Work of the Week! WOW! Andy Warhol – Superman



Andy Warhol
Superman, from Myths
1981
Screenprint on Lenox Museum Board
38 x 38 in.
Edition of 200
Pencil signed and numbered



About the work:

“Faster than a speeding bullet! More powerful than a locomotive! Able to leap tall buildings at a single bound!”

“Look up in the sky!”
“It’s a bird, It’s a plane, It’s. . . Superman!”

“Yes, it’s Superman… he fights a never-ending battle for truth, justice and the American way!”


Superman is one of the most recognizable and beloved Super Heroes of all time. Also known as the Man of Steel, he is the ultimate symbol of truth, justice, and hope. Though his powers make him almost god-like compared to regular humans, Superman’s story is not one of greed or conquest. Instead, he represents the goodness of the human spirit.

Batman remarks of Superman: “It is a remarkable dichotomy. In many ways, Clark is the most human of us all. Then…he shoots fire from the skies, and it is difficult not to think of him as a god. And how fortunate we all are that it does not occur to him.” Superman is an extremely moral person. He believes that killing anyone under any circumstance is wrong. It is said that his alter-ego Clark Kent’s upbringing in the Midwest largely contributes to this, as his adoptive parents raised him to always try to do the right thing.

This week’s Work of the Week! WOW! is Andy Warhol’s Superman, from Myths.

Warhol was an expert at capturing deep American truths and fantasies. “Everybody has their own America, and then they have pieces of a fantasy America that they think is out there but they can’t see,” he once observed. Nowhere is this national fantasy clearer than in Warhol’s Myths Series of 1981.

The term ‘Myth’ often evokes the collected stories of the Ancient Greeks and Romans, however, it is a feature of every culture. The collection of myths, stories, or heros of any society defines its spirit and soul.

In the Myths Series, Warhol selected 10 uniquely American personas, from Santa Claus to Uncle Sam, each artwork revealing facets of America’s personality.

With the Superman portrait, Warhol captured the modern imagination as completely as the gods and goddesses of ancient mythology once did. The moment Superman was introduced to the American culture, he became a star. He was on radio stations, television shows, and cartoon series. Even today he continues to be a star and loved by society.

The emergence of Superheroes like Superman created a fantastical outlet for the American public during arguably the bleakest periods in our country’s history. In the time that superheroes first emerged in America, our country was faced with incredible difficulties including, most notably, the Great Depression. For the first time across the nation people were realizing that they were a part of a whole, suffering together and going through the same kinds of problems. Americans were facing not only economic struggles, but the threat of war in Europe. The fantasy and accessibility of the comic book became especially alluring as an escape from an unforgiving reality. Superman’s incredible strength and perseverance inspired many and gave hope to those who had long-since lost it.

Warhol understood this, and realized the importance Superman in American culture. Superman is truly an American icon, a nostalgic representation of America, theatrically reflecting American fantasies, hopes, fears and dreams. Warhol’s portrait of Superman not only captured his awe inspiring power, but also a feeling of wholesomeness. The exact two personas of Superman.

Work of the Week! WOW! David Hockney – Early Morning



David Hockney
Early Morning
2009
iPad drawing printed on paper
37 x 25 1/2 in.
Edition of 25
Pencil signed, dated and numbered



About the work:

David Hockey is a big deal. Just six months ago, the British Pop artist broke the auction record for a work by a living artist with a $90 million sale at Christies, and at 81 years old, is one of the most innovative artists still working today. Throughout his career, he has never shied away from using different types of mediums to push the boundaries of his artistic expression, making use of color photocopy machines to create original work, or sending an entire body of work for a gallery show via fax.

Approximately a decade ago, Hockney started using a tool familiar to us all to explore the act of drawing: the iPhone. When the iPad became available, he transitioned to that device. Of the switch, he said “I thought the iPhone was great, but this takes it to a new level – simply because it’s eight times the size of the iPhone, as big as a reasonably sized sketchbook.”

This week’s Work of the Week! WOW! is the iPad drawing Early Morning.

After spending about 25 years living in California, the source of inspiration for his famous pool-side paintings, Hockney returned to his native seaside town of Bridlington, on the north/east coast of Britain. It is in Bridlington that he started experimenting with Apple technology and the application called Brushes.

Flowers are a frequent subject of the iPad drawings. John Fitzherbert, Hockey’s partner buys a different bouquet every day – roses, lilies, lilacs – and places them on the windowsill of their bedroom. Early Morning was created at dawn, drawn from the comfort of the artist’s bed, however, the real subject of the work is light and the role the iPad plays in capturing fleeting moments.

Hockey has said that the medium is perfectly suited for the study of light. The color wheel in the app supplies every pigment on demand, making it possible to capture the dawn light rapidly before it shifts. The device’s backlight, has proven to be useful too, allowing the artist to draw at any time of day, even in dark settings, enabling him to work in almost any circumstance. Lastly, the very nature of the medium allows the artist to be able to draw as soon as inspiration hits, without having to worry about having the necessary materials at his immediate disposal.

Hockney’s iPad has effectively replaced the sketch book. In all his suits, the artist has always requested that his taylor insert a large internal pocket, which in the past, would be for a sketch book, but now holds his electronic device. For an artist who is so inspired by the outdoors, the tool enables Hockney to work in “plein air” easily and efficiently.

David Hockney is a big deal. He is an innovator, unafraid to experiment and explore the technologies at his disposal. He has said “I just happen to be an artist who uses the iPad, I’m not an iPad artist. It’s just a medium. But I am aware of the revolutionary aspects of it, and it’s implications.”

Work of the Week! WOW! Salvador Dali – Rowena, from Ivanhoe Suite



Salvador Dali
Rowena, from Ivanhoe Suite
1978
Lithograph
29 1/2 x 21 1/2 in.
Edition of 250
Pencil signed and numbered; certified authentic by Frank Hunter of the Salvador Dali archives in New York on verso



About the work:

Salvador Dali often explored literary characters in his works. Tristan and Isolde or Don Quixote are well-known series of work by the artist. He also created work based on the romantic novel Ivanhoe.

This week’s Work of the Week! WOW! is Rowena, from Ivanhoe Suite.

Ivanhoe was written by Sir Walter Scott in 1819. The story was set in medieval England during a time of political tension between the Anglo-Saxons and Normans. This created a divide between the protagonist Sir Wilfred of Ivanhoe and his father. Ivanhoe, the son of a wealthy nobleman and of Anglo-Saxon descent was disinherited by his father Cedric of Rotherwood for supporting a Norman king, and for falling in love with Lady Rowena whom Cedric looks after.

Ivanhoe and Rowena are in love throughout the novel, however Cedric forbids their marriage as he would like Rowena to marry Lord Athelstane, a powerful Anglo-Saxon contender for the crown. During a jousting tournament, Ivanhoe is wounded and his healer, Rebecca falls in love with him.

So many obstacles lie in the path of Ivanhoe and Rowena to marry, which Dali captures through symbolic images. Rowena is seen holding a melting clock, one of Dali’s most iconic images, which symbolizes the lost time for the two lovers. Rowena is holding a single rose, which symbolizes Ivanhoe and his love for Rowena. Another meaningful image is the presence of a seahorse with Dali’s ever so famous stork legs. The seahorse was considered a good luck charm in many old cultures, symbolizing the strength of the subconscious and persistence, which is relevant to the two lovers character and their desire to be together.

Despite the obstacles, Ivanhoe and Rowena are together in the end. Rebecca leaves England to study medicine in Spain, and Cedric of Rotherwood gives his blessing for the two to marry.

Work of the Week! WOW! Walton Ford – Suite of 6 Etchings



Benjamin’s Emblem, 2000

Compromised, 2003

La Historia Me Absolvera,1999

Swadeshi-cide, 1998

The Tale of Johnny Nutkin, 2001

Visitation, 2004

The following details apply to each piece:

6 color hardground and softground etching, aquatint, spit-bite aquatint, drypoint and roulette on Somerset satin paper
44 x 30 1/2 in.
A.P.
Pencil signed, dated and numbered



About the work:

Walton Ford is a contemporary American painter and printmaker who draws on the visual and narrative language of traditional natural history painting. He examines how animals exist and survive in relation to human activity, many of the animals he depicts being extinct. Although human figures rarely appear in his work, their presence and effect is always implied.

This week’s Work of the Week! WOW! is a suite of 6 etchings by Walton Ford.

Ford’s color etchings are deeply inspired by 19th century American ornithologist and painter John James Audubon, but they aren’t just a celebration of the natural world like Aududbon’s works. Ford’s paintings are meticulous, realistic studies of flora and fauna, filled with commentary – symbols, clues and jokes referencing text ranging from colonial literature, to folktales, to travel guides. His works are complex, allegorical narratives that critique the history of colonialism, industrialism, politics, natural sciences and humanity’s effect on the environment.

In the work entitled Visitation, for example, Ford’s scene of a large flock of passenger pigeons can be seen eating corn and nuts, and recalls a written description by Audubon, “Whilst feeding, their avidity is at times so great that in attempting to swallow a large acorn or nut, they are seen gasping for a long while as if in the agonies of suffocation.” The overwhelming amount of birds feasting on the bounty of the land could symbolize the exploitation of natural resources by European settlers in the New World, which ultimately led to the extinction of the passenger pigeon.

Another American bird represented in this series can be seen in the piece Benjamin’s Emblem. This is a direct reference to the myth that Benjamin Franklin wanted the turkey as the emblem of the Great Seal of the United States – his proposal for the seal was in fact devoid of birds completely. The turkey in Benjamin’s Emblem is asphyxiating a small Carolina Parakeet, an extinct bird, once the only parakeet indigenous to North America. The wild turkey was the very first print created for Audubon’s Birds of America, celebrating wild American birds. The wild turkey was Audubon’s most idolized, writing about it more than any other in his Ornithological Biography. He sealed letters with a seal bearing the likeness of a turkey and the words “America My Country,” even adopting one as a pet.

Each bird of the series has a story related to human activity such as Colonialism, Imperialism and even Communism, and their ecological effects on nature, specifically birds.

Walton Ford’s work can be found in many public collections in the US, including the Museum of Modern Art, NY; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; and the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington D.C.

Work of the Week! WOW! Andy Warhol – Brooklyn Bridge



Andy Warhol
Brooklyn Bridge FS II.290
1983
Screenprint
39 1/4 x 39 1/4 in.
Edition of 200
Pencil signed and numbered



About the work:

When you were young did your parents ever say . . . If your friends jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge would you follow them?

Mine did all the time, and we did not even live in Brooklyn, let alone New York.

Along with the Golden Gate Bridge, The Brooklyn Bridge is the most well-known and beloved bridge in America. It is an American Icon, representing American ingenuity, American grit, and American pride. The is why Andy Warhol chose to paint fantastic modern day marvel.

This week’s Work of the Week! WOW! is Andy Warhol’s Brooklyn Bridge.

Completed on May 24th 1883, after 14 years of construction, the Brooklyn Bridge set many records, it was the world’s first steel-wire suspension bridge, the first fixed crossing across the East River, and at the time it opened, the longest suspension bridge ever built by 50%, it is also one of the oldest roadway bridges in the US. In 1964 The Brooklyn Bridge was designated a National Historic Landmark by the National Park Service, and in 1972 became a New York City Landmark by the Landmarks Preservation Commission.

In 1983, The Brooklyn Bridge celebrated its centennial anniversary. Exhibitions, lectures and performances were organized, including a 9,600-rocket firework display. President Ronald Reagan was also part of the festivities, leading a formal procession of cars along the bridge to mark the start of the celebrations. The entire production was put together by the Brooklyn Bridge Centennial Commission, which produced a brochure listing all the related activities taking place from May through October of 1983. It seems only fitting then that the Commission approached another American and New York City icon to create the official celebration image: Pop Art star, Andy Warhol.

Warhol’s depictions of iconic American symbols are what lead to his rise to the most famous American artist of the 20th century. He captured the political and commercial strength of the post-war American era and gave them an artistic platform.

As with most of his work, the imagery of Brooklyn Bridge is based on actual photographs. What is different in this case is the use of multiple images, as opposed to just one. The juxtaposition of the two images better captures the power and symbolism of the Brooklyn Bridge as one of the greatest American engineering feats of the 19th century. To create a visual 3D effect of the bridge on a 2D medium, Warhol used color block techniques and multi-layer superimposition of colors, tricking the eye to think the bridge is popping out of the sheet.

Work of the Week! WOW! Damien Hirst – Mickey and Minnie Mouse



Damien Hirst
Mickey & Minnie
2016
Silkscreen and glitter
Available in the following sizes:
34 1/2 x 27 1/2 in. each
Edition of 150
60 x 48 1/4 in. each
Edition of 50
Pencil signed and numbered on verso



About the work:

Mickey and Minnie Mouse are probably the most iconic duo of Pop culture. Developed as the official mascot of the Walt Disney Company, in the 1920’s, Mickey’s celebrated status and universal appeal has inspired many artists to depict his likeness, very few however, have also created Minnie.

This week’s Work of the Week! WOW! are Mickey and Minnie by Damien Hirst.

The key defining factors of both Mickey and Minnie Mouse are the three circles that form their head and ears. It seems only fitting then, that the Walt Disney Company would approach Damien Hirst, widely known for his spot paintings, to create his own take on the beloved characters.

Hirst initially painted Mickey in household gloss on canvas in 2012, with a white background, auctioned at Christies to raise money for Kids Company, a children’s charity. The work sold for close to 1 Million Pounds and led to the creation of “blue glitter” Mickey and “pink glitter” Minnie.

Both figures are created solely by the use of circles, striking compositions reducing the mischievous mice to their basic elements, capturing their essence through shape and color. Even in their reductive states, Mickey and Minnie are such powerful icons that they remain highly identifiable and universally recognized. Mickey only required 12 spots and Minnie 19, attesting to the power of Hirst’s style and composition.

Both pieces are entirely covered in glitter which enhances the timeless star-power of the enduring and beloved personalities of Mickey and Minnie.

Work of the Week! WOW! SHEPARD FAIREY – Love Unites



Shepard Fairey
Love Unites
2008
Screenprint
36 x 24 in.
Edition of 450
Pencil signed and numbered



About the work:

Shepard Fairey is a known activist. He became a household name in 2008 for the Hope image he created for then-candidate Obama. In California, on the same ballot that elected President Obama, Proposition 8 (commonly referred to as Prop 8), a state constitutional amendment, was passed. The passing of Prop 8 overturned the California Supreme Court’s ruling, from the same year, that same-sex couples “have a constitutional right to marry.” As an activist, Fairey became swiftly engaged in the cause to “Defend Equality.”

This week’s Work of the Week! WOW! is Love Unites.

Love Unites was specifically designed for the marriage equality movement called “Defend Equality” and became a symbol of the post-Proposition 8 struggle. The work was released by Shepard Fairey’s studio only 13 days after the November 4, 2008 vote, and just one day ahead of the rallies held in Hollywood and Highland. All of the proceeds from the sales were donated towards efforts to achieve marriage and LGBTQ equality. The image Fairey created was inspired by the work of Aaron Harvey, a campaign image to promote a “No” vote to Prop 8.

Aaron Harvey Campaign Poster

California first explicitly defined marriage as a state between a man and woman in 1977. In 2004, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom allowed same-sex marriages in his city, which were subsequently annulled. This led to the May 2008 California Supreme Court ruling, by a 4-3 vote, that same-sex couples had the “constitutional right to marry,” which was overturned by Prop 8.

Numerous lawsuits, protests and demonstrations challenged the proposition’s validity. It wasn’t until August 4, 2010 that United States District Court Judge Walker, ruled in the case of Perry v. Schwarzenegger, that Prop 8 violated both the “due process” and “equal protection” clauses of the US Constitution. The appeals process continued the stay until February 7, 2012, when the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals panel affirmed Walker’s ruling of Prop 8 to be unconstitutional.

Love Unites is the symbol of the almost 8 year process from the time that Mayor Newsom allowed same-sex marriages, through to the Appeals Court ruling the Prop 8 constitutional amendment void.

Work of the Week! WOW! FRANK STELLA – Polar Coordinates VII Hand-Painted Trial Proof



Frank Stella
Polar Coordinates VII (hand-painted trial proof)
1980
Mixed media – lithograph and screenprint in colors with hand-coloring in tempera, acrylic metallic paint, gouache and crayon
38 x 38 1/2 in.
Unique
Pencil signed & dated



About the work:

Frank Stella is widely known for his concern with geometry, precision and rationality that characterize Minimalism. By the late 1970’s, his work had evolved to become more complex with visible brushstrokes and experimentation with combinations of shapes, colors and printing techniques. Despite his progression towards more dynamic work, the grid base of Stella’s earlier creations remained an integral element of his style.

This week’s Work of the Week! WOW! is Polar Coordinate for Ronnie Peterson – VII, a hand-painted, mixed media unique work, of which only 5 unique pieces were ever made.

The Polar Coordinates series is dedicated to his friend Ronnie Peterson who was a Swedish auto racer. During the time Stella was working on the series, Ronnie Peterson died at the Grand prix at Monza in September 1978. The theme of racing is one that would appear again in Stella’s Circuits series and Race Track series.

In his reinterpretation of the polar coordinates, Stella activates the graph paper to become lively and vibrant, a spinning energy evocative of the momentum of racing.

The title of the series stems from mathematical polar coordinates graph paper, which consists of lines emanating from a central point. Each print from the Polar Coordinates series was created from multiple layers of screenprinting and lithography. The lithographic plates determined the grids, outlines of the shapes and rapid line drawing in the form of superimposed netting. Photoscreens created from washes and crayon drawings on Myalr were used for the tonal backgrounds and flatter colors, including the metallic inks and GitterFlex.

This hand-painted mixed media version, available from Gregg Shienbaum Fine Art, differs from the regular edition in various ways. Firstly, the metallic silver is hand-applied by the artist without certain of the superimposed lithographic rapid line drawing elements. Secondly, the two bisected quatrefoils which create the image, are hand-painted in different colors and with differing elements of rapid line drawing. In some instances, Stella removed some of the rapid line drawing and in other instances added them to this image. These mixed-media hand-painted versions were Stella’s color trial proofs and studies that eventually led to the regular edition of Polar Coordinate VII.

An interesting addition to the series and further tribute to Ronnie Peterson is a BMW which was hand painted by Stella in 1979 as a custom work for another race car driver and close friend, Peter Gregg.

Work of the Week! WOW! DINO MARTENS – Oriente Olaf Vase, Model 3122



Dino Martens
Oriente Olaf Vase, model 3122
Aureliano Toso
Italy, 1952-61
internally decorated polychrome patchwork glass with copper inclusions, pinwheel and filigrana
15 h x 6 dia in.

Literature: Dino Martens: Muranese Glass Designer, Heiremans, pg. 70 illustrates model

Private Collection of Gregg and Jennifer Shienbaum



About the work:

Art glass created by Dino Martens is some of the most recognizable Murano glass from 20th century Italian art. His innovative use of bright metallic colors using huge murrini (glass rods with colors or images in them) and fantastical shapes make Dino Martens one of the great creators of modern art.

Martens was born in Venice in 1894. He went on to study at the Accademia di Belle Art, where he developed his skills as a painter. He exhibited in Venice as a young man in the 1920’s and by the end of the decade was a designer for Salviati & Co, a leading glass maker. After fighting in the African War, he took up the position of artistic director at Aureliano Toso. They were a famous Venetian glass maker where Dino became a legend. There he experimented with creating astounding designs that pushed the boundaries of what was possible with glass.

A great example of one of these legendary designs is his Oriente series. A vase from this series encapsulates the energy and vibrancy of his work and life. He played with form and color, putting unusual colors close together and playing them off each other. All the while intriguing the eye with almost biological shapes.

This weeks WORK OF THE WEEK (WOW!), is the Olaf Vase model 3122, from the Oriente series.

When he designed the series “Oriente”, Martens seems to have been inspired by bright African patterns and colors. He combined bold, asymmetrical shapes with adventurous patterns requiring the highest glass making skills: aventurine copper or gold inclusions, spiraling “Zanfirico” glass canes, and murrains.

The Oriente series, making its first appearance at the Biennial of 1952, form the culmination of numerous experiments diffusing the borders between a painting and a glass vase.

The first step of the the Oriente technique is the cold alignment on a flat surface of the ground glass, the colored square pieces, a number of short zanfirico canes, and in the majority of instances, a star shaped glass piece. The star is typically made of black and white canes.

The resulting arrangement is then slightly heated, and picked up with a colorless glass bubble, incorporating the decoration in the glass wall. This technique and design was a tremendous commercial success, and brought Dino Martens’ reputation as a glass maker to the forefront of Italian glass making.

The Olaf Vase stands 15 inches tall, and has a large bulbous bottom of 6 inches in diameter. It is a very impressive work combining and fusing hot bright colors with specs of aventurine, and various canes competing against each other, creating a sense of a fast paced motion in a stationary vase. Its shape lends to this sense of motion.

The Oriente design is is one of Dino Martens’ most recognizable, and most important design, that has remained timeless over the years.

Work of the Week! WOW! James Rosenquist – House of Fire



James Rosenquist
House of Fire
1989
Pressed paper pulp in colors with lithographic collage elements
54 1/2 x 119 3/4 in.
Edition of 54
Pencil signed, dated, titled and numbered



About the work:

In 1982 The Metropolitan Museum bought its first painting by James Rosenquist. The painting was House of Fire. Museum director Philippe de Montebello said of the work “[It is] not only a major monument to American Painting but an icon of its sort.”

From September 1988 to November 1989, Rosenquist spent over 100 days at Tyler Graphics Studio. During that time, he created ten paper pulp images with collaged lithographs. In the process, he used 27,000 gallons of paper pulp; drew seventy stencils to create 720 sheets of handmade colored papers, one relief plate, and forty-four separate lithographic sections which utilized 139 colors. All images include printed elements; however, in their effect: in the saturation of their color, and in the size and scale achieved, they come closer to paintings than prints. They are most precisely described as paperworks with collaged lithographs.

All images belong to the series Welcome to the Water Planet with the exception of House of Fire, which is after the1978 painting.

This week’s WORK OF THE WEEK! (WOW!) is Rosenquist’s massive collaged lithograph on hand made pulp paper House of Fire, measuring 54 3/8 x 119 3/4 in. (just over 4 1/2 feet in height and almost 10 feet in width). It is arguably one of his top three most important graphic works.

Rosenquist’s paintings directly allude to the cultural and political tenor of the times in which they were created. Since early paintings in which he depicted the debris of a consumer culture, Rosenquist’s images have reflected man’s fate and natures in an age determined by advertising, technology, and science. When speaking of House of Fire, Rosenquist states, “This painting is a metaphor for this country.”

House of Fire is a triptych of three images with order, balance and proportion.

The heart of this remarkable work is a bucket of molten metal throbbing like a smashed thumb in the middle of an open window with the venetian blind hovering above it, showing the contradiction between the industrial element and domestic architecture.

To the left, a brown bag of groceries reminiscent of food, succor, nurturing, domestic peace, fruitfulness, and the plentitudes of suburban America. The bag hangs upside down, however, suggesting aggression infiltrating the domestic sphere. The upside down groceries threaten to drop like bombs.

Balancing out the work to the right is the three dimensional “flying lipsticks” evoking multiple references not only to sex and sensuality with its phallic shape, and the hint of a women’s moist lips, but also aggression, violence, and war doubling as missiles, anti-aircraft guns, bullets, and even a sense of futuristic designs of car tail lights, rockets, and space ships.

These two images of which objects and incidents from the every day world take on a heightened life, surrounding the glowing heart of the bucket of molten metal, thus creating the whole singular image of the “House of Fire”. It is the disruption of the calmness of society, the molten force of violence and eroticism breaking through the frame of domestic bliss.

One is awed by Rosenquist’s technical skills, and mightily impressed by his intellectuality. We are smacked in the face by the blatant commerciality of his commentaries on advertising and at the same time inspired to conjure derivative images ourselves. Rosenquist’s best work is provocative in the best sense.