Sam Francis – Untitled, 1985



Though Sam Francis is best known for his vibrant spatterings of color, an equally important part of his painterly vocabulary is the blank white space that he left around his corpuscular islands of fiery hues. Located near the center or at the edges of the canvas, the artist preferred to see this blank area not as a void or vacuum but as a Zen-like region that, though physically empty, was limitless and charged with energy. Francis began reading Carl Jung in the early 1970s, and was influenced by the Swiss psychologist's idea that the nature of the universe is dynamic and ever-changing, in an ongoing creative process. "To constantly live in chaos," Francis wrote, "is to live within perfection." His working method was accordingly fluid and somewhat chaotic. He painted "automatically"—flinging and spilling paint onto large canvases without conscious planning or premeditation—melding the spontaneous technique of Abstract Expressionist painters such ...

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Victor Vasarely – Toll – 1965



Victor Vasarely's Toll plays with our perception in tantalizing and challenging ways. Our eyes seem pulled backward and forward in space, yet are kept in constant motion across the flat surface. Called one of the founders of Op Art,Vasarely explored patterns in his work that test ways in which eye and brain act to perceive the visible world. His studies culminated with his invention in 1959 of what he called "plastic unity." This artistic system was based on an alphabet of abstract shapes, which Vasarely believed expressed the structure of nature through their "affinities with the stars, atoms, cells, molecules . . . grains of sand, pebbles, foliage and flowers." Born Gyozo Vasarhely in Pécs, Hungary, the artist took academic art training at Budapest's Podolini-Volkmann Academy, then studied graphic design with Alexander Bortnyik at Mühely, the so-called Budapest Bauhaus. There Vasarely learned graphic techniques based on Constructivist principles and Ostwald's color ...

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William King – The Pair



William King's The Pair captures our immediate attention through the expression of tender human interaction, w·hich speaks to our memories and tempts us to project a narrative around what we see. King is recognized as a master in the use of body language, gesture, and clothing to reveal the personal dynamics of ordinary people in modern life. Harriet Senie aptly described his gift as "a deft grasp of the quick likeness and the ability to pick out the central gesture that reveals character and social situation." Here a tall thin man, dressed in a 1960s-style short jacket with wide-lapels, flare-leg pants, stiff triangular­ collared shirt, and thin tie, towers protectively over a shorter woman whose Twiggy-thin body presses through her mini­ length shift dress. The height difference between the two figures might almost make her a child, but her stylish heeled boots, brilliantly suggested by the sculptor with minimal means, increase ...

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Zoltan Sepeshy – Rock Garden



Zoltan Sepeshy believed that artists had an important place in society: "Art is a vital and growing experience. It heightens, revitalizes, and makes secure the accidental perceptions and enjoyments that men find even in their ordinary activities…This is the world that not all men can see. This is the realm that one must open to others." Sepeshy's personal vision was honed through classical training at the gymnasium in his birth town of Kassa, Hungary (now Kosice, Czech Republic), and through work for a Masters degree at the National Academy of Art and the Academy of Art Teachers in Budapest. He pursued further studies in Vienna and Paris, and traveled in Germany, Italy and France, before he arrived in the United States in 1921 at the age of twenty-three. Appointed Resident Artist at Cranbrook Academy of Art in 1932, Sepeshy combined a successful professional career with teaching and administrative service (Director ...

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Anthony Caro – Coda, 1971



After a brief but transformative sojourn in the United States in l959, Anthony Caro abandoned the small scale, modeled figures he had been developing in the 1950s and began to construct the abstract, welded steel sculptures that have been his métier ever since. Before his cathartic experience in America, London-born Caro had studied at Christ's College, Cambridge (where he received a degree in engineering), Farnham School of Art, Farnham, Regent Street Polytechnic and the Royal Academy Schools in London. He also worked as an assistant to the renowned mid-century British sculptor, Henry Moore, from 1951–53. During his career-changing visit to the U.S., Caro renewed his acquaintance with critic Clement Greenberg and met non-representational artists Robert Motherwell, Kenneth Noland, David Smith, and Anne Truitt, among others. Upon his return to England, Caro collected an inventory of scrap metal parts, purchased welding equipment, and assembled his first abstract sculpture. Describing this period of ...

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Alberto Giacometti – Head of Man, 1955–1957



Alberto Giacometti Born 1901, Borgonovo, Switzerland; died 1966, Chur, Switzerland Head of Man, 1955–1957 Graphite on paper 15 3/4 x 12 3/4 inches Gift of Thomas and Catharine Stoner CAM 2013.8 Known foremost as a sculptor, Alberto Giacometti’s artistic pursuits began with sketching as an adolescent, focusing primarily on portraiture. He was captivated by the human form, revisiting it constantly throughout his career, and his compulsion to draw from life ultimately caused a break from the Surrealists in 1935. Specifically, Giacometti found himself beguiled by the human head, a conventional subject he considered mystifying and artistically insoluble. The conclusion of World War II catalyzed a twenty-year period of intense productivity for the artist, and by the 1950s he had honed his focus on singular figures. His mature drawing style—exemplified in Head of Man—exhibits a frenetic exploration of the subject through continual, vigorous lines, suggesting an inner vitality emanating from the ominous eyes of his models. Giacometti ...

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Marilyn Minter – Green Pink Caviar, 2009



Marilyn Minter Born 1948, Shreveport, Louisiana Green Pink Caviar, 2009 HD Video 7:45 minutes Gift of the Artist and Salon 94, New York CAM 2012.9 Green Pink Caviar marks photographer Marilyn Minter’s first foray into video production. The artist is well-known for commingling glamour and grit in images that dissolve the boundary between fine and commercial art. Green Pink Caviar is no exception. Like her previous work, the video illustrates the moment where clarity becomes abstraction and beauty commingles with the grotesque. According to her New York gallery, Salon 94, “In Minter’s world, the body is cast as a site of aggressive desire.” Tongues covered in glittering candy attempt to push beyond the picture plane and enter the viewer’s space. In Green Pink Caviar, Minter explores the idea of painting with the tongue. To produce the work, she directed her models to lick brightly colored candy on a sheet of glass and filmed it ...

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Cheryl Ann Thomas – Threesome – Relics 229-231, 2010



Cheryl Ann Thomas Born 1943, Santa Monica, California Threesome—Relics 229–231, 2010 Hand-coiled porcelain 11 3/4 x 32 x 24 1/2 inches Gift of the Artist CAM 2010.15 Cheryl Ann Thomas is well known for her large-scale coiled porcelain sculptures, of which Threesome—Relics 229–231 is an important example. Thomas’s approach consists of taking tiny ropes of porcelain clay and meditatively working them into large, thin vessels. It is important to Thomas that the distinct shapes of the individual coils blend together but the evidence of the hand is never completely erased. These forms, described by the artist as “precarious columns,” are too tall and thin to withstand the heat of the kiln. During the firing process, they collapse and become forms that the artist calls “relics.” Thomas pairs these “relics” in a second firing, and the outcome of this process is left unaltered. The resulting objects are multi-layered, coupled sculptures, marked by repetitive striations denoting the initial coiling ...

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Sonya Clark – Twenty-one, 1998



Sonya Clark Born 1967, Washington, D.C. Twenty-one, 1998 Cloth and thread 5 ¼ x 28 inches Gift of Christina Heidrich CAM 2015.6.3 In the early 1990s, fiber artist Sonya Clark became fascinated with the role of the head in many belief systems as a gateway to the spirit or soul. As Bill Gaskins has noted, “Clark theorizes about the multiple implications of the head as a hallowed space, and headdressing as a channel to ancestral memory and wholeness.”Twenty-one—part of Clark’s Wig series—is one of such works that reference the atmosphere of the black beauty salon, where the artist mined many of her aesthetic devices in the late 1990s. Through tightly coiled twists of thread made to resemble Bantu knots, she aims to evoke not only the visual but the sensory condition of the salon—harsh tugs of the comb, the smells of relaxers, the slickness of pomades on the scalp. To Clark, fiber art processes can ...

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Andy Warhol – Karen Kain, 1980



Andy Warhol Born 1928, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; died 1987, New York, New York Karen Kain, 1980 Screenprint with diamond dust on Lenox Museum Board (extra out of the edition, designated for research and educational purposes only) 40 1/4 x 32 inches Gift of The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. CAM 2013.14 According to Andy Warhol scholar Donna De Salvo, it was through the process and experiments with printmaking that Warhol was able to fully explore his interests in the aesthetic and mass-production qualities of media. Warhol often challenged the defining categorization of mediums and the traditional boundaries that separate painting, drawing and printmaking. For instance, he often used the same screenprinting technique for both his paintings and prints and, later, he implemented further contradictions by undertaking unique methods within the printmaking process (hand-coloring, oxidation, chemical reactions, etc.), thereby making each print unique within an edition. While these issues created difficulties relegating his ...

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Cranbrook Art Museum's Lower Level Galleries are open. Enjoy Pay-As-You-Wish Admission through October 29.