Build your contemporary collection with accessibly priced works by the art world’s leading lights, from Sam Francis to Jeff Koons — offered in our Contemporary Edition online sale, 9-17 July
Of all the Abstract Expressionists, Sam Francis was the most prolific graphic artist. He was also the most committed to the possibilities of printmaking, continually pushing the boundaries of the medium.
In 1970 he established his own printing workshop in Santa Monica, California, called the Litho Shop, where Untitled (SF 348), above, was published.
In Ad te, Domine, Levavi, from Psalm Prints, Damien Hirst’s careful geometric arrangement of butterflies recall stained glass windows — a link further underlined by the print’s Latin title.
Like so much of Hirst’s work, this piece suggests larger questions of life and death, beauty and religion.
In the late 1960s, Richard Diebenkorn began what would become an extensive series depicting Ocean Park, his beloved Santa Monica suburb. Today, the Ocean Park works are among Diebenkorn’s best known and most loved.
Though abstract in design, the Ocean Park pieces — including this 1969 lithograph — are rooted in Diebenkorn’s observations of the environment, and are vital and innovative interpretations of his surroundings.
Although Helen Frankenthaler made only two woodcuts in the 1980s, they remain among her most significant works in the medium, reflecting a new, layered approach to colour.
In Cameo, Frankenthaler’s interest in the fluidity and motion of colour — a hallmark of her paintings — has been translated to the stricter and more rigid wood block format.
Greatly inspired by the aesthetic of comic books, Roy Lichtenstein used bright colours and Ben-Day dots to mimic commercial printing. Executed in 1964, Foot and Hand is one of Lichtenstein’s earliest Pop Art prints, and is a perfect example of his campy and stylised oeuvre.
When it sold for $58 million at Christie’s in 2013, Jeff Koons’ 10-foot stainless steel Balloon Dog (Orange) became the most expensive work by a living artist ever sold at auction.
Measuring 267 mm, this balloon dog is considerably smaller — though it still carries the ‘eye-popping visual blast’ that critic Jerry Saltz has identified in Koons’ work.
Even after becoming an established printmaker, David Hockney was always on the lookout for technologies that would afford him greater spontaneity.
In 1986 Hockney began experimenting with a friend’s photocopy machine, and immediately realised that it was the key to a new type of printing. His subsequent ‘home made prints’ disrupted the traditional processes of colour printmaking and ushered in many years of artistic innovation. ‘This is the closest I’ve ever come in printing to what it’s like to paint,’ he would later explain. ‘I can put something down, evaluate it, alter it, revise it, all in a matter of seconds.’
This eagerness to explore new mediums has remained constant throughout his career. After purchasing his first iPhone, Hockney in 2009 began drawing using the Brushes app. The release of the iPad in 2010 allowed him to work in larger dimensions. ‘I love new mediums,’ Hockney has said. ‘Mediums can turn you on, they can excite you; they always let you do something in a different way.’