VIPs at LA Frieze and more…

VIPs at LA Frieze

This year’s LA Frieze art fair opened with a special V.I.P Day, attended by such celebrities as Leonardo DiCaprio, James Corden, Will Ferrell, Gwyneth Paltrow, Owen Wilson and Pierce Brosnan.

Highlights of the fair were works by Kenny Scharf, Jonas Wood, Andy Warhol, Alex Katz and Jonas Wood, some of our favorite artists at VFA.

Michael Craig-Martin 1941 –

The Blavatnik School of Government, at the  University of Oxford, commissioned Michael Craig-Martin to create a sculpture to enhance the space outside of the building.

Craig-Martin designed a bold, magenta, 16-foot high fountain pen, that balances on its nib, outside the building’s main entrance.

“The image I proposed for Oxford was that of a fountain pen.” Craig-Martin said, “The image can be seen as a reference to serious study and learning, particularly to the signing of important documents, an age-old formality that connects, like Oxford itself, the past and the present, and which is recognised globally.”

Craig-Martin was born in Dublin, in 1941 and has lived and worked in Britain since 1966. As a teacher at Goldsmiths College in London, he influenced a generation of great British artists.

He his known for his minimal style and vivid colors, in both his paintings, prints and sculptures, like Thonet Chair and Sportsballs, available at VFA.

Keith Haring 1958-1990

Keith Haring moved from Pennsylvania to New York in 1978 to study at the School of Visual Arts. By 1982, he was one of the most visible, and well-known artists in the city.

He had a wide group of friends, including videographer Nelson Sullivan, who recorded the Manhattan art and club scene. Sullivan  recorded a New Years Eve party that Haring held at a gallery, to ring in 1984. That was the same year he collaborated with fashion designer Vivienne Westwood to create the textile for the skirt Madonna wore in her music video Borderline.

Works like Chocolate Buddha and those of the Pop Shop series, available at VFA, are so unique and instantly recognizable as Haring’s. It is hard to imagine the artists who inspired him, but there were a few, like Belgian artist, Pierre Alechinsky.

Haring’s work is being shown alongside those of Alechinsky at the NSU Art Museum in Fort Lauderdale. Alechinsky, whose style had a profound influence on Haring, is 94 and lives and works  just outside of Paris.

Confrontation: Keith Haring and Pierre Alechinsky will run from February 27 through October 2, 2022.

Please contact us if you would like more information about the works of Kenny Scharf, Jonas Wood, Andy Warhol,  Jonas Wood, Alex Katz, Michael Craig-Martin, Keith Haring or any of the other fine artists whose works are available at VFA.

Cassandra Grey. Cassandra Grey’s 5 Favourite Works on Frieze Viewing Room. Frieze Los Angeles, News February 17, 2022.
Ingrid Schmidt. The Weeknd, Gwyneth Paltrow, Leonardo DiCaprio, James Corden in the Market for Art at Frieze Los Angeles. The Hollywood Reporter. February 18, 2022.
University of Oxford. Michael Craig-Martin: Fountain Pen, 2019.
Editors. Rare footage offers a peek inside the private party Keith Haring threw for his friends in 1984. Queerty. February 16, 2022.

The Surprising Inspirations of Julian Opie and Andy Warhol

Every work of art begins with a spark of inspiration. That spark often appears in unexpected forms.

Discovering what has inspired our favorite artists is often surprising and can offer insight and better understanding of how and why an artist works in a particular style.

Julian Opie 1958 –

The influence of Michael Craig-Martin, one of Julian Opie’s instructors at London’s Goldsmiths School of Art, is apparent. Craig-Martin’s style, like Opie’s is minimal, but other influences are not so apparent.

In a recent interview in The Art Newspaper, Opie said that he is influenced by Japanese woodcuts of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and the works of twentieth century Austrian painter, Egon Schiele. He also listens to some pretty esoteric music and uses it to enhance some of his artwork.

His passion for Raymond Carver’s short stories, and the influence they have on him, is a bit of a surprise, but make sense when he explains how they affect him. “They feel like memories,” he said, “like a moment where he’s left a hotel room and notices someone in the hall. That would be the entire short story. But somehow through the way he tells it, he evokes this sense of reality and presence. And it’s that kind of feeling that I want to get to, rather than any sense of inventing a character and bringing that person to life. I have no ability to do that whatsoever, I can only really draw what I see.”

Julian Opie’s work is currently on display at the Pitzhanger Manor and Gallery in London, the Plaza del Colegio del Patriarca in Valencia, Spain and an upcoming exhibition at the Cristea Roberts Gallery in London from September 17 through October 23, 2021.

Andy Warhol 1928 – 1987

Andy Warhol found inspiration at the New York Public Library. He was notably inspired by fame…famous people, famous products…and his religious beliefs…and also found great ideas in the library’s Picture Collection.

The Picture Collection, which has been around since 1915, consists of more than a million loose photos and printed images, placed in alphabetized folders. Anyone with a library card can check them out, the same way they can check out a book.

Many famous artists used the Collection, including Diego Rivera, Dorothea Lange and Joseph Cornell, but Andy Warhol was probably the most famous and most frequent visitor.

Photographer Arnold Hinton, who worked in the library in the mid fifties and sixties, organizing the Photo Collection, told The New Yorker that he remembers Andy Warhol going through the collection, taking photos and not returning them.

Warhol liked to take his own photos, and many of his Polaroid pictures are historic records of the New York art scene of the mid twentieth century, but his best-known work was done from the photos taken by others…some probably “borrowed” from the New York Public Library.

Please contact us if you would like more information about the works of Julian Opie or Andy Warhol available at VFA.

Ben Luke. A brush with…Julian Opie. The Art Newspaper. June 23, 2021.
Sarah Larson. A Thousand Words, a Million Times Over. The New Yorker. July 26, 2021.

Ed Ruscha Does L.A., Michael Craig-Martin in London

Ed Ruscha Does L.A.

Ed Ruscha, c. 2005

In 1956, when he was eighteen, Ed Ruscha left his home in Oklahoma City and traveled to Los Angeles to study at the California Institute of the Arts. After graduating, he worked as a layout artist at an ad agency.

Ruscha has an extraordinary talent for casting ordinary objects and places in a new light and giving the viewer a new appreciation of their form.

Ed Ruscha
The Whisky a Go Go Club

In 1966, Ruscha mounted a motorized camera in the bed of a Datsun pickup truck and drove slowly up and down Sunset Boulevard, shooting thousands of frames in a single, continuous session. The truck moved slowly, so he put a sign on the back of the truck that read, “Please Pass.”

For over forty years, Ruscha photographed the Strip and other areas of L.A. The Getty Research Institute has launched an interactive website of Ruscha’s photos, taken between the mid-1960s and 2007.

Called 12 Sunsets, the site lets you choose a red pickup, blue Volkswagen bus or red Beetle and a year in which you can  travel along the Boulevard.

Though the Strip saw much social and artistic upheaval during the years he photographed it, Ruscha was more interested in the changing landscape design, the architecture and the signage that signaled social changes.

Ruscha worked with artist and master printmaker,  Richard Duardo, who was a driving force in the Chicano art community in Los Angeles. “It’s not artist-makes-print, but rather artist-and-printer-make-print.” Ruscha said.

After Duardo’s death in 2015, Ruscha designed Zoot Soot, available at VFA, in memory of Richard Duardo.

At 83, Ruscha still lives and works in Culver City, California.

Sir Michael Craig-Martin

Sir Michael Craig-Martin

In August of 2019, six steel sculptures by British artist Michael Craig-Martin were installed around Kinder Lake at Discover Green in Houston. It was the first exhibition of the Michael Craig-Martin’s sculptures to be seen in Texas, and only the second venue in the United States. Then came the pandemic and Craig-Martin has been sheltering in place in London, where he lives and works.

Craig-Martin, who was knighted in 2016, was born in Dublin, raised in the U.S., where he studied at the Yale School of Art and Architecture. In 1966 he moved to Britain, where he had his first solo exhibition in 1969. During the 1980s he was a tutor at Goldsmiths College, where he taught many of the emerging Young British Artists, including Damien Hirst. 

He was asked by BBC Arts to design a poster to honor the National Health Service (NHS) in Britain for its service during the pandemic. He created a poster of Gerbera Daisies, for adults and children to color in and display as a show of support for the work of NHS staff. The poster is available to download from the NHS website.

Usually Craig-Martin draws and sculpts everyday objects, but since the lockdown he’s been stuck at home and hasn’t been able to go to his studio. He’s been drawing objects from the supermarket. “Normally I’m strict about drawing mass-produced, fabricated objects, ordinary objects.” he said, “But over the past few weeks I’ve had a very good rush of work and I’ve been drawing nothing but fruit, flowers and vegetables. They are the only things I see. You can’t buy clothes, you can’t buy furniture, you can’t buy high tech. But I’m starting to see things I hadn’t noticed before. I’m struck that I’ve been able to produce dozens of drawings, where anybody could look at them and say, ‘that’s a strawberry, that’s fennel, that’s a carrot’.”

Please contact us if you would like more information about the works of Ed Ruscha and Sir Michael Craig-Mrtin available at VFA.

Sebastian Smee. Ed Ruscha’s stunning Sunset Strip art project lets you tour its full length, east to west — and back in time. The Washington Post. January 9, 2021.
Tobias Carroll. “12 Sunsets” Revisits Ed Ruscha’s Visual History of the Sunset Strip. Inside Hook. January 10, 2021.
Mark Rozzo. Ed Ruscha Still Has Plenty More to Say About America. Vanity Fair. May 30, 2018.
Pascale Hughes. Sir Michael Craig-Martin on creativity under coronavirus lockdown: ‘Art doesn’t have parameters’. iNews/Culture. May 1, 2020.

New Pop Art For Sale at Vertu Fine Art Gallery

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At VFA our Boca Raton gallery continues to acquire and feature some of the finest quality Pop Art prints and originals that can be found in South Florida. Some of the exciting new art for sale is listed here. Our passion leads us to regularly buy and sell the finest quality of Pop Art lithographs, sculptures, paintings and unique objects available, so our inventory changes frequently. Visit our gallery at Boca Center or contact us for prompt attention regarding anything that you may be seeking or to learn more about our most recent acquisitions.

Of the American Pop Art masters that continue to grow in legend and capture the imagination, Roy Lichtenstein’s popularity remains at high pitch. Lichtenstein’s Crak!, a captivating offset lithograph that holds a solid place among those works that launched him into the public eye, is as spectacular now as it was fifty years ago, when the artist created it for a Leo Castelli exhibition in the fall of 1963. The deadpan comic book design contains the Ben-Day dots that Lichtenstein single-handedly transposed from low art into the highest echelons of Contemporary Fine Art. This piece is pure Pop Art, demonstrating clearly how Roy Lichtenstein captured the pubic imagination and earned the reputation of an artist with incredible vision.

Another equally impressive Roy Lichtenstein lithograph now hanging in our Boca Raton gallery is Foot and Hand (Cat. #II 4), also a famous Lichtenstein tribute the popular comic books of the time. For collectors of Roy Lichtenstein, Foot and Hand delivers all that is great about the artist’s works. This popular print shows off the artist’s delight in capturing the campy action of the comics− the dramatic moment rendered by way of Ben-Day dots, primary colors and strong contrasts − as the shaded boot puts emphatic halt to the hand that reaches for the revolver. Roy Lichtenstein’s comic works makes the viewer feel as if they’ve stepped back in time. This quintessential style felt both antiquated and nostalgic in the early sixties when the artist “blew it up” and it’s equally poignant today. If anything, fifty years later, Lichtenstein’s Pop Art slices of life feel as hip as anything that’s been showcased since.

Pop and Abstract Expressionist Art collectors will be pleased to learn of the newly acquired Robert Rauschenberg print L.A. Uncovered #10. Every print from Robert Rauschenberg’s historic L.A. Uncovered series is a piece in high demand, featuring images photographed by the artist himself, from the seat of a car, as he took a peak at the City of Los Angeles’ underbelly. Rauschenberg is frequently credited for the influence of his early works, which paved the way for American Pop Artists, presenting a new sensibility of cultural observation and reflection. In 1998, Rauschenberg was still discovering new methods for finding the most authentic human stories, enabling him to continue creating his famous mash-ups. The artist’s collages artfully illuminate the spectrum of realities that face all beings on the planet at any given moment. L.A. Uncovered #10 gives us pause to explore our own insights, as unique and varied as the iconic images juxtaposed before us.

Moving from American Pop Artists to the U.K’s Young British Artist (YBA) movement – our Boca Raton Art gallery proudly features new works from Michael Craig-Martin – the artist credited for inspiring a number of YBA artists, including Damien Hirst, Ian Davenport, Fiona Rae and others. Craig-Martin is best known for his ability to show us grand elements in even the most mundane of common objects. Catalan Suite II, a series of six objects, each portrayed individually, is a surprisingly powerful group of works and we’re pleased that the complete set hangs currently in our South Florida gallery. It’s a series that must been seen “in person” to fully appreciate the powerful simplicity and eloquence of the works.

We welcome you to visit with us or contact us if there’s anything we can do to assist you in sourcing the very finest Contemporary Art prints and originals.

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