claes oldenburg

Claes Oldenburg Remembered

Claes Oldenburg: January 28, 1929 – July 18, 2022

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

Claes Oldenburg, known for his giant sculptures of everyday objects, died in his SoHo home and studio on Monday, July 18th, 2022. The cause of death was complications after a fall. Oldenburg was 93.

Oldenburg was born in Stockholm in 1929. His mother was a concert singer, his father a Swedish consular officer. The family moved to Chicago in 1936. He graduated from Yale in 1950, where he studied literature and art history. After graduating, he worked as a reporter in Chicago, then an illustrator in San Francisco. He became a United States citizen in 1953 and moved to New York in 1956, where he began his long and successful sixty-year career as an artist.

During his early years, Oldenburg staged performances and “Happenings’ with fellow artists like Jim Dine and Donald Judd. His first exhibition, at the Judson Gallery in May 1959, included drawings, collages and objects made of papier-mâché. He made large sculptures of everyday objects, that viewers could interact with on a tactile level. “My intention is to make an everyday object that eludes definition,” he said. “At the bottom of everything I have done, the most radical effects, is the desire to touch and be touched. Each thing is an instrument of sensuous communication.”

In 1977, Oldenburg  married Dutch-born American sculptor, art historian and critic Coosje van Bruggen. They collaborated on many of his large, public sculptures, like the 45-foot Cor-Ten Steel Clothespin, commissioned by the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority in 1976, the bicentennial of the Declaration of Independence.  Clothespin faces City Hall in downtown Philadelphia and has become an iconic landmark. The steel spring on the Clothespin appears as the number 76.

Oldenburg and van Bruggen were married for 32 years, until her death in 2009.

His younger brother, Richard, who died in 2018, spent 22 years as director of the Museum of Modern Art and later was chairman of Sotheby’s America.

Claes Oldenburg was awarded the National Medal of Arts in 2000 by President Bill Clinton. His works had a profound influence on Jeff Koons, and Damien Hirst, artists who both use humor and irony in their work. Claes Oldenburg’s works are part of the permanent collections of most major modern art museums in the United States and Europe.

“The only thing that really saves the human experience is humor.” Oldenberg said. “I think without humor it wouldn’t be much fun.”

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

Martha Schwendener. Claes Oldenburg Dies at 93; Pop Artist Made the Everyday Monumental. The New York Times. July 18, 2022.
Ellen Wexler. Claes Oldenburg, Who Transformed Everyday Objects Into Towering Sculptures, Dies at 93. Smithsonian Magazine. July 19, 2022.
Deborah Solomon. Claes Oldenburg Captured a Carefree (and Consumerist) America. The New York Times. July 19, 2022.

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

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Kenny Scharf

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jeff Koons

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

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

Koons is sending his art to the moon.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jeff Koons Retiring? Ha Ha.

One of the story headlines on the Hyperallergic website last week read: Jeff Koons Announces Retirement from Art. Under the headline was the sentence: The celebrity artist says a religious epiphany inspired the unexpected decision.

At the top of the story, in pale blue print, was the word: Satire. Barely visible.

The story ran on April 1st, but like some of the other spoofs on the Hyperallergic site (which usually has rational and interesting news stories about the the art scene) the story was taken seriously by many readers. Not surprising, since the Met received a bunch of calls after Hyperallergic printed a satirical article saying that the museum was Airbnbing their period rooms. At a party at the Ralph Lauren store on Madison Avenue on April 2, Jeff Koons said that the Hyperallergic article did raise some questions.

“It confused some people,” he said. “Friends in Europe and across the country contacted me, wondering [if it was true]. They were surprised. But no, I will absolutely not [retire]. I’m more engaged with my work than ever.”

High Expectations for Jeff Koons’ Rabbit at Christie’s

Works from the collection of publishing mogul S. I. Newhouse are going to be auctioned next month at Christie’s New York. Newhouse, who died in 2017, was one of the most prolific art collectors of the 20th and 21st centuries. Among the works to be auctioned is Jeff Koons’ Rabbit sculpture. Koons created Rabbit in 1986. It was unveiled at the Sonnabend Gallery’s New-Geo exhibition, where it created a stir for its upending of traditional sculpture.

Made of stainless steel, the sculpture stands 41 inches high, 19 inches wide and 12 inches deep. Since its unveiling, it has been displayed in major museum exhibitions at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao in Spain, the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, Tate Modern in London, the Château de Versailles, The Broad, The Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago and The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and others.

Koons created three Rabbit sculptures, and one artist’s proof. The Rabbit sculpture from the Newhouse collection is number two in the series. It’s estimated to go for $50,000,000-70,000,000 at the auction next month, exceeding the $58.4 million that Koons’ Balloon Dog (Orange) sold for at Christies in 2013, making it the most expensive work by a living artist sold at auction.

Jeff Koons at the Ashmolean

The Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archeology at the University of Oxford is the world’s oldest public museum. The irony of Jeff Koons’ modern, often subversive, works, surrounded by ancient and traditional masterpieces, is not lost on the artist. “I couldn’t think of a better place to have a dialogue about art today and what it can be” Koons said. The exhibit Jeff Koons at the Ashmolean runs through June 9, 2019.

Jeff Koons Sculptures at VFA

We have several works by Jeff Koons for sale at VFA, including Rabbit, Monkey and Swan, done in 2017, two versions of his iconic Balloon Dog, done in 2015 and Split Rocker, a porcelain bisque vase sculpture with a glazed porcelain interior.

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

See More Jeff Koons Work for Sale

Hakim Bishara. Jeff Koons Announces Retirement from Art. Hyperallergic. April 1, 2019.
Maxine Wally. Jeff Koons Says He Isn’t Retiring Anytime Soon at Ralph Lauren’s ‘Accidental Presidents’ Party. Women’s Wear Daily. April 3, 2019.
Masterpieces from the Collection of S.I. Newhouse. Christie’s New York.

Jeff Koons and the Kardashians

In 2013, Jeff Koons’ Balloon Dog sold for $58.4 million at Christie’s, making it the most expensive work by a living artist sold at auction. Koons work, and the artist himself, are iconic America, so it’s no surprise that he would be on the Kardashian radar. What’s also no surprise is that they could get it so wrong.

Jeff Koons and the Kardashians

This is, technically, not news about Jeff Koons, but a story that is too wacky to pass up. It happened on a recent episode of Keeping Up With the Kardashians. Kris Jenner and her daughter, Khloe Kardashian, were sitting in Kris’ office when Khloe asked her mother about a balloon dog bookend that was on the shelf.

Jenner told her daughter that it was a Jeff Koons. ‘Jeff K-O-O-N-S‘ and suggested that Khloe go to, ‘like an art class.’ Khloe said, ‘You can’t art-shame people just for knowing less than you.’

Khloe need not feel art-shamed, since her mother also got it wrong. The bookend is a knockoff that sells for $55. Koons sent the company that sells them a cease-and-desist letter in 2011, saying that the balloon dog bookends violate his copyright. Koons was unsuccessful in bringing a suit against the company that makes and sells the bookends.

The Kardashians may not be able to tell the difference…but Jeff Koons fans certainly can.

Jeff Koons Talks About His Success

Jeff Koons was the speaker at this year’s annual David Rockefeller lecture on arts and business. He talked about his ascent from working at the membership desk of the Museum of Modern Art in the 1970s, to his career as a Wall Street commodities trader in the 1980s and, finally, his success as an artist.

Koons told the audience that there was a time when he created art for the pleasure of creating art, and that he sold his work at a loss for a long time. “If you trust in yourself, ” he said, “you’re also in the position to experience the transcendence and becoming of success.”

The David Rockefeller lecture series began in 1966, to encourage business leaders to form alliances with art institutions and artists.

Getting Ready for Art Basel Hong Kong

Jeff Koons ‘gazing ball’ paintings and sculptures will be on display at the 2019 Art Basel Hong Kong exhibit. Koons says that the gazing balls allow each viewer to be a part of the art work. “The viewer,” Koons told an interviewer, “that’s what it’s about, that’s really what art is. The object is something other than art – it’s a transponder, it stimulates, it excites but it doesn’t have potential. The viewer has potential.” Art Basel Hong Kong begins in March, 2019.

Jeff Koons at VFA

Jeff Koons use of materials, like vinyl, steel, porcelain, titanium and aluminum to create flawless surfaces that look simple, but belie the craftsmanship the goes into each of his works. At Vertu Fine Art, we have Jeff Koons signature balloon porcelain sculptures for sale in our gallery. Please contact us if you would like more information about Balloon Dog, Split Rocker or any of the other fine works available at VFA.

See More Jeff Koons Artwork for Sale

Laura Pitcher. Art Critics on ‘Art Shaming’: Yes, It Exists and Khloe Kardashian Kind of Deserved It. The Observer. August 15, 2018.
Gabriella Angeleti. Jeff Koons on transcendence. The Art Newspaper. June 6, 2018.
Fionnuala McHugh. From porn-star wife’s nether regions to Balloon Dogs: Hong Kong-bound Jeff Koons talks ‘plastic art’, selfies and Art Basel. Post Magazine. March 30, 2018.

Jeff Koons: Hot in Manila, Smashed in Amsterdam

Jeff Koons is one of the world’s most controversial and coveted artists.

His 11-foot tall aluminum Play-Doh sculpture was the highlight of the Jeff Koons retrospective held at the Whitney in 2014. Play-Doh, was inspired, in the early ’90s, by a pile of Play-Doh that Koons’ toddler son, Ludwig, put together and proudly displayed for his father.

The first Play-Doh sculpture took almost twenty years to produce, because of the difficulty of getting the texture just right and then creating more than two dozen solid, interlocking sections that fit perfectly.

A version of Play-Doh is going to be auctioned at Christie’s in New York on May 17. The doors of the auction house had to be widened to accommodate the 12 x 10 foot sculpture.

The low estimate for the Play-Doh sculpture is $20 million dollars. The auction record for a Jeff Koons was set in 2013 when Balloon Dog (Orange), 1994–2000, sold for $58.4 million at Christie’s New York.

Jeff Koons: Hot in Manila

Jeff Koons original, enormous balloon sculptures were done in stainless steel. Koons decided to create smaller balloon sculptures in porcelain so he partnered with Bernardaud, the biggest and oldest porcelain company in Limoges, France.

It took Bernardaud a few years to create the mirror finish that is essential to Koons’ work. The company is now having a problem…not with the porcelain…but with the demand for the sculptures.

Forty of the balloon sculptures were recently sent to a gallery in Manila and were sold out in just four hours.

The Rabbit (for sale at VFA) is the most popular in Manila, possibly because it is so close to Easter, but the Dog, Monkey and Swan (also available at VFA) are close behind.

Smashed in Amsterdam

One of Jeff Koons’ gazing balls paintings has been on exhibit since February at Nieuwe Kerk, a 15th-century church in Amsterdam.  Gazing Ball (Perugino Madonna and Child with Four Saints) was the only work being shown. On the last day of the exhibit, April 8th, a visitor couldn’t resist touching the blue glass ball attached to the painting…and it shattered.

Sotheby’s estimates the value of the Gazing Ball paintings at $1,800,000 — $2,500,000.

Jeff Koons at VFA

Please contact us for more information about the sculptures of Jeff Koons available at VFA.

See More Jeff Koons Artwork for Sale at Vertu Fine Art

Jeff Koons Sculptures at VFA

Jeff Koons sculptures are instantly recognizable, and coveted, around the world. His latest creations include his well-known characters, like the money, rabbit and dog and his Master Series for Louis Vuitton skillfully combines the classics with the commercial.

Jeff Koons Sculptures in the U.S.

His 45-foot tall Seated Ballerina was on display at Rockefeller Center this summer, Jay-Z performed at the V Festival in front of a Koons Balloon Dog sculpture, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) is in the process of constructing a giant Balloon Monkey in the middle of LACMA’s Los Angeles Times Central Court.

Jeff Koons At Home and Abroad

The former U.S. ambassador to France, Jane Hartley, asked Jeff Koons to come up with a sculpture to honor the victims of the 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris.

Koons’ concept is a hand holding a bouquet of tulips. The finished sculpture will be placed in a plaza with a distant  view of the Eiffel Tower. Construction has been delayed because the pavement on the plaza is not strong enough to support 30 ton, 40 foot high sculpture. The sculpture is being paid for through a private foundation at an estimated cost of $3.9 million.

Jeff Koons has collaborated up with Louis Vuitton to create purses and backpacks printed with works by great masters like Rubens, Da Vinci and Monet.

Not only has Koons fashioned the designs on the bags, he’s also reconfigured the Louis Vuitton logo with his own initials for the front of each bag, something the luxury design house has never before permitted.

Each bag also has a tag on the handle in the shape of Koons’s iconic inflatable rabbit and a biography and portrait of the painter whose work he used for the bag’s design.

Rabbits, Monkeys, Swans and Dog Balloon Sculptures

For more than 40 years,  Jeff Koons has been creating works that are entertaining, accessible and flawlessly crafted and designed.

Koons was born in York, Pennsylvania in 1955. He studied painting at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore and the Art Institute of Chicago. He arrived in New York in 1976 and worked at the MoMA membership desk and then as a commodities  broker to support himself while working at his art.

Working in series and using recurring images, Koons work has become recognizable around the world and record setting at auction.

Recent acquisitions at VFA include Koons’ Rabbit, Monkey and Swan porcelain balloon sculptures. The works are quintessential Koons, using porcelain to create the look of mylar.

Koons says that his work is a celebration of what it is to be human. His work is not only technically flawless, it is also joyful and winsome…like Balloon Dog and Split Rocker.

Jeff Koons Sculptures at VFA

Please contact us for more information about the works of Jeff Koons for sale at VFA.

See More Jeff Koons Artwork for Sale

Andy Warhol Lifesavers 1985 F&S II.353

What’s New At Vertu: The Smoker, Lifesavers, Chicken and Dumplings

Here’s a look at some of the latest acquisitions at the Vertu Fine Art Gallery.

Tom Wesselmann, The Smoker

The Smoker is an embossed lithograph that contains some of Tom Wesselmann’s favorite things … a graceful hand, with dark red fingernails, holding a cigarette, and smoke wafting from a pair of full, red lips.

A true Renaissance Man, Tom Wesselmann had a degree in Psychology and went to Cooper Union to study Fine Art. He became a consummate New Yorker who loved, and wrote, country music (his song, I Love Doing Texas With You was included in the Brokeback Mountain movie soundtrack). He wrote a book about himself called Wesselmann, using the pseudonym, Slim Stealingworth. In Wesselmann’s own words, he wrote (as Stealingworth), “Many critics have described Tom Wesselmann as the most underrated painter of the American Art world of the 1960’s.”

Andy Warhol, Vote McGovern, Chicken and dumplings, Lifesavers

During the contentious election of 1972, the country was in the throes of the Viet Nam war and the Civil Rights movement. Alabama Governor, George Wallace, declared himself to be a Democratic presidential candidate along with George McGovern. McGovern, of course, wound up running against Richard Nixon, and Warhol was asked to contribute to the McGovern campaign.

In typical Warhol style, he created a demonic image of Nixon, with the simple slogan, Vote McGovern below the maniacal face. Simple, subtle, powerful and so very Warhol. If only he were around for this election…  Also available in our gallery are Andy Warhol’s Chicken and dumplings and Lifesavers.

Roy Lichtenstein, Shipboard Girl

In the wake of his 1964 painting, Nurse, selling at Christie’s for $95.3 million a few weeks ago, Roy Lichtenstein’s artwork has become more desirable than ever. Created a year after Nurse, Shipboard Girl has the same mysterious and sensual feeling.

With no thought or speech bubble, it’s up to the viewer to imagine what is on Shipboard Girl’s mind. Maybe she’s thinking, “I’m getting a fine art print for Christmas. Maybe a Lichtenstein.”

Alex Katz, Red Hat Ada

Red Hat Ada is a recent work, a woodcut, of the muse (and wife) that Katz has been painting for more than fifty years.

Alex Katz is a big favorite at our gallery. His Late Summer Flowers silkscreen graces the cover of our eBook, How to Identify and Buy Fine Art Prints (your can download it, free, at our website).

Jeff Koons, Puppy Vase

The art of Jeff Koons isn’t always practical, but it’s always fun. His first Puppy sculpture was a 43-foot high topiary, installed on the terrace of Spain’s Guggenheim Museum, that supported about 60,000 flowers.

The Puppy Vase in our gallery is just 17 inches high. It can hold a bouquet of flowers and, unlike the original, doesn’t need to be tended to by a staff of gardeners.

Banksy, Choose Your Weapon

Banksy painted Choose Your Weapon on a London wall. No Timmy and Lassie here. The boy and his Keith Haring dog, in Choose Your Weapon, appear menacing and disenfranchised.

Banksy always gives his audience a lot to think about and Choose Your Weapon is no exception.

Kaws, You Should Know I Know

You Should Know I Know is the first screenprint that Kaws created this year.

Fans of Kaws (Brooklyn-based artist Brian Donnelly) will recognize elements of his creation, Companion, the Mickey Mouse-like character that appears in many of his drawings, sculptures and even as a float in the 2012 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Please call, or visit the gallery, for more information about our new acquisitions or any of the art work we offer at Vertu.


Alex Katz Mae, 2005

Puppies, Poppies and Portraits: New Work at Vertu

Here’s a look at a few new acquisitions by some of our favorite artists:

Vik Muniz Portraits

Vik, 2003, is a portrait made up of hidden, random words, printed with found rubber stamps. Muniz says that his use of cryptic words comes from living under military rule in Brazil in the 1970s, where it was dangerous to speak or write openly, and where there was a “lingering climate of a semiotic black market where hidden messages seemed encoded in every phrase: everything meant something else.”

Vik, 2003, a photogravure on silk colle, is an homage to the Fingerprint portraits done by Chuck Close. Both works were part of last year’s exhibit at the Tampa Museum of Art, which showcased the works of many of the distinguished artists who have worked at the University of South Florida’s Graphicstudio.

Jeff Koon’s Puppy

Koon’s first Puppy sculpture was a 43-foot high topiary, constructed of a steel armature that supported about 60,000 flowers, including marigolds, petunias, impatiens and begonias. It was installed on the terrace of Spain’s Guggenheim Museum Bilbao in 1997.

Jeff Koons made a more collector-friendly version of Puppy in 1998. Puppy Vase is 17.5 inches high, and does not need a staff of gardeners for maintenance. It holds flowers that can be replaced at its owner’s convenience.

Donald Sultan Poppies

Continuing to work on his evolving theme of flowers and dots, Donald Sultan has created Poppies – sculptures that combine both motifs.

Red Poppies and Blue Poppies are painted aluminum mounted on polished aluminum bases. They each maintain the square format that Donald Sultan favors in much of his work.

The fun of collecting Sultan’s pieces, is watching the metamorphosis of his compositions, from dominoes with white dots, to buttons with white dots, to flowers with white dots. It’s not easy to understand the workings of Sultan’s mind, but it’s very interesting to see the results.

Alex Katz Mae

Alex Katz has long been a master at capturing the subtleties of color and light in his portraits. Mae is almost monochromatic, its muted tones creating a delicate portrait.

At 88, Katz still works out every morning and paints every day. At his studio in Maine this summer he worked on giant landscapes. Katz has always followed his instincts, and not the art movements that have come and gone during his long career. Last month, Katz told a PBS News Hour interviewer, “I think, in a sense, the world caught up with me.”

Free Ebook: How to Identify and Buy Fine Art Prints

Free Ebook: How to Identify and Buy Fine Art Prints

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