WOW – Work Of the Week – Sam Francis “Untitled (Lembark 269)”

Lembark 269

Sam Francis
Untitled (Lembark 269)
48 x 34 in.
Edition of 250

Pencil signed and numbered

About This Work:

One of the twentieth century’s most profound Abstract Expressionists, American artist Sam Francis (1923-1994) is noted as one of the first post-World War II painters to develop an international reputation.  Regarded as one of the leading interpreters of color and light, his work holds references to New York abstract expressionism, color field painting, Chinese and Japanese art, French impressionism and his own Bay Area roots.

Francis was initially influenced by the work of Abstract Expressionists such as Mark Rothko, Arshile Gorky and Clyfford Still. He later became loosely associated with a second generation of Abstract Expressionists, including Joan Mitchell and Helen Frankenthaler, who were increasingly interested in the expressive use of color.

His paintings of the 1950’s evolved through a series of stages, beginning with monochromatic abstractions, followed by larger richly-colored murals and “open” paintings that feature large areas of whiteness.

He traveled and studied extensively, maintaining studios in Bern, Paris, Tokyo, Mexico City, New York and Northern and Southern California. Through his travels he was exposed to many styles, techniques and cultural influences, which informed the development of his own dialogue and style of painting. Francis possessed a lyrical and gestural hand, enabling him to capture and record the brilliance, energy and intensity of color at different moments of time and periods of his life. His paintings embody his love of literature, music and science, while reflecting his deep range of emotions and personal turmoil.

Francis returned to California in 1962 and was then influenced by the West Coast School’s preoccupation with mysticism and Eastern philosophy. Blue had become a more dominant feature of his work since 1959 inspired by personal suffering and the great joy of becoming a father for the first time in 1961. This led to combinations of hard color and more disciplined structures with centrally placed rectangles during the 1970’s. Eventually these more rigid structures gave way to looser configurations sometimes of snake-like forms with web-like patterns. Blue, sometimes brilliant, remained an important part of many later works.

Remarkably, Francis has been able to transfer this same combination of spontaneous gesture and signature abstract forms to graphic media, which appear to be as intuitive and direct for him as painting.

One of his most important contributions was the establishment of his own print shop. He was extremely active as a printmaker, creating numerous etchings, lithographs and monotypes, many of which were executed in his Santa Monica print shop, the Litho Shop.

WOW – Work Of the Week – Jasper Johns “Voice 2”


Voice 2
7 color lithograph
17 x 23 in.
Edition of 46

Pencil signed and numbered

About This Work:

Born in Georgia in 1930 and raised in Allendale, South Carolina, Jasper Johns grew up wanting to be an artist. He studied briefly at the University of South Carolina before moving to New York in early 1950’s.
In 1958, gallery owner Leo Castelli visited Rauschenberg’s studio and saw Johns’ work for the first time. Castelli was so impressed with the 28 year old painter’s ability and inventiveness that he offered him a show on the spot.
At that first exhibition, the Museum of Modern Art purchased three pieces, making it clear that at Johns was to become a major force in the art world.

Working in New York in the 1950s, Johns became part of a community of artists, including Robert Rauschenberg, that was seeking an alternative to the emotional nature of Abstract Expressionism.
The artwork of Jasper Johns can be considered a bridge between Abstract Expressionism and Pop Art. His ongoing stylistic and technical experimentation, his maps, flags, numbers, letters and targets laid the groundwork for Pop art, Minimalism, and Conceptual art. 

In the mid-1960’s, Johns executed a large painting and lithograph, both entitled Voice. He then returned to this theme in a very large, three-part painting called Voice 2, which he worked on from 1968 through 1971.
The composition of Voice 2 was broken into three panels with the thought that, by hanging the panels in different orders, the artist could simulate the experience of a viewer circumambulating a painted cylinder, beginning at different points. The three elements of Voice 2 were conceived such that they could be hung in varying sequences. They were based on the idea that, in conjunction, they formed a continuous cylindrical surface – a way of overcoming the two-dimensional character of painting.

With several different print versions of the canvas – this work, Voice 2, among them – Johns varied the colors and experimented with the placement of the rectangles making up each composition. The title of the work, which forms the imagery, can be read in a rotating cylindrical pattern.

Johns has always been fascinated with numbers, letters and words. In this work, he plays with the letters of the word VOICE in a very personal way, superimposing the figures to create a multiple image, so that each time the eye adjusts to focus on a letter the spectator perceives a slightly different picture.

These kind of works by Jasper Johns were extremely new to the museum goers and art lovers, especially at a time in which the art world was searching for new ideas.
Johns artworks were something which were never seen before. The distinct style, and the simplicity behind it, eventually captured the interest of the art world.

Johns is still one of most significant and influential American painters of the twentieth century, and also considered as one of the greatest printmakers of any era.
Over his 50 year career, Jasper Johns created his own distinct style, and a vast series of pieces, that not only were they ahead of their time, but also largely influenced other artists. To this day, his works still set some of the highest auction records, especially for a living artist.

WOW! – Work of the Week 9/1/15

Robert Rauschenberg, Waves


Robert Rauschenberg,      Waves, from Stoned Moon,      1969

Robert Rauschenberg, Waves, from Stoned Moon, 1969


Robert Rauschenberg 
Waves, from Stoned Moon
89 x 42 in.
Edition of 27
Pencil signed and numbered


About This Work:

In 1969, NASA invited artist Robert Rauschenberg to witness the launch of Apollo 11, the spacecraft that would place man on the moon for the first time. The launch of Apollo 11 was seen as the most significant technological advancement. In terms of the global political climate, it marked the apex of the ‘space race’. 

For Rauschenberg, the moon mission represented a crucial occasion, far beyond the obvious scientific headway. Rather, the launch marked the end of a decade that had left Rauschenberg completely disillusioned. Prior to his official opportunity to witness man’s mission to the Moon, the core of his works in the 1960s incorporated popular political and social subject matter of war and destruction, as seen by media images of the Vietnam war, America’s race riots and the assassinations of JFK and Martin Luther King. The launch gave him a new hope for the future. 

His Stoned Moon series consists of 34 works that cleverly captured the essence of the historical event far beyond any Walter Cronkite broadcast or television marathon. In his work Waves, one of the best and largest black-and-white images of the series, Rauschenberg sets the print in two landscapes the Earth and the Moon. Rauschenberg chose to appropriate two of the first pictures taken from the Moon in the bottom of the work. In the bottom right corner we see Neil Armstrong in his space suit taking his famous steps for mankind and on the left we see a reproduction of Aldrin’s photograph of his very own boot print. We also see astronauts floating in space and even the lunar modular on the moon at in the bottom of the work, which is set on the Moon and in space. Whereas, the top part of the work we can seen a scene from Earth, where the rocket is launching into space leaving plumes of smoke behind. Rauschenberg’s careful black-and-white scheme of Waves mimics the monochromatic nature of the Moon’s surface to emphasize the strange and mysterious atmosphere of the ‘Stoned moon’ as a visual metaphor for the future of man and technology.

The brushstrokes seen through out the work are seen as Rauschenberg’s artistic ties with Abstract Expressionism. Waves is a great example that shows Rauschenberg’s bridging the gap between Abstract Expressionism and Pop Art – a style that made him famous and one of the most important contemporary artists.

About The Artist:

Robert Rauschenberg began what was to be an artistic revolution. Rauschenberg’s enthusiasm for popular culture and his rejection of the angst and seriousness of the Abstract Expressionists led him to search for a new way of painting. He found his signature mode by embracing materials traditionally outside of the artist’s reach. He would cover a canvas with house paint, or ink the wheel of a car and run it over paper to create a drawing, while demonstrating rigor and concern for formal painting.

By 1958, at the time of his first solo exhibition at the Leo Castelli Gallery, his work had moved from abstract painting to drawings like “Erased De Kooning” (which was exactly as it sounds) to what he termed “combines.” These combines (meant to express both the finding and forming of combinations in three-dimensional collage) cemented his place in art history.

This pioneering altered the course of modern art. The idea of combining and of noticing combinations of objects and images has remained at the core of Rauschenberg’s work.

As Pop Art emerged in the ’60s, Rauschenberg turned away from three-dimensional combines and began to work in two dimensions, using magazine photographs of current events to create silk-screen prints. Rauschenberg transferred prints of familiar images, such as JFK or baseball games, to canvases and overlapped them with painted brushstrokes. They looked like abstractions from a distance, but up close the images related to each other, as if in conversation.

These collages were a way of bringing together the inventiveness of his combines with his love for painting. Using this new method he found he could make a commentary on contemporary society using the very images that helped to create that society.

In 1998 The Guggenheim Museum put on its largest exhibition ever with four hundred works by Rauschenberg, showcasing the breadth and beauty of his work, and its influence over the second half of the century. 

For more information and price please contact the gallery at

WOW! – Work of the Week 8/17/15

Jasper Johns, Device

Jasper Johns, Device, 1971-72

Jasper Johns, Device, 1971-72

Jasper Johns
38 1/2 x 29 in.
Edition of 62
This piece is signed and numbered in pencil.

About This Work:

Device is an important work from Japser Johns’ gray period, as it is derived from his famous painting Device (1962-63), which shows his experimentation with mechanism and its relation to the artist’s hand.

In the early 1960s, Johns introduced a new process-driven motif referred to as “device” that he used to make his works. He would apply paint with a studio or household object rather than a paint brush, and then often affix those objects to the canvas. For Johns, the “device”  whether ruler, wooden slat or broom is an extension of the artist’s hand, much like the paint brush.

Works from John’s gray period are highly sought after. For Johns, the color gray, serves as a means of emphasizing the physical properties of an object by draining it of color. However, his use of gray as a color draws attention to the condition of gray itself, elevating it to more than a color, but also as an idea and material.

About The Artist:

In the late 1950’s, Jasper Johns emerged as force in the American art scene. His richly worked paintings of maps, flags, and targets led the artistic community away from Abstract Expressionism toward a new emphasis on the concrete. Johns laid the groundwork for both Pop Art and Minimalism. Today, his prints and paintings set record prices at auction.

Born and raised in Allendale, South Carolina, Jasper Johns grew up wanting to be an artist.  He studied briefly at the University of South Carolina before moving to New York in the early fifties.

After a visit to Philadelphia, with his good friend Robert Rauschenberg, to see Marcel Duchamp’s painting, The Large Glass (1915-23), Johns became very interested in his work. Duchamp had revolutionized the art world with his “readymades” — a series of found objects presented as finished works of art. This irreverence for the fixed attitudes toward what could be considered art was a substantial influence on Johns. 

The modern art community was searching for new ideas to succeed the pure emotionality of the Abstract Expressionists. Johns’ paintings of targets, and maps, invited both the wrath and praise of critics. Johns’ early work combined a serious concern for the craft of painting with an everyday, almost absurd, subject matter. The meaning of the painting could be found in the painting process itself. It was a new experience for gallery goers to find paintings solely of such things as flags and numbers. 

The simplicity and familiarity of the subject matter piqued viewer interest in both Johns’ motivation and his process.   Johns explains, “There may or may not be an idea, and the meaning may just be that the painting exists.” 

In 1958, gallery owner Leo Castelli visited Rauschenberg’s studio and saw Johns’ work for the first time. Castelli was so impressed with the 28-year-old painter’s ability and inventiveness that he offered him a show on the spot. At that first exhibition, the Museum of Modern Art purchased three pieces, making it clear that at Johns was to become a major force in the art 

Over the past fifty years Johns has created a body of rich and complex work. His rigorous attention to the themes of popular imagery and abstraction has set the standards for American art. Constantly challenging the technical possibilities of printmaking, painting and sculpture, Johns laid the groundwork for a wide range of experimental artists. Today, he remains at the forefront of American art, with work represented in nearly every major museum collection.