“Painting is about the beauty of space and the power of containment,” said Sam Francis (1923-1994). The abstract expressionist master is best known for paintings that show multicolored abstract splatters between luminous fields of white. “Containment” isn’t the first word you might use to describe these exuberant artworks that are devoid of hard edges. However, much like Jackson Pollock, Francis was actually exercising precise control in the creation of his work. Though Francis’s bright pigments are focal points, he knew that negative space was his most important compositional tool. These new prints in the Zane Bennett Contemporary collection are dazzling examples of his signature aesthetic.
“Everything has an opposite pole,” said Jeff Koons (b. 1955) of his Luxury and Degradation sculptures. “If you just present optimism without a darker side… there’s no definition of optimism.” The 1986 series appropriates imagery from advertisements and memorabilia for alcoholic beverages—fertile ground to stir up ideas about class, commerce and nostalgia. These highly polished objects have an aura of opulence, but are in fact made from stainless steel. “To me, the stainless steel is the material of the proletarian, it’s what pots and pans are made of. It’s very hard material and it’s fake luxury,” Koons explained.
The artist’s crowning achievement from the body of work is Jim Beam J.B. Turner Engine, a 9.5-foot-long model of a steam engine that’s loaded with bottles of whiskey. “I find it a very powerful image,” Koons said. “An image about progress, about future, about strength.” As always, Koons hovers on the edge of sincerity: his inspiration for the artwork was not an actual locomotive, but rather a kitschy decanter in the shape of one. He included an image of the Jim Beam sculpture in a set of three photolithographs named for the series. The Luxury & Degradation portfolio (1986) depicts the artist’s renditions of the steam engine, a Baccarat crystal set and a fisherman golfer figurine. Scroll down to see the works and learn more.
Above: Jeff Koons, by Andrew Burton AFP.
Jeff Koons Luxury and Degradation
photolithograph (portfolio of three prints)
32 x 24 in. each
Click here to browse the complete Zane Bennett Contemporary collection.
“Very quickly, a painting is turned into a facsimile of itself,” said Robert Rauschenberg (1925-2008). “One becomes so familiar with it that one recognizes it without looking at it.” He could’ve been talking about Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, which makes a cameo in his 1996 intaglio printBanco, from Ground Rules. The portrait is so rooted in the modern cultural consciousness that we can instantly conjure it in our mind’s eye.
Thus, it’s a perfect tool for exploring the concept of authorship: the painting appears next to a window emblazoned with the words “YOUR NAME HERE.” By presenting the world’s most iconic painting beside advertising lingo, the postmodern master asks whether true ownership of an image is possible in the age of mass media. Learn more about the print below, and browse more works by Rauschenberg.
“We are probably the only artists in the world who have a 2,000-page book on a work of art that doesn’t exist,” said Christo (b. 1935) of collaborating with his late partner Jeanne-Claude. A remarkable thing about the world-famous duo is that many of their fantastical ideas have become realities. Their monumental projects, such as The Gates in Central Park and Wrapped Reichstag, forever changed the world’s view of iconic locales. This success can be attributed, in large part, to that laborious documentation. “These projects reveal their identity through this whole process,” Christo said. “When I’m starting, I only have the slightest idea of how the work of art will exist.” Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s early-career proposal to wrap Rome’s oldest bridge, Ponte Sant’Angelo, is captured in this exquisite mixed-media print. It’s a screenprint with fabric, twine, felt pen and graphite. See more works by Christo from the Zane Bennett Contemporary collection below.
You could win a work of art by Manuel Amorim (b. 1950)! Enter our free raffle for a chance to add his woodcut Nuit Mauve to your collection. Fragmented and existential, the Lisbon-born artist’s work centers on shadowy silhouettes moving solo through the universe.
Mika Rottenberg (b. 1976, Argentina) and Reynier Leyva Novo (b. 1983, Cuba) are hardly emerging artists. They’ve both exhibited at the Venice Biennale, and have artwork in the permanent collections of renowned institutions across the world. Recently, each of them have marked yet another important milestone in their artistic careers: they’ve landed major solo displays.
Rottenberg’s self-titled exhibition at the Bass Museum in Miami Beach (on view through April 30) focuses on elucidating the mechanics of late-stage, global capitalism by way of absurd and poetic comparisons. Novo mounted a solo presentation of his work at The Armory Show in New York early this year, hot off the heels of his contribution to the Cuban Pavilion at the 57th Venice Biennale last summer. His work challenges ideology and symbols of power, uprooting notions of an individual’s ability to affect change. Rottenberg and Novo’s respective artistic quests ring clear in these works on paper from the Zane Bennett Contemporary collection. Consider acquiring art by two rising creative luminaries!
Lovers of beautiful books, rejoice! Zane Bennett Contemporary Art is now an official seller of TASCHEN Books, the revolutionary German imprint that deserves its own art museum. TASCHEN has collaborated with the likes of David Hockney, Christo & Jeanne-Claude and Beatriz Milhazes to produce limited edition books that are true works of art. We’re particularly excited about their new title Murals of Tibet, an epic chronicle of some of the greatest treasures of Buddhist culture and Tibetan heritage.
For more than a decade, photographer Thomas Laird traveled the length, breadth, and far-flung corners of Tibet’s plateau to capture the land’s spectacular Buddhist murals. Deploying new multi-image digital photography, Laird compiled the world’s first archive of these artworks, some walls as wide as 10 meters, in life-size resolution. In recognition of this World Heritage landmark and preservation of Tibetan culture, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama has signed all copies of this Collector’s Edition. As pictured, Murals of Tibetcomes with a stand designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect and humanitarian pioneer Shigeru Ban.
Click the images below to view more books from TASCHEN, now available from Zane Bennett Contemporary Art. Browse all of our TASCHEN titles and other books in our online shop.
Akira Yamaguchi (b. 1969, Japan) is the kind of artist who lands in a circle of luminaries wherever he goes. Yamaguchi designed the cover art for the album V by the nu-jazz music duo United Future Organization, and illustrated the book Chronicles of My Life: An American in the Heart of Japan by Donald Keene. He’s good friends with the perennially hip director Sofia Coppola, who cast him as the bellhop in her Oscar-winning movie Lost in Translation. The artist’s densely detailed paintings of fantastical cityscapes, which modernize the multi-tiered aesthetic of Japanese Edo period pictures, would make perfect companion art for Coppola’s sprawling but hyperspecific film. Several prints of Yamaguchi’s images are part of the Zane Bennett Contemporary collection. Send your eyes on a visual walkabout!
Judy Chicago is having a moment. In the past few months, she’s been featured in an Artsy podcast, profiled in an article for W Magazine, and hailed as “The Godmother” in a recent piece by New York Times Magazine. Here’s an excerpt:
Once your eye is trained to see Chicago’s imprint, it is everywhere, and unmistakable. It’s in Petra Collins’s menstruation-positive T-shirts; in the forthcoming installation on Sunset Boulevard in L.A. by Zoe Buckman of a huge uterus drawn in neon tubing crowned with boxing gloves; in the pink “pussy hats” that are worn in opposition to Trump’s election. Images like these — symbolically overt, politically and anatomically in-your-face, forcing a public confrontation with sexism — are all descended from Chicago’s imagination.
Another article that appeared in the New York Times a few days ago analyzed the tumultuous legacy of critical perspectives on Chicago’s most iconic work, The Dinner Party:
[Chicago] said that despite the art media’s early disparagement of her work, her way of overcoming the disappointment was to go into her studio and continue making art. She found a supportive community in Southern California’s Ferus boys, notably the American artist and sculptor Billy Al Bengston, from whom she said she learned quite a bit. “Early on, he told me: ‘Never read reviews. Just count the column inches and the number of pictures,’ advice I heeded for many years. And given the vicissitudes of my career, it was really good advice.”
Chicago’s fiery feminist statement on the rebirth of humanity, Birth Tear / Tear, appeared at our sister gallery form & concept when Chicago visited last February. Watch our Q&A with her here, and inquire about the piece below.
The first thing you need to know about Frank Stella‘s (b.1936) Waves series is that the vibrant, mixed-media prints are monumental. Each of them measures at least 6 feet high and over 4 feet wide. The American artist employed a trifecta of printmaking techniques to create them: serigraphy, lithography and linocut. The prints are hand-colored and collaged, ensuring that each one is unique.
Stella created these marvels of post-painterly abstraction over a 12-year period, between 1985 and 1997. His epic endeavor seems quite fitting if you consider his source of inspiration. The Waves series is a tribute to Herman Melville’s seminal Great American Novel Moby-Dick. Stella imagines himself as a stowaway on the whaler ship Pequod, joining the narrator Ishmael to chronicle Captain Ahab’s tumultuous quest for revenge against the elusive white whale Moby Dick. Each print is an abstract summary for one of the book’s 135 chapters—an elemental, topsy turvy impression of life at sea. To hear Stella speak about the series, check out this excerpt from Studio 360’s Modern Icons podcast about Moby-Dick.
Stella was also influenced by abstract expressionism for this series. “This is paying my debt, or not so much paying my debt as expressing my admiration for the abstract generation I grew up with and that I admired the most,” he said of Waves.
Works from the Waves series have passed through the Zane Bennett Contemporary collection before, but this release is truly remarkable. We acquired the mint condition prints from a private collection—including several images that we’ve never had before. They all hail from the same pull, and are a low edition number. We’re offering special pricing and right of first refusal to collectors who are interested in purchasing all six as a set, so make sure to contact us quickly if you’d like to own a piece of artistic—and literary—history.
Afro-Cuban artist Roberto Diago (b. 1971) recently unveiled La Historia Recordada, a solo exhibition at the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art in Charleston, SC. The show highlights Diago’s substantial contributions to political and cultural conversations within Cuba—and larger dialogues about race and history on the global stage. Hyperallergic reflected on his influence in a recent story, excerpted here:
Diago’s work is often a direct criticism of racism in Cuba and explores the roots and role of slavery in Cuban history and culture. His work frequently contains found materials from neighborhoods in Havana near his home and studio. Raw materials such as wood, metal, and textiles make up much of his work — often these materials contain traces of their former uses, such as paint or building materials. Diago tracks a lineage of painterly abstraction and other forms in modern Cuban art, condensing them into a body of work that explores the vestiges of slavery and segregation in contemporary Cuban life.
Diago’s mixed media work El Mar Es mi Frontera (The Sea Is my Border) is a highlight of the Zane Bennett Contemporary collection. Look below for more artwork by legendary Latin American artists in the gallery.
Donald Sultan (b. 1951) emerged as a master of the New Image movement in the 1970’s, producing elegant, minimalist imagery using industrial materials that were decidedly postminimal. Abstracted blooms are an iconic motif in his work. The new screen print in our collection offers a prime example of Sultan’s style, characterized by stark, black forms amid vibrant fields of color. In the print, tar and flocking enhance the dark fields, transforming them into infinite chasms with powerful visual gravity.
Scroll down to view our new Sultan screen print—along with a full bouquet of the artist’s flower compositions—in the Zane Bennett Contemporary collection, and click here to browse all available works.
Add a piece of art history to your walls this winter! There’s a new Special Offerssection on the Zane Bennett Contemporary Art website, featuring exceptional pricing on works by legendary artists. Scroll down to view prints by Pop Art icons and Pop-inspired artists from the new collection, and make sure to bookmark the Special Offers page for future additions.
“I thinkthat if you can turn off the mind and look only with the eyes, ultimately everything becomes abstract,” said Ellsworth Kelly (1923 – 2015).Kelly’s abstraction is rooted in the real world.His strong sense of form and color has often been tied to his time in the military, affinity for bird watching, and observations of nature. Although simplistic in imagery, Kelly’s work holds a certain tension.“I think what we all want from art is a sense of fixity, a sense of opposing the chaos of daily living,” said Kelly. “This an illusion, of course. Canvas rots. Paint changes color. In a sense, what I’ve tried to capture is the reality of flux, to keep art an open, incomplete situation, to get at the rapture ofseeing.”
Kelly was a pioneer of Color Field painting and minimalism whose influence extends across the second half the 20th century to the present.This is exemplified by the story behind Kelly’s Untitled (1983), a hand-signed lithograph that was included in the Eight by Eight to Celebrate the Temporary Contemporary suite. The portfolio features artwork by eight prominent artists, and was used as a fundraising vehicle for the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in Los Angeles. The artists who participated were Kelly, Richard Diebenkorn, Sam Francis, David Hockney, Robert Rauschenberg, Niki de Saint Phalle, Jean Tinguely, and Andy Warhol. This iconic collection is a testament to the cultural milieu of the United States in the 1980’s. This is a rare opportunity to own a piece of this illustrious history.
“All our projects are like fabulous expeditions,” said Christo (b.1935). “The story of each project is unique. Our projects have no precedent.” It’s a bold statement to make, but hard to deny when you look at the staggering output of Christo and his late, great partner Jeanne-Claude (1935-2009). Starting in the early 1960’s, they set out to wrap the world in flowing cloth. They’ve managed to cover quite a lot of ground since then, from Central Park to the Reichstag. Three new prints in our collection depict wrapped objects that are not monumental in size—but just as culturally significant. Wrapped Telephone shows an L.M. Ericsson design that’s iconic of early 20th century communication. Wrapped Motorcycle/Sidecar and Wrapped Automobile capture two symbols of freewheeling American innnovation. Both of the new prints come with complimentary gifts, pictured below. It’s a unique opportunity to “unwrap” a Christo this holiday season.