The Works of Alex Katz, Jonas Woods and Robert Motherwell at VFA

The New York Guggenheim is set to reopen in a few weeks, with many of the same requirements that MoMA, the Met and others have instituted, like reserved tickets and social distancing.

Alex Katz

In spite of being closed, the Guggenheim staff has been preparing for a retrospective of the works of Alex Katz in 2022.

If you can’t wait that long, a monograph of Katz’s works will be released next month. The book was written by art critic Carter Ratcliff and edited by Katz’s son, poet Vincent Katz, who chose sketches, works on paper, and archival material that help to create a rich picture of the painter and his life. The monograph contains more than 250 paintings, making it the most comprehensive collection available in a single publication.

Alex Katz’s works will be on exhibit at the Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac Pantin in Paris, from February 19, 2021 through March 19, 2021.

Jonas Wood

Last year Jonas Wood created a limited edition bag for Louis Vuitton and, more recently, he has collaborated with Louis Vuitton on a series of limited edition shawls.

Wood’s clean style and bold use of color has created a global demand for his works. A wonderful figurative artist, Wood has recently focused on interiors, working from photos and from the works of his wife, ceramic artist Shio Kusaka.

Like Alex Katz, Wood’s works are very personal. His subjects are friends and family and his landscapes and interior studies are about the places he’s inhabited.

Robert Motherwell

With all the recent talk about the US Post Office, we came across a great story about a Robert Motherwell stamp that caused a stir at a post office in Manhattan.

In 2010 the USPS issued a series of stamps honoring Abstract Expressionists. The Robert Motherwell stamp depicts one of the paintings from his Elegy to the Spanish Republic series. Elegy to the Spanish Republic No. 34, 1953-1954, features black bars and ovals and vertical white stripes that partly obscure colors that refer to the flag of the Spanish Republic.

When one of the employees at Hyperallergic magazine went to the post office to mail a letter with the Motherwell stamp on it, the postal worker behind the counter accused her of drawing on the stamp with a black marker and told her that the post office wouldn’t accept it.

The employee tried to explain Robert Motherwell and the Abstract Expressionist stamps, but the postal worker wouldn’t budge. The employee had to buy a new stamp … without the marks of Robert Motherwell.

The Works of Alex Katz, Jonas Wood and Robert Motherwell at VFA

Please contact us if you would like more information about the works of Alex Katz, Jonas Wood, Robert Motherwell or any of the other fine artists whose works are available at VFA.

References:
Andy Battaglia. Guggenheim Museum to Mount Retrospective for Alex Katz, New York Painter Extraordinaire, in 2022. ARTnews. January 17, 2020.
Allison Schaller and Danielle Walsh. 11 of Fall’s Best Coffee-Table Books to Fill the Art-Shaped Hole in Your Heart. September 3, 2020.
Cathleen McGuigan. Alex Katz Is Cooler Than Ever. Smithsonian Magazine. August 2009.
Pac Pobric. ‘I Was So Afraid for Way Too Long’: Painter Jonas Wood on How Going It Alone Helped Him Survive His Immense Market Success. artnetnews. March 28, 2019.
Par Arnaud Klein. Inside the making of the Louis Vuitton bag designed by the artist Jonas Wood. Vogue Paris. June 24, 2019.Jillian Steinhauer. Post-Office Worker Befuddled by Abstract Expressionism. Hyperallergic. September 14, 2012.

Robert Motherwell Prints at VFA

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What could be more interesting, or in the end, more ecstatic, than in those rare moments when you see another person look at something you’ve made, and realize that they got it exactly, that your heart jumped to their heart with nothing in between. – Robert Motherwell

No one was better prepared to bring American art into its own than Robert Motherwell. His educational background in both art and philosophy, and his move to from his California home, to study at Harvard and then to New York in 1940, placed him in the perfect position to influence the art and artists of the time.

The 1940s were a turbulent time, when many European artists fled to New York for safety. Surrealists Max Ernst, Marcel Duchamp, and other exiled artists, influenced Motherwell’s thinking about art, and led him to embrace  automatism, the idea that art is a manifestation of the artist’s subconscious.

Motherwell’s ideas laid the foundation for Abstract Expressionism, which he named The New York School. “What I realized was that Americans potentially could paint like angels,” Motherwell said, “but that there was no creative principle around, so that everybody who liked modern art was copying it.”

The European artists in New York were getting a lot of attention, as well as exhibitions, and it was Peggy Guggenheim who helped Robert Motherwell spark his career when she asked him to be part of a collage show that included modern European artists.

Not only did the show spark his career, it also led to the use of collage throughout his lifetime.

Most painting in the European tradition was painting the mask. Modern art rejected all  that. Our subject matter was the person behind the mask.

Harvest with Two White Stripes at VFA

Harvest with Two White Stripes, available at VFA, was created in 1973. Motherwell used a box of Ernte 23 cigarettes, a German brand that was very popular in the 1920s, especially noted for its use of orange and red in its design, making it stand out from other brands at the time.

Ernte means harvest in German. The cigarettes became popular with the American troops stationed in Germany after World War ll.

To pick up a cigarette wrapper or wine label or an old letter or the end of a carton is my way of dealing with those things that do not originate in me, in my I.

Motherwell often incorporated materials that he found in his studio as part of his collages. The strong visual design of the empty cigarette package in the lithograph composition demonstrates both Motherwell’s mastery of collage and his playful intellect.

Robert Motherwell Prints at VFA

Please contact us if you would like more information about Harvest with Two White Stripes, Black and Blue from the Basque Series or any of the fine art prints available at VFA.

See More Robert Motherwell Prints for Sale

Robert Motherwell: Bought and Found

Robert Motherwell Sets Record at Auction

Robert Motherwell’s At Five in the Afternoon set an auction record for the artist in May. The ten-foot long painting sold for $12.7 million at Phillips Auction House. Five in the Afternoon is just one in a series of Motherwell’s Elegy paintings and prints that the artist worked on, and refined, over the course of many years.

Motherwell initially did a sketch of the painting as an illustration for a magazine project that was never completed. He put it away and forgot about it until he came across it, during a move, about two years later. Motherwell said that he was of a generation that was greatly influenced by the Spanish Civil War and, subsequently, World War ll.

The painting is an homage to Spanish poet Federico García Lorca, who was thought to have been killed by right-wing extremists in 1936. His poem, Lament for Ignacio Sánchez Mejías, was a eulogy to Mejías, a bullfighter and poet, who was killed after being gored by a bull, at five in the afternoon, on August 11, 1934.

The first version of the painting was lost to Motherwell in his divorce settlement with ex-wife Helen Frankenthaler. Motherwell was not happy about losing the work and so he did a better…and much larger…version of At Five in the Afternoon in 1971, while also working on his Basque Series.

Most of the works from the Elegy series are in museums, but Chicago-based designer and collector, Holly Hunt, bought At Five in the Afternoon from Motherwell’s gallery in 1981. She’s moving, downsizing and decided to sell the painting.

Stolen Robert Motherwell Returned by Feds After Being Tucked Away in a Garage for Forty Years

An unidentified man was helping his mother clean up her garage in upstate New York, when he came across a large painting with Robert Motherwell’s name on the back of the canvas. The man did an internet search and then called the Dedalus Foundation, which Motherwell set up in 1981, to educate the public about modern art. He asked the Foundation  to authenticate the painting.

Jack Flam, the president and CEO of the Dedalus Foundation, did some research and realized the painting was one of a few dozen paintings that went missing in 1978, when they were moved from one storage unit to another. Flam called the FBI. The Feds art crime investigators determined that the man’s father, who died in the 1990s,  had worked for the storage company at the time the paintings were stolen. They believe that the son did not know that the painting was stolen. The untitled work was returned to the Dedalus Foundation.

Robert Motherwell Works at Vertu Fine Art

Robert Motherwell was a masterful printmaker. He spent the early months of 1970 at the Kelpra Studio in London, working on silkscreens for the Basque Suite and other works. In 1972 he set  up his own print shop and, the following year he began working with master printmaker Kenneth Tyler at Gemini G.E.I.

Please contact us if you would like more information about Robert Motherwell’s Black and Blue from the Basque Series, Harvest with Two White Stripes or any of the other fine art prints available at VFA.

See More Robert Motherwell Work for Sale

References:
Eileen Kinsella. The FBI Has Recovered a Crimson Robert Motherwell Painting Stolen 40 Years Ago by a Moving Man. artnetnews. July12, 2018.
The Washington Post.Robert Motherwell painting stolen in 1978 in New York is returned. July 13, 2018.
Katya Kazakina. Holly Hunt’s Robert Motherwell painting fetches $12.96 million.Crain’s Chicago Business. April 12, 2018.
John Yau. Another Look at Robert Motherwell. Hyper allergic. June 7, 2015.
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ignacio_S%C3%A1nchez_Mej%C3%ADas
www.aaa.si.edu/collections/interviews/oral-history-interview-robert-motherwell-13286#transcript

Robert Rauschenberg Prints: Beijing and Black Mountain

Robert Rauschenberg’s prints and paintings continue to be a source of joy and inspiration to art enthusiasts around the world. His 1/4 Mile or 2 Furlong Piece is going to be exhibited at the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing from June 12 through August 21.

Rauschenberg Prints and the Beijing Connection

Rauschenberg exhibited his work at the National Art Museum in Beijing in 1985, as part of the Rauschenberg Overseas Cultural Interchange (ROCI) program, which Rauschenberg believed could bring positive social change to the world.

The influence of his world view can be seen in two of the Rauschenberg works for sale at Vertu. Rauschenberg produced the Seven Series collages, representing seven Chinese characters. They were created in collaboration with papermakers at the Xuan Paper Mill in Jingxian, China. Each collage is done on thirty-ply paper and a layer of silk. The Chinese character on each piece is done in pulp relief. Rauschenberg applied images from posters that he found in Shanghai and overlaid them with thin, transparent paper. The collages are finished with gold leaf. A cloth medallion completes each work. The Seven Character Series became part of the 1985 ROCI CHINA exhibition.

The Continuing Influence of Black Mountain College

More of Rauschenberg’s work is included in an exhibit at the Hammer Musem at the University of California, in L.A. through May and will then travel to the Wexner Center for the Arts at Ohio State University in Columbus, in September. The show is called, Leap Before You Look: Black Mountain College 1933-1957. It’s a look at the incredible achievements and the impact that Black Mountain College had on the arts.

Black Mountain College was founded in 1933 by John A. Rice, a South Carolina-born Rhodes Scholar and educator, who ruffled many feathers in conservative southern colleges. After he was asked to resign from Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida, Rice founded Black Mountain College in Asheville, North Carolina.

Rice wanted students to have a well-rounded education that included both art and science. The college was owned by the faculty, which included Buckminster Fuller, who created his first successful Geodesic Dome at Black Mountain, Merce Cunningham, who founded the Merce Cunningham Dance Company at Black Mountain, John Cage, who taught music and produced multi-media theater pieces, artist Josef Albers, who had fled Nazi Germany after the closure of the Bauhuas and Robert Motherwell, one of America’s finest artists, whose prints are for sale at Vertu.

At Black Mountain, students like Rauschenberg were encouraged to participate in all of the arts and sciences, collaborate with their fellow students and guide their own curriculum

The wide range of experience that Black Mountain students, like Rauschenberg, received allowed them to explore a wide variety of interests.

Looking at the Rauschenberg print, Statue of Liberty and the mixed media Publicon Station Vl, both available in our gallery, it’s easy to see the influence of Black Mountain College and other avant-garde influences in Rauschenberg’s life.

Contact Vertu Fine Art Gallery to find out more about Robert Rauschenberg prints, Robert Motherwell works for sale and the other fine artists whose work is available in our gallery.

Available At VFA: Signed Editions from Contemporary Art Masters

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Our gallery is known to consistently acquire unique and highly sought-after works from the most respected Abstract Expressionist, Pop Art and Optical Art masters. Here is a look at some impressive art recently added to our collection of limited edition prints for sale.

American born Contemporary Artist Robert Motherwell is one of the more famous members of the New York School of Abstract Expressionists that challenged art traditions in the 1950s. Motherwell created a series of remarkable silkscreen prints known as the Africa Suite in 1970. The series consists of 10 large format screenprints that beautifully represent the primal nature of the magical continent. Africa, Belknap 43 is a bold piece, with rich contrast that suggests much about the harmonious nature of the land and its inhabitants. The Africa Suite is historically significant, as this series was Motherwell’s first set of silkscreen prints.

Pop Artist Andy Warhol’s portrait of Joseph Beuys is another outstanding work currently available at VFA. Among the Warhol portraits of famous people – including Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, Mick Jagger and others – this is a rather significant depiction of German Artist Joseph Beuys. Like Warhol, Beuys was widely recognized as one of the most important Contemporary Artists of his time. Though the two artists went about their craft in very different ways, stylistically and philosophically, Warhol’s series of Beuys prints demonstrates a real connection between the two. The white diamond dust component brings an actionable component and impressive dimension to this print, one that must be seen in person to be fully appreciated.

Ed Ruscha’s Mark Twain Quote, is another spectacular print now available at our Boca Raton Art Gallery. Twain’s words float above the surface in English language, with gradient color and German translation lying beneath. Demonstrative of Ruscha’s Pop Art genius, the older German language appears faded in the background, at a depth that suggests it’s living in the past. As such, it indicates that even this statement has already been “stolen” too. Ed Ruscha’s works of this nature, bold statements springing from the landscape, strike the viewer’s mind in a peculiar way. Ruscha’s creations spark a wonderful dance between the logical part of the brain that processes language and the creative areas that digest art.

Crak! is a recently acquired classic by American Pop Artist Roy Lichtenstein. This signed lithograph is among the most highly sought works from Lichtenstein, created in 1964 when the artist was quickly rising and quite controversial. Roy Lichtenstein’s comic representations are now synonymous with post war American Pop Art.

Imperfect Print for B.A.M was created by Roy Lichtenstein for the Brooklyn Academy of Music (B.A.M.), in celebration of their 125th anniversary in 1987. The abstract piece features the artist’s signature Ben Day dots and thick parallel lines within its geometric shapes. This woodcut/screenprint is one of eight prints created to honor the Brooklyn institution. Donald Sultan, Francesco Clemente and David Salle are among the others who created works for the celebration as well. Roy Lichtenstein developed a number of “Imperfect” works at this time, considered imperfect because some shapes extend into the border.

These selections represent a small sample of the high quality art currently available at our gallery located in The Shops at Boca Center. Please visit or contact us if you’d like to set an appointment or if you require assistance in sourcing other works.

Thank you for your interest in Vertu Fine Art!

Robert Motherwell, Capriccio, 1961

Abstract Expressionism: Part II – Featured at VFA

Our collection of works from Abstract Expressionist artists is ever-changing in our Boca Raton Contemporary Art gallery. In addition to limited edition prints from masters of Abstract Expressionism such as Robert Motherwell, Willem de Kooning, Jasper Johns and Helen Frankenthaler, we also carry inspired works from an array of world class Pop Art and Optical Art masters who have been strongly influenced by the AE movement.


Jasper Johns

Jasper Johns, one America’s most famous Abstract Expressionists, is also well known for his role as a founder of the Pop Art movement, along with the likes of Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg and others. Johns is one of the few Abstract Expressionists living today who participated in the heyday of the Abstract Expressionism movement in the 1950s and sixties. In recent years, Jasper Johns lithographs have become among those most highly valued and coveted by collectors. The artist is universally respected for his commitment to the art form of printmaking, as a parallel medium to his impressive large scale paintings.

To be an artist you have to give up everything, including the desire to be a good artist.”
– Jasper Johns

Revered for his minimalist style and use of “simplistic” symbols, collectors of Johns enjoy speculation about the artist’s potentially deeper motivations, or lack thereof. Periscope 1, a Jasper Johns lithograph available for sale at VFA, has a number of familiar Johns’ symbols, including an imprint of the artist’s hand, which has appeared in various forms in Jasper Johns works over the years.


Willem de Kooning

Willem de Kooning’s contributions to Abstract Expressionism are well known. Components of the artist’s works deviate from various aspects of the human form and experience. Jaw lines, noses, eyes and necks — paired with elements derived from species of birds, fish and other animal life help create de Kooning’s unique style.

A series of Willem de Kooning lithographs from Quatre Lithographies are among the latest limited edition prints at Vertu Fine Art gallery. The works are exemplary of de Kooning’s gestural style, familiar shapes and colors, which demonstrate the artist’s Matisse and Picasso influences.


Helen Frankenthaler

The work of Helen Frankenthaler, one of the few women credited with furthering the success of Abstract Expressionism in America, are among some of the more heavily sought after pieces at VFA. One such work, produced to commemorate the Cleveland Orchestra’s 60th Anniversary Season in 1978, is simply entitled, “Untitled.” It’s a beautiful representation of Frankenthaler’s Color Field style, for which the artist is highly regarded. Helen Frankenthaler studied under another rather important figure, Hans Hofmann, whose teachings have often been celebrated for fueling the Abstract Expressionism movement in America.

You have to know how to use the accident, how to recognise it, how to control it, and ways to eliminate it so that the whole surface looks felt and born all at once.”
– Helen Frankenthaler


Robert Motherwell

Robert Motherwell’s Capriccio is one a of a handful of limited edition signed works from the artist that are currently for sale at the Vertu Fine Art. Capriccio is an excellent representation of the contrast, colors and abstract form for which Motherwell is best known. Robert Motherwell, who obtained philosophy degrees from Stanford and Harvard prior to becoming a New York artist in 1941, was well-versed to become a leading figure in Abstract Expressionism by the time the movement took hold.


Claes Oldenburg

Another artist who contributed to the Abstract Expressionist movement and is favored at the VFA Boca Raton gallery is Claes Oldenburg. The artist is perhaps best known for his dramatic public art installations, bringing to life fantastic Pop Art icons. Nonetheless, Oldenburg’s earlier works, including his captivating lithographs, clearly embody the interpretive attributes that speak volumes within the context of the Abstract Expressionist style.

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


At Vertu Fine Art, collecting Abstract Expressionist works is ourpassion. Visit our gallery to see the latest from the masters who defined the movement. If you’re seeking specific works, please contact us for assistance.

Abstract Expressionism

Abstract Expressionism: Part I − A Profound Shift

Like all powerful art movements, Abstract Expressionism is a phenomenon that is the result of a perfect storm. In the years following World War II, as powerful nations worked to rebuild, both physically and emotionally, and millions of people were transplanted worldwide, change was undoubtedly in air. No wonder that New York City emerged as a Contemporary Art powerhouse, with the unconventional works of Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Mark Rothko, Robert Motherwell and others signifying a new shift in the art world.

As with all things art, interpretation and debate fuel the fire. Some contend that Abstract Expressionism took hold primarily due to the timing of historically relevant events. Others credit profound new artistic techniques and processes, such as those implemented by Jackson Pollock in producing his famous drip paintings. Yet others contend that it’s those who helped define the movement – such as art critics Clement Greenberg and Harold Rosenberg – who may be largely responsible for the notoriety of Abstract Expressionism.

Some contend that it’s those who helped define the movement – such as art critics Clement Greenberg and Harold Rosenberg – who may be largely responsible for the notoriety of Abstract Expressionism.

Regardless of where one chooses to place credit, it’s clear that Abstract Expressionism represented a shift in the importance placed on the artistic process. Suddenly the philosophies, methods and techniques of the artist received as much consideration as the work itself, seen as the end product by some, and the byproduct by others.


Mark Rothko

In the case of Mark Rothko, an artist who rejected the label of Abstract Expressionism, his high minded philosophies greatly contributed to furthering the movement. In fact, one could argue that even the artist’s rejection of labels justifies the label itself – obviously being in line with the mindset of an Abstract Expressionist. In Rothko’s color-dominated works, he not only moved away from traditional subjects, his colors became the subject. Like other Abstract Expressionist painters, Rothko worked in large scale, which the artist claimed to increase the intimacy between his work and the viewer, as if larger equals closer, a perspective that grants the viewer greater access to the piece, making it more expressive and perhaps even more vulnerable.


Jackson Pollock

For many collectors and art enthusiasts, Jackson Pollock is the artist most credited with being a catalyst for the movement of Abstract Expressionism. Pollock’s unconventional methods – dripping, flinging and throwing paint onto an unstretched canvas on the floor – symbolized the degree to which artists could feel free to deviate from traditional approaches. The movements used to create such works indeed created a new style of painting, named action painting. Such paintings capture the imagination of the view in new ways, and bring into question whether the painter’s actions created intended results and even whether results where a consideration at all. Collectors and critics proposed that such works were merely evidence of the artistic event that transpired, rather than the sole purpose of the event.

Pollock’s unconventional methods – dripping, flinging and throwing paint onto an unstretched canvas on the floor – symbolized the degree to which artists could feel free to deviate from traditional approaches.

Side note: Have a little fun at jacksonpollock.org − this interactive website makes it easy to create your own drip painting with moves of the cursor.


Franz Kline

Another Abstract Expressionist “action painter” of note is Franz Kline. Like Pollock, Kline pursued a style that reflected spontaneous production, allowing for the subconscious to participate in the creative process. Interestingly, Kline “prepared” for his acts of spontaneity, conducting a number of trial sketches − of strokes and canvas applications − to be produced. The results defined the artist’s iconic Abstract Expressionist works, conveying a strong improvisational and emotionally charged style.

If you’re a collector of Abstract Expressionist masters, drop on by our Boca Raton art gallery. If you’re seeking a particular work, please contact us and we’ll be happy to assist.

In our upcoming blog, Part II of our exploration of the Abstract Expressionist artists, we’ll take a close look at specific artists featured regularly at VFA.

Free Ebook: How to Identify and Buy Fine Art Prints

Free Ebook: How to Identify and Buy Fine Art Prints

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