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

Damien Hirst 1965 –

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brian Donnelly aka KAWS 1974 –

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Takashi Murakami, and the Artists He Mentored, at VFA

Takashi Murakami 1962 –

Artist, mentor and celebrity, Takashi Murakami, continues to mix high and low art that speaks to a global audience. He has collaborated with Louis Vuitton and other designers. Murakami collaborated with Hubolt and designed a black watch with his signature flower pattern and, most recently the company has issued a full color watch with the same pattern.

Murakami was born and raised in Tokyo. He planned on studying animation at Tokyo University of the Arts, but studied Nihonga, the ‘traditional’ style of Japanese painting instead, earning a PhD from the university in 1993.

He went on to publish his theory on Superflat, the two-dimensional imagery that uses flat planes of color, His Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd., operates in Japan, New York and London, promoting Murakami’s works as well as the works of the artists that he mentors.

The flower pattern can be found on many of Murakami’s sculptures, paintings and prints, like Flowerball-3D Kindergarten, available at VFA.

Chiho Aoshima 1974 –

Chiho Aoshima is one of the most interesting, and successful, artists mentored by Takashi Murakami. Aoshima was not formally trained in art. She graduated from the Department of Economics at Hosei University and then went to work for Murakami at the Kaikai Kiki collective.

Her work bears the influence of anime and manga, with subtly dark undercurrents in each piece. At VFA we have several fine examples of Aoshima’s work, including Building Head-Chameleon and Building Head-Palm Trees, done in 2006.

Aoshima has created public art installations and murals all over the world, from the Union Square subway station in New York to London’s Gloucester Road Tube station.

Her works are included in the permanent collections of the Ackland Art Museum in Chapel Hill, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh and the Seattle Art Museum.

KAWS (Brian Donnelly) 1974 –

Through Kaikai Kiki Co., Takashi Murakami helped to promote  the career of KAWS.

The sensibility of KAWS’ paintings, prints and sculptures have a universal appeal and are especially popular in Japan.

In 2021 the Brooklyn Museum, the first major venue to purchase KAWS artwork, held a retrospective of the Brooklyn-based artist’s work, called WHAT PARTY. 

One of the pieces that KAWS did in 2020 is a large sculpture of his familiar Companion character, lying on the floor in a prone position. The artist explained his thoughts about the work in a recent essay in the New York Times: ” I arrived at the composition for Companion 2020 amid the early days of the pandemic in 2020, and its pose resonated with me. The character is lying face down on the ground, and in the space above it I can feel the weight of everything that is on my mind. I hope that viewers, too, can release their own thoughts, anxieties and feelings into that space.” he wrote, “As much as the sculpture bears that burden, it also represents a much-needed pause — a moment to recharge before getting back up and getting on with life.”

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


References:
Don Carter. Takashi Murakami’s iconic smiling flowers have been transformed into a collectable timepiece. Creative Boom. December 9, 2021.
Paul Osmond. For the Culture: Why does hip-hop love Takashi Murakami? The Tufts Daily. October 1, 2021.
KAWS. A Companion to Bear Our Burdens. The New York Times. December 6, 2021.
Jason Rosenfeld. KAWS: SPOKE TOO SOON. The Brooklyn Rail. December 2021-January 2022.

Works by Ugo Rondinone, KAWS and Keith Haring at VFA

Ugo Rondinone – 1964

New York-based Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone is best known for his enormous sculptures and his brightly colored concentric circle paintings and prints.

Rondinone has partnered with the Belvedere Museum of Contemporary Art in Vienna, to present works, done by children, to paint pictures of rainbows. The artist, and the museum’s art education team, invited children in elementary schools throughout Austria, between the ages of 6 through 12, to join in the uplifting project.

More than 1,000 drawings, covering more than 200 feet,  are being displayed in the Belvedere Palace Garden.

Ugo Rondinone: your age and my age and the age of the rainbow will be on display through November 2021.

Sculptures by Rondinone are currently on display with works by American artist Pat Steir at the Galerie Eva Presenhuber in Zurich. The contrast between the solidity of Rondinone’s pebble-studded concrete sculptures and the softness of Steir’s rain-like paintings makes for a wonderful exhibit.

A selection of Ugo Rondinone’s limited edition silkscreens on 4-ply board are available at VFA.

KAWS 1974 –

The year isn’t over yet, and already Brian Donnelly, the artist known as KAWS, has collaborated with Nike and Sacai, Supreme, Human Made, and Porter. He’s also worked with Comme des Garçons on a fragrance, whose bottle will probably  be more sought after than the fragrance itself.

KAWS is a superstar in Japan and his Tokyo exhibit has just ended, as has his successful retrospective at the Brooklyn Museum, one of the first major museums to purchase his work for its permanent collection.

Sticking closer to home, KAWS is collaborating with General Mills to create a ‘Companion’ design for a Reese’s Puffs cereal box. The company had rapper Travis Scott put a signature design on Puffs box. They sold out in less than 30 seconds after release and are being resold for more than $200.

Keith Haring 1958-1990

In 1983, Keith Haring was commissioned by Italian designer Elio Fiorucci to create a large mural for the designer’s gallery in Milan.

Haring asked Angel Ortiz, a young graffiti artist known as LA ll, to collaborate with him on the project. The results were a large mural that Fiorucci took down in 1984 and stored until its restoration in 1991.

The mural has been placed in midtown Manhattan’s New York City Center, and will remain there through 2022.

Please contact us if you would like more information about the works of Ugo Rondinone, KAWS and Keith Haring available at VFA.


References:
Web Master. Pat Steir & Ugo Rondinone: waterfalls & clouds at Galerie Eva Presenhuber, Maag Areal. Arte Fuse. September 28, 2021.
Jake SIlbert. KAWS x Reeses Puffs is the Breakfast of ‘Companions’.Highsnobiety. October 12, 2021.
Tyler Watamanuk. Now You Can Smell Like One of the Biggest Artists on Earth. GQ. October 11, 2021.

KAWS and Keith Haring at VFA

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KAWS 1974 –

Brian Donnelly, the artist known as KAWS, has been living and working in Brooklyn since the 1990s, and has recently updated his studio in Williamsburg. The Brooklyn Museum was one of the first major venues to add a KAWS sculpture to its permanent collection and is currently holding the first New York museum retrospective of the artist’s work.

The KAWS: WHAT PARTY exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum has attracted large and diverse crowds. The more than 100 works on display reflect his themes of love, friendship and loss, and the fusion of fine and commercial art.

In a recent Brooklyn Rail interview, KAWS reflected on the impact he hopes that the exhibit will have on young museum visitors. “I remember clearly being young and walking into galleries and feeling I needed to, like, walk backwards out of them.” he said. “I am hoping I can plant that seed, and create that comfort zone that they can then say, actually, that was all right, and then go check out the next show, and the next show and say, “This wasn’t the worst experience, what else can I see?”

Because of his commercial success and the high demand for his collectibles in the U.S. and Asia, the museum is allowing each visitor only one trip into its gift shop and each visitor is only allowed to purchase no more than two items.

KAWS: WHAT PARTY will be on view through September 5, 2021.

Several editions of What Party, both vinyl and silkscreen, are available at VFA.

Keith Haring 1958-1990

Keith Haring’s legacy is the joyful way in which he impacted the social conscience of the world. His subjects were often dark -drug use, AIDS, war – but his message was sent with kindness and caring intent.

More than thirty years after his death, the artist and his artwork still resonate, and a new generation has discovered his work.

The Fenimore Art Museum in Cooperstown, New York is hosting an exhibit of Haring’s work, as well as a public discussion about his art and activism and ‘hands on’ workshops in July for children ages 6-8 and 9-12, to explore his life, influences and style.

The exhibit, Keith Haring: Radiant Visions will be on exhibit through September 6, 2021.

Keith Haring documented much of his work, and his life, with a Polaroid camera. Polaroid and the Keith Haring Foundation have collaborated to design a camera that pays homage to Haring’s style. His artwork is on both the camera and the film.

Silkscreens from Haring’s Pop Shop Series l, ll and lll, done from 1987-1989 are available at VFA.

Please contact us for more information about the works of KAWS, Keith Haring or any of the other fine art prints, paintings and sculptures available at VFA.


References:
Jason Rosenfeld. KAWS with Jason Rosenfeld. The Brooklyn Rail. June 2021.
Katherine J. Wright/Larissa Ryan. Keith Haring: Radiant Vision: Fenimore opens major show on 1980s iconic artist, Haring. Allotsego. June 3, 2021.
Nadja Sayej. A New Polaroid Camera That Honors Keith Haring. Forbes. June 8, 2021.
Sage Anderson. Polaroid Releases Keith Haring-Inspired Collection of Instant Cameras and Film. Rolling Stone. June 8, 2021.
Edward M. Gómez. Takashi Murakami Helps Present Art Fair’s ‘Super-Rough’ in SoHo. The New York Times. June 4, 2021.

New Work: Jonas Wood, Jean-Michel Basquiat and KAWS

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Jonas Wood

Jonas Wood has become an international contemporary art superstar. His mixed media painting, Two Tables with Floral Pattern, was estimated to sell for $2 – $3 million at last Christie’s 21st Century Evening Sale last week. The painting sold for $6.5 million, a record for the artist’s work. It was also unusual in that many of Wood’s works are sold to buyers in Hong Kong, but Two Tables with Floral Pattern was sold to a buyer in the U.S.

Part of the universal appeal of Wood’s paintings, drawings and prints is the uplifting and colorful patterns he creates, many of which include images of the sculptures of his wife, Shio Kusaka.

The couple shares a studio in Los Angeles. In 2019, the Hammer Museum put together a video of the artist in his studio, for one of the many exhibits that Wood has been given at the museum.

Wood’s careful designs and fine art prints are what make him a favorite at VFA. “Printmaking is a big part of my process,” he said in a recent interview, “drawing is a big part of my process, and tracing and getting the basic shapes of things before I make the painting is a big part of my process.”

Besides lithographs and screenprints, one of our recent acquisitions is a soft ground etching, Pattern couch Interior with Mar Vista View, that Wood did in 2020.

Jean-Michel Basquiat

At the same Christie’s Contemporary auction that saw Jonas Wood’s work set a new record, works by Jean-Michel Basquiat did the same.

In This Case From, a large painting done in 1983, sold for $93 million. Works by other Black artists also did exceptionally well at the auction.

Fine art prints by Jean-Michel Basquiat are available at VFA. A recent acquisition, Ligaments of the Elbow, was produced in a grey and black palette and printed before Basquiat made the color values black and white and created the iconic series of 18 plates that make up The Anatomy Series.

KAWS

KAWS: What Party, a retrospective at the Brooklyn Museum, will be on exhibit through September 5, 2021. His instantly recognizable works have made Brian Donnelly (aka KAWS) a superstar around the world.

His latest project is The KAWS:HOLIDAY Hot-Air Balloon World Tour, that will officially take off at the end of the year. A 138-foot inflatable Companion has been turned into a hot air balloon and will be going on a world tour that will begin in Bristol, England.

KAWS’ sculptures and fine art prints are available at VFA.

Please contact us for more information about the works of Jonas Wood, Jean-Michel Basquiat and KAWS for sale at VFA.


References:
Artspace Editors. Jonas Wood breaks auction record at Christie’s. Artspace. May 13, 2021.
Colin Gleadell. $93 M. Basquiat Leads Christie’s 21st C. Evening Sale, $17 M. Cryptopunks Among Trending Talent. Artnews. May 12, 2021.
Zachary Small and Robin Pogrebin. Basquiat and Other Artists of Color Lead a Swell of Auction Sales. The New York Times. May 14, 2021.
Mark Westall. Take a KAWS Companion Hot Air Balloon Ride This Year in the UK.. FAD Magazine. May 17, 2021.
Paul Laster. From Graffiti to Augmented Reality: KAWS at the Brooklyn Museum. Art&Object Magazine. April 26, 2021.
Jake Silbert. KAWS is Taking a Hot Air Balloon Holiday.

Featured Artists and Recent Acquisitions at VFA

At VFA we have recently acquired works by Andy Warhol, David Hockney, KAWS, Julian OpieUgo Rondinone and Kenny Scharf.

Here’s a look at just a few of the new works now available at VFA.

Andy Warhol 1928-1987

Andy Warhol moved from Pittsburgh to New York in 1949, armed with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in pictorial design and an abundance of talent. His initial success was as a commercial illustrator…and the rest is history.

In 1959 Warhol self-published a tongue-in-cheek cookbook called Wild Raspberries, named after the Ingmar Berman film Wild Strawberries.

The book was a spoof of the 1950s cookbooks that were done to inspire American cooks to recreate French dishes. Warhol invented dishes like Seared Roebuck, Gefilte of Fighting Fish and Omelet Greta Garbo, which, he wrote, should “always to be eaten alone in a candlelit room.”

Warhol self-published just 34 copies of the cookbook, and most of those were given as gifts to family and friends.

A rare copy of Wild Raspberries, signed by the artist, will be auctioned at Bonhams later this month.

Our recent Warhol acquisitions include Pepper Pot Soup, Green Pea Soup, Grace Kelly and San Francisco Silverspot.

Warhol’s beautiful representation of the San Francisco Silverspot Butterfly, done in 1983, is very timely. The Silverspot is currently on the endangered species list.

KAWS 1974 – present

Brooklyn-based artist Brian Donnelly, aka KAWS, is being honored with a retrospective at the Brooklyn Museum, which was the first New York museum to acquire his artworks.

The show, KAWS: What Party, features more than 100 pieces, including early bus stop ads to which KAWS added his signature style in the 1990s.

The exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum will be on exhibit through September 5, 2021.

At VFA we have works by KAWS in a variety of media, and have recently acquired a limited edition wooden Pinocchio sculpture.

Julian Opie 1958 – present

This year British-born Julian Opie has solo exhibits in Seoul, Knokke, Oslo, Tokyo and London. His large public sculptures are recognizable around the world. We have recently acquired sculptures that are a more manageable size than his public statues, as well as Small Birds, a series of acrylic relief works.

Please contact us for more information about our recent acquisitions or any of the other fine works available at VFA.


References:
Tessa Solomon. Andy Warhol’s Cheeky Cookbook Heads to Auction at Bonhams. ARTnews. March 9, 2021.
Emilia Ong. Observer/Anthony Burgess prize for arts journalism 2021: Emilia Ong on Andy Warhol at Tate Modern. The Guardian. March 14, 2021.
Nadja Sayej. Kaws: behind the pop culture artist’s Brooklyn retrospective. The Guardian. March 15, 2021.
Ben Davis. Why KAWS’s Global Success May Well Be a Symptom of a Depressed Culture, Adrift in Nostalgia and Retail Therapy. artnet news. March 3, 2021.

KAWS and David Hockney: Featured Works at VFA

KAWS: What Party

The Brooklyn Museum is hosting the first major New York survey of the twenty-five year career of Brian Donnelly, the artists known as KAWS.

KAWS is one of the world’s most beloved artists (with 3.2 million Instagram followers) whose works resonate with people around the globe.His Kimpsons Album painting sold to an anonymous bidder for $14.8m at a Sotheby’s auction in 2019. Paintings from the Kimpsons Series are available at VFA.

The Brooklyn Museum exhibit is called What Party, the name of some of his most iconic sculptures. Versions of What Party are available at VFA. The exhibit includes graffiti drawings, paintings, small collectables, furniture, recent augmented reality projects, and sculptures, including a new major commission for Rockefeller Center.

KAWS
Untitled (Haring), 1997

Included in the show is a 1997 poster of Keith Haring, one of KAWS’ inspirations. “In my neighborhood, there was a bus shelter ad for Haring’s show at the Whitney so it was fair game.” he said in a recent interview in Vogue magazine. “I loved his democratic approach to making art and how he made it accessible through the Pop Shop, so painting over his output felt natural.”

KAWS has had great success in the Indie toy world that has increased demand for his work. He says that he likes the universal appeal of the toys. “Kids my age in Mexico were growing up on the same Smurfs that I grew up with.” he said,  “A lot of my paintings are flat, similar to cartoons. I like the feeling this work creates when you’re in front of it, especially at the scale I work at.”

KAWS: WHAT PARTY will be on display at the Brooklyn Museum through September 5, 2021.

David Hockney: Ma Normandie

David Hockney settled in Normandy two years ago, before the pandemic, and has used the lockdown as an opportunity to paint the landscape in and around his farmhouse.

David Hockney and Ruby at home in Normandy, 2020

Most museums  and galleries in Paris remain closed, so art lovers, who had limited, advance tickets, flocked to the Lelong Gallery to see Ma Normandie, the David Hockney exhibit. All of the paintings were sold before the exhibit opened to the public.

David Hockney
Beuvron-en-Auge Panorama, 2019

The exhibit will run through February 27, 2021.

Sotheby’s has announced that David Hockney’s Tall Dutch Trees After Hobbema (Useful Knowledge) will be offered at its Spring auction. The painting is expected to garner between $8.8 to 11.5 million.

The work is one of a series of twenty paintings. It was featured on the April 23, 2018 cover of The New Yorker.

David Hockney continues to work, in Normandy, on his iPad drawings as well as acrylic paintings.

The works of KAWS and David Hockney at VFA

Please contact us if you would like more information about the works of KAWS, David Hockney or any of the other fine artists whose works are available at VFA.


References:
Liam Freeman. A Private Viewing of the New KAWS Exhibition with the Artist Himself. Vogue. February 16, 2021.
Mark Westall. New KAWS Exhibition to Provide 360-Degrees Survey of His 25 Year Practice. FAD Magazine. February 16, 2021.
Shanti Escalante-De Mattei. Beyond KAWS: The Authentic World of Indie Art Toys. ARTnews. January 27, 2021.
Ali Mohammed-Ali. Brooklyn Museum Announces KAWS-Inspired Art Classes. Hypebeast. February 5, 2021.
Rob Nowilll. An Epically-Scaled David Hockney Artwork is Coming to Auction. Hypebeast. February 5, 2021.

Recent Acquisitions at VFA: Jonas Wood, Julian Opie and KAWS

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Jonas Wood

Jonas Wood shares a studio with his artist wife, Shio Kusaka, whose pottery forms he uses in his paintings and prints. His flat, colorful images, of the things that surround him, are a combination of Modern, Pop and a unique vision that is recognizable Jonas Wood.

He calls his images, “inherently positive.” New York Times art critic Roberta Smith calls them “…an uneasy truce among the abstract, the representational, the photographic and the just plain weird.”

The 43-year-old artist was born in Boston. Wood has a B.A. in psychology and an MFA from the University of Washington. He lives and works in L.A.

Jonas Wood’s art can found found in the permanent collections of the Met, the Guggenheim, MoMA, the Whitney, the Hammer Museum, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and many other fine venues.

KAWS

In 2005, Cory Kennedy-Levin was a 15-year-old ninth grader who went to a concert at the El Rey Theater in L.A., had her photo taken and posted on a hipster-party photo website and became an Internet It Girl with a global fan base.

Two years later, the fashion mag, Jalouse, hired KAWS to do a cover, using Kennedy as a model. The request was somewhat ironic because, in the late ’90s, KAWS would take Jalouse posters out of bus stands, and put them back, after painting them with his usual flair. For the 2007 cover, he was asked by Jalouse to collaborate with photographer, Jean Baptiste Mondino. The result is a nearly six-foot high iconic poster of the cover collaboration.

Brian Donnelly was born in Jersey City in 1974. He began to use the tag KAWS in his early graffiti work because he liked the way the letters fit together. KAWS received a BFA from the School of Visual Arts in New York, worked as a Disney animator and has a global following thanks to the recognizable and relatable images in his work.

His works can be found in the permanent collections of the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, the Brooklyn Museum and other major venues. His ‘toys’ have become highly collectible, especially in the  U.S. and Hong Kong marketplace.

Other KAWS recent acquisitions are an alloy and ceramic Seeing sculpture with LED lights, acrylic paintings from the Kimpsons series, screenprints and silkscreen sets.

Julian Opie

Julian Opie’s work has taken on a new meaning in the last few months, almost a nostalgia for images that were so commonplace before the pandemic.

A couple walking on a New York street, pedestrians waiting for the light to change or a bus to come along…those are the images that Opie captures so well…and that we have not seen in our everyday lives in quite some time, especially not in New York. Recent events have made both Opie’s New York Couples and People Standing series especially relevant today.

Opie was born in London in 1958, attended Goldsmiths, University of London, and captured the attention of a broad audience with his minimalist style.

He has many commissioned sculptures on display in major cities around the world. His works are in the permanent collection of the National Portrait Gallery, London, MoMA, and many other major museums.

Recent Acquisitions at VFA

We are grateful to be able to offer a wide range of recent acquisitions from Jonas Wood, KAWS and Julian Opie, three of our favorite artists.

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

References:
Roberta Smith. Paintings by Jonas Wood. The New York Times. March 17, 2011.
Linda Yablonsky. The Insider/Jonas Wood. T Magazine/CultureThe New York TImes. March
 20, 2012
Jennifer Samet. Beer with a Painter, LA Edition: Jonas Wood. Hyperallergic. September 12, 2015.
Shawn Hubler. The secret life of Cory Kennedy. The Los Angeles Times. February 25, 2007.
Michelle Persad. Cory Kennedy, Cobra Snake “It” Girl, And Her Life After Rehab. Huffpost. April 9, 2013.

KAWS’ Global Appeal

KAWS works garnered nearly $34 million at auction last year, according to Christie’s.  He is now represented by the upscale Skarstedt Gallery in New York, where his works are displayed alongside those of  Pablo Picasso, Francis Bacon and other classical greats.

Before Brian Donnelly became a success using his KAWS tag, he earned his BA in illustration at the School of Visual Arts, he worked as an animation background painter on Disney’s 101 Dalmatians and other films.

KAWS use of familiar cartoon images, combined with his unique ability to make the images seem shy and helpless, gives his works a universal appeal.

KAWS in Qatar

This year, KAWS had solo exhibits in the U.S., Taiwan, Japan, Australia, London and Hong Kong. Bad weather led to KAWS beloved 121-foot-long inflatable Companion having to leave Hong Kong Harbor a few days early, during Art Basel Hong Kong.

Companion is now at the Doha Dhow Harbor in Qatar. It is part of KAWS first solo exhibition in the Middle East. His paintings, graphics, sculptures and toys are housed in the Fire Station Gallery near the harbor.

Sheikha Reem al-Thani, Director of Exhibitions at Qatar museums, said, “If the public reception of the recent installation of KAWS’s Small Lie (2018) at Doha’s Hamad International Airport is any indication, the artist’s larger than life sculptures, which evoke questions of humanity and hope, will unquestionably resonate with the people of Qatar.”

KAWS: He Eats Alone will be on display in Qatar through January 2020.

A 4-foot Companion sculpture is for sale at VFA.

KAWS Studio Expansion

Brian Donnelly was born and raised in Jersey City, New Jersey. He worked for Disney’s New York-based Jumbo Pictures as an animator during the day and did his graffiti art at night.

After his KAWS tag became a recognizable icon, he set up a studio in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, which he is currently expanding with the purchase of the 10,000-square-foot building next to his North 9th Street studio, for a $17 million price tag.

An exhibit of KAWS work is planned for 2021 at the Brooklyn Museum.

KAWS at Auction

Three of KAWS’ works were included in this month’s Phillips 20th Century and Contemporary Sale in New York. His painting of SpongeBob SquarePants, titled GRRR! sold for $2.18 million, a wood sculpture called Final Days went for $1.46 million and an Untitled 2014 shaped canvas painting sold for $1.52 million.

KAWS at VFA

The global appeal of KAWS works is related to his ability to create images that are recognizable and full of a universally understood emotional impact.

Works like You Should Know I Know, Blame Game and Paper Smile, for sale at VFA, evoke the feelings that KAWS is so gifted at capturing in his art.

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

See More KAWS for Sale

References:
Designboom. KAWS debuts inflatable sculpture on doha’s dhow harbor overlooking the city skyline. November 14, 2019.
Claire Selvin. KAWS Mania, Buying Frenzy Over Julie Curtiss Painting Punctuate $108.1 M. Phillips 20th-Century and Contemporary Sale with ‘Measured’ Bidding. ArtNews. November 14, 2019.
Richard Bockmann. Acclaimed artist KAWS pays $17M to expand Williamsburg studio. TheRealDeal. November 18, 2019.

Featured Artwork For Sale at VFA

Here’s a look at some of the featured artwork at Vertu Fine Arts. Some of our favorite artists, like KAWS, Julien Opie and Alex Katz, are often in the news and get a lot of media attention. Many of our favorites don’t get as much attention, aren’t as mainstream and we’d like to shine a spotlight on them.

KAWS

If you’ve ever seen an interview with Brian Donnelly (aka KAWS), you see a reserved, soft-spoken man, whose demeanor belies the excitement that his works create.

KAWS works have a universal appeal, and he has had highly successful collaborations with Dior, Nike and other fashion retailers. Many of his designs are bought at cost and resell for about ten times the original retail price on line. A pair of Nike Air Jordans, that he designed in 2017, sold at retail for $350 and are resold on websites like Fight Club for as much as $2,750.

Brian Donnelly is a fine artist and designer, trained at New York’s School of Visual Arts. Last week, customers in China stormed retail stores to get their hands on t-shirts that KAWS created for Uniqlo, a Japanese fashion label. After the shopping frenzy, KAWS announced that he would no longer be collaborating with Uniqlo.

Sol LeWitt

Sol LeWitt is known as one of the pioneers of Minimal and Conceptual Art during the 1960s. LeWitt often put simple instructions on paper, so that his work could be recreated. In the mid-1950s, after getting his BFA from Syracuse University and serving in the Korean War, LeWitt moved to Manhattan, where he worked in the MoMA bookstore and met other struggling, young artists. By the 1960s LeWitt had become a successful artist, whose works are part of the permanent collections of the Tate Modern, the Centre Georges Pompidou and, ironically, the Museum of Modern Art. One of his permanent murals is in the Equitable Center in Manhattan…the building that was the site of a helicopter crash last week. LeWitt died in New York in 2007.

Sir Anish Kapoor

Anish Kapoor is a well-loved and very popular…and very controversial… British artist. He was born in Bombay in 1954 and moved to the UK in the early 1970s to study art. He became Sir Anish Kapoor in 2013, for his contribution to the visual arts.

One of Kapoor’s best known sculptures is Cloud Gate (nicknamed The Bean), a giant stainless steel sculpture in Chicago’s Millennium Park. One of the controversies surrounding Kapoor stems from his exclusive licensing of Vantablack, one of the darkest substances known, in spray-paint form. His licensing of Vantablack caused anger among other artists. Kapoor is preparing for his first solo show in China this coming fall.

Erik Parker

Erik Parker’s work is both psychedelic and serene. Parker was born in Stuttgart, Germany in 1968. He studied art at the University of Texas at Austin and at Purchase College in New York. Parker and his former teacher, Peter Saul, are currently having a joint exhibition at the Nanzuka Gallery in Tokyo. Parker’s work is part of the permanent collection at MoMA. He works from his Brooklyn studio.

Retna

Retna’s unique works are a combination of calligraphy and typography. Born Marquis Lewis in Los Angeles in 1979, Retna began his career as a graffiti artist and has gone on to exhibit at major venues around the world. He has designed for Louis Vuitton and Nike, did the cover for Justin Bieber’s Purpose album and the stage set for Verdi’s Aida at the Seattle Opera.

Richard Estes

A founder of the photo-realist painting movement in the 1960s, Richard Estes’ urban landscapes have been exhibited at the Met, the Guggenheim and are in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian. Born in Kewanee, Illinois in 1932, Estes studied at the Art Institute of Chicago. He moved to New York in 1959, lived and painted in Spain in 1962. When he returned to New York, he worked as a commercial artist until 1966, when he was able to support himself through the sale of his paintings. Estes lives and works in New York.

Featured Artwork For Sale at VFA

This is just a brief look at some of the featured artwork available at VFA. Please give us a call, or visit the gallery, if you would like more information about the works available at VFA.

KAWS: Record Smasher

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If you told art critics and collectors in the 1950s and 1960s that the cartoon creations of Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein would some day be part of the permanent collections of major museums around the globe, many would have scoffed. The same can be said, in the twenty-first century, of the works of graffiti artists like KAWS and Takashi Murakami, yet their works are entering the mainstream with surprising speed and gusto.

Brian Donnelly, who has used the KAWS tag since his early days, when he took the train from his New Jersey home to Manhattan, to put his work up on the sides of phone booths. These days, KAWS  has two studios in Brooklyn, partners with Uniqlo and Dior, and has a staff of assistances. He is married and the father of two young  children. “I had to have kids just to make it not seem weird,” Mr. Donnelly joked in a recent New York Times interview.

KAWS at Auction

The recent record sales of KAWS paintings at auction were way over estimated prices. His Sponge Bob Square Pants painting sold for $6million….ten times the initial estimate of $600,000…and $14.8 million for his album painting at Sotheby’s, a Simpson’s version of the Beatle’s Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band cover.

The way Scott Nussbaum, head of 20th Century and Contemporary Art in New York at Phillips Auction House, explains it, “The early attention to his work came from younger, emerging buyers from Asia. But now we’re seeing older, established collectors from the United States and Europe walking into our galleries and asking to see the KAWS as well as the de Kooning.”

Like Pop Art, KAWS has universal appeal and bridges the gap between commercial and fine art. KAWS characters, with XXs for eyes, have a tender, sensitive appeal. They’re recognizable and and have a special appeal to the many millennials who are showing up at auctions in New York and Hong Kong.

KAWS at the Brooklyn Museum

It’s been almost twenty years since KAWS evaded police and tagged his paintings on the street. He received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in illustration from the School of Visual Arts in New York, did some traveling in Japan and settled down in Brooklyn to live and work.

Though his works have been shown in major venues around the world, the nearby Brooklyn Museum, like other art institutions, have been cautious about giving shows to artists who have mass commercial appeal. That will change in 2021, when the Brooklyn Museum will have a show of KAWS work. KAWS currently has a show at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Detroit. KAWS: Alone Again will be on exhibit through August 4, 2019.

KAWS at VFA

Please contact us if you would like more information about KAWS work available at VFA.

See More KAWS Artwork for Sale

References:
Ted Loos. XX Marks the Spot: KAWS Goes Global. The New York Times. March 15, 2019.
Caroline Goldstein. Now a Market Star, KAWS Will Get a Survey at His Hometown Brooklyn Museum—Even Though It Initially ‘Didn’t See the Appeal’. Art net News. May16, 2019.
Scott Reyburn. Contemporary Art Evening Sales Bring $981 Million, Led by Koons and KAWS. The New York Times. May 17, 2019.
Helen Holmes. Why a Painting of spongeBob SquarePants Just Sold for $6 Million. The zxsawObserver. May 17, 2019.
Jonathan Sawyer. KAWS’ “Alone Again” Exhibition Opens at Detroit’sMuseumof Contemporary Art. May,14, 2019.

KAWS Work at VFA

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The universal appeal of KAWS’ work has created a high demand in the art market. His works sell out well before the opening of his gallery shows.

KAWS’ Pinocchio sculpture, done in collaboration with the Disney Team, in a limited edition of 100, was released last month. A random drawing was held for prospective buyers and the sculptures were all sold before their release. Because of the global interest, KAWS’ work is in high demand. We are pleased to be able offer Limited Edition KAWS prints at VFA.

KAWS Blame Game Portfolio

In 2014, KAWS created the Blame Game Portfolio, a series of close up images of the classic characters that he uses in his work. Each print carries the rich color that distinguish KAWS’ work. The quality of each print, on Saunders Waterford 410gsm High White Paper, is excellent. The prints have  not been available on the open art market until fairly recently, and are coveted by collectors of KAWS’ artwork.

The unusual use of close up views of Companion, Accomplice, Chum and other characters, portrayed with a range of varying emotions, is a unique departure from the larger-than-life renderings that are most often associated with KAWS.

Please contact us for more information about the screenprints from the Blame Game Portfolio available at VFA.

KAWS Sculpture Unveiled in China

KAWS (Brian Donnelly) was born in Jersey City, got his BFA from the School of Visual Arts in New York and lives and works in Brooklyn, a far cry from Asia, but far back as the ’90s, KAWS was a sensation in Japan and his popularity has spread.

This week, his first permanent installation will be unveiled  at Changsha International Finance Square, a new development in Hunan, which includes a mall and office tower. The eight ton, 29-foot-tall bronze sculpture, SEEING/WATCHING, overlooks the mega-mall’s sculpture garden.

KAWS Screenprints at VFA

Limited Editions from the Blame Game Portfolio as well as other screenprints by KAWS are available at VFA. Please contact us if you would like more information about the work of KAWS or about any of the other fine art prints in our gallery.

See More KAWS Artwork for Sale

References:
Zahra Jamshed. US artist KAWS makes permanent mark in China. CNN style. May 7, 2018.
Keith Estiler. KAWS & Disney Team up on Limited ‘PINOCCHIO’ Wooden Sculpture. HYPE BEAST/ Arts. April 25, 2018
http://www.streetartbio.com/kaws

Kaws: Causing Chaos at MoMA

Crashing the MoMA Website

A few weeks ago, the Museum of Modern Art sent out an email announcing that it had a limited supply of KAWS Companion action figures for sale, at $200 each, at MoMA and online. The response was so dramatic that the MoMA Design Store website crashed and was down for hours. The toys sold out before the end of the day.

KAWS figures are instantly recognizable… the XX eyes, the familiar yet transformed cartoon characters that are relatable to so many… and the feelings of compassion and humanity that they evoke have made them a universal success.

One of the original Companions sold for $129,000 at auction in 2014. Even the smaller pieces, which recovered by collectors, sell for around $100 to $2500.

Far Far Down in St.Louis

Brian Donnelly, who has a BFA from the School of Visual Arts in New York, seems to have a basic instinct for knowing how to get people to relate to his art. He says that he chose the tag KAWS because he liked the way the letters fit together, and they fit very well. The tag made him one of the most outstanding New York graffiti artists in the late 1990s and led to his critical and commercial success.

KAWS is a painter, sculptor, toy maker and product designer. His work is exhibited in venues throughout the world.

Both his paintings and sculpture are on exhibit this summer at the Contemporary Art Museum in St. Louis. The exhibit includes a new bronze sculpture, titled Together, installed in the museum’s courtyard.

Hard to Get

Once a KAWS product design is announced, KAWS fans rush in to swoop them up. His collaboration with Nike resulted in the KAWS x Jordan 4 sneaker, which was released globally on March 31 for $350 and by lottery on the KAWSone website, a month later. Of course, they sold out quickly, and fakes are popping up around the world, selling for as high as $2000. There are ways to tell the fakes from the real KAWS x Jordan 4s, but buyer beware.

KAWS at VFA

Our focus at VFA, is on the paintings and fine art prints that KAWS creates. His use of pure colors and recognizable aesthetic creates a visual energy that is unique to his work.

Please contact us for more information about No One’s Home and the other KAWS originals for sale at VFA.

See More KAWS 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.

 

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
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