Mel Bochner Blah, Blah, Blah, 2014

Added Dimensions: Fine Art Prints and more at VFA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Summer at VFA: Featured Artists

We’re getting ready to travel up to the Market Art + Design Show at the Bridgehampton Museum in upstate New York and wanted to give you a little preview of a few of the artists whose work we’ll be featuring at the show and in the VFA Gallery.

Mel Bochner: Top Dog

In a world where there’s so much information coming at us, Mel Bochner uses language and humor to engage viewers. A master printmaker, Bochner brings texture and rich color to each of his prints.

“As an artist I like to delve into those things, like using etching, as it’s never been used before.” Bochner said in interview with Tulsa Public Radio. He says that some of his silkscreens “have a hundred different colors to make it look like one color. Even if the viewer can’t know that there are a hundred screens in that, there’s a quality to that blue that you can’t get anywhere else. There’s a uniqueness. I think anyone who really gets engaged in this thing called printmaking wants to explore all those possibilities.”

The texture in Bochner’s monoprint, Top Dog, available at VFA, comes from his use of specially handmade paper, engraving, collage and embossing.

Deborah Kass: OY YO 

In 2015, Deborah Kass’ 18 feet tall by 17 feet long aluminum OY YO sculpture was placed on the waterfront in New York’s Brooklyn Bridge Park. It read OY if you were viewing it from Brooklyn and YO if you were seeing it from Manhattan. OY YO became an instant icon after it appeared on the front page of the New York Times, and became a tourist destination, and a background for wedding photos, graduation and class photos and many, many selfies.

Much of Kass’ work is about power in art and society and she often reworks the art of 20th century  iconic male artists. Kass first created OY as a painting, after Ed Ruscha’s OOF panting and then did YO as a nod to Yo Picasso, the self-portrait Picasso did in 1901.

OY YO is currently installed in front of the Brooklyn Museum. A smaller, more manageable version of OY YO is available at VFA.

Ugo Rondinone: Untitled

Ugo Rondinone likes to work large. He creates temporary, monumental sculptures that resemble totems. Rather than fitting in with their surroundings, Rondinone’s works clash with their surroundings, like Human Nature, on display in Rockefeller Center in 2013.

Rondinone lives and works in New York. He was born in Switzerland, of Italian parents, in 1964. Like his sculptures, Rondinone’s paintings and prints are large, with brightly colored concentric circles or black and white gnarled trees.

Untitled silkscreen, available at VFA, is a large five-foot square silkscreen, that uses the wild and wonderful trademark Rondinone colors.

Alex Katz: Coca-Cola Girl

It’s been wonderful to watch Alex Katz age gracefully – both physically and artistically. He’s going to turn 92 in a few weeks and his work is as sleek and elegant as ever.

His recent Homage to Degas series of paintings and sculptures, and his simple landscapes are masterful works that showcase Katz’s refinement of his signature style. Coca-Cola Girl, available at VFA is another example of Katz’s ability to fine-tune his art.

KAWS: Ankle Bracelet

KAWS giant Companion sculpture will be relaxing at the Fujinomiya’s Fumotoppara Camping Ground this summer, giving campers a spectacular view of both the sculpture and Mount Fuji.

Kaws: Holiday at Mt Fuji will be on exhibit for just a week from July 18 to 24. Companion has already been to Seoul, Taipei and Hong Kong. If you can’t make it to Mt. Fuji,  you can view Companion, and other work by KAWS in our gallery.

Please give us a call if you would like more information about the works at VFA. Or make Vertu Fine Art part of your summer itinerary and stop by for a visit.



Mel Bochner: Hired, Fired, Admired

Mel Bochner at the Jewish Museum

Mel Bochner moved from Pittsburgh to New York in 1964, at the age of 24, to pursue his art career. He visited the Jewish Museum to see Jasper John’s White Flag and met an old classmate who was working as a museum guard. Bochner needed work, and his classmate said that a guard had quit the day before and there might be an opening. There was an opening, and Bochner was hired as a museum guard. (The guard who had quit the previous day was Brice Marden.) Bochner worked as a guard during the day, then went back to his twenty-one dollar a month Manhattan apartment, to paint at night. After about a year on the job, he was caught napping in a quiet corner, and fired.

Scenes from the Collection

Fast forward fifty years, and Mel Bochner’s work is being exhibited, along with other pieces from the museum’s vast collection…many of which have never been seen before. The Jewish Museum’s curators will be rotating the exhibits over the next two years, choosing from the more than 30,000 objects in the permanent collection, arranging them in seven separate displays on the third floor.

On exhibit currently is Mel Bochner’s Joys of Yiddish, his painting of Yiddish words that describe a variety of annoying people, in a way that only Yiddish words can do. From kibbitzer (someone who gives unwanted advice) to meshugener (a crazy person), the Joys of Yiddish, like much of his work, spans the bridge between words and art.

Mel Bochner Voices

A new book, Mel Bochner Voices has been published by Yale University Press. Written by Jeremy Sigler, a poet and lecturer in sculpture at Yale, the volume contains color plates of more than thirty unpublished paintings and an essay by the author, and looks at the way Bochner has combined language and painting and the emotions they inspire. Bochner was a teaching assistant at Yale in 1979 and an adjunct professor in 2001.

Mel Bochner’s Work at VFA

Versions of Mel Bochner’s Blah, Blah, Blah have been seen around the world…not just as paintings, but also as murals, billboards and even as sky writing. Blah, Blah, Blah and Head Honcho (one of the works from Bochner’s Thesaurus Series) are available at VFA.

Please contact us for more information about Blah, Blah, Blah, Head Honcho or any of the other works for sale at VFA.

See More Mel Bochner Artwork for Sale

Irma & New Work

Gratitude After Irma

In the wake of Hurricane Irma, we have been reminded of a valuable lesson at VFA. The lesson is one of gratitude. Although many of us are still without electricity and some conveniences, our families, our homes and the Gallery got through the storm with relatively little damage. We are showing our gratitude by helping the community, in any way we can, return to a sense of normalcy.

Our friends and neighbors have been working together in a spirit of unity. There are many ways to help get our community back together after Hurricane Irma. We urge you to join us in helping, by volunteering if you can, or by donating to clean up efforts. The Red Cross has proven to be a vital part of our area’s recovery.

Vertu Fine Art

Our sincerest thanks goes out to the friends, family and clients who have shown their care and support before, during and after the storm.

New Work at VFA

Vertu is featuring new acquisitions from Tom WesselmannAlex KatzJulian OpieFrank StellaShepard Fairey and Mel Bochner.

Mel Bochner’s Word Power

Mel Bochner’s art explores the power of words. His ability to combine words, color and texture has seen his work set new records at auction and is in more demand than ever. He paints, not just with oils, but with synonyms, and allows his viewers to find their own meanings in his words and their presentation.

Bochner’s 1969 wall drawing, Imagine the Enclosed Area Blue sold for $300,00 at November’s Art Basel in Miami.

The force of Bochner’s work is especially apparent in his Joy of Yiddish work, which was prominently displayed outside Munich’s Haus der Kunst, the museum built by the Nazis in 1937 to showcase what the Third Reich considered great German art. Bochner’s Yiddish words are boldly arranged at the entrance to the grounds, in yellow letters on a black background, the colors used on the armbands and patches that Jews were forced to wear to stigmatize them during Nazi occupation. The words themselves are somewhat fanciful, and open to interpretation, much like the Yiddish language. Words like KIBBITZER, KUNI LEMMEL, DREYKOP, ALTER KOCKER, MESHUGENER and PISHER describe a certain type of character. A Kibitzer is used to describe someone who like to chat and maybe even gossip, a Meshugener is a crazy person, but the terms are often used as endearments, depending on context.

Bochner grew up in a traditional Jewish home in Pittsburgh. As an apprentice to his father, a sign painter, Bochner became adept at integrating text and color. Always interested in language, Bochner is also interested in seeing the responses that his paintings elicit.

Blah, Blah, Blah is one of Bochner’s most popular works and has been used in many venues around the country. Bochner says he considers Blah, Blah, Blah to be, “the Black Hole of Language.”

Although Bochner’s lettering looks stenciled, it is all hand drawn and his technique, which combines engraving and embossing with oils, creates an industrial feel to his work.

Please contact VFA to learn more about the work of Mel Bochner and the other works in our gallery.

See More Work from Mel Bochner

Black Friday: Thinking Outside the Box

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Visitors to our gallery, looking for unusual and inspirational holiday gifts, have inspired us to feature the works of artists who thought outside the box…as many artists do…and whose works are iconic, ironic, sardonic and even a little sentimental.

Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol

Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol were both looking for ways to go beyond Abstract Expressionism and take their work in a different direction. In the early 1960s both Lichtenstein and Warhol were using comics to create paintings and, though Warhol worked as a commercial artist and Lichtenstein as a college professor, their presentations of Pop culture was similar…they presented an objective image and allowed the viewer to decide how to interpret each work.

Roy Lichtenstein. Brushstroke on Canvas and Reflections on Crash

For Lichtenstein, it was using the brushstroke, which Abstract Expressionist painters often wielded with abandon, taking it one step further, and making the brushstroke itself the subject of the painting. Brushstroke on Canvas, available at Vertu, is just one of a series that Lichtenstein did as a nod to Abstract Expressionist painters who liked to show off their brushstrokes.

Reflections on Crash was also part of a series which Lichtenstein was inspired to do when he looked at paintings that were matted, framed and put behind glass for exhibit. He became interested in the way reflections of the light on the glass often obscures part of the painting. Lichtenstein used bars of Ben Day dots and paint stripes to create the effect of reflections on a work of art behind glass. He said that he liked being able to obscure certain parts of the painting with the reflection effect, and pick and choose the parts of the painting that he wanted the viewer to focus on.

Andy Warhol. Mao and Brooklyn Bridge

Warhol did many portraits of Chinese Communist leader Mao Zedong, some more bizarre than others, as if Mao was a commercial commodity that could be adapted to fit the propagandizing needs of the advertiser. for the version of Mao that is currently in our gallery, he used a picture of Mao that was on the cover of the 1966 publication Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-Tung, also known as the Little Red Book, as a template.

The Brooklyn Bridge screenprint was done for the Brooklyn Bridge Centennial in 1983. Limited editions were sold to help fund the commemoration celebrations. The bridge itself took fourteen years to build and cost the lives of about twenty construction workers. The original signed silkscreens were highly coveted by collectors of Warhol’s work and by New Yorkers who have a fondness for the engineering marvel.

Mel Bochner. BLAH, BLAH, BLAH

The son of a sign painter, Mel Bochner has used words to explore their power, and their limits, and has used paint in much the same way. The process he employs for some of his word paintings is an intricate and unusual one. He etches the letters into a plastic base, fills each letter with paint and then uses a high-powered press to push the paint onto black velvet. The results, due to the differences in the manufacture of oil paints and to the nature of velvet, creates an industrial effect that enhances each letter.

Bochner says that he likes to see how viewers react to his paintings. He says that he has seen a lot of people take pictures of themselves in front of BLAH, BLAH, BLAH. Judging by the many versions he has done and the many ways that is has been used, BLAH, BLAH, BLAH seems to have a universal appeal.

If you’re thinking outside the box this holiday season we invite you to browse through our gallery of extraordinary works.

Recent Works from Skilled Masters

For more than fifteen years, VFA has focused on bringing our clients fine art prints created by extraordinary artists. Our recent focus has been on three extremely skilled artists who have been producing Fine Art Prints for many years.

Alex Katz, Chance

We used Late Summer Flowers the work of Alex Katz, one of our favorite artists, on the cover of our eBook, How to Identify and Buy Fine Art Prints, because Katz’s work is such a fine example of masterful printmaking.

Alex Katz is not just a printmaker, he’s also a painter and sculptor. His recent work, Chance, available at VFA, is Katz at his most playful.

Katz began making, what he calls cutouts, in 1959. Frustrated by the physical boundaries of the paintings he was working on, Katz cut out the two figures in the painting. He says that Robert Rauschenberg encouraged him to hang on to them, and so he mounted them on plywood. He liked the results and continued to make cutouts. In 1961, playwright Kenneth Koch saw an exhibition of Katz’s cutouts and commissioned him to make props and sets for his one-act satirical play George Washington Crossing the Delaware. The play was an underground success, as was Katz’s work.  Katz’s cutouts of George Washington Crossing the Delaware are part of the Smithsonian Collection.

A large version of Chance was placed in a London fountain for public viewing before being taken to the Timothy Taylor gallery in Mayfair.

Mel Bochner, Amazing and Right On

Mel Bochner, one of the leading figures of Conceptual art in the 1960s and 1970s, has brought printmaking to a whole new level. Not only is his work compelling, but his techniques are, as well.  He has been creating digital images with Plexiglas plate cuts, which are turned into prints, using a high pressure hydraulic press.

Bochner’s works are thoughtful, often funny and ironic. His work is currently on display at the British Museum and at the Bowdoin College Museum of Art in Portland.

In the complex works, Amazing and Right On (for sale at Vertu), Bochner uses his thesaurus-like themes to explore language, design and art itself.

Chuck Close, Self-Portrait 2015

The miraculous thing about Chuck Close is not that he’s 76, paralyzed, and still paints, but that he’s 76, paralyzed and still paints so well. According to a July, 2016 New York Times Magazine interview, Close has been more seclusive, forgetful and physically compromised than ever, but he still works with the fervor of a young artist.

His Self-Portrait 2015, available in our gallery at this time, shows an older, scrutinizing self. The woodcut is done in his usual grid, but the image, with white beard and irregular features, appears as if Close is coming to terms with his older identity.

Please contact us if you would like information about these or any of the other works in 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