APPEL, with Walasse Ting, “Cover of 1¢ LIFE,” 1964


Original color lithograph and photocollage, 22 1/2 x 28 1/2 inches, edition 887/2000; archival matted and framed

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Machteld Appel was the wife of CoBrA artist Karel Appel, also represented in the portfolio. She was a Balenciaga model and a graphic designer.

In 1964, Wallasse Ting and Sam Francis collaborated as co-editors of one of  the greatest artist’s books of the period titled 1¢ LIFE. Ting’s poetry is a unifying, lyrical, raucous sensibility, illustrated with original lithographs by 28 artists.

It is in some measure due to 1¢ LIFE that one can speak of a Pop Art movement that embraced both Americans and Europeans. Whereas in the United States POP was lightly ironic about consumerism, in Europe it triggered a biting critique. The art world by the mid-1960s included 3 different approaches: second-generation ABEX artists Sam Francis, Jean Riopelle, Joan Mitchell; POP artists Roy Lichtenstein, Claes Oldenburg, Andy Warhol; and Paris-based CoBrA artists Karl Appel, Pierre Alechinsky, and Asger Jorn.

The use of color lithography was a bold choice when most American artists associated it with commercial printing. Ting and Francis challenged American artists to reconsider its possibilities, collaborating with European printmakers to produce a portfolio that in Ting’s words, was “exciting as Times Square, color bright as neon light, hot as espresso.”

Like his friend Sam Francis, Ting was open to European ideas. successfully straddling both worlds as an outsider to both. Born Ding Xiongquan in 1929, he studied at the Shanghai Art Academy, moved to Hong Kong in 1946, and then to France in 1948.  Ten years later he moved to New York.

Ting’s lithographs explode onto the page in a riot of color, incorporating the gestural semi-abstract European style known as Art Informel into American Abstract Expressionism. Francis’s network and Ting’s endless exuberance made 1¢ LIFE a unique document of the period.