Polly Apfelbaum: Waiting for the UFOs

Polly Apfelbaum wants people to interact with her art. She has described herself as an in-between artist who paints, sculpts, prints and uses any medium that she feels will encourage people to participate in her exhibits. Born in Abington, Pennsylvania, in 1955, she studied painting at the Tyler School of Art in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, and at Purchase College, State University of New York. She has exhibited, in the US and internationally, since the 1980s.

Her works are in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum, the Brooklyn Museum, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and many other major venues. She has been influenced by Bauhaus Modernism, Minimal Art, Abstract Expressionism and Pop Art and combines fine art with arts and crafts. Polly Apfelbaum lives and works in New York.

Waiting for the UFOs

The actual title of Apfelbaum’s current exhibit is Polly Apfelbaum: Waiting for the UFOs (a space set between landscape and a bunch of flowers)Waiting for the UFOs is the title of a 1979 Graham Parker song and a space set between landscape and a bunch of flowers is the way Surrealist artist Rene Magritte defined a garden. The exhibit ran in Birmingham, England before opening last week at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art in Kansas City, Missouri, kicking off the museum’s twenty-fifth anniversary.

Apfelbaum created the Kemper Museum exhibit to custom fit into the museum space. Giant, colorful rugs, which she designed and had woven by indigenous women in Oaxaca, Mexico, cover the floor of the galleries. Visitors are asked to remove their shoes and walk through the exhibit in their socks or in soft shoe coverings, supplied by the museum.

She created walls throughout the space by hanging hundreds of clay glazed beads from the ceiling, each on a single string. On the actual walls of the museum are Sun Targets, a collection of over 130 ceramic targets individually named after planets or constellations. Polly Apfelbaum: Waiting for the UFOs (a space set between landscape and a bunch of flowers) will run through April 28, 2019.

Polly Apfelbaum Fine Art Prints at VFA

Polly Apfelbaum studied printmaking as an art student, but focused much of her early career on painting and creating compositions with fabrics. In 2002, she returned to printmaking, in collaboration with master printmaker Jean-Paul Russell at Durham Press in Pennsylvania.

Her colorful woodcuts and screenprints reflect her use of vibrant colors and minimalist abstract design. Polly Apfelbaum’s Flags of Revolt and Defiance series, available at VFA, is an example of her mastery of printmaking.

Please contact us if you would like more information about Yippies, Sons of Liberty or any of the other screenprints by Polly Apfelbaum available at VFA.

See More Polly Apfelbaum Work for Sale

Laura Spencer.An Artist’s Colorful Exhibit Makes The Kemper Kansas City’s Place For ‘Waiting For The UFOs’. KCUR. All Things Considered. January 25, 2019.
Interview from ‘Chromatic Scale: Prints by Polly Apfelbaum’ Catalogue
‘Small Worlds: An Interview with Polly Apfelbaum and Amy Cutler’ in ‘Taking Aim: The Business of Being an Artist Today’ Edited by Marysol Nieves, Fordham University Press; 1 edition (June 13, 2011) pages 33-43
polly apfelbaum prints

Polly Apfelbaum’s Flags of Revolt & Defiance

It’s not always easy to find work of Polly Apfelbaum’s that you can take home. Much of her work is installed on gallery floors or draped over ceiling pipes and down walls. Her Haunted House was an actual cabin in the Swiss Alps, without plumbing or electricity, that could only be gotten to by hiking. “I wanted to bring the hillbilly to this pristine alpine location in Switzerland,” she said. She left bottles of moonshine in the cabin for visitors who wanted, “the full, hillbilly experience” in the Alps.

Easier to carry home, and less dangerous than moonshine, are the silkscreens that are available in our gallery. They were created for Apfelbaum’s Flags of Revolt and Defiance exhibit, on display in 2006 at Columbia University’s Leroy Neiman Center for Print Studies Gallery.

Apfelbaum has taken the flags of political and social movements from around the world and placed them inside the pop flower that defines much of her work.

Here’s a look at the story behind some of the symbols she used:

  • The Sons of Liberty Flag was the symbol of the group that got together in the thirteen American colonies to fight against British rule. In 1773, the Sons of Liberty organized the Boston Tea Party, and the rest is history.
  • The official flag of Romania had the communist coat of arms printed in the center yellow band. During the Romanian Revolution in 1989, protestors cut out the coat of arms and waved, what they called, the flag with the hole, a symbol of their wish to do away with the dictatorial regime in power at that time. The Rumanian Uprising flag is Apfelbaum’s interpretation of revolutionary flag with the hole.
  • The flag of the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) was first waved in Turkey in 1978 to protest the poor treatment of Kurds by the government of Turkey. The PKK has a long and checkered history of struggle against oppression. Many Kurds still live in Turkey, but many have also settled in Syria, Iran, Greece and Cyprus. Apfelbaum has beautifully simplified the flag of a very complex movement.
  • Germany has had many flags during its long and changing history, but the flag that heralded the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989, commemorated one of the most exciting moments celebrated around the world. The words, Deutsche Wiedervereinigung (German Reunification), can be seen in Apfelbaum’s version of the flag of the Advocates of German Unification.
  • One of the best known movements of all time, the Women’s Rights Movement, has brought women a long way and is still relevant today. Apfelbaum’s spin on the flag of the National Organization of Women (NOW) is a strong, bold statement inside her signature flower.
  • The turbulent ‘60s gave rise to the Yippies, or Youth International Party, known as much for its pranks as its politics. Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin became the most famous leaders of the movement, whose members were sometimes called the Groucho Marxists. Abbie Hoffman wrote that the Yippies wanted to build a nation as rugged as the marijuana leaf, the symbol that graced the Yippies flag. Apfelbaum has gotten the essence of this flag just right.

Apfelbaum’s work can be found in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Israel Museum and the Yale University Art Gallery.

We feel fortunate to have be able to offer these unique silkscreens, from an artist whose work is always beautiful, thoughtful and playful. See more Polly Apfelbaum prints here.

Floored by Polly Apfelbaum Prints and Mixed Media

New York artist Polly Apfelbaum is one of the more unique Contemporary Artists working today. The artist is undoubtedly best known for her “fallen” paintings and mixed media installations, which are primarily crafted on floors. Recently, collectors have become intrigued with Polly Apfelbaum prints, some of which are currently available for sale at Vertu Fine Art Gallery in Boca Raton. Apfelbaum’s playful combination of vibrant colors, rich textures and funky shapes have become the artist’s easily identifiable brand.

With enormous talent as my savior, the most simplistic, seemingly low-minded subjects rise up under my tutelage and blow your mind.”

“Playful” is indeed the word that typically comes to mind when considering her work. “Childlike” is another, and in fact, it’s one that Apfelbaum relishes. Critics have compared her work to those that might be produced by young school-aged children. The artist perceives such comments as confirmation that her intentions are being effectively communicated. Sharing stylistic commonalities with Pop Art icons such as Warhol, Johns or Lichtenstein, Polly Apfelbaum’s prints and installations blast the viewer with whimsy. She joins a larger selection of great Pop Artists in presenting works with a mindset that says, “With enormous talent as my savior, the most simplistic, seemingly low-minded subjects rise up under my tutelage and blow your mind.” It’s akin to watching Tchaikovsky compose’ Love Me Do.

Apfelbaum’s genius is frequently manifested in works that feature dyed organic fabrics or ornate synthetic materials laid out on floors in installation spaces − allowing for participation among viewers. The installations are arranged in what appears to a randomly placed assortment. By moving around the space, participants gain a variety of perspectives that, in essence, change both perception and meaning.

In her art school years, Apfelbaum studies were focused on printing and painting. Within her career, as with most masters, Polly Apfelbaum apparently “fell” into her unique style, one that is most often described as a collaboration of painting, sculpture and installation.  In recent years, she has shown a resurging interest and gift for producing exquisite prints.

Among the Polly Apfelbaum prints for sale at VFU are a number of works from her “Flags of Revolt and Defiance” series.  The group of works, each paying tribute to a cultural or political revolutionary movement, includes 31 silkscreen prints in all, combining iconic representations with Apfelbaum’s “pop flower” shapes. The series was created for an installation at Columbia University’s LeRoy Neiman Center for Print Studies in 2006.

Polly Apfelbaum continues to receive praise and recognition for her art and most recently, she was named a 2012-2013 recipient of the 116th Annual Rome Prize.  The prize, which is “awarded to approximately 30 individuals who represent the highest standard of excellence in the arts and humanities,” grants stipend, studio, room and boarding for a period of six months to two years at The American Academy in Rome.  The artist’s prior accolades include being a recipient of the Joan Mitchell Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Pollock-Krasner Foundation grant, among others.

Polly Apfelbaum’s works are current contributions to many public viewings worldwide, including internally spaces at FRAC Nord-Pas de Calais (Dunkerque and Musee d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (France), Israel Museum (Jerusalem, Israel), Magasin 3 (Stockholm, Sweden) and a large variety of museums and public spaces domestically.

If you share our excitement for the works of this wonderfully talented artist, come in to our Boca Raton Gallery to view the current selection of Polly Apfelbaum prints for sale. If you’re a collector seeking a particular Apfelbaum work, we are always happy to assist in sourcing it for you. Thank you for visiting our website and taking an interest in the Contemporary Art that we enjoy so very much!

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Free Ebook: How to Identify and Buy Fine Art Prints

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