Month: April 2017

A simple handshake that turned into gold.

A simple handshake that turned into gold.

A folded poster is usually a no-go for auctions, but there are exceptions. Roy Lichtenstein’s rare ‘Handshake’ 1962 gallery mailer is one of them. Folded twice down to letter size, the sheet was glued together and sent out as an invitation to the friends of Castelli Gallery, these days located in posh 4 East 77 street, between Madison and Fifth. On Saturday, Februar 10 started the first show in New York City of the hot young artist, and it sold out (scroll down here to the 1962 exhibition and see two impressions of the gallery space with Lichtenstein’s early signature artworks in it).

The mailer reproduced Lichtenstein’s oli painting ‘Handshake’ from the year before, but with the black and red components shown separately and then joined in the lower right panel, describing the nature of the printing process. It is said that either the artist himself or Leo Castelli’s graphic designer had the idea, but Lichtenstein was not able to remember correctly, when being asked about it.

 

Properly framed as an art object, the simple invitation letter becomes an eyeturner with historical importance (example below).

The 17 x 22″ (43.18 x 55.88 cm, unframed) print shown above will be in the Art & Photography Posters Auction of catawiki on April 14th, 2017. The print run is not known, the provenance is Edward Kurstak Fine Art Gallery, Florida, USA. It is signed by Roy Lichtenstein and in impeccable state, because it most certainly has not been glued together and mailed in 1962.

 


References:
1. Mary Lee Corlett, The prints of Roy Lichtenstein, a catalogue raisonné 1948-1994, appendix 1, page 322, Manchester, USA 1994
2. Jürgen Döring & Claus von der Osten, Lichtenstein Posters, page 112, Munich 2008

James Rosenquist – Distraction, not Abstraction

James Rosenquist – Distraction, not Abstraction

Ever felt dizzy looking at a billboard size painting by James Rosenquist? Can’t control what element to focus on: the car, the tyre, the airplane, the president, the spaghetti? It might be the depiction of a state of mind, as Peter Schjeldahl wrote in the New Yorker 2003: “At his best, Rosenquist is a maestro of distraction, delivering it in exact, potent doses. The effect feels broadly significant. This art comprehends the typical worldly experience of the people who come to look at it. To be undistracted, in modern times, requires selective, blinkered attention. Rosenquist rules that out.”

This effect makes Rosenquist’s work timeless and relevant for today’s media saturated world and workplaces. One might call him a prophet who foresaw digital distraction, which is mostly caused by an endless stream of imagery. The effect is not as strong in his prints, here it seems more a reverberation or quote of the painting’s impact, like in the etching/aquatint ‘Gravity Feed’ (101 x 48 cm, 1978) where the profile of a tyre – which is one of the prominent picture elements of Rosenquist’s paintings – is used as kind of a colorful ‘paintbrush’. One of the limited prints (number 55/78) was on sale for a quite reasonable price  in the Modern International Art Auction of catawiki:

With James Rosenquist, one of the last protagonists of original Pop Art has passed away March 31, 2017, age 83. Read the comprehensive obituary in the New York Times of April 1, 2017, and his memoir ‘Painting Below Zero: Notes on a Life in Art’ from 2009. I found it truly entertaining, down to earth, and to the point – in no way distracting.