“WOW! – Work of the Week – Roy Lichtenstein – Painting on Blue and Yellow Wall





Roy Lichtenstein
Painting on Blue and Yellow Wall
1984
Woodcut and lithograph
47 3/16 x 31 9/16 in.
Edition of 60
Pencil signed, dated and numbered

About the work:

“My work isn’t about form, it’s about seeing. I’m excited about seeing things, and I’m interested in the way I think other people saw things.”

Roy Lichtenstein was no overnight sensation, the art establishment in the early 60’s was not prepared to be faced with his then heretical blending of high and low art. Departing from the intellectual, nonfigurative style of Abstract Expressionism, Lichtenstein depicted everyday objects and drew inspiration from comics, advertisements, and children’s books. By integrating popular imagery into the realm of fine art, he invited viewers to recognize the world around them in his work. The use of parody and eye-popping comic images gives his creations a sense of familiarity that observers can relate to. 

Over the course of a month and half in 1984, at his studio in Southampton, Lichtenstein created a series of eight works entitled “Paintings.”The works are derived from collages which combined hand-painted and printed papers, a printed enlargement of unprimed canvas, directly painted brushstrokes and cut-out variations of the artist’s famous schematic image of an abstract brushstroke.

This week’s Work of the Week! WOW! is entitled Painting on Blue and Yellow Wall from the Paintings Series. This work is a parody and self parody made up of juxtapositions. It is the representation of an image and an image in itself, where “high art” and “low art” collide in a single setting. Painterly abstract expressionistic brushstrokes are interwoven with Lichtenstein’s own interpretation of abstract expressionist brushstrokes in a balanced composition. The positioning of the portrayed canvas is interesting in itself. The represented canvas is almost denied full attention as it competes with the vibrant yellow and blue wall-field of simulated wood grain. The frame of the depicted Abstract Expressionist image is unleveled and cropped. 

As a technique consistent with comics, the cropping of forms was a method Lichtenstein employed throughout his career. Based on the Gestalt theory of perception that incomplete forms are mentally completed by the perceiver, Painting on Blue and Yellow Wall encourages the viewer to complete the depicted frame. Surprisingly, cropping is also consistent with Abstract Expressionism. Edges of a work on canvas were often determined by stretching upon completion, thus cropping out the borders of a finished piece. Most importantly in the case ofPainting on Blue and Yellow Wall, the act of cropping is fundamentally “Pop,” as it insists on the object-quality of a work of art rather than the illusion of the work of art as a window on the world.

Painting on Blue and Yellow Wall embodies different ways of representing reality and is characteristic of the way Roy Lichtenstein’s art combines detached representation with dynamic perception. Lichtenstein’s art is much more demanding than it seems at first glance, he questions how we determine the way we view our surroundings. 

WOW! – Work of the Week – Kenny Scharf – Space Traveler





Kenny Scharf

Space Traveler

2011

Etching with hand-painting

45 3/4 x 55 5/8 in.

Edition of 20

Pencil signed and numbered

About the work:

Spontaneity and fun are the heart of Kenny Scharf’s artwork

Kenny Scharf moved to New York City in the late 1970s, and his work embodies the spirit of that time. It was a “golden age” that continued through the early 1980s, in which Pop, New Wave, graffiti and the urban art scene collided. During this explosive period the artist first learned to use spray paint, and master this newfound medium. He would bomb the length of Manhattan between his studio at PS1 in Queens and his home in the East Village, leaving the avenues covered with his characters.

Like his contemporaries Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat, Kenny was inspired by graffiti’s freedom and the direct connection street art gave him to people outside of the art world. “It was a natural reaction for us to take it to the streets and the nightclubs and let loose and not take yourself too seriously because that is stifling!” Kenny is driven by his belief that art should be appreciated for the experience. This is particularly obvious through his use of images of cartoonish figures.

This week’s Work Of the Week! WOW! is Space Traveler by Kenny Scharf. The piece reflects the impulse and speed of the artist working in the street, and the signature cartoon-like character whizzing through a cosmic galaxy is instantly recognizable. This trademark Cosmic Cavern image, created with what could be Day-Glo  or bright colored paint is a style that the artist started experimenting with in the 80’s.

The cartoon images expertly bring popular culture into the fine arts, and Scharf has been pushing the line between high and low art since his days spray-painting lower Manhattan. His true genius, however, lies in his ability to create a distinct, otherworldly color palette, as if looking inside a tremendous bubble made of candy colored beings. The work is playful, but make no mistake: This isn’t child’s play.

Scharf calls his art Pop Surrealism: “Surrealism is about the unconscious, and I feel my work is about the unconscious. The images come from the unconscious except that my unconscious is filled with pop imagery. My unconscious is pop, so therefore the art would be Pop-Surrealism.”

Space Traveler is a very large work.  It is an etching with hand painting.  A very small edition of only 20 pieces, each piece is unique.  The only printed part of the work is the black.  Every color on each different piece is all hand painted.

WOW! – Work of the Week – Daniel Arsham, Future Relic 03





Daniel Arsham
Future Relic 03
2015
Plaster and broken glass
5 1/2 x 5 x 2 1/2 in.
Edition of 400
Signed and numbered on label on box

About the work:

 

Remember the Future

“The future is something that contains the everyday – it contains the now. All the things we see here, in this space, will exist in the future.” Daniel Arsham

 

Obsessed with the fact that technological items become obsolete and are continuously replaced at an alarming rate, artist Daniel Arsham has created a complete mythology surrounding his “Future Relic” fossils. 

 

It was during a trip to Easter Island that Daniel Arsham came up with the idea of an archaeological excavation applied to the future. His “Future Relic” series centers around a world many years down the line, in which a major and transformative ecological shift has occurred.  

 

To create his fossils, the artist casts already forgotten pieces of technology to look like fragile artifacts. They are covered with tiny crack formations and have crumbling surfaces, disintegrating from disuse. All nine sculptures of the series are created from technological devices of the twentieth century.  Arsham says “the choice of the objects is very specific, I’m looking for things that are iconic that many people would recognize.”

 

The sculptures spurred Arsham to make video work based on the same premise, and thus his Future Relic film series was born. Each launch of a new “Future Relic” sculpture is augmented by a short movie. Through his use of film, the artist is able to build and share his complete story of the future surrounding these archeological artifacts. The sci-fi art series has featured many well-known actors such as Mahershala Ali, Arturo Castro, James Franco, Ronald Guttman, Matthew Maher, and Ethan Suplee

 

This week’s Work of the Week! WOW! is Future Relic 03. It is a plaster and broken glass cast Clock. Using a traditional mechanical alarm clock as the design mold, the plaster-clad object is representative of how the things we accrue ultimately perish. This launch, in 2015, was connected to his movie premier of the same name at the TriBeCa Film Festival. The movie was also presented at the 68th Cannes Film Festival in France. 

 

Through this chapter of “Future Relic 03,” we are able to visually understand the future that Arsham has imagined. The world as we know it today does not exist. “We all moved inland as the water rose” explains the protagonist Lona Rey. A cratered moon hangs in the sky, but with a sizable rectangular section excavated from its surface. The star of the movie is Juliette Lewis, a young woman searching for her scientist father who apparently went missing in his quest to save our Earth. About half way through the short, at minute 8:04, we see Lona as a little girl, up late at night, peering into her father’s study. On his desk, a brass Bulova mechanical alarm clock reads 8:30pm. 

 

In full commitment to the credibility of his “Future Relic” universe, Arsham has thoroughly combed through every detail. On the label of the box belonging to the artwork, he has included elements such as the excavation date and the longitude and latitude of the find. Another subtle detail that ties back into the movie is the faded logo on the box which is from the translator device Lona uses to speak with an Owl. 

Clock Packaging 2  Clock Packaging 1 3 Clock Label
     

Daniel Arsham is a true multi-disciplinarian. His work spans art, filmmaking, design, architecture and performance, with powerful themes woven into his narrative.

 

A link to the Future Relic 03 movie: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jWvnC0mGOGk

WOW! – Work of the Week – Victor Vasarely, Tri-Vega





Victor Vasarely

Tri-Vega

1975

Silkscreen on Arches Paper

33 1/4 x 30 1/8 in.

Pencil signed and numbered

“Movement does not rely on composition nor a specific subject, but on the apprehension of the act of looking, which by itself is considered as the only creator.”
—From Victor Vasarely’s Yellow Manifesto

We don’t always see what we think we see.

Saying that Victor Vasarely was ahead of his time is an understatement. Art historians credit Vasarely with creating some of the earliest examples of Op Art in the 1930s. He experimented with techniques decades before the establishment of the movement in the 60s, and is widely regarded as the “Father of the Op Art movement,”

“Op Art” is short for Optical Art, which was coined by Time Magazine in a 1964. It is a style known for creating optical illusions from extremely precise repeating patterns, interlocking shapes and vivid yet strictly defined color palettes.

The genre marked the first time in Art History that the Theory of Visual Perception would be systematically studied and applied by artists. In this theory, psychologists distinguish between two types of processes in perception; the first caused by our purely physical optical sense and the second by our subjectively learned world view. Op Art was therefore driven by artists who were interested in investigating various perceptual effects; effects that confuse and fascinate.

In 1968, Victor Vasarely started work on his hugely popular Vega Series. Vega is the brightest star in the constellation of Lyra and the fifth brightest star in the night sky. In this series, the artist manipulated the lines of square grids to create the illusion of bulges and depressions in perspective distortion.

This week’s Work Of the Week! WOW! is Tri-Vega.

In this work, Vasarely expertly draws his viewer into his geometric cosmos. In a grid-like composition, the picture plane appears to warp. A central form swells as a pronounced spherical distortion, and the viewer is given the feeling that the orb is either trying to break out of the surface or recede back inwards. In this case ambiguity arises, and our eye and brain oscillate between two possibilities. 

The feeling of movement and depth are created by Vasarely’s use of lines increasing in scale towards the center of the canvas. Vasarely’s masterful use of warm and cool colors across the field also serves to provide the viewer with the feeling of kinetic energy, depth and space. These optical games physically affect the viewer.

The Vega series is arguably Vasarely’s signature work. The results are timeless, exciting and innovative as they engage and captivate the viewer with depth perception and spatial distortion.

Vasarely truly created “an art for all.” An art that the viewer can appreciate without the knowledge of art history, an art in which the final image is the product of the viewer’s own eye without contemplation.

As Vasarely stated: “What is at stake is no longer the ‘heart’ but the retina, and the connoisseur has now become a study object for experimental psychology. Harsh contrasts, the unbearable vibration of complementary colors, the flickering of linear networks and per mutated structures…all these are elements in my work whose task is no longer to plunge the viewer into a sweet melancholy but to stimulate him.”

WOW! – Work of the Week – Barbara Kruger, You’re Right and You Know It





Barbara Kruger
You’re Right and You Know it
2010
Lithograph
9 x 24 in.
Edition of 200
Pencil signed, dated and numbered on verso

About the work:

Barbara Kruger’s art is instantly recognizable – photography overlaid with colored boxes filled with white bold face text. It’s not hard to miss, it’s direct and democratic – that’s why it’s brilliant. Borrowing the visual identity of advertising and fear-mongering tabloids, Kruger spreads visual messages that question systems of power.  Using the potent weapon of pure graphics and phrases from the lexicon of thought, Kruger’s art offers up powerfully distilled messages through word and image.

Like Warhol’s pop portraits, or Lichtenstein’s teary cartoon heroines, Kruger has a style which extends into mainstream popular, underground and digital culture. However, it’s not just the aesthetic of her work that is powerful – it’s its purpose.

Bold, philosophical, radical, subversive: her art focuses on decoding the social-psychological messages embedded in popular culture. Through marrying pictures to words, Kruger raises issues of power, politics, and challenges corruption, sexism and consumerism.

Much of her work calls attention to feminism.  However, Kruger does not want to have her work solely categorized as feminist art.   She states below:

“My work always deals with issues of how we are to one another, with issues of power and control, adoration and contempt.” One thing to note in today’s era of identity politics is that Kruger doesn’t define her art as political or feminist, believing such categorizations “only work to marginalize a practice.”

Kruger also rejects the term “slogan” when it comes to the text elements of her art. Her pieces should read more like the start of dialogues rather than simple take-it-or-leave-it statements. While her phrases may be short, they invite participation, rely on us to do the intellectual legwork. She prompts us to question the systems which rule our globalized world.

This week’s “Work of the Week! WOW!” is Barbara Kruger’s You’re Right and You Know It And So Should Everyone Else

Although Barbara Kruger does not view her work as purely feminist, she is very much an advocate for women’s rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes. In this piece, a close-up of a woman’s piercing and confidant gaze is matched with the bold, caps-locked typeface that reads “You’re right and you know it and so should everyone else.” The message is simple, powerful, and inspiring, making women feel confident, working to crack that glass ceiling.

At the same time, bringing and keeping the gender issue in the political arena relevant. Like many of Barbara Kruger’s works, there are multiple messages, and multiple intentions.

WOW! – Work of the Week – Keith Haring, Dog





Keith Haring
Dog
1981
Collage cut-out on paper
12 x 9 in.
Signed and dated in ink

About the work:

A leading figure of the American art scene of the eighties, Keith Haring embraced the world of art thanks to his father who was an amateur comics artist. By the time Haring moved to New York in 1978, he had already developed his style of simple outline drawing, inspired by his father, which would continue to be his s

ignature style throughout his career.

In New York City, Haring adopted and contributed to the downtown culture of Manhattan, tagging subway cars or East-Village buildings with Jean-Michel Basquiat along with other artists. While prolific in his street art endeavors, Keith Haring was much more than just a graffiti artist. His drawings, which feature seemingly simplistic, vividly-colored shapes are actually the product of a solid artistic and cultural education.

Haring attended the School of Visual Arts in NYC and in addition to art classes, he also took courses in semiotics. Semiotics is the study of signs and symbols and their use or interpretation. This discipline had a profound impact on Haring’s works. Haring combined his learnings with his contour drawing style, and created a visual lexicon of icons and symbol-like figures. These images, easily remembered and akin to a signature, became identifiers, characterizing  his work. 

Having started out capturing the New York City street culture in his art, his icons read like an urban, tribal language. However, as Haring matured, along with the influence of the New York art scene, Haring’s work became more intricate and more social / political. Everything in his works took on meaning. 

Aside from the Radiant Baby, Haring’s Dog is his most famous tag. The Dog, is portrayed in many different manners, and as an icon, generally has more than one explicit meaning or symbolism. 

This week’s Work of the Week! WOW! is Keith Haring’s Dog.  This work is a collage cut-out on gold foiled paper. It is a unique work inspired by Matisse’s cut-outs. One of the tallest of the giants on whose shoulders Haring set his feet was Matisse, who inspired his combinations of flat tints of color and his decomposition of planes-characteristics. Haring did a number of cut-outs and collages in this manner. This work is signed and dated ’81.

The Barking Dog, for example, can indicate action or suspicion. The Dog as a character, sometimes represented as a standing figure (combined with a human form), represents authoritarian government, abuse of power, police states, and oppressive regimes.

In addition to these two representations, the other dogs in the art of Keith Haring are all anthropomorphic. Certain Dogs are depicted dancing, laughing, DJing, etc. in these personifications, it is almost as though they take on the role of an alter ego of the artist. 

Throughout Art History, Dogs have been portrayed in paintings as the personification of fidelity. Dogs also imply loyalty, guidance, protection and love. As a student of semiotics, none of these implications would have been lost on haring and it is not surprising that this would be one of his most-used icons. 

WOW! – Work of the Week – Leon Polk Smith, Volair, from Constellation Series





Leon Polk Smith

Volair, from Constellation Series

1975

Screenprint

41 1/8 x 29 1/2 in.

Edition of 80

Pencil signed and numbered

About the work:

Considered one of the founders of the hard-edge style of abstract art, Leon Polk Smith rose to prominence in the 1960s with his distinctive shaped canvas series — the “Constellations”.

This week’s Work Of the Week (WOW!) is the 1975 screenprint Volair, from this important Constellations Series

It was in 1936, while attending Columbia University’s famed Teachers College, that Smith was introduced to the geometric works of contemporary European artists. The works of the Dutch artist Piet Mondrian caught his eye during his studies. He was deeply inspired by Mondrian’s aesthetics, if not fully convinced by the philosophy behind them. A pragmatic American in his approach, Smith took what he wanted from the aesthetic experience and discarded the theorizing.

However, it would be another few years before the influence of De Stijl, the movement inspired by Mondrian in which pure abstraction is achieved through form and color, clearly manifested itself in Smith’s work. His perceptions of artistic space led to a quest to make color and form one. This quest consisted of a series of intuitive decisions rather than the theoretical, ruminative creative process that preoccupied Mondrian and other members of the De Stijl group.

Smith established his key motif while perusing an athletic catalogue in the late 1940s. Examining the pencil drawings of baseballs and tennis balls in it, Smith began to imagine that from these simple shapes he could create a new kind of space.

As he described:

“It was flat and the same time it was curved. It was like a sphere. The planes seemed to move in every direction, as space does. And so I thought, maybe that is because that’s on the tondo. I’ve got to find out if that is true or not. I’ve got to do some on a rectangle to see if the form and the space still moved in every direction. And it did. So it was exciting to do a painting on a rectangle that seemed to have a curved surface. It was the first time, you see, that I had made an important step myself, or contribution in art.”

While his Minimalist peers during that time were shifting away from Modernism and rejecting relationality, Smith was wholeheartedly advancing the formal and rational elements of the Modernist tradition. By introducing a single curving line, Smith created two pictorial spaces, allowing for the interchangeability of positive and negative space. He developed his signature hard-edge style over the following decade, beginning with creating a series of paintings in which he explores the circle by developing a curvilinear shape within it using two colors, and later experimenting with more colors in oval, rectangular and square shapes.

By 1967, Smith’s circular explorations introduced additional panels and defined his shaped, multi-part “Constellation” series of paintings and drawings, among his most exuberant and inventive compositions.

WOW! – Work of the Week – INVADER, Rubik Six Cubes



Invader
Rubik Six Cube (Blue/Yellow)
2009-2010
Screenprint
27 1/2 x 19 5/8 in.
Edition of 20
Pencil signed, dated and numbered

Invader
Rubik Six Cube (Orange/Yellow)
2009-2010
Screenprint
27 1/2 x 19 5/8 in.
Edition of 20
Pencil signed, dated and numbered


About the work:

Rubik’s Cubes are meant to be solved, right?   Wrong!!  

The art of cubing takes on a different meaning under the 8-bit eyes of Invader. Twisting dozens, even hundreds of Rubik’s Cubes into precise patterns of pixelated pointillism, Invader updates artistic techniques pioneered by Picasso, Duchamp, Seurat and others into a new and distinctly modern form: Rubikcubism.

Billed as the “Urban Seurat”, Invader is the pseudonym of a French urban artist, born in 1969, whose work is modeled on the crude pixellation of 1970s–1980s 8-bit video games. A graduate of the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, Invader initially derived inspiration for his creations from video games from the late 1970s to early 1980s that he played when he was growing up, particularly characters from Space Invaders, from which he derived his name. Games of the era were made with 8-bit graphics, and so lend themselves well to his method of each tile representing one pixel.

Rubikcubism:

One of Invader’s most important innovations was Rubikcubism, a style of mosaic art that uses various Rubik’s Cube configurations to create extremely complex images.

While most try to solve the Rubik’s Cube, anonymous French Street-Artist, Space Invader has come up with another creative use for the toy. Since 2004, he has been using Rubik’s Cubes to create crude-pixelated pointillism artwork. Updating and modernizing a technique pioneered by Georges Seurat and Paul Signac, Invader named the movement: Rubikcubism, and has continued to experiment with the style ever since.

This week’s Work of the Week! (WOW!) is Invader’s Rubik Six Cube Series. These screenprints are made up of 6 cubes, all arranged in a specific manner to create an image. In the case of this series, Invader’s trademark Space-Invader, his most  iconic image of the 80’s is portrayed. Coming of age in the 80’s, much of Invader’s artistic identity revolves around the iconic imagery and pop culture of his youth.

Given the difficulty of solving a Rubik Cube, let alone attempting to create images, Invader uses a computer program to work out the precise disposition of the six colors for each image. He then manipulates the nine pixels for each Rubik’s Cube to give the required pattern.

Invader Rubiks_Art_                    Invader Rubiks_Art_2

While this series is made up of the use of six cubes, some of Invader’s creations can use over 300 Cubes.  He has recreated “Masterpieces” where famous paintings by artists such as Delacroix, Warhol, Seurat, and Lichtenstein are given a work over. He has a series of Rubikcubism works entitled “Low Fidelity” based on iconic album art such as “Country Life” by Roxy Music, and The Velvet Underground & Nico.  He has also created a series of “Bad Men” where Invader reinterprets villains such as Osama bin Laden, Jaws and Al Capone.

Invader Rubiks_Art_3

All these works and themes are relative to pop culture, and to today’s world in which we live in, with a touch of nostalgia from his days as a youth.

What does Erno Rubik, the inventor of the Rubik’s Cube have to say about Invader’s use of his famous toy puzzle in his artworks?

When asked he says: “I’m glad the Cube is reaching new generations, who face it with fresh wonder, curiosity and enthusiasm.”   

WOW! – Work of the Week – KOONS, Balloon Dog





Jeff Koons
Balloon Dog (Yellow)
2015
Metallic Porcelain
10 1/2 x 10 1/2 x 5 in.
Edition of 2,300
Signed and numbered on verso

About the work:

Nov. 12, 2013 – Christie’s Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Sale in New York City

Balloon Dog (Orange) by Jeff Koons  became the most expensive artwork by a living artist sold at auction.  The work sold for $58.4 million USD

The price topped Koons’s previous record of $33.7 million USD, and the record for the most expensive living artist, held by Gerhard Richter, whose 1968 painting, Domplatz, Mailand, sold for $37.1 million USD, at Sotheby’s on May 14, 2013.   Balloon Dog (Orange) was one of the first of the Balloon dogs to be fabricated, and had been acquired by Greenwich collector Peter Brant in the late 1990s.

____________________________________________________________

Jeff Koons derives inspiration from things you might find at a yard sale: inflatable plastic toys, vacuum cleaners, porcelain trinkets and other items not typically considered fine art. He is the epitome of Neo-Pop, a 1980s movement that looked to earlier Pop artists, particularly Warhol, for inspiration.

Since his emergence in the 1980s, Jeff Koons has blended the concerns and methods of Pop, Conceptual, and appropriation art with craft-making and popular culture to create his own unique iconography, often controversial and always engaging. His work explores contemporary obsessions with sex and desire; race and gender; and celebrity, media, commerce, and fame.

A self-proclaimed “idea man,” Koons hires artisans and technicians to make the actual works. For him, the hand of the artist is not the important issue: “Art is really just communication of something and the more archetypal it is, the more communicative it is.”

Jeff Koons’s artwork rarely inspires moderate responses, and this is one signal of the importance of his achievement. Focusing on some of the most unexpected objects as models for his work, Koons’s work eschews typical standards of “good taste” in art and zeroes in precisely on the vulnerabilities of hierarchies and value systems.

Art critic Christopher Knight writes, “He [Koons] turns the traditional cliché of the work of art inside out: rather than embodying a spiritual or expressive essence of a highly individuated artist, art here is composed from a distinctly American set of conventional middle-class values.”

This weeks Work of the Week (WOW!) is precisely a work of conventional middle class values.

Jeff Koons is best known for working with popular culture subjects and his reproductions of banal objects—such asballoon animals produced in stainless steel with mirror-finish surfaces.

His steel Balloon Dog sculptures, probably his best-known works, transpose an ephemeral childhood memory into an enduring form. His work looks cheap, but is expensive, an ingenious reversal of economic logic that forms the basis for his stunning commercial success.  Rather than offending the art snob, Koons has challenged top collectors to revise their notions of what fine art looks like.

His sculptures are not merely conceptual, but aesthetic, in ways that challenge us, especially those of us accustomed to fine art. Kitsch and high culture, religion and eroticism, weightlessness and mass are among the apparent opposites that mix and mingle in his work.

“Balloon Dog is a very optimistic piece, its a balloon that a clown would have maybe twist for you at a birthday party.  But at the same time there’s the profoundness of an archaic sculpture.  The piece has an interior life while the reflective exterior surface affirms the viewer through their reflection.”  – Jeff Koons

Koons is essentially a late twentieth-century incarnation of Marcel Duchamp. Like the French Conceptual artist who thought America’s bridges and plumbing her finest artworks, Koons strips industrially-made objects of their practical purpose and re-presents them as art.

WOW! – Work of the Week – WARHOL, Blackglama





Andy Warhol
Blackglama, from Ads
1985
Screenprint on Lenox Museum Board
40 x 40 in.
Unqiue
Authenticated and stamped by the Andy Warhol Foundation on verso

About the work:

WHAT BECOMES A LEGEND MOST?

One of the most famous advertising campaigns of the 20th century began in 1968: the series of full-page, black-and-white print ads for “Blackglama” furs. The campaign was an instant success thanks to the (at the time) new formula of combining a brilliant tag line, with a glamourous and famous icon to promote a luxury item.

“What becomes a Legend most?” is the memorable slogan for Blackglama furs.

Something that has always intrigued people about the brand name is: why the GLAMA in Blackglama, is not GLAMOUR? The whole campaign started when approximately 400 mink ranchers from the Great Lakes Mink Association (a.k.a. GLMA) were looking to revamp the image of their product. Ad executive, Jane Trahey of Jane Trahery Associates in NYC came up with the idea to incorporate the deep black color of the mink and the name of the association. Thus the name and the memorable slogan were born: “What becomes a Legend most?” (the “L” in legend was always capitalized).

Famed photographer Richard Avadon was brought on by the campaign to photograph the most important female celebrities of the time. In the first year alone, Lauren Bacall, Bette Davis and Judy Garland modeled for the brand. Every model was gifted an $8,000 Blackglama mink coat. Legend has it that Judy Garland left the studio without even bothering to have hers lined.

Here below we see Avadon’s contact sheet of Judy Garland posing in her Blackglama for the ad campaign

This week’s Work of the Week! WOW! is Blackglama, from Ads, featuring Judy Garland by Andy Warhol. Ever the observer of the times in which he lived, the artist, who began his career as a commercial illustrator in the 50’s was fascinated with the commercial world. Warhol glamorized and transformed celebrities and everyday objects like soup cans and Brillo Pads, into works of art. In the mid 1980’s he created one of his most sought after and iconic sets of screenprints: the Ads Series. Andy Warhol’s work explores the themes and the relationship between artistic expression, and the celebrity culture, advertisement, capitalism and consumerism that were prevalent at the time. The cultural force that was the Blackglama ad campaign fit perfectly into his philosophy and was a obvious choice to include into the Ads portfolio.

This particular version of Warhol’s Blackglama is a unique working proof, outside of the regular edition. It is much different from the one that we are most familiar with. In this work, the most notable difference is the background and the colors of Judy Garland herself. In the regular edition, the background is black and the color blue is the most prevalent for the mink, as well as her hair. In this working proof, there are more colors and the detail of Judy Garland’s face, hair and mink are more pronounced. The slogan at the top even has a slightly different hue.

Another noticeable difference is the size of this work. The regular edition Blackglama measures 38 x 38 in. This working proof measures 40 x 40 in. If you look closely at the bottom and left margins, you will see traces of regular edition coloring underneath this unique proof. Warhol did this quite often, working out different color arrangements and schemes until he got it just right.

These working proofs have become quite rare, hard to find and highly sought after. Each proof is different. Each proof is considered a unique work of art. This unique working proof of Blackglama is certified by the Andy Warhol foundation on the verso with its registration number. It is also accompanied with a letter of authenticity by the Andy Warhol Authentication Board.