Leslie Sacks Contemporary

Contemporary & Post-War Art Gallery


Friday Feature: Frank Stella

Image: Frank Stella, ‘River of Ponds II,’ 1971, lithograph, 38 x 38 inches, edition of 78, signed, dated and numbered in pencil.

"I don’t like to say I have given my life to art. I prefer to say art has given me my life." - Frank Stella

About the Artist

Frank Stella was born in Maiden, Massachusetts in 1936. He studied at Phillips Academy, Andover and received his BA in history from Princeton University in 1958. Upon graduation, Stella moved to New York City. His work gained prominent exposure almost immediately. In 1959, it was included in the seminal exhibition, Sixteen Americans, at the Museum of Modern Art, New York and, that same year, Stella’s black paintings were the basis of his first one-man show at the renowned Leo Castelli Gallery. In 1970, at the age of 34, he became the youngest artist ever to receive a career retrospective.

Stella’s early work is concerned with the regulation of structure and color, and exhibits the precision and rationality that characterized minimalism. He is known for his innovation; both his aesthetic and techniques have evolved throughout his career. During the 1960s, Stella began painting on irregularly shaped canvases; the 1970s saw his newly liberal use of color. By the 1980s, Stella was employing increasingly dynamic and improvised forms, also incorporating mixed media and three-dimensionality into his work. In the 1990s, the artist was commissioned for major public sculpture and architectural projects.

Stella has worked extensively in the graphic media throughout his career, notably with master printer Ken Tyler at Gemini G.E.L. and, subsequently, at Tyler Graphics. The prints they created together grew in complexity over time as Stella began experimenting with multiple techniques. Their later prints are groundbreaking in both scale and texture.

Frank Stella is considered one of the most important contemporary artists and printmakers. His work can be found worldwide in the permanent collections of museums, including the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Kunstmuseum, Basel; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; and Thyseen-Bornemisza Museum, Madrid. He received the National Medal of Arts in 2009.

Frank Stella currently lives and works in New York.

Click here to view the gallery’s collection of works by Frank Stella.

Image: Jasper Johns (GABRIELLE PIEDMONTE/PatrickMcmullan.com)

Jasper Johns’s Assistant Pleads Guilty to Art Theft

James Meyer Was Accused of Stealing 22 of the Contemporary Artist’s Unfinished Works

By Jennifer Maloney, WSJ.com

A longtime assistant to Jasper Johns pleaded guilty on Wednesday to selling 22 artworks he stole from the artist’s Connecticut studio.

The plea deal followed a separate case, earlier this year, in which another former collaborator of Mr. Johns pleaded guilty to selling works unauthorized by the artist. The cases highlight the risks and rewards of forging works by living artists as contemporary art prices soar. (The record price for a work by Mr. Johns, set at Christie’s in 2010, is $28.6 million.)

James Meyer, who pleaded guilty Wednesday, had access to a file drawer in Mr. Johns’s studio in Sharon, Conn., where the artist kept unfinished works, according to the indictment. He was an assistant of Mr. Johns’s for more than 25 years, prosecutors said.

The assistant took works from the drawer and from elsewhere in the studio, and passed them off as authentic by creating fake inventory numbers. He also photographed forged pages that appeared to be part of a three-ring loose-leaf ledger book in which Mr. Johns kept a list of his registered works, according to the indictment.

Mr. Meyer, who signed certificates stating that the works had been given to him by the artist, sold them through a Manhattan gallery, according to the indictment. As a condition of the sales, he stipulated that the works couldn’t be lent, exhibited or resold for at least eight years.

From 2006 to 2012, Mr. Meyer sold 22 works for a total of roughly $6.5 million, and personally earned nearly $4 million, according to the indictment and his plea deal.

Mr. Meyer, 52 years old, pleaded guilty to interstate transportation of stolen property, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, and agreed to forfeit the nearly $4 million. He also faces a fine of between $7,500 and $75,000, according to the plea deal. The amount of the fine hasn’t yet been set.

"James Meyer made millions by stealing and selling the valuable artworks that he was entrusted with maintaining," Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a news release. "Meyer will now have to pay for that decision."

Mr. Johns and Mr. Meyer’s attorney declined to comment.

In January, a Queens foundry owner pleaded guilty to attempting to sell a fraudulent bronze sculpture made from one of Mr. Johns’s molds.

In that case, Mr. Johns testified that he brought the mold to Brian Ramnarine, owner of the Empire Bronze Foundry in Long Island City, and asked him to make a wax cast of a sculpture called “Flag.”

The foundry owner made the wax cast but never returned the original mold.

He used the mold to make at least one unauthorized copy of the sculpture, and told prospective buyers that it was a gift from the artist, prosecutors said.

Mr. Ramnarine’s sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 19. Mr. Meyer’s sentencing before U.S. District Judge J. Paul Oetken is scheduled for Dec. 10.

Click here to read the article online. 

Image: Mobile Lovers appeared in April on a doorway by Broad Plain Working With Young People. Photograph: Ben Birchall/PA

Banksy artwork brings windfall to Bristol youth club

Mobile Lovers, showing a couple embracing while checking their phones, sold to collector with all proceeds going to club which faced closure

Press Association, theguardian.com

A youth club which was facing closure is celebrating a windfall after selling a Banksy artwork painted on a public wall.

Mobile Lovers, showing a couple embracing while checking their mobile phones, appeared on a doorway by Broad Plain Working With Young People in Bristol in April.

The piece, attached to a plank of wood and screwed to the wall on Clement Street, was removed by members of the cash-strapped club with a crow bar.

Owner Dennis Stinchcombe moved Mobile Lovers into a corridor and invited members of the public to come and view it, with donations optional.

Within days, police removed the painting and handed it to the city council, who put it on display at the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery.

Elusive artist Banksy later took the unusual step of writing a letter to Stinchcombe, stating “as far as I’m concerned you can have it”.

Mobile Lovers has now been sold for an undisclosed sum to a private collector, with all proceeds going to Broad Plain Working With Young People.

Stinchcombe said: “Mobile Lovers has been a fantastic gift to us; without it, the club would definitely have shut within the next 12 months or so.

"The sale of the work has given us a cushion, to assist us in carrying on with our valuable work with the young people of Bristol."

The sale was handled by a leading street art expert, Mary McCarthy of MM Contemporary Arts Ltd.

"The significance of this work, and of the original placing of the work by Banksy, is immense. It’s a seminal piece, pure Banksy, made even more remarkable by its intent. It’s a very generous gesture, and it’s noteworthy that an artist risen from the street has given back so prominently to the street," she said.

"It’s an extraordinary gift, both in the financial benefit to Broad Plain, and in the reminder to us of the immeasurable value of youth clubs.

"The sale of this work will enable future Banksys and other young people, to find a safe and creative haven in Broad Plain. There are many kids, and clubs, out there, still needing support, and I hope this will prompt awareness of the good these clubs do."

The work has drawn large crowds to the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, where it has remained since April, raising more than £2,000 in donations for the club over the April bank holiday weekend.

It will remain in the UK following the sale.

The club has served Bristol’s young people for the past 120 years. It was facing closure earlier this year and needed £120,000 to survive – until the Banksy stencil arrived next to the club’s gates.

Stinchcombe, who received death threats after removing the piece from the wall, previously said offers of up to £2m had been made for it.

George Ferguson, mayor of Bristol, said: “This has been a great addition to the volumes of Bristol Banksy stories – with a magnificent outcome for Broad Plain.

"We have been delighted to take care of Mobile Lovers and enable tens of thousands of visitors to appreciate it during its time at Bristol Museum and Art Gallery. It’s also resulted in us raising further funds for the club from visitor donations.

"However, this chapter comes to an end. I’m delighted with the outcome and grateful to Banksy for letting it be known that he would be happy for proceeds from a sale to benefit a Bristol club that does so much good for local young people."

Broad Plain will be sharing a portion of the proceeds with a number of other voluntary sector youth clubs across the city of Bristol.

Young people at Broad Plain have created their own “Thanks Banksy” wall in partnership with Young Bristol Creative Team.

This will be erected on the Broad Plain boundary fence facing the M32 into Bristol, acting as a geographical pointer to the club and a visual thanks to Banksy himself.

Click here to read the article online. 

Image: Laurie Simmons’ water tank, “The Love Doll/Day 24 (Diving),” being installed at 525 W. 28th St. in August 2014. Photo credit: Facebook/The Water Tank Project.

Water Tanks Will Soon Showcase Art from Around the World

By Sybile Penhirin, dnainfo.com

NEW YORK — Dozens of water tanks across the city will soon be covered in artwork by both local artists and superstars like Jeff Koons as part of a nonprofit’s project to raise awareness about water issues. 

Word Above the Street, a nonprofit that promotes environmental awareness through art, plans to use about a hundred of the city’s several thousand water tanks as part of its inaugural display for The Water Tank Project, a spokeswoman for the project said.

The project, which started earlier this month and will last until the end of October, aims to be part art exhibit and part awareness campaign about sustainability and access to clean drinking water, according to the project’s website.

“We picked water tanks that had the best visibility and that were in the highest traffic areas,” said Mitra Khorasheh, the curatorial director of the project.

Each tank will be wrapped in a large canvas banner printed with artwork that focuses on water.

Five water tanks in Manhattan — three in Chelsea, one in SoHo and one in the Financial District — have already gotten the Water Tank Project treatment. The one by Laurie Simmons, at 525 W. 28th St., features a photo of one of her famous dolls wearing a red swimming suit and diving into water, while the one by Italian illustrator Lorenzo Petrantoni, at 393 West Broadway, shows a large shell on a blue background.

Dozens more are set to pop up in the coming weeks throughout the five boroughs, though the locations are kept secret until the artwork appears. The organization worked for about two years to find the tanks and get permission from the Department of Buildings and the Landmarks Preservation Commission, a spokeswoman said.

The Water Tank Project was started by filmmaker Mary Jordan, who realized the challenges that many people face when trying to find clean water while she worked on a film in Ethiopia in 2007. She founded the project to raise awareness around water scarcity and to change the way people look at water consumption, a spokeswoman said.

About 60 artists from all over the world, including Koons and French photographer Jean-Paul Goude, created original work for the project, Khorasheh said.

Participants were asked to comply with the city’s rules: no nudity, no advertising and no obscenity.

Along with world-famous artists, five New York City public high school students who won a competition earlier this summer will also have their artwork displayed. Their names will be announced in September, a spokeswoman for the project said.

You can follow the Water Tank Project on Twitter or Facebook or check theirinteractive map to discover where the decorated water tanks are located.

Click here to read the article online. 

Friday Feature: Robert Motherwell

Image: Robert Motherwell, ‘Flags,’ 1989, lithograph, sheet: 36 3/8 x 30 inches, edition of 68, signed and numbered. 

Art is an experience, not an object." - Robert Motherwell

About the Artist

Robert Motherwell was born in Aberdeen, Washington in 1915. He was raised on the Pacific Coast, graduating from Stanford University in 1937. Motherwell did graduate work in philosophy at Harvard University and, in 1940, studied briefly at Columbia University, where Meyer Schapiro encouraged him to pursue painting rather than scholarship. A 1941 voyage to Mexico with the Surrealist painter Matta inspired Motherwell to make painting his primary vocation. It was at this time that he began his “automatic” drawings, painting his first mature pictures.

Motherwell soon began exhibiting in New York and, in 1944, had his first one-man show at Peggy Guggenheim’s “Art of This Century” gallery. In the mid-1940s, he became the leading spokesman for avant-garde art in America, lecturing widely on abstract painting and founding the Documents of Modern Art series. In 1948, he began to work with his celebrated Elegy to the Spanish Republic theme, which he continued to develop throughout his life.

In 1958–59, Motherwell was included in “The New American Painting” exhibition, initiated by the Museum of Modern Art, which was shown in numerous European cities. That year he traveled to Spain and France, where he started his Iberia series. In 1965, was given a major retrospective exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art. In 1967, Motherwell began to work on his Open series.

During the 1970s, Motherwell had important retrospective exhibitions throughout European cities, including Düsseldorf, Stockholm, Vienna, Paris, Edinburgh, and London. In 1977, he was given a mural commission for the new wing of the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

In 1983, a major retrospective exhibition of Motherwell’s work was mounted at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, New York, traveling to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Washington, D.C., and New York City. Another retrospective was shown in Mexico City in 1991.

Robert Motherwell died in Provincetown, Massachusetts on July 16, 1991. His work is on display in museums throughout the world.

Click here to view the gallery’s collection of works by Robert Motherwell.

Image: People walk by a re-creation of an untitled mural painted by artist Keith Haring on the corner of Houston Street and Bowery in Manhattan May 2, 2008 in New York City. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Here’s Your Pocket Map For Exploring Street Art In New York City

"In the wake of the global growth of interest in art in the streets, one form of tourism that may soon be blowing up could be graffiti excursions, street art sightseeing, [and] mural journeying," Brooklyn Street Art’s Jaime Rojo and Steven Harrington recently declared.

If you are one of the many street art and graffiti enthusiasts who couldn’t imagine a vacation sweeter than galavanting around alleyways and empty buildings, searching for that great piece of urban art, we have the perfect map for you. We’ve compiled a list of our favorite street art masterpieces in New York City — thanks in large part to BSA’s experts Rojo and Harrington, who walked us through some of their favorite locales to ogle wheatepastes and aerosol designs, from the Bronx to Coney Island.

We added some of our own favorites, and voila. Behold, a pocket map for exploring street art in New York City…

Click here to continue reading the article online.

Friday Feature: Charles Christopher Hill

Charles Christopher Hill’s recent acrylic paintings on canvas continue the visual vocabulary of his deceptively minimal, striped compositions, but are rescaled in new proportions with slender singular bands of red, black or blue against broad fields of white. Hill’s slick acrylic surfaces immediately evoke Los Angeles’ iconic Finish Fetish aesthetic while demonstrating a meticulous process. The build up of countless layers of a full spectrum of color yields something that is more object than painting. New works on paper mounted on canvas, echo Hill’s distressed, stitched tapestries of newsprint and fabric from the 1970’s. The current works, however are something of an illusion, with their apparently tactile, weatherworn surfaces. In fact, they have a visually contradictory smooth finished surface. As always, Hill addresses concerns of surface and texture through experimentation with his process and materials. Charles Christopher Hill’s work is included in the collections of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo; Musée des Beaux Arts, Angers, France; and the Total Contemporary Art Museum, Seoul, Korea among other encyclopedic modern and contemporary institutional collections.

Click here to view the gallery’s collection of works by Charles Christopher Hill. 

Above: “Nico/Antoine” (1966), one of hundreds of Andy Warhol films. CreditAndy Warhol Museum

Digitizing Warhol’s Film Trove to Save It

By Randy Kennedy, nytimes.com

Andy Warhol wrote lovingly of his ever-present tape recorder. (“My tape recorder and I have been married for 10 years now. When I say ‘we,’ I mean my tape recorder and me.”) But for almost a decade beginning in the 1960s, his real boon companions seemed to be his 16-millimeter film cameras, which he used to record hundreds of reels, many of which are still little known even among scholars because of the fragility of the film and the scarcity of projectors to show them on.

Now the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh and the Museum of Modern Art, which holds Warhol’s film archives, are beginning a project to digitize the materials, almost 1,000 rolls, a vast undertaking that curators and historians hope will, for the first time, put Warhol’s film work on a par with his painting, his sculpture and the Delphic public persona that became one of his greatest works. It will be MoMA’s largest effort to digitize the work of a single artist in its collection.

Patrick Moore, the Warhol Museum’s deputy director and a curator of the digitization project, said that the goal was, finally, to integrate Warhol’s film work fully into his career. “I think the art world in particular, and hopefully the culture as a whole, will come to feel the way we do,” Mr. Moore said, “which is that the films are every bit as significant and revolutionary as Warhol’s paintings.”

Warhol began using his first film camera, a 16-millimeter Bolex, in 1963. He spent more than two years shooting what became known as the “Screen Tests,” hundreds of short filmed portraits of celebrities, fellow artists, acquaintances and members of his inner circle, like Lou Reed and the socialite Edie Sedgwick, before moving on to longer, more narrative pieces. He made some 600 films of varying lengths, but only about a tenth of those have been available in 16-millimeter prints through the Museum of Modern Art.

While a few of Warhol’s movies are well known — among them, the feature-length “Chelsea Girls” from 1966 and “Empire” from 1964, a single-shot “antifilm” showing the Empire State Building for eight hours — the great majority have not been shown for years or have been available only through bootlegs of varying quality. Several years before Warhol’s death in 1987, the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art joined forces to preserve and study the films, which often use the movie screen as a static canvas, a confessional or a window onto the seeming banality of everyday life. But the films’ visibility, even in the art world, increased only up to a point.

“A lot of people feel like they know Warhol’s films but only because they’ve read about them,” said Mr. Moore. “Fewer and fewer people have the ability to show 16 millimeter.”

Frame-by-frame transfer of the films, which is expected to take several years, will begin this month and be conducted by MPC, an Oscar-winning visual-effects company that is donating its time and services to the project.

Click here to continue reading the article online. 

Click here to view the gallery’s collection of works by Andy Warhol. 

Above: Banksy’s Grim Reaper being removed from Thekla (ship and nightclub) in August 2014 are ©Theo Cottle.

With no intention of selling the work, Banksy’s Grim Reaper saved for Bristol


BRISTOL.- Workmen took blowtorches to the ship and club venue ‘Thekla’ in Bristol to cut out and remove the artist Banksy’s painting of the Grim Reaper from just above the waterline on the steel hull.

The artist painted the Grim Reaper onto the ship, which is moored in Bristol harbour, around 10 years ago but exposure to the elements is causing ongoing deterioration.

Recognising the artwork’s iconic status and to preserve the image Thekla’s owner, the music promoter DHP Family, has decided to remove it while the boat is in dry dock for general maintenance, which happens only every eight years.

The company approached Bristol City Council about a new home for the Grim Reaper and has arranged to loan the valuable artwork on a long term basis. As soon as it is cut from Thekla’s steel hull on Friday (8 August) it will move to the storage facilities of Bristol Museums, Galleries & Archives. The Grim Reaper will then be assessed for his conservation needs and means of display before going on public show at M Shed some weeks or months later.

George Akins of DHP Family said: “It is great that we have been able to work with Bristol City council to display this iconic Bristol artwork. We really wanted to make sure, that although it is being removed from its intended setting, people could still see it for free and will now get a better view of it.

“To be clear we have no intention of selling the Banksy, we just wanted to preserve the piece of art before it deteriorated too much and we wouldn’t have had another opportunity to do this for a further 8 years.”

Mayor of Bristol, George Ferguson, said: “I have so enjoyed watching Banksy move from zero to hero! His ‘Grim Reaper’ has been one of Bristol harbour’s more familiar residents on the hull of the famous Thekla nightclub for the past 10 years or so. I would like to thank the DHP Family for entrusting the threatened work to the safe hands of the Bristol Museums team so it can now be preserved for future generations. I much look forward to getting a closer look once the necessary conservation work is complete and it goes on public show at M Shed.”

Thekla is in dry dock for maintenance work until 8 September after which it will return to its former position in the harbour before reopening for bands and club nights on Thursday 11 September. 

Scooping the title for “Best Small Venue” in the South West from music magazine NME in 2011 and 2012, the Thekla has played host to some of the UK’s biggest bands including Mumford and Sons, The XX, Two Door Cinema Club, The Futureheads and Foals.

Originally known as the Old Profanity Showboat, the Thekla’s colourful past began following its move to Bristol in 1983 by Ki Longfellow-Stanshall, the wife of celebrated musician Vivian Stanshall. The boat was then opened to the public the following year as a musical showcase, hosting over 240 theatrical productions and various cabaret, comedy and poetry events. It also played a part in the emergence of Bristol’s drum & bass scene before DHP Family took over ownership in 2006.

Thekla welcomes around 100,000 visitors a year and as well as music, boasts an enviable line up of DJ residencies and late club nights.

Click here to read the article online. 


Above: Pablo Picasso in the studio of the villa La Californie in Cannes, 1960, with his future wife, Jacqueline Roque, playing with their dalmatian. (Andre Sartres / Paris Match / Sofitel Luxury Hotels)


Above: Marc Chagall. Paris, 1964. Chagall painting Mozart’s angel. A personal friend of the painter, Izis was the only photographer authorized to document his creation, from beginning to end.

Above: Salvador Dali. Vincennes Zoo, near Paris, 1955. Dali and a rhinoceros with a full-sized reproduction of Vermeer’s Ç La Dentellire È. (Manuel Litran / Paris Match / Sofitel Luxury Hotels). 

'Revealed' photo exhibit captures famous artists at work

By Jessica Gelt, latimes.com 

In a great work of art, the artist’s hand is invisible. Not so in the traveling exhibition “Revealed,” which shows famous artists at work in their studios. The series of nearly 40 photographs has been culled from the archives of the French weekly magazine Paris Match by Pablo Picasso’s grandson, Olivier Widmaier Picasso.

The pictures are showing in lobbies and other public spaces at Sofitel hotels in five cities, beginning in New York and ending in Beverly Hills next April. In between, the exhibit will be in Washington, D.C., Chicago and Montreal.

Picasso, whose mother, Maya, is the daughter of the Cubist master and his French mistress and model, Marie-Thérèse Walter, says the exhibit is suited for a hotel run because it is an intimate experience. Through the lens of various Paris Match photographers we see Pablo Picasso playing with a Dalmatian in a studio cluttered with his art; Kees van Dongen painting Brigitte Bardot, who peers curiously at his canvas; Salvador Dalí painting a rhino from what appears to be inside of its habitat at the zoo; and Marc Chagall hard at work on a giant mural at the Palais Garnier opera house in Paris.

Of particular interest is the way the various artists do or don’t interact with the camera.

"You see the difference between artists," Picasso says. "You see one who is at ease with his interior. He does what he wants and the photographer has no power over the situation. Then there are others who want to show the viewer something."

Dalí, for example, is clearly performing, while Pablo Picasso is not.

"My grandfather was impressed by photography very early in his career, even in 1905 when he was poor and living in Montmartre," Picasso said. "You see how comfortable he is with photographers and photography."

Click here to read the article online.