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WOW – Work Of the Week – Alex Katz “Dog At Duck Trap”

Dog at Duck Trap

Alex Katz
Dog At Duck Trap
1973 – 73
Lithograph
29 x 43 in.
Edition of 90

Pencil signed and numbered

About This Work:

Alex Katz is an American painter of portraits and landscapes. He started working on these themes during years dominated by non-figurative art, which he always strongly avoided.
Living in New York City, since the 1950’s Katz spends his summers in Maine, which has been his source of inspiration for many of his works.

He is mostly known for his portraits: the people he depicts are colleagues that surrounded him during his career, members of his family, friends or neighbors.
The works of Alex Katz are always very recognizable. They are all characterized by an unmistakable flatness and lack of detail. To represent a shadow or light, he uses  slight variations of colors. Many times, monochrome backgrounds represent another defining characteristic of his style.

These portraits do not own a clear narrative – it is not important for the viewer to know the story behind the artwork. What Katz tries to emphasize is actually the beauty of the subjects. The use of gentle colors and the emphasis of a few but significant details  turn the coldness of the sharp lines, lack of detail and flatness into an artwork warm for the viewer to enjoy.

The genius of Alex Katz’s style is derived directly from one of Katz’s biggest influences, the Master Japanese woodblock artist Kitagawa Utamaro (1753 – 1806), the master of Japanese woodblock color printing. His Japanese aesthetic is typically flat and bi-dimensional. He influenced Katz particularly with his use of partial views and his emphasis on light and shade.

This work, Dog At Duck Trap, it is slightly different from Katz’s portraits. This time, the subject is not a person but an animal.
This funny little Sky Terrier is Sunny, the Katz’s family dog, chest-high in coastal grasses. Sunny has been a subject of other works by Alex Katz too, exactly as the people who are depicted in his portraits. Sunny has been depicted in several different ways, but his muzzle always seems to convey a sense of happiness and carefreeness, like an endless summer.

Sunny is portrayed in a surrounding that is nothing but the coasts of the Duck Trap, a  river located in Waldo County, Maine, where Katz still spends his summers.
One can clearly see the blue of the water in the background, while all the natural environment is depicted in a very flat, lack-of-detail way, but still able to create a sense of dimensionality.

Alex Katz’s works can be found in over 100 public collections worldwide. Major exhibitions of Katz’s landscape and portrait painting in America and Europe followed his 1986 Whitney Museum of American Art retrospective and 1988 print retrospective at the Brooklyn Museum of Art.
He continues to spend his summers in Lincolnville, Maine.

WOW – Work Of the Week – Roy Lichtenstein “Reflections On Girl”

Reflections on Girl 2

Roy Lichtenstein
Reflections On Girl
1990
Lithograph, screenprint, relief and metalized PVC collage with embossing on mold-made Somerset paper
45 1/8 x 54 3/4 in.
Edition of 68

Pencil signed, dated and numbered

About This Work:

Pop art legend Roy Lichtenstein, born in Manhattan in October of 1923, began his studies in New York but finished at Ohio State University and thereafter began teaching at different universities, a profession he continued until 1964.
During that time well known art dealer Leo Castelli started displaying his works in his gallery. In 1962, Roy Lichtenstein had his first one-man show where the entire collection was purchased by collectors before the opening. Lichtenstein’s fame grew internationally from that point.

He became known for his bold colors, thick lines, and use of comic strips to influence his work. His very personal and unique style derived from comic strips which portray the trivialization of culture, endemic in contemporary American life. Using bright, strident colors and techniques borrowed from the printing industry, he ironically incorporates mass-produced emotions and objects into references to popular icons and art history.

Lichtenstein has often explored the theme of Reflections, incorporating them in various paintings and several print series. In 1988 Lichtenstein began working on a group of Reflections paintings, in which the central image is partly obscured by reflective streaks, as if behind glass or reflected in a mirror.

This week’s work of the week, Reflections On Girl, is considered to be an iconic work. It is a perfect example of Lichtenstein’s style. A style made of primary colors – red, yellow and blue, heavily outlined in black. Instead of shades of color, he used the ben-day dot, a method by which an image is created, and its density of tone modulated, through the position and size of a myriad of dots during the printing process.

Lichtenstein used an image he found in an edition of the comic book Falling In Love as the basis for the female figure in this image. Lichtenstein seems to create an intentionally stylized and stereotypical image of a 1960’s beauty. In the original cartoon, text above the image read: ‘Fire seethed through my body … fanning … spreading’, while the girl’s thought-bubble reads, ‘H-He couldn’t kiss me that way and love someone else!‘.

Reflections On Girl is a very important print from a very important series by Lichtenstein. It has everything that one would want in a Lichtenstein work. The lines, the benday dots, the bright colors, the cartoonish girl figure, and the bubble letters.
It really does not get much better than this piece. 

WOW – Work Of the Week – Andy Warhol “Ingrid Bergman With Hat”

Ingrid Bergman With Hat stock

ANDY WARHOL
Ingrid Bergman, With Hat FS.II 315
1983
Screenprint on Lenox Museum Board
38 x 38 in.
Edition of 250
Pencil signed and numbered

About This Work:

Andy Warhol was an American artist who has always been a leading figure in the visual art movement known as Pop art. His works explore the relationship between artistic expression, celebrity culture and advertisement that flourished by the 1960’s. Andy Warhol’s Marilyn and Andy Warhol’s Soup Cans are some of the most recognized and collectible of his artworks.

However, after the success of the Campbell’s Soup series in the early 1960’s, Warhol began creating screenprints focused mostly on movie star portraits including Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, Elizabeth Taylor and Ingrid Bergman.
Andy Warhol’s stunning images of Academy Award winning actress Ingrid Bergman, were created by the artist at the request of a Swedish art gallery in the 1980’s, Galerie Borjeson, in Malmo, Sweden.

The Ingrid Bergman Series is made up of three types of screen prints. The source images used for these portrait pieces include a publicity photo (Herself), and movie stills from her role in Casablanca (With Hat) and from the movie The Bell of St. Mary’s (The Nun).

Of course, when we think of Ingrid Bergman, we think of her playing Ilsa, the long lost love interest of Rick, played by Humphrey Bogart.
No one can ever forget Bergman standing on the runway, all teary eyed and wearing the famous hat, as Bogart makes her get on that plane.
This was her most famous and enduring role, and that is why Warhol portrayed here in the hat as one of the three pieces in the Ingrid Bergman Suite.

This important movie role is made even more dramatic in this iconic print. The strong color palette and the bright blue background are just striking, together with the deep and nostalgic expression on her face.

Like the majority of his works, once again, this print is indicative of Warhol’s obsession with all things relating to fame, especially movie stars. For this reason, his artwork can also be considered as a sort of visual recording of the culture of his time.

Pop Art marked an important new stage in the breakdown between high and low art forms. Warhol’s paintings from the early 1960’s were important in pioneering these developments, but it is arguable that the diverse activities of his later years were just as influential in expanding the implications of Pop Art into other spaces, and further eroding the borders between the worlds of high art and popular culture.

Andy Warhol is now considered one of the most influential artists of the second half of the 20th century, who created some of the most recognizable images ever produced.

WOW – Work Of the Week – Hank Willis Thomas “Black Power”

Black Power

HANK WILLIS THOMAS
Black Power
2008
C-print
16 x 20 in.
Edition of 30

Signed and numbered in ink

About This Work:

Hank Willis Thomas is an American artist who employs the familiar, or “what-goes-without-saying”, to draw connections and provoke conversations about issues and histories that are often forgotten or avoided in our commerce-infused daily lives. 

He gained wide recognition with highly provocative artworks which address the commodification of African-American male identity by raising questions about visual culture and the power of logos. 
His most important work is represented by the so-called Branded Series, among which is the dynamic piece Black Power, probably the most famous of the series.
In this work of the week, Black Power, Hank Willis Thomas presents a set of teeth on which a gold grill reads BLACK POWER.

Black Power, as well as other works by Willis Thomas, deals with issues of grief, black-on-black violence, the contributions of corporate culture to the crisis of black male identity, and African-American representation in advertising and media.
For this reason, some art critics have categorized Willis Thomas’ work as belonging to the “post-black” genre, where racist stereotypes are reinterpreted or reconstructed, and have described his work as “un-branding advertising”: stripping away the commercial context, and leaving the exposed image to speak for itself.

Something very important about Willis Thomas’ work is that it has been heavily influenced by the tragic loss of his young cousin, Songha Willis Thomas, who was murdered by another black man outside a Philadelphia night club in an incident of violence involving a gold chain.
The artist credits this event with helping him find his “artistic focus”. 

Hank Willis Thomas (born in Plainfield, New Jersey, 1976) received his BFA from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, and his MFA in photography, along with an MA in visual criticism, from the California College of the Arts, San Francisco.
Since then, he has exhibited in numerous galleries and museums in the United States.

With his characteristic strong dark humor, every time Willis Thomas creates a visual dialogue about the pressing issues of race, representation, and a sort of present day enslavement through consumerism which applies to the American society, with a focus on African-American youth. 

WOW – Work Of the Week – Claes Oldenburg “Sculpture In The Form Of A Bicycle Saddle”

Bicycle Saddle

CLAES OLDENBURG
Sculpture In The Form Of A Bicycle Saddle
1976
Glazed brown ceramic with mahogany base and sand
14 x 8 1/2 x d: 8 1/2 in.
Edition of 36

Signed and numbered in ink on bottom

About This Work:

Claes Oldenburg is an American sculptor, commonly associated with the Pop Art movement, who has always been at the forefront of the Conceptual and Pop Art art culture. 
Born in 1929 in Sweden, Oldenburg spent much of his adolescence in the United States, before moving permanently to New York in 1956. Oldenburg studied at the Art Institute of Chicago and subsequently started his career in New York City, where he used to participate in the array of happenings that began to take place in the late 1950’s.

Using familiar, everyday objects as his recurring theme, the artist developed his soft sculptures idea in 1957—a practice he would return to throughout his career.
By the late 1960’s he was fabricating enormous sculptures for civic monuments, which are instantly recognizable and have inspired countless artists.

Many of Oldenburg’s works depict ‘mundane’ objects and, at first, they were ridiculed before being accepted by the art world – but they were also defined ‘brilliant’, due to the reaction that the pop artist brought to a ‘tired’ abstract expressionist period. 
Oldenburg first orders his impressions of the world through sketches and writings in his ever-present notebooks; then he creates models and drawings form another layer of thinking. 

Sculpture In The Form Of A Bicycle Saddle is a great example of Oldenburg’s personal way of making art.
The purpose of Oldenburg’s art is to uncover the mystery and power of commonplace objects by morphing their scale, shape, and texture, embracing what he calls “the poetry of everywhere”. 

A saddle is just a saddle, but when carved in to a mountain, held in place by a sand box, it becomes something else and we can look at it in the form of a work of art. The way in which the sculpture is carved, the glossy ceramic, the base made of sand and wood, the strange position of the saddle itself: every element in this sculpture seems to decontextualize the object and help it to become estranged, so that we are finally able to look at it in a different perspective – as a work of art.
This happens because the artist believes that this object possesses a certain aesthetic quality, stemming from its appearance, and therefore displays it for the appreciation of others.

Oldenburg has said himself that “If I didn’t think what I was doing had something to do with enlarging the boundaries of art, I wouldn’t go on doing it“. 

Oldenburg has exhibited extensively around the world and his works appear in almost every major international art museum. His famous oversized outdoor sculptures, done for civic and public purposes, changed the terrain of countless cities worldwide.

To possess an edition or multiple from this great artist is a unique opportunity.

WOW – Work Of the Week – Shepard Fairey “Power Bidder”

Power Bidder

SHEPARD FAIREY
Power Bidder
2015
Screenprint
24 x 18 in.
Edition of 450

Pencil signed and numbered

About This Work:

Tomorrow, finally, will be Election Day.
Both candidates carry a lot of baggage with them.

Both candidates have very high unfavorable poll numbers.

Both candidate are flawed.

Questions about politicians and just how ethical they are, and how ethical the whole system is, have been raised. Charges of unlawful and unjust “dealings” have been tossed around for the whole world to see just how much of a mockery this election is. 

Due to tomorrow’s elections, we feel that this particular artwork is very fitting and we found its message very appropriate for this occasion.

This weeks work of the week is called Power Bidder, by Shepard Fairey

At the bottom of the work it reads “Democracy sold to the highest bidder”.

With all the craziness, and nonsense that has surrounded this election cycle, it seem that truer have never been spoken!

Frank Shepard Fairey (born February 15, 1970) is an American contemporary graphic designer and illustrator who emerged from the skateboarding scene. He first became known for his “Andre the Giant Has a Posse”
(…OBEY…) sticker campaign.

Fairey created the “André the Giant Has a Posse” sticker campaign in 1989, while attending the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). This later evolved into the “Obey Giant” campaign.  As with most street artists, the Obey Giant was intended to inspire curiosity and cause the masses to question their relationship with their surroundings.

His work became more widely known in the 2008 U.S. presidential election, specifically his Barack Obama “Hope” poster. The New Yorker art critic Peter Schjeldahl called the poster “the most efficacious American political illustration since ‘Uncle Sam Wants You'”.

The Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston calls him one of today’s best known and most influential street artists.

His work is included in the collections at The Smithsonian, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, the Virginia Museum of Fine Art in Richmond, and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

In 2011 Time Magazine commissioned Fairey to design its cover to honor “The Protester” as Person of the Year in the wake of the Arab Spring, Occupy Wall Street and other social movements around the world.  This was Fairey’s second Person of the Year cover for Time, his first being of Barack Obama in 2008.

WOW – Work Of the Week – Jim Dine “Zein Robe”

Zein Robe

JIM DINE
Zein Robe
2014
Lithograph over relief with hand painting
54 x 37 in.
Edition of 11

Pencil signed and numbered

About This Work:

Jim Dine was born in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1935. He studied at the University of Cincinnati, the Boston Museum School, and in 1957 he received a bachelor of fine arts degree from Ohio University.
After graduation, he moved to New York City and became involved with a circle of artists including Robert Rauschenberg, Claes Oldenburg, and Roy Lichtenstein, all of whose work moved away from Abstract Expressionism toward Pop art.

In 1962 Dine’s work was included, along with Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, Ed Ruscha, Wayne Thiebaud and many more, in the historically important and ground-breaking New Painting of Common Objects, curated by Walter Hopps at the Norton Simon Museum. This exhibition is historically considered one of the first “Pop Art” exhibitions in America.
These artists started a movement which shocked America and the art world. The Pop Art movement fundamentally altered the nature of modern art.

Often associated with the Pop art movement, Jim Dine features everyday objects and imagery in his paintings, drawings, and prints. His works focuses on certain subject matter, bathrobes and hearts amongst them. However, unlike many Pop artists, he focuses on the autobiographical and emotive connotations of his motifs.

Dine began painting bathrobes in 1964; some of them were titled or subtitled “self-portrait”. The bathrobe became a motif in his repertoire which he has returned to on many occasions, in prints as well as paintings. Though he claimed never to wear a bathrobe, nonetheless these are all, in a way, portraits and self-portraits.

Zein Robe illustrates the enduring importance of the bathrobe motif in Dine’s work, a motif that he has been using over the years in countless printed works to depict mostly himself, but also his wife and people around him.
This subject came to him as source of inspiration after coming across an image of a man’s dressing gown in a newspaper advertisement.

This lithograph depicts a belted robe that features casual, painterly strokes, hand painted in deep reds and oranges. This robe, once again, represents the alias of a person. This robe faces us, with the invisible hands over the hips, affirming Zein’s presence and personality.
But who is Zein?

After a 1984 trip to The Glyptothek in Munich, Jim Dine was inspired to create a series of figurative drawings based on Greek and Roman antiquities, the so-called Glyptotek Drawings. This project required a lot of technical work, a process that would ultimately end in the production of heliogravure prints. When elaborating the Glyptotek Drawings, Kurt Zein, a master printer in Vienna, was fundamental in the production of this project.

An accomplished printmaker, Dine remains one the most famous American artists of today. His work is part of numerous public collections all over the world. He still lives and works in New York City.

Work Of the Week – James Rosenquist “Firepole”

expo-67-mural

JAMES ROSENQUIST
Expo ’67 Mural – Firepole
1967
Multicolor lithograph from 6 stones
34 x 18 3/4 in.
Edition of 41

Pencil signed and numbered

About This Work:

Born on November 29, 1933 in Grand Forks, ND, James Rosenquist attended the University of Minnesota, before earning a scholarship to the Art Students League in New York in 1955.
Rosenquist started as a commercial sign painter. This career ended when he moved into a studio in Lower Manhattan, where he gradually befriended other upcoming artists of the era such as Ellsworth Kelly, Robert Indiana, Agnes Martin, Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, and Barnett Newman throughout the 1960’s.

James Rosenquist is one of the key figures in America’s Pop Art movement. Rosenquist takes fragmented, oddly disproportionate images and combines and overlaps them in his works to create visual stories, in the most abstract and provocative ways.
Through a complex layering of such motifs as Coca-Cola bottles, kitchen appliances, packaged foods, trousered men legs, women’s lipsticked mouths and manicured hands, Rosenquist’s large canvases and prints embody and comment on the omnipresence of the consumer driven world. 

Rosenquist’s paintings and prints are often made in unusual proportions and giant dimensions. For example, one of his prints, called Time Dust (1992), is thought to be the largest print in the world, measuring approximately 7 x 35 feet.
This week’s Work Of the Week, Firepole, challenges once again the boundaries of scale and tradition.

In 1967, Rosenquist painted Firepole, a monumental mural commissioned for the American Pavilion at the Montreal World Exposition. This mural featured gargantuan blue-uniformed legs wrapped around a fireman’s pole. 
The dimension of the mural was humongous – and then subsequently reiterated in smaller scale in this lithograph.

Firepole refers to Rosenquist’s idea “that it was unnecessary for U.S. to police the world or be the fireman of it“. Indeed, Rosenquist has always been very much involved with political and social issues of that time, especially criticizing the Vietnam war and the political positions of the US government in terms of global relationships and conflicts.

Today Rosenquist is considered one of the greatest American artists still alive.
His seemingly unrelated paintings of consumer products, weaponry, and celebrities hint at the artist’s social, political, and cultural concerns.
The billboard painter-turned-artist’s early works are also considered emblematic of a burgeoning consumer culture in America during the 1960s. Six decades into his career, Rosenquist continues to create massive, provocative artworks, whose relevance hinges on their engagement with current economic, political, environmental, and scientific issues, with a transition away from cultural references into more abstract subject matter. The artist lives and works in Aripeka, FL.

Work Of the Week – Tom Wesselmann “Wildflower Bouquet”

Wildflower Bouquet

TOM WESSELMANN
Wildflower Bouquet
1987
Enamel on laser-cut steel
38 x 24 3/4 in.
Edition of 30

Signed and numbered on bottom and on verso

About This Work:

Tom Wesselmann was born on February 23, 1931 in Cincinnati, OH.
During his youth, he was called up for military service due to the Korea war. Being discontented with his situation, he began to draw cartoons at that time. After military service, he moved to New York City to attend The Cooper Union, graduating in in 1959 with a diploma in fine art.

In New York, he started earning his living by working as a cartoonist for several journals and magazines as well as by teaching at a high school in Brooklyn.
At the end of the 1950’s, he created a series of collages in small format, that are now being regarded as precursors of the later series “Still life” in big format and “Great American Nudes”.

Even though he disagreed with being labeled a “Pop” artist, Wesselmann’s work is considered belonging to the Pop art movement. During his artistic career, he experimented with materials and imagery; both collage and sculpture found their way into his assemblages. When he was not working on stylized female nudes (these works are actually what he is best known for), common objects were the main theme of his art work. This is the case of this work of the week, Wildflower Bouquet.

Wildflower Bouquet is one of Wesselmann’s famous so-called Steel Drawings.
In the early 1980’s, Wesselmann had the idea to capture the spontaneity of his sketches, complete with false lines and errors, and realize them in the permanence of metal. Wesselmann sought a way to draw in steel. He envisioned the illusion of lifting the lines from his drawings and placing them directly on the wall. Once installed, the pieces appear to be drawn on the wall.

With the invention of the Steel Drawings, Wesselmann began to focus more on drawing for the sake of drawing. For the first time he was approaching art on a new basis, where the scribble was the final product. The drawings that would be transferred into steel were selected carefully and their crisp outlines resonated with the immediacy of a neon sign.
What excited Wesselmann the most about these new works was that his intimate sketches could be magnified to a monumental size, yet somehow, could still maintain their free and spontaneous quality.

The drawings were usually the preliminary sketches to his other works, like paintings or prints. However, when making a comparison between the same image done in two different media, for example a steel cut-out and a painting, one can notice how the artist subtly played changes on his formal language in the treatment of the outlines, or in the spaces in between.

Wesselmann was also deeply influenced by Matisse, who had long been a source of inspiration for him. In the metal works, Wesselmann can be understood to have devised his own equivalent to the paper cut-outs that had marked Matisse’s equally bold and life-affirming last phase.

The steel drawings represent Wesselmann’s best-known technical innovation.
His idea preceded the available technology for mechanically laser-cutting metal with the accuracy that Wesselmann needed. He invested a lot of time in the development of a system that could accomplish this, embarking on a year-long journey with metalworks fabricator Alfred Lippincott to develop a technique that could cut steel with the precision that he needed. Laser-cut paper and metal are materials now utilized by countless artists.

Wesselmann’s Steel Drawings caused both excitement and confusion in the art world. After acquiring a piece in 1985, the Whitney Museum of American Art wrote to Wesselmann asking why he had labeled the work a drawing and not a sculpture. His response was that while he considered it a pure drawing, it was “an example of life not necessarily being as simple as one might wish”. 

WOW – Work Of the Week – KAWS “Chum Running Pink”

Chum Running Pink

KAWS
Chum Running Pink
2003
Screenprint
14 x 21 in.
Edition of 36

Pencil signed, dated and numbered on verso

About This Work:

Brian Donnelly, born in 1974, is a New York – based artist, professionally known as KAWS.
After graduating from the School of Visual Arts in New York, his first job was as a freelance animator, painting backgrounds for Disney. In the 1990s, KAWS began his artistic career as a graffiti artist, subverting imagery on billboards, bus shelters and phone booth advertisements. At first, these reworked ads lasted for several months, but as KAWS’ popularity skyrocketed, the ads became increasingly sought after.

In 1999 KAWS began to design and produce his first limited-edition vinyl toys with Japanese clothing brands and companies. That seemed to be the right country for the beginning of his career, because in Japan, the toys genre is well respected and widespread.
This particular artistic production by KAWS began in the wake of contemporary artist Takashi Murakami, today a great friend of his. KAWS says that his predilection in creating toys and little objects derives from the work of two artists in particular: Superflat master Takashi Murakami and Pop artist Claes Oldenburg, both famous for their fine art and playful objects made in large editions.
With time, the toys which he first started with, have gained popularity and have become more and more recognizable, leading him to several collaborations in different commercial fields.

KAWS’ work is characterized by repeating images, all meant to be universally understood, surpassing languages and cultures. He is greatly influenced by iconic characters from modern pop culture. KAWS uses four main characters: Companion, Accomplice, Chum and Bendy. They riff on Mickey Mouse, Bugs Bunny, the Michelin Man and a giant spermatozoa. Their relationship to Donnelly hovers somewhere between avatar, id, conscience and inner child.
This work of the week is Chum Running Pink.

KAWS’ work treads the fine line between art, commerce, cartoons, and commercials. It distorts, yet at the same time, pays homage to, all the popular objects and icons produced, bought, sold, exchanged, desired, and cherished; the essence of American consumerism. His artworks transform iconic pop culture characters into thought-provoking works of art. His work possesses a sophisticated humor while employing a refined graphic language that revitalizes figuration with bold gestures, playful and cartoonish images.
This artistic process recalls what Andy Warhol and other pop artists used to do by projecting their art toward the concept of consumerism and of American lifestyle.

A graffiti artist, illustrator, toy-maker, sculptor and painter, KAWS is now a world-renowned artist, who exhibits in museums and galleries internationally.