• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 7740

    Post-War and Contemporary Art Day Auction

    1 July 2009, London, King Street

  • Lot 213

    Andy Warhol (1928-1987)

    Self-Portrait (Fright Wig)

    Price Realised  


    Andy Warhol (1928-1987)
    Self-Portrait (Fright Wig)
    signed and dated 'Andy Warhol 86' (on the overlap); with the Estate of Andy Warhol stamp, with the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts stamp, numbered 'PO40.108', with the Andy Warhol Art Authentication Board Inc. stamp and numbered 'A156.0310' (on the reverse)
    synthetic polymer paint and silkscreen ink on canvas
    10 x 10in. (25.4 x 25.4cm.)
    Executed in 1986

    Contact Client Service
    • info@christies.com

    • New York +1 212 636 2000

    • London +44 (0)20 7839 9060

    • Hong Kong +852 2760 1766

    • Shanghai +86 21 6355 1766

    Contact the department

    Executed only months before his premature and unexpected death, Andy Warhol's last series of Self-Portraits are among the most iconic works of his career. It has been said that Warhol was his own favorite subject, and he chronicled his own image over the years in numerous portraits culminating in his 'Fright Wig' series. In the present work, Warhol's full-frontal doubly exposed visage stares intensely at the viewer piercing the surrounding darkness of the canvas from behind an immediately recognizable shock of hair. Although he disliked his own appearance, self-portraiture satisfied Warhol's desire for public exposure and as he claimed, served to "remind myself that I'm still around" (A. Warhol, quoted in The Life and Death of Andy Warhol, 1989, p. 480). His life-long preoccupation with public image and beauty stemmed from his frustration with his own physical appearance, and by the late 1980s his self-image was almost completely artificial. His nose had been altered and his face had been tautened with astringents and repeated collagen injections. Most notable of all was the trademark peroxide hair, provided by his collection of "fright wigs." It was London-based dealer Anthony d'Offay, who prompted Warhol to think about doing a new series of Self-Portraits in the winter of 1985-1986. "At Christmas," d'Offay recalled, "we visited a collector friend of Lucio Amelio who had a powerful red portrait of Beuys by Andy Warhol hanging in his house. As I looked at the painting I realised two things: first that Warhol was without question the greatest portrait painter of the 20th Century, and secondly that it was many years since he had made an iconic self-portrait. A week later, I visited Warhol in New York and suggested to him an exhibition of new self-portraits. A month later he had a series of images to show me in all of which he was wearing the now famous 'fright wig.' One of the images had not only a demonic aspect but reminded me more of a death mask. I felt it was tempting fate to choose this image, so we settled instead on a self-portrait with a hypnotic intensity. We agreed on the number of paintings and that some would have camouflage. When I returned to New York some weeks later the paintings were complete. The only problem was that Warhol had painted the demonic 'Hammer House of Horror' image rather than the one we had chosen. I remonstrated with him and reminded him of our agreement. Without demur he made all the pictures again but with the image we had first selected. And so between us we brought two great series of self-portraits into the world" (A. d'Offay, quoted in Andy Warhol: Self-Portraits, exh. cat., Kunstverein St. Gallen Kunstmuseum, 2004, p.127).

    Special Notice

    VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price and at 15% on the buyer's premium


    Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner.