to the Frankenthaler. Howard Nemerov, served twice as America’s poet laureate. He taught Frankenthaler when she was a student at Bennington College in the late 1940s and was an acquaintance of art critic, Clement Greenberg, with whom Frankenthaler had a tumultuous relationship from 1950 to 1955.

Each chapter of the book focuses on a significant day in the artists life during the 1950s, the years that her painting technique created a transition from Abstract Expressionism to Color Field painting.

Helen Frankenthaler grew up on Park Avenue, the youngest of three daughters. Her father was a prominent New York State Supreme Court judge, who adored his youngest daughter, her mother a homemaker whose family emigrated from Germany.

Frankenthaler’s privilege allowed her a fine education and a Manhattan studio, but her life was not without sorrow. Her father died when she was eleven. Her mother, who had depression related to Parkinson’s disease, killed herself by jumping out of her apartment window when Frankenthaler was twenty-five.

Nemerov writes about Frankenthaler’s early aspirations of becoming an artist. She would walk with her Nanny from her Park Avenue apartment to the Metropolitan Museum several blocks away, drawing a chalk to mark the route.

When her Mountain and Sea was exhibited in 1953, a New York Times critic called the show, “sweet and unambitious.” Mountain and Sea now hangs in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

In 1958, Frankenthaler married Robert Motherwell, a Harvard-educated artist who also came from a wealthy family. The marriage ended in 1971, a time when both artists were still creating significant work. In Motherwell’s case, it was his Basque Series. Black and Blue, a silkscreen from that series is available at VFA.

Frankenthaler began working with master printmaker, Kenneth Tyler, in 1976. She experimented with silkscreens and woodcuts with excellent results, like Snow Pines available at VFA.

Frankenthaler’s career spanned six decades. She was the recipient of 26 honorary doctorates and numerous honors and awards, including the National Medal of the Arts in 2001. Her works are part of the permanent collections of the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the National Gallery of Australia, the Museum o Modern Art, the Guggenheim and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and other venues around the world.

Please contact us if you would like more information about the works of Helen Frankenthaler, Robert Motherwell, or any of the fine artists whose works are available at VFA.


References:
Adam Gopnik. Helen Frankenthaler and the Messy Art of Life. The New Yorker. April 5, 2021.
Susan Stamberg. With ‘Fierce Poise,’ Helen Frankenthaler Poured Beauty Onto Canvas. NPR. March 23, 2021.
Lily Meyer. New Helen Frankenthaler Biography Favors Nostalgia Over Artist’s Interiority. Hyperallergic. March 23, 2021.
Philip Kennicott. Helen Frankenthaler came from wealth and privilege. Her art transcends that. The Washington Post. March 19, 2021.

Helen Frankenthaler: An AbEx Heroine

Helen Frankenthaler was just 23 years old in 1952 when she painted Mountains and Sea. It wasn’t well received when it was first exhibited and she had to take the 7 x 10 foot painting back to her studio.

Today it hangs in the National Gallery of Art in Washington and is considered one of the most seminal works of American Art.

Abstract expressionist painter Morris Louis, a contemporary of Frankenthaler, described the painting as, “a bridge between Pollock and what was possible.”

Ninth Street Women

Franz Kline
9th Street Exhibit Poster, 1951

Helen Frankenthaler sent abstract painting in a new direction. She was very much a part of the avant-garde New York art scene and through her relationship with influential art critic Clement Greenberg, Frankenthaler became part of the art crowd known as the New York School.

Mary Gabriel’s book Ninth Street Women: Lee Krasner, Elaine de Kooning, Grace Hartigan, Joan Mitchell, and Helen Frankenthaler: Five Painters and the Movement That Changed Modern Art, describes the impact that these women had on art in mid-century America.

Gabriel writes about what Frankenthaler called her “beautiful trauma” when she saw an exhibit of Jackson Pollock’s works. Pollock’s paintings inspired Frankenthaler to put away her easel and spread large canvasses on her studio floor in the style of Pollock.

Instead of the heavy gestures that defined Pollock’s work, Frankenthaler used thinned oil paint on unprimed canvas. She called her technique soak-stain. It was her soak-stain technique that influenced Color Field painting a form-inspired, rather than emotional-inspired works.

Frankenthaler was one of the few women who were included in the ground-breaking 1951 Ninth Street Show, curated by Leo Castelli. The artists rented a downtown storefront and basement space at 60 9th Street for $70, far from Manhattan’s upscale galleries.

MoMA director, Alfred Barr attended the opening and was amazed by the development of the New York School artists.

It wasn’t long after the 9th Street Show that many of the artists, including Helen Frankenthaler, were showing their works uptown.

Helen Frankenthaler’s Work at the Baker Museum Opening

The Baker Museum in Naples has been closed since the damage done by Hurricane Irma in 2017. After two years of renovation, the museum will re-open to the public on December 1, 2019.

Visitors will be greeted by an exhibit called 100 Iconic Works from the Permanent Collection which includes work by American artists such as Helen Frankenthaler, Alexander Calder, Robert Motherwell and other fine artists. The exhibition will run from December 1, 2019 through July 25, 2020.

Heroines of Abstract Expressionism

The current exhibit at the Fenimore Museum in Cooperstown, New York, features the work of Helen Frankenthaler and other female artists who contributed to the Abstract Expressionist movement.

The museum’s website says that the acclaim these artists deserve is long overdue: “For more than sixty years the contributions these women made to the movement were all but forgotten while works by men such as Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning have been canonized in the history of American art. It has taken the dedication of scholars and museum curators—and the commitment of a handful of prescient collectors like Friedman and Wakefield—to restore these women artists to their rightful place in the history of American art.”

Heroines of Abstract Expressionism will run through December 31, 2019.

Helen Frankenthaler Fine Art Prints at VFA

Helen Frankenthaler created her first prints in 1961. She was reluctant to try printmaking and was coaxed by fellow artist Larry Rivers to visit  Universal Limited Art Editions, a print studio set up by Russian immigrants Tanya and Maurice Grosman in their Long Island Garage in 1957.

Frankenthaler mastered lithography, etching and woodblock and became a masterful printmaker. Her skill allowed her to create the same beautiful, painterly feeling in print that she was able to achieve with her paintings.

She began working with master printmaker Kenneth Tyler around 1974, and was able to create prints, like Geisha (available at VFA) that equaled, and often exceeded, the elegance of her paintings.

Please contact us if you would like more information about Geisha, the Cleveland Orchestra Print or any of the other fine works available at VFA.

See More Helen Frankenthaler for Sale

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.

See More Helen Frankenthaler 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.

Finding Helen Frankenthaler

A really good picture looks as if it’s happened at once. 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. And I usually throw these out, though 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.”
— Helen Frankenthaler

Helen Frankenthaler’s 1978 Marchioness, acrylic on canvas, was sold at auction in Germany last month. The painting had been stored, and forgotten, in the basement of a home in the South of Germany for thirty years.

The auction, at Ketterer Kunst in Munich, was the first time that one of the much sought-after large-size works by Frankenthaler has been offered on the European auction market.

The painting was estimated to sell for €250,000, the equivalent of $267,500. It sold for €625,000 or $668,750.

Frankenthaler’s Legacy

Frankenthaler’s did much in her six decades of painting to advance, not just painting, but printmaking, as well. She bridged the gap between Abstract Expressionism and Color Field, produced tapestries and ceramics and inspired a resurgent interest in woodcuts. Her stone lithograph technique was simple and elegant.

Her work part of the permanent collections of major museums around the world. MoMA is the home of some of Frankenthaler’s most interesting works, like Sky Frame and East and Beyond.

Frankenthaler received the National Medal of Arts in 2001.

Helen Frankenthaler at VFA

One of Frankenthaler’s greatest talents was combining Color Field with line and design. She perfected her work in print media over the course of her lifetime, working in her Darien, Connecticut studio.

One of the finest examples of her work, available at VFA, is Geisha, a 23 color Ukiyo-e woodcut on Torino paper, done in the ukiyo-e genre of art that was popular in Japan from the 17th through 19th centuries.

Please visit the gallery or contact us for more information about the works of Helen Frankenthaler and the other artists available at Vertu Fine Art.

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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Robert Motherwell, Capriccio, 1961

Abstract Expressionism: Part II – Featured at VFA

Our collection of works from Abstract Expressionist artists is ever-changing in our Boca Raton Contemporary Art gallery. In addition to limited edition prints from masters of Abstract Expressionism such as Robert Motherwell, Willem de Kooning, Jasper Johns and Helen Frankenthaler, we also carry inspired works from an array of world class Pop Art and Optical Art masters who have been strongly influenced by the AE movement.


Jasper Johns

Jasper Johns, one America’s most famous Abstract Expressionists, is also well known for his role as a founder of the Pop Art movement, along with the likes of Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg and others. Johns is one of the few Abstract Expressionists living today who participated in the heyday of the Abstract Expressionism movement in the 1950s and sixties. In recent years, Jasper Johns lithographs have become among those most highly valued and coveted by collectors. The artist is universally respected for his commitment to the art form of printmaking, as a parallel medium to his impressive large scale paintings.

To be an artist you have to give up everything, including the desire to be a good artist.”
– Jasper Johns

Revered for his minimalist style and use of “simplistic” symbols, collectors of Johns enjoy speculation about the artist’s potentially deeper motivations, or lack thereof. Periscope 1, a Jasper Johns lithograph available for sale at VFA, has a number of familiar Johns’ symbols, including an imprint of the artist’s hand, which has appeared in various forms in Jasper Johns works over the years.


Willem de Kooning

Willem de Kooning’s contributions to Abstract Expressionism are well known. Components of the artist’s works deviate from various aspects of the human form and experience. Jaw lines, noses, eyes and necks — paired with elements derived from species of birds, fish and other animal life help create de Kooning’s unique style.

A series of Willem de Kooning lithographs from Quatre Lithographies are among the latest limited edition prints at Vertu Fine Art gallery. The works are exemplary of de Kooning’s gestural style, familiar shapes and colors, which demonstrate the artist’s Matisse and Picasso influences.


Helen Frankenthaler

The work of Helen Frankenthaler, one of the few women credited with furthering the success of Abstract Expressionism in America, are among some of the more heavily sought after pieces at VFA. One such work, produced to commemorate the Cleveland Orchestra’s 60th Anniversary Season in 1978, is simply entitled, “Untitled.” It’s a beautiful representation of Frankenthaler’s Color Field style, for which the artist is highly regarded. Helen Frankenthaler studied under another rather important figure, Hans Hofmann, whose teachings have often been celebrated for fueling the Abstract Expressionism movement in America.

You have to know how to use the accident, how to recognise it, how to control it, and ways to eliminate it so that the whole surface looks felt and born all at once.”
– Helen Frankenthaler


Robert Motherwell

Robert Motherwell’s Capriccio is one a of a handful of limited edition signed works from the artist that are currently for sale at the Vertu Fine Art. Capriccio is an excellent representation of the contrast, colors and abstract form for which Motherwell is best known. Robert Motherwell, who obtained philosophy degrees from Stanford and Harvard prior to becoming a New York artist in 1941, was well-versed to become a leading figure in Abstract Expressionism by the time the movement took hold.


Claes Oldenburg

Another artist who contributed to the Abstract Expressionist movement and is favored at the VFA Boca Raton gallery is Claes Oldenburg. The artist is perhaps best known for his dramatic public art installations, bringing to life fantastic Pop Art icons. Nonetheless, Oldenburg’s earlier works, including his captivating lithographs, clearly embody the interpretive attributes that speak volumes within the context of the Abstract Expressionist style.

I am for an art that is political-erotical-mystical, that does something more than sit on its ass in a museum.”
― Claes Oldenburg


At Vertu Fine Art, collecting Abstract Expressionist works is ourpassion. Visit our gallery to see the latest from the masters who defined the movement. If you’re seeking specific works, please contact us for assistance.

Sam Francis

Sam Francis: Pure Expression

Seeing the art of American Abstract Expressionist Sam Francis is nothing less than an adventure. Vibrant colors hit the canvas like notes from a jazz musician, with white space representing time and tempo. In time, the white space would come to dominate more of Sam Francis’ paintings. As experienced jazzmen taunted their unique power over the fermata − “a pause of unspecified length on a note or rest”, Sam Francis confronted white space on his unique terms, tugging at the space, leaving his mark of movement and pure expression.  His work speaks to the enormous confidence of an artist who held back nothing, leaving it all on the canvas.

Painting is about the beauty of space and the power of containment.
– Sam Francis

Sam Francis is credited with breathing life into the art movement known as the second generation of Abstract Expressionism, which took shape in New York during the 1950’s and included such artists as Joan Mitchell and Helen Frankenthaler.  Born in San Mateo, CA, Francis spent much of the fifties living in Paris and South France, with various periods of residence spent in Tokyo, Bern, Mexico City and New York.  Considering the length of time Sam Francis spent in Paris, it’s no wonder that lines are drawn between his use of light and color and that expressed by Matisse and Monet.  Francis’ drip techniques are most certainly a connected to the influence of American Abstract Expressionism.  Another strong influence in the works Sam Francis Japan and the artist’s affinity for Japanese art, whose elements are of note in a number of the artist’s works.

Of the work for which Sam Francis is known, his Edge Paintings are highly regarded for their contributions to minimalist style of contemporary art that rose to prominence in the 1960s Abstract Expressionist movement. Viewing a Francis Edge painting is gripping. With a grand use of white space dominating the work, one can’t help but feel the push and pull – of the artist’s intention and of the suggested action beyond the physical edge of the painting. Does the action begin at the edge and work out, does it close in from the outside, toward the center of the work?

Color is born of the interpenetration of light and dark.
– Sam Francis

In the early 70s, Sam Francis created a number of works referred to as his “Fresh Air” period. As with all Francis work, color dominated the subject. The process for the Fresh Air pieces included applying pools of color, along with drips and splatter, to wet paint applied by rollers. The results were pure Francis expression – masterful use of color representing a spectrum of emotion.  By the middle of the decade, Francis was producing a works in a more formalized grid fashion, using deep vibrant crossing colors. Known for his joy in producing large scale works, many of the grids measured upwards of twenty feet long.

An important aspect of Sam Francis’ history includes the artist’s foray into printmaking. Lithography was the first such printmaking technique that Francis mastered, and in 1970, when he opened the Litho Shop in Santa Monica, CA, it demonstrated his commitment to print at a time when a majority of established painters were not comfortable with the idea. In typical form, Sam Francis followed his own path, with immense success.

In May of this year, at Southeby’s sold Francis’ Symphony in Blue – 1958, Gouache and watercolor on paper, 27 x 39.4” for $1,145,000 – An auction record for a work on paper by the artist.

At our Boca Raton, FL Contemporary Art gallery, Sam Francis prints and originals are always on our radar. If you’re interested in our assistance in sourcing Sam Francis works for sale, contact Gary or Bill via phone, email, or drop in any time.

Helen Frankenthaler, 1956

Artwork For Sale: New Arrivals at Vertu

It’s our pleasure to share the latest works for sale at Vertu Fine Art.  These eight prints already feel like they’ve always been members of our gallery’s family and we enjoy sharing space with these powerful works.


Helen Frankenthaler
All About Blue, 1994

Whenever we have the opportunity to acquire artwork from abstract expressionist Helen Frankenthaler, we move quickly to do so.  “All About Blue” is a strong, moody graphic that conveys rich textures, including those of the surface created from the woodcut.  Helen Frankenthaler is a powerful art figure for collectors who appreciate her role in the context of Abstract Expressionism and Color Field, as a pioneering female artist and great American artist.  Frankenthaler has received enhanced attention following her death in late 2011 and Gagosian Gallery is currently showcasing works from the artist’s estate. This artwork is from a small edition of 38.


Alex Katz
Grey Dress, 1992

“Grey Dress” a signed lithograph measuring 36 x 28 inches, is the newest Vertu artwork for sale from acclaimed artist Alex Katz.  “Grey Dress” is a strong representation of the cool, flat, emotionally detached figurative work for which Katz is renowned.  It’s a pure Pop piece.  Alex Katz is currently 85 years old and considered one of few living artists responsible for ushering in the age of American Pop art. Katz has been an inspirational figure for a number of talented artists, include David Salle and Richard Prince.


Damien Hirst
The Souls on Jacob’s Ladder Take Their Flight (Small Green), 2007

Damien Hirst’s inked photogravure “Souls on Jacobs Ladder Take Their Flight” is the newest artwork for sale from the famous British Contemporary artist.  Hirst is a perfect representation of an artist whose printing technique is every bit as important as his subject.  This magnificent artwork must be seen firsthand to be fully appreciated.  The black suspended green butterfly appears to float in a black space that leaves the paper and approaches the viewer.

Known to many for his controversial installations that have focused on death, dead animals and diamond encrusted skulls, Damien Hirst is highly respected by collectors who value his scientific and imaginative body of work. His role as a key figure within the YBA (Young British Artists), who rose to fame in the 1990’s has solidified his place in history.


Tom Wesselmann
Seascape (Round) from the “Master American Contemporaries” Portfolio, 1993

Of all the new artwork for sale at Vertu, “Seascape – Round” from the Master American Contemporaries Portfolio is the one piece that surprised us.  Though we’ve specialized in and collected Tom Wesselmann for over fifteen years, we were unfamiliar with this work.  In truth, Wesselmann is one of our favorite master printmakers, and this seascape in round composition is a welcomed addition.  From a small edition of 30; collectors will undoubtedly be pleased to see this Wesselmann screenprint available at the gallery.


Tom Wesselmann
Bedroom Blonde Doodle With Photo, 1998

Another newly acquired Tom Wesselmann work for sale is the captivating “Bedroom Blonde Doodle with Photo.”  This graphic is a classic Wesselmann Pop piece that beautifully blends the artist’s influence of Matisse style, sharing commonalities of composition and color.  We think this work is gorgeous; both sexy and emotive.


Roy Lichtenstein
Red Lamp, 1992

Vertu has two new Roy Lichtenstein prints among our inventory of new artwork for sale.  Lichtenstein’s “Red Lamp” is indicative of the old-fashioned comic strip style that brought the artist fame as a leading figure of the American Pop art scene as it captured widespread attention in the 1960’s.


Roy Lichtenstein
Still Life with Red Jar, 1994

Roy Lichtenstein’s “Still Life with Red Jar” is another classic screenprint that is, “undeniably Lichtenstein.”
Reminiscent of the artist’s comic book inspired dots, this signed edition of 250 is a brilliant addition to any collector of Roy Lichtenstein.  Lichtenstein is known to have said that he felt so influenced by Picasso, that he started cartoon paintings as a method to get away from Picasso.  With this knowledge, viewing Still Life with Red Jar, one could argue that Picasso’s influence is quite present.


Frank Stella
Bonne Bay – from the Newfoundland Series (Axsom 55), 1971

This lithograph and screenprint was created shortly after the Museum of Modern Art in New York presented a retrospective of Stella’s work in 1970. Stella worked on it in Los Angeles before he had a print studio installed in his New York home. This print series corresponded to the 1969-1970 painting series of the same name.


If you have questions or would like to see this artwork in person, call or visit us. We pride ourselves on acquiring Pop, Abstract Expressionism and Optical Art from the masters. We often receive gallery visitors who say, “I can’t believe what you’ve got here!”  We are continuously acquiring new artwork and look forward to showing you around our gallery.

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